I like shotguns, they’re intimidating and you have to work harder to miss.
Airsoft shotguns though? Generally considered as underpowered, certainly they don’t appear to have caught on. Even in CQB games where you’d assume they’d be everywhere, you’ll often only find one or maybe two.
They’re commonly viewed as an oddity, a good concept yet poorly executed, summed up in a single word… Underwhelming.
So, why is that? Well, let’s look briefly at the history of shotguns within Airsoft.
The shotguns we had a decade ago, such as the Remington 870 series made by G&P were externally very pleasing, but didn’t really offer a shotgun experience. Being only single shot replicas and lacking that typical shotgun click clack from racking the pump made them a good visual prop, but not wholly what you’d expect from a shotgun.
Also worth noting, is the evolution to multi barrelled, multi-shot designs. Marui produced their original tri-shot Benelli M3 and Franchi SPAS12 models in the mid ‘90s, and what a thing they were! Shotguns that actually, you know… fire shot.
Arguably this series of multi-shot replicas were a game changer and certainly prompted my first shotgun purchase, a SPAS 12 for which I unfortunately never couldn’t afford the coveted folding stock.
ASG were pretty quick to market their own copies of the Tokyo Marui M3 and SPAS 12. More recently, you’ll find a brace of clones and additional third party models using the same 30rnd shell, triple-shot, triple barrelled design.
Tokyo Marui decided to revisit the shotgun concept probably around 2010, releasing the 870 tactical a year or so later. A massive step forward, using the same triple barrel system and the same shells, but changing the power source from spring to gas. This one simple step made rapid loading and shooting possible and potentially made the 870 the best choice for shotgun based Airsoft shooting.
I’ve brushed over the shell ejecting shotguns produced by Maruzen, APS, PPS and the like, but only the special few are silly enough to run around a site with shells flying out the side of their replica getting lost or damaged, and shell catchers, despite their obvious benefits, really do make the whole idea of a shell ejecting shotgun feel rather “Heath Robinson”.
A couple of years after the success of the original 870 Tactical, Tokyo Marui added to the shotgun range with this model, the Remington 870 MCS “Breacher”.
This addition brings us mostly up to date in terms of Airsoft shotguns, with the exception of Multi barrelled AEGs such as the AA12 (as seen in The Expendables and Predators) and their other Saiga 12, Resident Evil inspired model.
The Tokyo Marui Breacher is modelled on the Remington 870 MCS in its shortest configuration, with a 10″ barrel, 20mm “Picatinny” top rail and the Pachmayr Vindicator pistol grip. A perfect option for breaching, and a relatively short package compared to the majority of other shotguns. The real life Remington 870 “Breacher” is an oddity in that it’s not really a weapon so much as a tool, it’s primary role is to knock hinges and locks off doors as quickly as possible.
The design of the Tokyo Marui 870 series has been condensed to its smallest package in this replica, the gas tank that’s housed within its bigger brother’s stock is hidden within the grip and the outer barrel has been shortened to replicate the 10” found on the real world Breacher.
Starting from the very back, or as some might say “butt to tip” the vindicator type pistol grip is rather comfortable, more akin to a revolver grip or even a knife than a traditional firearm grip. Its modelled rather well on the real Vindicator grip and although I’d hazard an educated guess that it’s been widened a little to allow the gas reservoir as much room as possible, it’s still comfortable to hold. Pachmayr trades set within a gold badge adorn each side of the grip and the chequering is both functional and comfortable to hold.
The base of the grip is where the gas reservoir is held captive, with the reservoir appearing as a pistol magazine shaped tank which can be released from the shotgun for reloading via a simple push button, allowing the tank to fall free of the grip. To reinsert, simply push the tank back in place until you hear an audible click and the release button is flush again with the base.
The tank has both the inlet and release valves on the top face of the tank, this is rather unusual for airsoft replicas but it does help keep the valve both free of debris and the lines of the shotgun true to its namesakes form. The valve is rather unique as it serves to connect with a short section of tube and then onwards to the fore end of the shotgun. There’s probably more valves than there needs to be, but it does make for a relatively modular system.
