© Light Gauges 2006

Living with the Remington 1100
Special Sporting .410

Part 1: A tale of three 1100ís

By Tim Woodhouse

Shootingís a funny thing really, when youíre but a young lad, you start off wanting to launch the biggest and largest load of shot in the known world, and get beaten up with recoil for the privilege; but bizarrely love every minute of it.
In my case my first ever 12gauge shotgun that I was allowed to hunt with had but a single barrel: the venerable beast kicked pretty much the same at both ends (or so it seemed). This didnít stop me from stuffing it with 1 ľ oz loads of fairly large shot, not fully appreciating the delicacies of pellet counts versus pattern density at the time; as it was a twelve gauge just about anything would work OK compared to my little .410 and its 2.5inch shells, or so I thought.

However at about this time my Skeet shooting was just getting serious and I joined the NSSA, after things were proceeding well along the road to the perfect score (well nearly anyway) with a 12 gauge Remington 1100 Skeet gun. This was 1974/5 and  It had to be said that when firing the then standard ounce and an eighth of shot, the gas operation really made all the difference after the second round of targets.

 Like just about everyone else, the reloading of shells was mandatory if serious quantities of practice targets were to be on the menu. We tried the standard one and one eighth ounce loads to start and pretty soon had gravitated to lighter shells for practise, which proved just as deadly on the target; there was the added bonus of an extra couple of shells per pound of shot, which admittedly was fiscally appealing.

If one ounce was good then it seemed logical to push the boundaries still further and load just 7/8oz of shot; this too was capable of busting targets in a workmanlike manner but the total pattern spread of the seemed to be little smaller; being borne out with extended testing on the plate.    

So thus began my love affair with the venerable 1100, I used it for all kinds of clay shooting, with its deadly effectiveness for pigeon roost shooting being a lasting memory of this era. Then one fateful day my Dad thought that perhaps it was time to move on to an over and under as my elevated growth had overtaken any real need to stick with a semi-auto.  

So a week later the 1100 had gone as a trade in, to be replaced by a Miroku 800SW with 26inch barrels. This was fine for my lighter reloads, but not so clever with the one and one eighth ounce regular shells.     

Eight years on, my next 1100 arrived after a chance visit to the local gun shop; I had been looking for something to cope with large numbers of rabbits, preferably with the capacity for quick follow up shots. It just so happened that there right in front of me was an early model 20 gauge Remington 12-20 1100 complete with 2 ĺ inch chamber and 28inch Modified barrel: perfect!       

This rapidly became my favourite gun; it was handy, didnít kick with hunting shells and was a breeze to reload; soon it was to become my choice for clay targets too.   

It rapidly became apparent that for the vast majority of my shotgun needs the 12 gauge was pretty well redundant.  

The top one-ounce loading proved to be plenty for bird and rabbit shooting. Clay targets were taken care of in royal fashion by 7/8oz and 13/16oz shells, with even the light 3/4oz loads doing their bit surprisingly well.  

It was at this point that after sampling all of the wares for the 20gauge, including some very special home brewed high velocity Ĺoz loads (for multi-shot rat control that would reliably cycle the action), that I decided to investigate further down the lighter load/gauge route.




The Special Sporting .410
Remington 1100

All of my .410 shooting thus far has been with a side by side, over and under or pump, not until now has the opportunity arisen to avail myself of a self loader in this diminutive gauge.
That said I have had a few rounds of skeet and the odd sporting clays target with a friendís .410 1100, but not the exclusive use of one for all types of targets.

Well, having finally taken the plunge, I must say that this is a gun that can coax some serious scores out of a shooter.
Firstly, having sampled the standard fixed choke 1100 with the 25 inch Modified barrel, the look and finish of the Special Sporting is very much on the deluxe side, very slick with the unmistakable lines and silhouette of the 1100, but in a specialised small gauge package.  

Also packed in the box was the comprehensive selection of choke tubes; Skeet, Improved Cylinder, Light Modified, Modified and Full. These are very nicely finished with clearly readable markings that look as if they will be just as legible from the first dayís use to the last, as no tools are required to install or remove them, there will be no worries over a lost choke wrench.  

