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Heros & Guns – Jamaica’s Shotgun

Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on March 16, 2009

With special thanks to author Sandi Ault and her book Wild Inferno. Visit her site at www.sandiault.com

In Wild Inferno, the Hotshot crews are getting a briefing before they go out to fight a wild fire that is blazing through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. While on patrol, Jamaica herself often carries a Remington 870 Super Magnum Pump-Action Shotgun. Here is a brief excerpt from Wild Inferno showing one of the uses of this gun:



The wildlife agent took over the briefing: “This she-bear may be reluctant to take her baby near the highway or down through the black where it’s already burned. And they’re starving. We’re going to try to get up there and bait some traps so we can capture them and transport them to someplace safe. But in the meantime” – he held up a double-barrel pump—“we need to talk about these shotguns—a couple of these have already been issued to the crews in that area”.

            Some of the firefighters laughed and joked about bear hunting season being open, but the wildlife agent held up his hand to stop them.

“These shotguns will only be used to fire a beanbag round. That’s a strong nylon pouch with about forty grams of lead shot inside. The beanbag is inserted into a standard twelve-gauge shotgun shell. When that shell is fired, the bag is expelled at around two hundred ninety feet per second. In flight, it spread out and distributes the impact over about six centimeters of the target. It is meant to deliver a blow that will minimize long-term trauma with no penetration, but will briefly render the animal prone and immobile. Now, this beanbag round has a maximum range of around sixty-five feet, but it’s inaccurate over about eighteen or nineteen feet. The idea here is to stun the bear and give you time to get away, not to harm the bear.

“This is just for your safety….” [Wild Inferno by Sandi Ault, Publ. by Berkley Prime Crime, Feb 2008]


As a defensive tool, the Remington 870 is a fantastic choice for Jamaica and, often, may be found in use by BLM agents, Forest Rangers, military and even your local police department. The beanbag round mentioned is a common device used for putting down wild life, or even persons, when you wish to stun or impair them, but not necessarily to do permanent, penetrating harm. The gun has versatility, reliability and a very dependable action that make this one of the most sold and highly praised shotguns in today’s market.


My personal experience with this gun can be summed up in one cliché, to borrow an advertising term> ‘it takes a lickin but keeps on tickin’. First of all, my shotgun of choice for hunting and for personal protection is a pump action. They are easy to learn and easy to use. The 870 uses a bottom-loading, side ejecting receiver which, after 1000’s of rounds, does not seem to jam easy unless there is ‘user error’. Yes, it is a very rugged gun that functions reliably under the very worst of conditions and is durable enough that after a hard life with you, it will still function well for the person you pass it on to – with an almost guaranteed bang for every trigger pull. It’s heavy enough to absorb the shock but not too heavy that it puts an undue strain on you. There are many variations of the Remington 870 with availability in 10, 12, 16, 20 gauge [also a 410 bore], barrel lengths from 18 to 30 inches and weight from 7 to 8 pounds. A handy tool or a sportsman’s friend, this pump action shotgun has a 4 to 8 round internal tube magazine that can chamber up to the 3 ½ inch shell. Because its components are produced on high-speed production machinery, the gun has far out paced the earlier guns that required precision machined parts and hand tooling that made earlier guns much more expensive and time costly to produce. Parts are readily available and interchangeable should something break. It’s affordable, simple to maintain, easy to learn use of and just plain fun to shoot. Jamaica has my stamp of approval on her personal choice of shotguns.


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