Stoeger Model 3500 Semi-Auto Shotgun -The Stoeger® M3500 Semi-Auto Shotgun uses the reliable Inertia Driven™ action to cycle 2-3/4″, 3″ or 3-1/2″ shells without adjustment, making it an extremely versatile shotgun. Since Stoeger’s Inertia Driven System requires no gas to function, the action, fore-end and barrel remain cleaner, enhancing reliability and quicker cleaning. The standard black synthetic buttstock and fore-end are impervious to weather and the matte black blends into shadows in most any environment. A ventilated, stepped rib and fiber-optic front sight allow for quick target acquisition, even in low light, and an enlarged trigger guard opening allows for operation with gloved hands. Standard features include a shim kit to provide shooter with optimum fit, and a 13-ounce recoil reducer that tames magnum recoil. The 3500 comes with 4 screw-in choke tubes: IC, M, F, and XFT, and a choke wrench. The M3500 Semi-Auto Shotgun comes pre-drilled and tapped to accommodate Weaver-style scope bases. Sling swivel studs on the stock and fore-end cap provide for the attachment of a sling to free the user’s hands while carrying hunting gear.
Cycles 2-3/4″–3-1/2″ shells without adjustment
Clean, reliable inertia driven system
Ventilated rib and fiber-optic sight
Synthetic butt-stock and fore-end
Includes 4 screw-in choke tubes
Stock shim kit
Stoeger 3500 Review
By ALEX LUFFO FROM gunsdiscreetsupplies.com
The 3½-inch, 12-gauge semi-auto has become the flagship shotgun among major manufacturers. They lavish R&D dollars on their latest-generation models. They pack the guns with cutting-edge features and give them price tags to match. The so-called “B” guns—Browning, Beretta and Benelli—as well as Winchester’s SX3 and now Remington’s Versa Max, are excellent, no question, but it has become hard to find a 3½-inch semi-auto for less than $1,500. Sure, you get a lot of features in the top-of-the-line guns, but what if all you want is a simple hunting gun that shoots small (2¾-inch), medium (3-inch) or large (3½-inch) shells every time you pull the trigger? Stoeger Model 3500 Semi-Auto Shotgun
If a versatile, affordable hunting gun is what you’re looking for, the Stoeger 3500 is designed for you. It offers 3½-inch capabilities for less than half the price of a “B” gun. Essentially, the 3500 is a 3½-inch big brother to the Stoeger 2000, a low-cost, lightweight gun beloved by many budget-conscious waterfowl and turkey hunters.
Made in Turkey, the 3500 has a version of the inertia action similar to that made famous in the semi-autos of parent company Benelli. Inertia guns, of course, function without bleeding gas out of the gun’s barrel, making them very clean shooting and reliable, and therefore a favorite of waterfowlers and high-volume dove hunters.
The 3500 looks like a more robust 2000. It has just the hint of a humpbacked receiver, like the 2000, and otherwise it is clearly Benelli-inspired, although with the futuristic styling slightly toned down. It has a Benelli-style rotary bolt and a flat bolt lock button alongside the trigger guard as well as a ventilated, stepped rib similar to the ones found atop the M2 and Super Black Eagle. The gun comes in basic black, Realtree APG or Max 4 with a conventional checkering pattern molded into the stock and forearm. It has a soft, vented rubber pad and an integral swivel stud in the buttstock. At the other end of the gun, there’s a large orange fiber-optic bead resembling a brighter version of the old Ithaca RayBar sight. In all, it is neither good nor bad looking, which is kind of the point of the 3500. This is a no-frills working gun.
And it does work. As I mentioned, it shares the proven inertia action of Benelli semi-autos. In fact, the bolt and trigger group parts were nearly identical to those in my Montefeltro. The one major difference is the location of the action spring that slows the bolt’s travel rearward and returns it to battery. In a Benelli, as in most semi-autos, the action spring is tucked away in the stock, and it connects to the rear of the bolt via a link arm. In the 3500, as in the 2000, the action spring surrounds the magazine tube. It’s held in place by a ring connected to the bolt by twin action bars. The design does make the 3500, by necessity, slightly bulkier in the forearm than a Benelli, but it also puts the spring in a place where it is easy to get to for cleaning, inspection and, if needed after several thousand rounds, replacement.
