Review: Tokyo Marui M870 Tactical Shotgun

It has long been a dream for airsofters to one day use a gas powered shotgun that was still practical yet fun. Marushin have been the main producer of these style of guns – the M1100 and 870 are fine pieces but shell ejecting is asking for lost shells and trouble. The Mossbergs are solid but lack of shells and a long reloading procedure make them a little less desirable. Both also suffer from a little bit of a reliability problem is not taken care of. For the shotgun user, Tokyo Marui (and their clones sold by companies like ASG) have been the way to go – tri-shot for the shotgun effect, easily reloaded by a 30 shotgun shell and pretty hardwearing. The downside? Plastic construction and spring power requiring a fair amount of force to rack.

Now meet the latest present from Japan – Tokyo Marui’s M870 Tactical. Gas powered, trishot, easily reloaded and solid construction. What’s not to like?

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Background

The Remington 870 is one of the most popular shotgun designs of the last century. Most of the detail can be found on the Wikipedia page but its safe to say that next to the Benelli M3 this is the design to make for airsoft.

I ordered mine from Echihgoya, a site recommended to me via the Facebook page of Khan Seb. They are a fine company, very communicative and open to questions. From them, I ordered the gun and a spare gas tank (more on that later). After customs took their cut, it came to around £300 in total.

Impressions

First up, it comes in a box. Nicely packaged, the 870 isn’t jammed into some polystyrene to get ripped to shreds when you pull it out. It comes with one new style shell (the main difference is its colour) and one gas tank as well as the usual stuff (manual, cleaning rod, old style speedloader).

First impression was one of puzzlement. I hadn’t realised just how thin the 870 is compared to the ASG M3 I have previously owned (we won’t bring the SPAS 12 into a shotgun width competition). It’s a nice thin grip making it super comfortable to hold. In addition, minus the gas tank weighs very little. I can easily see it being slung over a shoulder with little to no effort

The barrel and receiver are metal (aluminium and zinc respectively) while the stock and front grip are both high quality plastic. Its very obvious from the moment you pick it up that this is something that a lot of time and effort has been put into. The only structural issue I have with the 870 is that the front pump does rock a little from side to side but this only really happens if you sit then and try to make it wobble. There is much less resistance on the pump as it is not tensing a spring making it less of chore to do compared to the old spring guns. You probably could rack it one handed but I’m not comfortable with trying to do it just yet – I’d like to use it a bit more. Continuing the body work, I originally would have preferred an extended mag tube but I’m starting to grow to like the shorter look. Similarly, I find the length fine for CQB play. A little shorter would be nice but it is nowhere near as bad as the M3 Super 90s. Of course, I can’t the body work without saying just how satisfying racking it is. It sounds like someone angrily popping bubble wrap but it feels great.

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On the top of the shotgun there is a standard 20mm rail with the last section being taken up by the rear ring sight. This is paired with a tall and solid looking front leaf sight. When they first announced the M870 I was not impressed with the sights – they looked too small to be practical and took up space on the rail. Well, I was wrong; the sight work great in CQB and target shooting and I can see myself forgoing the usual Gucci sights for the simple, clean look of iron sights. The rail is a little on the small side with my CMore hanging over the front a little bit and requiring a slight moving around of the mounting pins. The smaller Eotechs (551s, XPS etc) will fit but the longer style will not. Sadly, this means there is not enough space to mount your flip-to-side magnifiers. It is possible to remove the rear rail for a more traditional look, but there are two small dimples that stick up and ruin the small surface.

Of course, these are airsoft guns so they need both BBs and propellant. Like the M3s, BBs are fed from the 30rd cartridge magazines and inserted in via the bottom mounted shell door (opened by the button to the left side of the door). These shells do not eject miles when finished but act like a magazine and gently drop out the bottom of the gun when you hit the release to open the door. ASG, TM and new style TM shells all work fine. I did manage to increase the number of shots I could fire a fair bit by overloading but this is not recommended. Its also important to note that the chamber of the 870 always seemed to have 6BBs in it while shooting. This meant on three round mode there are two shots (rather than the usual one) still in the chamber once the mag has been released. Just a safety concern to be aware of.

