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I have two mid 1950's 870s in 16 gauge and neither one have a stock bearing block installed. These appear to be un-altered as far as I can tell.

Using my calipers to measure the depth at the back of the action where the stock inserts and the depth of the recessed area of the stock head, there does not seem to be any room to insert one.

I am assuming Remington may have changed the head-end of their stocks to allow for the bearing block, but I have also heard others say similar vintage 870s have one.

Anybody got the whole story?
 

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I'm certainly not an expert, but I do know that the easiest way to determine if a particular 870 needs the steel plate is to install the stock as you think it should be installed, but with only slightly snugged down bolt. Then try to slide a piece of paper between the wooden shoulder of the stock and the metal edge of the receiver. If the paper slips between the two surfaces then fully tighten the stock bolt. If the paper still fits then you don't need the bearing plate. If there is not room for the piece of paper the shoulder of the stock will take the recoil energy most likely chipping the stock. If this is the case you better install the plate.

Generally I like to use a business card rather than just paper, but you get the idea.
 
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