Sunday, October 29, 2006

Remington Model 11: A very belligerent fowling piece.

Unlike most European armies, the American armed forces have always had a place for the shotgun. Used on shipboard, guarding stockades, even seeing irregular use as a cavalry weapon during the Civil War, scatterguns have served with distinction. When the Doughboys went to the trenches of France in the Great War, they brought along the Winchester Model 1897 shotguns that were already serving, and soon pressed them into use as "trench brooms". The Germans filed a complaint in September of 1918 protesting the American use of fowling pieces, and alleging that they contravened the law of war (an odd stance for the inventors of chemical warfare.) The protest was dismissed by Secretary of State Robert Lansing in a formal diplomatic response.

ABOVE: Remington Model 11 riot shotgun, circa 1943. Photo by Oleg Volk.

Meanwhile, the need for shotguns had outstripped the supply of Model 1897's and Model 12's, as well as Remington Model 10's were also pressed into service.

In World War Two, the shotgun was again called to duty, with the Winchesters joined by Ithaca, Stevens, Savage, and the Remington Model 11. The latter shotgun, a John Moses Browning design, was notable for being the first self-loading shotgun.

RIGHT: Detail of Remington 11 receiver. Photo by Oleg Volk.

Browning had shopped the design to Winchester first, as he had all his previous longarm designs, but this time around they declined to pay royalties on the novel weapon and so he next shopped it to Winchester's arch-rival, Remington. Before Remington could enter negotiations their president died, and Browning instead took the gun to Fabrique Nationale, the company originally formed by the Belgian government and Ludwig Loewe to produce Mausers for the Belgian army. Browning had worked with them in the past, selling them several autopistol designs, one of which, a Model 1910, fired the shot that ignited World War One.

FN produced the shotgun as the Auto-Five, and production was licensed to Remington as the Model 11. It was a robust weapon, operating on the long-recoil principle, but was obviously designed as a sporting weapon rather than a military one, requiring tools for disassembly and reassembly. The one pictured above wears the "flaming bomb" U.S. Ordnance mark. Its serial number dates it to 1943, and it was probably used to guard a naval installation, or perhaps as a shipboard weapon.

LEFT: Detail of U.S. Ordnance markings on receiver. Photo by Oleg Volk.

U.S. military use of the scattergun continues to this day, with Remington, Mossberg, and Benelli shotguns being used in a variety of roles, from house-to-house fighting in the Middle East, to its traditional role as a weapon for facilities guards, to specialized short versions used as breaching weapons, for blowing locks and hinges off doors in close-quarters battle in urban settings.


Don M said...

Thanks for working through the stops!

Nothing worth doing is easy, or else someone else would already have done it!

Jeffro said...

Great gun, great post. I've got one of the Diawa Auto 5 clones - so I've got a soft spot for this design. JMB (moment of silence) was a god.

Matt G said...

Good post, Tam. I found myself also reading all of the Parks article on "The Joint Service Combat Shotgun Program" in the 1997 edition of The Army Lawyer that you cited.

BobG said...

Nice article on an underrated military weapon.

I had a friend who preferred a scattergun when in the Marines in Vietnam. He was extremely short, so when he got over there they put him to work as a tunnel rat. Most of them took a .45 for protection in the tunnels, but he had a friend send him a useful (though illegal) substitute: a double barrel 12 gauge with the barrel and stock sawed off. Loaded with 00 buck, it was useful for clearing a tunnel.
At the time he was in, they were having difficulties with the M16, so when out in the bush, he packed a pump shotgun. said...

Us AP's carried 20 gauge pumps with "punkin balls" for close in aircraft guard duty at DaNang. None of them looked this good!

I remember dropping a lit cigarette down the tube of one as the Flight Commander drove up one night. I was guarding some JP4 bladders and, of course, there was no smoking in the area. We talked for about 10 minutes before he finally said, "You been shootin' much tonight?" I said no, and asked why. He pointed at the gun barrel silhouetted by some hanger lights - you could see the smoke curling up!

He just grinned and drove off.

Brandon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brandon said...

Well, sorry about the "This post has been removed by the author" comment. You can't edit a comment to fix an error once you've posted it, and I didn't know deleting one left that lovely message.


Great post, and great pictures, too. I'm wrapping up John M. Browning - American Gunmaker, which I picked up in a gunsmith's shop on impulse, and am just blown away by Browning's genius. Needless to say, that book rates as one of my better impulse purchases.