After assembling the gun from the box the first impression is that of Ďrealí gun feel; it might be a .410 but there would clearly be no need to add weights to the front end to maintain a good swing (unlike my over and under), to avoid the ever-present chance of inadvertently poking at the target.      


With the longer 27inch barrel and extended screw in choke tubes it presents a longer sight picture than the other model, but comes into its own for serious small gauge sporting targets.

Iíve always found the stock dimensions to be very comfortable with all of the 1100ís that have made my acquaintance; apart from the inevitable inch or so extension needed to cope with my rather long arms (a slip on pad of about 1inch normally sorts this out), being no fault of the 1100ís but more to do with my anatomy.  

First shot impressions

After selecting the Skeet tube, my first shots were at the club skeet range with a variety of shells that were handy from my loading bench. It took a little while to adjust to the longer barrelís sight picture, but after this the scores became smooth and consistent, in fact the breaks were so good it was hard to believe that it was only a .410!
Using NSSA legal 1/2oz loads the patterns were unsurprisingly tighter than with full weight magnum fodder, but then that is the nature of the beast. The weight and natural pointability of the 1100 concept were present here in spades, being a very user-friendly package indeed. Centering the pattern on the target had never been easier.
Having met up with my associate tester for a 12gauge shot shell appraisal at West London Sporting Targets, and upon the completion of our commissioned task it was time to take on the ultimate challenge: .410 FITASC!

Sporting clays are after all the intended usage of this gun, so inevitably, armed with a good selection of suitable factory loads
And the selection of the Modified tube for my gun, we went forth together into the fray.

At this point I have to say that my friend Mike has to be just about the most committed .410 1100 fan in the UK. He has shot entire 12gauge FITASC series with his 25inch fixed Modified choke 1100 and won the respect and admiration of all who shoot with him. Indeed his main concern is that the organiser or target setter should feel aggrieved at his tackling their layout with his .410; happily this has not so far been the case.

He has also travelled to Europe and shot with it in several countries in FITASC including Finland!
After some preliminary shooting at general sporting targets, we decided to as near as possible to shoot part of the course of the final mini-FITASC series held the WLST ground.
This originally was comprised of 100 targets at four separate layouts within the main ground.
The first layout sequence of 25 targets was chosen mainly because we were already nearest to it. It was comprised of a sequence of English Sporting clays set up around a five position connected stand, with differing sequences of targets at each cage position. Always a single first with full use of the gun (up to two shots if needed), then an on report pair, followed by a simultaneous pair.
This went well, with good breaks on all of the targets, when we put the pattern in the right place!

 As always, shooting the .410 was a very enjoyable experience, the best thing of all though with the .410 Remington 1100
Is that there is absolutely no felt recoil whatsoever!
This is not to say that any full sized .410 kicks like a mule, but that with these guns, recoil (the total lack of it) is conspicuous by its absence.
Iíve always liked shooting 1100ís, but the .410 versions certainly take things to a whole new dimension.

In the following articles of this .410 Special Sporting 1100 series the other areas under investigation will be:
Factory loaded ammunition types for reliable cycling of the action.
Reloading reliable shells for differing applications with the 1100, including old tricks to increase primer retention in some case types.
Pet loads for sporting clays with the 1100.
Workable .410 FITASC loads
Which .410 powders work best in the 1100?
Choke choices and patterning with US #4 shot magnum loads
For Foxing/Coyotes out to 30 yards.
The best cleaning regime for enhanced reliability.
Choke choices for Buckshot. (UK AAA & BB).
Can .410 slugs be reliable and accurate in a multi-choke gas operated 1100?

UK Remington distributors: Edgar Brothers, Heather Close,
Lyme Green Business Park, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 0LR.
Tel: 01625-613177   Fax: 01625-615276  
Email: admin@edgar-brothers.co.uk   
Web site: www.edgar-brothers.co.uk  

© Light Gauges 2006