The trigger guard is one of the distinctive features of the Remington, it’s generally the first thing I’d use to ID a Remington 870 from one of the other popular pump-actions available today. Sweeping forward and flaring towards the loading port at the bottom, it’s also one of a handful of parts that has remained distinctively “civilian” in an otherwise very military looking weapon.
The trigger also has that same civilian feel, with a narrow profile and a lightweight pull, its one of the nicest triggers out there, even if it’s a little underwhelming compared to its namesake when you actually pull the trigger. There’s a short amount of take up before hitting a pronounced “wall”, beyond this the let off is sharp yet smooth. There’s no reset in the trigger, the 870’s action allows a user to hold the trigger down and simply rack the action to both chamber and fire the next shot once the action is back in battery.
Just forward of the grip, sits a cross-bolt type safety. This design of safety will be familiar to anyone whose used a real firearm, as arguably the most prevalent type of safety in the world. As with most things, its biased to a right-handed shooter, pushing it right will make the weapon safe, to the left will put it into fire. A red band indicates when it’s “live”, but it does lack any other form of marking, so knowing your weapon is essential if you’re unable to see this visual indicator.
Just to the left hand side of the trigger guard is the mock Action Bar Lock release lever, On a real 870, this would allow the shotgun action to be pulled to the rear after it’s cocked and eject a chambered round.
On the Tokyo Marui version, it drops the faux carrier down at the rear to allow a single shell to be loaded. Only one shell can be loaded into the 870 at any one time, as it works as a shell shaped magazine rather than a single shot shell, each “shell” holding 30 rounds, which equals five x 6 round shots or ten 3 x round shots.
On the receiver itself, there is a sling swivel stud which appears sturdy enough to mount either a compatible sling or weapon retention lanyard, but treat this with a little respect as there’s no guarantee that it won’t eventually break if mishandled.
The outer shell of the receiver is metal, although don’t mistake the fact that it’s metal as meaning its indestructible, it isn’t. As I’ve mentioned before, Tokyo Marui make what are effectively toys. They’re not designed to be chucked around, some would argue that merely skirmishing these is somewhat outside of their original intended purpose (in fact some retailers have used this to deny claims under warranty in the past).
The ejection port on the right hand side is only functional in appearance, when the action is all the way to the rear, the port opens about 1/2 an inch to allow the user to select between a 3 and 6 shot pattern. To do this, simply choose from either forward or back and your 870 will fire either a 3 or 6 shot pattern the next time it’s loaded.
Above the receiver, is a short section of Picatinny rail. This might seem somewhat of an oddity in a shotgun thats so short, but given that it lacks any other form of sight system (aside looking over the barrel), its something that’s probably more important for airsoft than it is in real life. The rail is more than long enough for anything you’re likely to mount, just be aware that it’s only held on with 3 small bolts, make sure these are thread-locked in place and I’d avoid putting any excess pressure on them, such as a sling point.
I’ll point out again that we should always remember the 870 in a Breacher configuration is exactly that, designed to be shoved against a door hinge or lock, without the need for any kind of ranged sights whatsoever. The only arguable reason for having any sights on this in real life would be if it’s being used in some form of less-lethal role with beanbag rounds or something similar. Purely there as an integral part of the MCS’s receiver, it really doesn’t serve a purpose apart from maybe another point to attach a sling point to.
The pump mechanism itself is utilised via a pair of action arms, one each side of the faux magazine tube. These connect to the action from the fore-grip/pump handle and although there are “upgrades” available, I’ve yet to find a reason why these would need to be swapped out.
The fore-grip is rather unique in appearance, a short polymer, ribbed design with a large flange to the front which is seemingly there to keep the users hand well away from both the muzzle and away from the door you’re attempting to remove from it’s frame.
I’m not going to get into a huge debate about design, I’m sure Remington know what they’re doing, but I don’t find it very comfortable and usually end up putting my thumb around the barrel to keep it away from the muzzle. I’m in the process of swapping this out to a small triple rail fore-grip and mounting either a Magpul or other type of vertical grip, this will also enable me to mount a light of some type, perfect for a shotgun within a CQB environment.