Speaking of BBs, the gun has a fire selector hidden behind the ejection port cover. This is moved when the gun is pumped but it can also be dragged back by gripping it with your fingers. With this, you can switch between the standard tri shot and a six round mode. There are only three barrels, so the six round mode simply pushes an additional BB out of each barrel. Mode switching is simple although I can see players setting it to one and leaving it to prevent running out of ammo at the wrong time. It also has the standard push button safety you have seen before countless times.

Gas is inserted into the stock of the gun (hence the decision to go for a full stocked model first) and contained within removable gas tanks. These things are nicely made and feel really solid (always a good sign) and are about the size of a 20rd VN style M16 mag. They add a bit of weight to the stock of the gun although this helps to actually improve its balance. Inserting the gas tanks is one of the few oddities about the gun. If you gently insert the gas tank, the hose connecting tank to gun will not properly seal, leading to your gas being released into the environment without being shot. Instead, as recommended by Airsoft Tim of Redwolf and other, its best to lightly place the gas tank in the stock, put the butt pad over the top and then sharply tap the butt pad back on with your hand. This should reduce gas loss and make sure nothing drops out of the gun while running around.

Testing

Well then, that’s the run down, how does it shoot? Well, here is a short video to act as a visual aid.

The shooting tests were done at 7m (due to limitations of space), using Swiss Arms 0.25g 6mm BBs and ASG Brut Sniper gas. The targets were paper on two layers of cardboard with bubble wrap to soften the blows against the garage door/backstop. The ones shown below are from the video.

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The first target shows shots using the 6 round mode. Notice how the area close to the target has been ripped to shreds by 7 shots (overloaded shell) of 6BBs each. There are some across the paper but most are focused in on that small area.

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This one is done using the three round mode. The hits are a little more spread out and although the scanning has made it hard to see, there are a few holes that have been covered back up by the movement of the paper in the top right.

I managed to get seven shells out of a single fully charged gas tank, firing slowly with a small break after each shot. This is pretty damn reasonable although I think more testing of this is needed;

Of course, the best test is in an actual game and I took it down to Halo Mill on Sunday the 18th for a three game test. First of all, make sure to properly load your gas tanks. They are pretty big and if you try to fill them about the same amount as your normal pistol mags, you won’t get many shots at all.

Overall though, impressions are great. 6 round shots is a nice middle ground between shotgun place and 40mm shell and works at suppression (although it can cause you to eat through shells quickly) while the three round is just a step above the normal shotguns. Groupings seemed to be really good, with the three round mode being three BBs landing right next to each other with very few of the flyers you see in the spring shotgun. Overall, it was a great chunk of fun to have at a CQB site

In a nutshell

+ Lovely construction
+ Six round shot is horrifying
+ Three round burst is still pretty nasty
+ Fantastic to use in terms of feel and fun
+ Great performance with a decent FPS

– Expensive
– A little bit too much of an extra faff if being used as a secondary
– Ascetics choice maybe not the most popular

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Tokyo Marui is the great granddad of airsoft, responsible for everything from the standard gearbox designs and gas blowback pistol basics up to the king of all kings, the hop up. When they make new products, other companies take a look to see what the innovator has brought to the table this time. And ye gods this one is a doozy.

Overall, if you love shotguns, play a lot of CQB or just want to upgrade from a spring shotgun and are willing to pay the price, this is a must have. However, it is worth remembering that it is likely other types will soon be on the way and I have no idea what the customisation market will be like for these things. I thoroughly looking forward to using mine in the future.

On Summer 2, Holiday and Airsoft News

So the summer continues! I’m writing this at the start of my two week holiday which was a little shifted around from the original plan. Luckily this has meant that my holiday backs on to Ground Zero (more on that later) so it simplifies a lot of my relaxation plans. I really enjoy the process of being at work but after 10 weeks (and all the university work before hand) I am looking forward to two weeks of not working flat out. So there will be a lot of films watched, games played and time spent sleeping.