I cycled a wide range of shells through the gun, from target loads up to 3½-inch magnums and Remington’s Hypersonics. Out of the box, the gun worked fine with 1 1/8-ounce target loads and it might eventually break in to the point where it functions with lighter loads. On the heavy end of the scale, it cycled everything, as I expected it would. What surprised me was not the lack of recoil, exactly, but the lack of painful recoil. The 2000, with its light weight and inertia action, is known to be a kicker. The 3500, which weighs about a pound more (around 7.5 pounds with a 24-inch barrel), seems to have enough mass to offset some of the recoil of high-velocity waterfowl loads. Also, while inertia guns don’t soften recoil as much as gas guns, they are softer-shooting than fixed-breech guns.
I shot the 3500 at low gun skeet and five-stand sporting clays and had no trouble handling it or moving it to the target, nor recovering for followups even with heavy loads (with the range’s permission, I shot some targets with 3½-inch magnums). Even with a shorter 24-inch barrel the gun was easy to shoot. Stoeger Model 3500 Semi-Auto Shotgun
I’m not sure I have ever seen a lower price-point gun come with as many extras as the 3500. You get five chokes, including a turkey choke; a 10-ounce recoil-reducing weight for the buttstock; a Weaver-style scope base that fits the tapped receiver; and a set of shims to alter drop and cast. Since the gun arrived in April I installed the turkey choke and scope base, mounted a Nikon turkey scope and a Vero Vellini sling and took the gun hunting. Unfortunately, no turkey was rash enough to approach within range. Perhaps they were intimidated by the 3500; as soon as I put it down in favor of my 870 again, my luck changed.
My only complaint about the 3500 is its gritty, 7-pound trigger. In all other ways it’s a solid, likable gun. At $679 in camo, it costs $1,000 less than some 3½-inch high-tech wonder-guns on the market. You can buy a lot of ammunition to run through your 3500 for that much money, and from what I have seen so far, the 3500 will handle it all. Stoeger’s new gun is an excellent value for someone who wants a semi-auto ready to go from the dove field to the goose pit, with a detour to the turkey woods along the way.
Type: inertia-operated semi-automatic shotgun
Gauge/Chamber: 12-ga.; 3½”
Barrel: 24″ (tested), 26″, 28″
Magazine Capacity: 4+1
Sights: orange front bead
Safety: cross-bolt on trigger guard
Stock: synthetic; length of pull—14 3/8″; drop at heel—2½”; drop at comb—1½”
Overall Length: 46″ w/24″ barrel
Weight: 7.5 lbs.
Metal Finish: camo dip
Accessories: 5 choke tubes, recoil-reducer, scope base, shim kit
Price: $629 (black); $679 (camo)
Gun Review: Stoeger M3500 Semi-Auto Shotgun
By FRED TOAST FROM gunsdiscreetsupplies.com
Stoeger M3500 Shotgun Review
I’m a Benelli owner and a bird hunter. So when the Stoeger M3500 hit my doorstep, I was curious to see what Benelli’s modestly priced Stoeger cousins bring to the table. Or, rather, the field. Stoeger Model 3500 Semi-Auto Shotgun
The Stoeger M3500 is a 7.8-pound inertia-driven semi-automatic shotgun capable of cycling everything from light 2 3/4-inch to heavy 3 1/2-inch magnum loads. The 12-gauge M3500 ships with standard accessories including improved cylinder, modified, full,and extended extra-full turkey screw-in chokes. Not to mention a decent multi-gauge choke wrench and stock shims.
Stoeger boasts that there are only three moving parts in the M3500’s bolt — to help speed cycling and increase reliability. A steel recoil reducer is housed within the stock to improve up follow-up shots and balance the firearm. The shotgun’s balance point is ideally located directly beneath the step of the rib.
A classic ventilated, stepped rib runs the length of the barrel from receiver to muzzle, topped with a red fiber-optic front sight. The receiver’s top is drilled/tapped to accept an included Weaver base to mount and optic.
The standard shims included with the M3500 allow for some customization of drop at heel/comb, enabling a semi-custom fit for a natural point of aim.
Shouldering the M3500, both the forearm and grip filled my hands completely. The forearm has very little topography; some standard checkering and a step-down channel where it meets the barrel. It’s one very long, flat area that gives the shooter plenty of options for support hand placement. Stoeger Model 3500 Semi-Auto Shotgun
The gun is well-rounded. Literally. There are very few sharp edges or corners; almost all surface transitions feel smooth and even.
The M3500’s trigger group feels like an unpolished Benelli trigger. It has zero slack, a tad of creep and a clean, crisp and resounding break, followed by a short reset. The trigger guard is about as sexy as pair of Birkenstocks, but it gets the job done.
The M3500’s semi-extended bolt handle reaches 7/8-inch past the side of the receiver, providing a welcome surface for positive contact and control, especially while wearing gloves. During takedown, though, the handle gave me a hell of a time. I resorted to vice grips and a forceful tug to pull it free.