My father has a Light Twelve Auto-5 he bought back in the 60s for my grandfather's birthday--Belgian, with a gold trigger, it's just beautiful--and I'm dying to shoot it. I must have one of my own, and that neat little M11 riot gun fits the bill just fine. After all, everybody needs a decent shotgun for defensive purposes, right?

NotClauswitz said...

Hey Brandon-dude, I've got a similar '54 Belgian Light-Twelve that I inherited from my grandpa and have never yet shot. Damn, all my shooting buddies (all two) are rifle-guys.

Anonymous said...

I inherited my dad's M-11;has a Cutts Compensator with swapable chokes.When Brushy Mtn.State Pen. closed I was able to score one of their M-11 Police guns intending to use it as a parts gun should Dad's 11 break.To date neither gun has.M-11's are chunky,heavy & outdated,but these two have a place in my heart & gun case.

Call me earthworm:'Blogger'or'Other don't fit me & in this case I prefer not to be 'Anonymous'.

staghounds said...

Those little anchors are actually Reminton proofs.

Anonymous said...

I made a poster out of one of these.

Available at Volkstudio

Tam said...

Please buy Oleg's posters, folks, so he'll keep taking sweet pictures of my stuff.

Alan said...

Very good article. I am and have always been a shotgun believer. I collect AOWs of various makes, but my exposure to the M-11 came in 1974 when the Georgia PD I worked for acquired 4 mil-surplus M-11s for patrol car shotguns. After qualifying with the recoil operated rascal and nursing a sore shoulder for weeks I decided to look inside to see what might be done. Taped inside the fore end was a printed label showing the correct placement of the shim rings to ease recoil for stouter loads. It didn't seem to help but I liked the model anyway. I'm retired now and have been trying to find several of my favorites from across the years...But the Reminton Model 11s in riot configuration seem to have increased greatly in worth while they were gracefully aging.

Anonymous said...

I own a remmington model 11 aswell but mine has some slight differences from the one pictured. Forexample on the reciever of my gun on the right side there is a quail and on the left side there is a duck both scenes are depressed into the metal and below the duck scene it has the Remington name and pat.# also on that same side loop ( i dotn know the technical name for it is a fancy letter which could be An H but im not sure. my gun has the U.S. ordinance markings and anchor aswell. However there is no detail on the fore end and the wood is more of a red color. My gun also has a polychoke but according to the Model letters was manufactured in april 1943.Also i found the letters R.E.P. circled and next to the circle is a star and wonderd what it stood for. if anyone could help i would aprecate it thanks.

Unknown said...

My Remington M11 was my Grandfather's. He bought it in 1914, the year my Mother was born! It is a heavy piece, but is great in the brush. The barrel is now a 25" cylinder bore, having lost the front 1". My Grandfather got snow in the barrel and it slightly ballooned the end of the barrel. That was removed (with the brass sighting ball) when the gun was refinished in the early 1960's. Still looks great and is fully functional.


John B said...

I have a WESTERN FIELD Copy of the M-11, notorious for the fact that you can't fit an auto-5 stock to it. It is rusty as hell. I just slapped a turtle wax priming product on it. It was my first shotgun, and I still use it frequently. I got it from the original owner who left it in a hunting lodge and the roof caved in that winter. I bobbed the original barrel, and GOD BLESS GUNBROKER.NET and AUCTIONARMS.COM I got some replacement barrels for a song. When I win the lottery, I'll have it cleaned up, and a laminated stock fitted. I have a few other 12 gauges, but this one is the one I'll reach for if I ever have to defend the home from a mass assault.

Anonymous said...

More or deaper research required. The M97 was not known as the 'trench broom', 'trench sweeper' or any other tool name. The Thompson smg was the trench broom.
The Model 12 Winchester never served in the Great War.

Anonymous said...

The picture you show is not the model 11 riot. Just the model 11. The riot has the Cutts end on the barrel..Grades Offered: 11 A – Standard Grade
11 R – Riot Special
11 P – Police Special
11 B – Special Grade
11 C – Trap Grade
11 D – Tournament Grade
11 E – Expert Grade
11 F – Premier Grade

Designer/Inventor: John F. Browning with subsequent improvements by C.C. Loomis and other Remington designers

I own the riot


Anonymous said...

hi i have two model elevens and i dont know much about them, is there anywhere i can look up the serial #s

Anonymous said...

