Last year was a much better year. Fewer riots, no quarantines, or lockdowns, no elections. Man, 2019 was sweet. So far, the only good thing to come out of 2020 is Tiger King. Last year was also a great year because I purchased what became my very favorite gun, the ONG 870.
ONG stands for Ohio National Guard, and that is where this particular gun served from 1971 until it ended up in my hands. Guns rarely make it out of the military and into civilian hands. It took decades for 1911s to become CMP issued weapons. The ONG 870s hit the ground running by being sold to the Ohio Department of Corrections, and then to civilians.
The ONG 870 – History Alive
The ONG 870 saw service during the Katrina hurricanes, in quenching prison riots, and in many more events. The ONG 870 guns are pure riot guns. The term riot gun has largely fallen out of fashion. A riot gun is typically a short shotgun, made for combat roles. Riot guns hold anywhere from five to eight rounds.
The Riot Gun
The ONG 870 comes equipped with a clasp-like device at the end of its barrel. The device is a multiuse tool that keeps the magazine tube from bending, contains your sling keeper, and hosts a bayonet — bayonets being the sharp, pointy things that typically dissuade crowds of people without a shot having to be fired. An actual military shotgun with that device attached to it is very hard to find and is one of the factors that make the Ohio National Guard 870 so rare and unique.
Another rare fact is that this is a factory Wingmaster tactical shotgun. Most Remington 870 tactical shotguns are Express models with the cheaper finish and furniture and a tactical variant of the Wingmaster isn’t a stock item these days. Wingmaster models are more refined, with a rich blue finish; they have higher-quality control but are typically high-end sporting shotguns.
The metal finish is fantastic. The bluing is spot on and looks gorgeous. The wood furniture is pure American hardwood and also looks fantastic. This is an old gun with scratches and scrapes, but that gives it some real character.
Handling the ONG 870
The ONG 870 handles as good as it looks. This is an old school Remington action, which means it’s slick and tight. The pump glides rearward and functions without an issue. It also has integrated texturing that allows your hand to dig in and grip the gun with authority. Thus, you can manipulate the pump with speed without your grip slipping.
The gun is outfitted with nothing more than a simple bead sight. Beads on shotguns aren’t perfect, but when it comes to buckshot use, it’s all you need. The bead works perfectly at close range, and close is where the riot gun shines. It’s bright and eye-catching and allows you to quickly get lead on target. With a good tight load, the ONG 870 will allow you to engage threats out to 50 yards or so. Beyond that, the bead gets tougher to use, especially with slugs.
One thing to note is that these old 870s have 2.75-inch chambers and not 3-inch chambers, which although common these days, were not so much 50 years ago. For tactical and home defense applications, the 2.75-inch load is perfect and the preferred load for most shooters. The ONG 870 can hold seven rounds of 2.75-inch buckshot in the extended tube, giving you a proper loadout.
Like a Mule
This is a heavy gun. It’s an old school fighting shotgun devoid of lightweight plastics and polymers. The ONG 870 is a disciple of the church of wood and steel. That’s not a bad thing, especially when you consider that the weapon can be equipped with a bayonet. Heavier weapons make better melee fighting instruments. That extra ass that the ONG 870 carries around also reduces recoil.
Lots of people with relatively low body strength complain about the recoil a shotgun has. The heavy ONG 870 might help them if they can hold this beast up long enough to matter. But the length of pull (LOP), not the weight, is more important for control. The ONG 870 has a 13-inch length of pull.
Lots of shotguns these days are sporting the long 14+ inch LOPs, and they suck. The shorter 13-inch LOP gives you more control over the gun and its recoil. Longer LOPs push the gun further from you; this reduces control. Remington got it right in 1971. For some reason, modern gun makers think gorillas are wielding their shotguns.
Finishing it Up
The ONG 870 is also marked with a unique O.N.G. marking with the state of Ohio outlined on the receiver. This marking is unique only to these guns and marks them as legit ONG 870s. When these guns popped online, they sold out incredibly quickly. The original price was around $229; they are now are going for 10 times that cost on auction sites. If you see a good deal, these guns are worth scooping up.
I don’t think they are worth 2,000 bucks, but for $500 and under, they are a steal. They are collector’s items, but also living history and functional fighting guns. You can’t get better than that.