Other standard features include sling attachment points in the usual places, side bolt release button and a cushy rubber recoil pad.
As I mentioned, our T&E M3500 had spit more than a few shells before I got the gun. It was filthy, with grime and gunk everywhere. The turkey choke showed surface rust and the safety was sticking terribly.
Note: a shotgun is a field tool meant to withstand the wet, muddy, grimy conditions waterfowlers regularly face. Run the gun dirty or run it gun clean; it shouldn’t matter. The gun needs to shoot and cycle, regardless. So run it I did.]
After an initial safety check and choke swap, I ran both 2016 and 2017 Federal Black Cloud through the Improved Cylinder choke at 30 yards to pattern it. With an average of 53 percent of the payload landing in an 18-inch circle, the standard choke proved field-worthy, at least on paper. Stoeger Model 3500 Semi-Auto Shotgun
Primer strikes and ejection were consistent and reliable. So I headed over to the trap and skeet range.
I primarily shoot 5-stand with a 0 Card. For those unfamiliar, this includes five “cages” (one per shooter) and a number of target houses from which clay pigeons are thrown to emulate birds, hare, fox, etc. in the field. Participants take turns shooting a total of five clays across three sub-rounds before rotating to the next cage. A 0 Card means all the clays are thrown randomly. It’s great practice for the field.
The Stoeger M3500 is set up for righties so that’s the way I ran it. The gun mounted naturally and, with its 28-inch barrel, swung smoothly. Felt recoil was surprisingly soft compared to my Super Black Eagle II. That sticking safety remained an issue, even after some cleaning and lubricating.
Given I shoot most of my birds left-handed, I ran a line of 5-stand that way…and earned an identical score to my right-handed pass.
Still, a score is a score and the gun smashed clays with only one mechanical issue: a double-feed resulting in a second shell becoming stuck between the bolt and elevator gate. Stoeger Model 3500 Semi-Auto Shotgun
Regardless of which way you shoot the M3500 – righty or lefty – one thing is for sure, that loading gate will destroy your thumb. Gloves or not, you’re going to tango with it until you find a new technique for loading shells. It really needs some work.
Over the course of several outings, th M3500 helped put a few birds in the bag. It performed flawlessly eating several brands of 3-inch and 3.5-inch magnum loads without hesitation, mounting quickly and smoothly, swinging easily.
That sticking safety was an issue, causing me to miss lay-up opportunity ducks.
If you’re familiar with the Benelli/Franchi lines of inertia-driven semi-autos, the Stoeger will be a breeze to take down.
Given the filth I found, I was impressed the gun ran so well. The mag tube’s interior, the spring, and the plug were almost perfectly clean and oiled, indicating a good seal of the mag tube.
I did everything I could with the trigger group to remedy the safety issue — without success. To be fair, who knows what adventures this shotgun has been on before it came to me.
After fully stripping the gun and cleaning and inspecting all parts, I added some lubrication and reassembled the Stoeger in less than three minutes, just like her Benelli and Franchi cousins. So easy it almost isn’t any fun.
The M3500 surprised me. It’s a larger gun, seemingly built for taller, large-handed folks. But it shoots well for anyone but the smallest-framed shooters. At well under $700 retail (the standard synthetic version is $100 less) the Stoeger M3500 is a solid, reliable choice for any waterfowl hunter. Stoeger Model 3500 Semi-Auto Shotgun
Specifications: Stoeger M3500 28″ 12-gauge (MAX-5)
Barrel Length: 28″ (also available in 26″ and 24″)
Overall length: 50″
Weight: 7.8 lbs.
Finish: Realtree Max-5 wrap
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Design: * * * * *
While the Stoeger M3500 isn’t built to be pretty, the Realtree® MAX-5 camo pattern pretties it up some. Ergonomically, the shotgun mounts well and is easily controlled. Mechanically, the simple inertia-driven design plays well with a variety of load types.
Weight: * * * *
The M3500 is a half-pound heavier than most high-end auto-loaders, making it borderline bulky.
Durability: * * * *
The T&E gun had plenty of wear and not much cleaning — and performed like a champ. A well-loved version should run and run.
Pattern density and consistency: * * * *
I patterned the factory Stoeger Improved Cylinder choke with two editions of Federal Premium Black Cloud High Velocity 3-inch #3 1 1/8-ounce steel shot. Results at 30 yards showed even pattern density. Stoeger Model 3500 Semi-Auto Shotgun
Overall: * * * *
The Stoeger M3500 is a solid shooter that begs for field time. For waterfowlers looking for a reasonably priced field companion, the Stoeger M3500 is a solid choice.