You can contact Remington via their website. I just sent an email with the serial number to the one under the "contact us" tab. They responded the next day with the year it was made. (1913)

Anonymous said...

I have a model 11 and need information on buying a new forarm and stock for my email is

Anonymous said...

I restore weapons, and came across a Mod 11 on Gunsamerica. Price started out ok, but was run up to $250 for a dented rusted and non functioning shotgun.

Well, I got a rerplacement spring from Washington State, refinished and metal finished the stock, reciever, adn barrel.

Now I have a beautiful Shotgun.

Anonymous said...

Remington Model 11 info

Description: First autoloading shotgun produced in the U.S.A.
Introduction Year: 1905
Year Discontinued: 1947
Total Production: Approximately 850,000 (including 65,000 made for Browning during World War II)
Designer/Inventor: John F. Browning with subsequent improvements by C.C. Loomis and other Remington designers
Action Type: Recoil operated – Hammerless – Side ejection – Take Down
Caliber/Gauge: 12, 16, 20 gauges
Serial Number Blocks: 12 gauge – approximately 10,000 – 794,990
16 gauge – approximately 1,500,000 – 1,557,000
20 gauge – approximately 1,000,000 – 1,075,000
Grades Offered: 11 A – Standard Grade
11 R – Riot Special
11 P – Police Special
11 B – Special Grade
11 C – Trap Grade
11 D – Tournament Grade
11 E – Expert Grade
11 F – Premier Grade

I just won an M11 Rem on Auction for $136.00. It is shootable, but could use some TLC. In searching for parts, SARCO had parts in stock. Most of the parts from (numrich) were sold out. I have also found some parts guns at a Medina Ohio gunshow for little or nothing. The one thing to check on any A5, M11 or dirivetives is the fiber pad on the inside back of the rec frame that cushions the bolt (use a LED light and cheater glasses with the bolt closed to see the pad or take it apart. If this is damaged, take the bolt out and inspect with NDT dye and a black light, there may be a crack in the back left of the bolt. Some cracks and breaks in the bolt do not need an NDT dye and can be seen with the naked eye. This damage happens by an over feeding of magnum loads. The fiber pad is installed via a blind rivet, not impossible to replace, but does require some basic smithy knowledge. Bolts can be found here and there in great condition at gun shows and at Sarco or

The next thing to check are the load (friction rings) rings, they need switched for the type of load you are using. New rings sets are avail from many sources and are fairly cheap, just do, due diligence in your search. To set the rings right, make sure you hold the barrel all the way recoiled, then tighten the ring cap as hand tight as you can. I have seen these loose and that causes cracked forearms.

A note on cut down stocks, this is a long recoil action, if the stock is cut down too far, the action will drill a hole in your arm from breaking through the wood.

If you have a Poly or Cutts choke on it and it will not turn, take the barrel off and place in a gutter piece with the ends sealed and soak in diesil fuel or coleman lantern fuel (white gas). It should loosen up after a cpl days in that solution, do not use wd-40 or other modern pent oils as it will go bad for you (exception of PB Blaster if you can find it, it will work well on Poly and Cutts or threaded in chokes):) * note: always be careful and watch for safety issues when using flamable liquids.

Other than this, it is a very sturdy shotgun.

There are adaptor kits for going from the square back firing pin to the round at

Many of the Browning and FN A5 parts are interchangeable with the M11.

A very nice prefitted set of stocks and forearm are available at item R11048 for like $50 in may of 2009.

If getting this piece reblued make sure the smithy uses a color match bluing system so it does not look reblued when in sunlight. * note: the trick to the right bluing is always in the polish method.

The Books.... Gunsmith Kinks avail at Brownells and Patrick Sweeneys' Gunsmithing Shotguns are an excellent source for making these shotguns as sweet as new.

Hope this all helps, feel free to contact me if you have other specific questions on this firearm. You can contact me at

Pete said...

This is very interesting reading. I have my grandfather's Model 11, purchased in 1913, and have been trying to determine its value. Between its well-used condition and the fact that—per Remington's web site—850,000 of them (!) were manufactured, it's not worth much. It's still fun to shoot.

Anonymous said...

I have a military issue Rem 11 with serial starting 478---, it has hunting scenes and miliary issue and bomb and cartouche, in good condition.
Anyone have an idea on value? I do like it but would like an Italian gun better.

Anonymous said...

i have one i want to sell needs work what is it worth my email is