The front cap of the magazine tube is removable, allowing the user to hide an additional shell within the faux magazine. Whilst not the quickest way of reloading, its a nice touch. As for other ways to store shells, Tokyo Marui do also sell a shell saddle, this sits on the left side of the shotgun, sandwiched beneath the top rail and allows the user to fit 5 additional shells onto the side of the receiver. It’s something that I would consider an essential purchase, certainly it’s faster and more convenient to load from the weapon itself, than from a pouch or placard.
The barrel is tapered, with a wide base near the breech and narrowing gradually in an organic curve towards the muzzle. There are markings denoting its bore and shell types accommodated in the chamber, but aside from this and the aforementioned markings, the Breacher is mostly devoid of trades.
The muzzle remains a basic design, with no devices such as a stand-off, break or choke as you might find on a real breaching shotgun. This isn’t the end of the world though as the breacher is often seen “bare bones” with zero attachments, but for those wanting a little bit of a unique touch, you could always have one 3D printed and I believe there’s a few options already out on the market.
In use, I’ve found the breacher to be something that feels bastard-like in it’s nature. That’s not to say I hate using it, rather that I always struggle to find a reason to carry it rather than a traditional primary or sidearm.
It fits neither role in a traditional sense and unless I was considering going “full LARPtard” and carrying it in it’s most true to life role as a Breacher, I often find it remaining in the safe zone as I can’t find a sensible reason to take it out.
Using it as a primary in anything but the closest and smallest of venues can feel a little odd. Lacking in sights and a stock puts it within the class of a pistol, but using it as a sidearm comes without the benefits that a traditional pistol format sidearm would have (namely it’s comparative large size and bulk). Storing it in a way that’s quick to bring into the fight but without it becoming a flapping, clunking mess is a challenge in itself. Weapon catches or sheaths work relatively well, but nowhere near as streamlined as a pistol or even certain PDWs. The full or modified stock-tube Tokyo Marui 870s in my opinion, offer what I’d consider a better option for a primary.
Again, we’re looking back to the Breacher’s raison d’être… To knock doors off their hinges. Using it for anything else rather than it’s primary purpose can mean having to solve problems and invent workarounds that any other weapon system simply doesn’t have to deal with.
There’s also the question of range and power, both being relatively difficult to alter due to the way Tokyo Marui have designed the system. The hop unit itself is of a fixed design, with no adjustment possible.
Personally I’ve found .25 ammo to be the best all round for mid to long range, which for a shotgun like this is probably the length of a basketball court (30m approx). Heavier ammo will require a slight lob to hit target unless using it for room to room range, although you can benefit from a subtle amount of joule creep if using .3 ammo. Although you’re better off experimenting to find what works best for you and your particular environment, as they say… Your mileage may vary!
Power is hard to measure, chronographs struggle to read an individual shot and firing a single BB can yield results that don’t match up to all three barrels being used. The box says 290/300 FPS and I’d say that’s probably bang on the money.
Maximum effective range is something that’s going to depend on ammo and conditions, I’ve found that I can get a nice A4 sized 3 shot spread at 25m. Using the 6 shot option appears to have a negative impact on range and a noticeable increase in spread (it also means having to reload twice as often). At room sized ranges (10m or below), the Breacher can be devestating.
What it lacks in absolute power, it makes up for in it’s shock factor. Being hit by 3 balls in a 3” grouping is like a slap to the arse, I’ve certainly found that the standard of hit taking goes dramatically upwards when using a triple barrelled replica.
The simple truth is that this is one of the most fun replicas to shoot out of all of Tokyo Marui’s line up, and there’s simply nothing more satisfying than hitting more than one target with a single shot, a rare feat, but something that a shotgun was seemingly born for.
So the golden question… Can I recommend it to a friend? The answer is still yes. Despite its obvious shortcomings, the Breacher is undeniably fun to shoot. We airsofters have a massive advantage in that by choosing to use something that’s maybe not the perfect tool for a job, we only have to deal with a bit of discomfort. In the real world, you’d only consider carrying this around in a very small and specific set of circumstances.
Racking that pump action WILL bring a smile to your face, and certainly any hardcore weapons enthusiasts collection is in need of at least one shotgun. If you’re looking for something to plink in the garden or tart around on YouTube with, choose the shell ejecting models offered elsewhere. If you want to shoot at people during a skirmish or Milsim in a close combat setting? Grab a Tokyo Marui 870.