However, that doesn’t mean I’ll be entirely lazy. I’m going to be working with the Undercurrent team (now called Hammerhead Studios) on a new game being done as part of the Oculus Rift game jam. As part of this, I’ll be spending a day in Middlesbrough banging out code where I actually have access to a Rift and spending a few other days working at home thanks to the magic of the internet. Hopefully, we can throw another game using the Rift into our collection and give us another interesting game to demo. We have previously shown off Undercurrent multiple times (at Rezzed, Abertay’s own Dare ProtoPlay and more) and it seems to be very well received, with huge queues of people each time. I look forward to making more games with the team.

So airsoft. As I mentioned above, my holiday will see me heading back down south for the National Airsoft Event, something I haven’t been to since my very first year of airsofting. When I first went I wasn’t 100% sold on the event – it had some major issues in the gameplay with the assassin rules ending up with some rather violent encounters when it came to scan tagging. Combine this with no game plan, no comms, underpowered guns, lack of magazines and other small issues added up to a weekend that I still enjoyed (its hard not to when there are 1000+ targets against your 500 man team in some tense ass firefights). Last year we skipped it, instead spending our summer weekend knee deep in World War 2 and aliens at Operation Greenback and having a whale of a time. However, it sounded like the organisers of Ground Zero had heard our complaints and got rid of a swathe of rules which lead to a much better time. So we as a group decided to head back for some more super fun time with tons of people in the sun.

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In preparation for this, I’ve been doing a bit of purchasing and moving around of kit. The first is about pure stupidity. I sold off my M79 – it was a fun launcher but its manufacturing left a fair bit to be desired. To replace it, I picked up a M72 LAW from one of the marshals at Halo Mill. To be honest, its kind of a step down in functionality, as the LAW was a little more fragile when first bought. It is also a lot more bulky and harder to use effectively, as it us hard to use single handily. However, it is a much cooler weapon, with a lot more heads turning when its on the field. Its also intensely satisfying to unsling, unpack and fire in one swift motion. I’m most likely going to sell it but before then there is time for some hilarity.

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At the practical end of the scale, I have picked up a second pistol to add to my collection. Above all other standard size pistols, the 1911 and its family are classic. They are the finest designed pistol in terms of ergonomics and safety. Although the airsoft version suffers from a small gas tank due to the thin magazines of the original (that single stack design) its still a perfect pistol. I’ve missed having a sensible sized sidearm since I sold off my 1911 and P226 and although I love my MK23, it does have a few issues, especially in terms of its FPS when its warm. A friend was selling a TM 1911 MEU (the updated version of 1911 used by the US Marine Corps) with and I was more than excited to grab it from him. Tokyo Marui makes fantastic pistols – rapiers compared to the broadswords of KWA. I really like it and its a worthy assistant to my MK23.

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Finally is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Ever since they announced the upcoming release of a gas powered 870 from TM, I had been anxiously waiting for the pre-orders to go up. TM makes fantastic spring powered shotguns that form the template for all other tri-shots on the market. Their new shotgun takes the tri-shot model and replaces the spring with a large gas tank placed in the stock as well as including the option to switch to a 6 round mode. Overall, it sounds like the perfect upgrade to the spring shotgun. Now when Echigoya put them up for sale, alongside the gas tanks, I jumped it on it. Especially when the UK retailers are selling them for going on £70+ on top of the Asian sellers. SO I jumped on the pre-order train and now one is winging its way to me just in time for Ground Zero. I really loved using my old ASG M3 and before that the TM SPAS12 so I am excited to going back to the shotgun way of play. I’ll write something up when it arrives.

That’s it for now, I picked up a few other things and saw a film or two but I can write about that some other day. For now, I’m off to sleep seeing as I have to be in Middlesbrough tomorrow.