_by Phil Bourjaily
Here’s a shot from the filming of the second season of The Gun Nuts TV show featuring the new Stoeger 3500 3 ½-inch 12 gauge semiauto. We did a video segment on the gun and I was impressed with its value. Like its little brother the 3-inch Stoeger 2000, the 3500 is a Turkish made intertia semiauto patterned after the semiatuos of parent company Benelli.
The actions of Stoeger and Benelli semiautos are very similar. The main difference is that the Benelli, like most semiautos, has its action spring buried in the stock, while the Stoeger has its action spring on the magazine tube where it’s very easy to inspect and clean.
Otherwise, the 3500 is more or less a Benelli, although not as well finished, and it has a heavier trigger and an unreversible to left-handed safety. It also comes with a gigantic orange plastic bead reminiscent of the old Ithaca RayBar sight.
I shot it with a variety of ammunition ranging from 2 ¾ dram, 1 1/8 ounce target loads up to Remington’s Hypersonics and some 3 ½ inch Winchester Xpert steel. The 3500 handled it all, cycling the light stuff and not beating me up too badly with the heavy loads (an improvement over the 2000, which has a reputation for kicking fiercely).
The 24-inch barreled version I shot weighed a shade over 7 ½ pounds. 26- and 28-inch barreled versions are also available. The gun comes with a lot of extras: five chokes, including a turkey choke; stock fit shims; an 8-ounce recoil reducing weight for the stock; and a Weaver base. You get all this for a list price of $679 in camo, $629 in black. I grow less leery of Turkish-made shotguns every year and this one, I suspect, might be worth gambling on.