The first thing my Old Man did upon getting my new prize down into his corner of the basement was to, step by step, demonstrate the disassembly/assembly process. Having owned an M1100 since 1970, Pop was quite familiar with the mechanical workings of the autoloader. Today, in fact, he has enough spare parts – highly organized, mind you – to build a complete new shotgun, if, that is, he’d so wish.
Secondly, the Old Man’s rule on shotgun maintenance was, and still is, quite simple – if you take a gun into the field, it gets wiped down afterwards; if you shoot that gun, it gets broken down, cleaned, and reassembled. But I digress.
Though there have been some slight internal modifications to the M1100 over the past three decades, the gas-operated semi-automatic appears, both inside and out, much as it did back in The Day.
Outwardly, the M1100 – we’ll use my 16-gauge here as an exhibition item – falls, at least to me, somewhere between Moderately Ornate and Plain Jane. The American walnut stock and fore-end are finished in a high-gloss epoxy coating, with both the pistol grip and the underside of the fore-end being handsomely, albeit simply, checkered.
Present is the hard black plastic grip cap inlaid with Remington’s traditional, though now sadly absent, elongated white diamond. Both the receiver and barrel are blued; the left and right sides of the receiver sport tasteful engraved scrollwork, as does the chrome bolt.
The barrel, in this case a 28-inch tube, is topped with a wide ¼-inch pillared rib, and culminates in a fixed modified choke. Newer guns, not surprisingly, feature Big Green’s interchangeable Rem-Choke system. A single 3mm silver bead sits atop the muzzle. The M1100’s cross-bolt safety sits where it should – behind the trigger guard. The bolt/carrier release button is located underneath the receiver as an integral part of the carrier/elevator.
To disassemble the Old School M1100 is to understand its inner workings. Inside the fore-end and riding the magazine tube, two gas pistons – or, technically, a gas piston and a gas piston seal – assist in the gas-metering process.
Usable pressure enters the mechanism via two ports located underneath the barrel in the upper portion of the gas cylinder; the gas cylinder slides over the magazine tube as the firearm is reassembled. Upon firing, gas pressure forces the action bar assembly — it too riding the magazine tube — and bolt rearward. A metal link or rod connecting the bolt and bolt plate slides back, compressing the recoil spring in the stock.
The kinetic energy created assists in returning the bolt, bolt plate, and action bar assembly forward and into a firing position. In the midst of this instantaneous process, a fresh shotshell is released from the magazine, and elevated into an active loading position via a carrier.