Guns > Shotguns

Stoeger 3500 Review

The Stoeger is a secret among die-hard waterfowlers. It has all the key features sought by hunters, but is half the cost of its competition.


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?

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.

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.; 3
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—2
½"; drop at comb—1½"
Overall Length:
 46" w/24" barrel
Weight: 7.5 lbs.
Metal Finish: camo dip
 5 choke tubes, recoil-reducer, scope base, shim kit
Price: $629 (black); $679 (camo)

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40 Responses to Stoeger 3500 Review

Bubba Massey wrote:
February 14, 2015

I've purchased a M3500 Stoegar! I was wondering which weaver scope mount should I use? The one for the Benelli type has to big of screws! Thanks for any info!

J.S. wrote:
September 18, 2014

I am entering my second season with my M3500. I have roughly 1000 rounds through it ranging from 2 3/4 1 oz dove loads to 3 1/2 inch 2 1/4 oz turkey loads. I have only had one malfunction, a FTE with a visible gouge in the case head from the extractor. Not the guns fault, but the ammo's. In single digit temperatures the gun did seem to cycle slower. A switch to a better cold weather lubricant fixed that problem. Its heavy, kind of ugly, takes awhile to get used to the size of such a long receiver, and will thump you with a 3 1/2 in shell. That being said, it works, keeps working, then goes ahead and works a bit more. I find it to be a great value. It will handle any load (follow the recommendations in the owners manual), any weather conditions, and any feathered target that strays to close. It also uses the Mobil-choke so aftermarket tubes are easy to come by. The only bad thing I can think of, if you accidentally bump the charging handle you can disengage it from battery. The hammer will still drop but it doesn't go bang. Be mindful of that and its a non-issue. Buy one, with all of the money you save not getting a 'B' gun, you can buy a couple cases of Hevi-metal and start stomping birds.

Cajun Crusher wrote:
September 07, 2014

I just got a 3500 w/24' barrel. Couldn't pay on the price. $450.00 no manual no chokes. Display model . has anyone shot ducks with the 24' barrel

Kyle wrote:
August 27, 2014

My cousin and friend have one. Seen them both jam on many occasions. My remington and my buddies xtrema 2 were pounding away at ducks in 5 degree weather, while the stoeger was jamming and misfiring. Needless to say I will always shoot a gas operated semi automatic.

Garrett wrote:
March 10, 2014

I have had a stoeger had it for 1 year works great had nice success only prob is the recoil kicks like a mule but for the price great all around gun

L Craig wrote:
March 06, 2014

Received a new 3500 storger for Christmas. Put turkey choke in and tried out for pattern. Shot 7 times 3 different shooters. The pattern was okay but it shot about 6' to the right at 40 yards. Any suggestions.

Robert Springer wrote:
February 02, 2014

I wish the 3500 could be adopted to me since I have a bad left shoulder. Oh well, the gun looks great.

Tom In Texas wrote:
January 22, 2014

I purchased an M3500 in September. It came with two of four choke tubes and no spacers for cast and drop adjustment. I contacted Stoeger customer service, advised I was short two tubes and the spacers. Within a few days the missing items arrived with no charge from Stoeger. To clarify, the weapon was purchased from a large sporting goods dealer, and was the last in his inventory. It was the display item therefore with an open box some of the included items wandered away. I have used it during dove season, and water fowl season. The M3500 has flawlessly handled everything run through it from light 2-3/4 field loads to heavy 3-1/2 steel for geese. Great weapon for the price. I would not hesitate to purchaase another.

David J. Dill wrote:
December 22, 2013

Broke 25 straight on Trap right out of the box. Only complaint after a couple thousand rounds is that it has doubled on me twice - fired two shots with one pull of the trigger).

grant partington wrote:
December 07, 2013

Had one for 2 waterfowl seasons .have used it for a paddle ran over with four wheeler droped in mud throw around the boat so far killed 400 duck and 350 geese and never cleaned it yet still shoots everything I feed it great gun for the price my browning never leaves the cabnit

clark wrote:
November 02, 2013

Bought M3500 for my birthday gift. Gave it a simple cleaning and went to ranch toshoot targets. Boy do i love this gun. It did not like the first round of Federal Blue Box as the second round wound not cycle. Second and third round cyclyed properly. Must the breakin period or need to clean more thoroughly. Those loads were 1oz 7 1/2 birshot. I heard the recoil reducer maybe the minor issue, so i removed will test. Love this rifle.

jeffro wrote:
October 30, 2013

I am a proud owner of a m3500 and all of my buddies are impressed with the gun for how it performs for the price I paid...My Benelli buddies tried pounding on their chests that I have a cheap imposter of Benelli but I now have their attention.

James C.Weber wrote:
October 29, 2013

This will be my second year and about 2000 rounds through the gun. We shoot pheasant, mallards and giant Canada geese, I have dove hunted with it. You could take this gun and use it for a jack handle and it would still shoot. We hunted geese at 62 below zero with the windchill factor. Not a hiccup from the gun. Use very little oil on it and it will work for years. It's as good as the Bennelli M2 which it duplicates.

Tim wrote:
October 22, 2013

I have had nothing but trouble with my M3500. The but came loose after 4 rounds. I took the but off and fixed it myself. then it started to double and triple fire. I think if I had more rounds in it it would have fired all of them. I sent it in for repair. Fast service. I got it out for bird and found the carrier not spring loaded. Missing the Carrier spring plate. So fare I give stoeger a failing grade.

b hauser wrote:
March 03, 2013

Left handers, answer is no, supposedly, the only mfg that makes true left handed semi-auto shotguns in benelli, I have an m1 that is lefty, so guess we are out of luck. However, I have a left handed buddy who shoots a 3500 says its fine, never notices shells ziping across his face, I will ask him about the safety, my guess is no. Fyi, new owners, strip em down, clean out packing grease, cold weather hunters use hopps cleaner, run it as dry as possible, cycle a bunch of heavy loads thru it before small loads, hope this helps everyone.

eric wrote:
January 13, 2013

Have every type of gun made... EXCEPT shotguns. I wanted to get into turkey and pheasant hunting as well as skeet and trap, the only problem is that I don't have a couple of grand for one gun. I purchased my m3500 yesterday so I did not have a chance to shoot yet but for the money, I am impressed with fit, feel and ( for the money ) finish. I can't wait to burn some powder with this

sean wrote:
January 07, 2013 really have to do a thourough initial cleaning and then lube it up....should fire everything you load in it...

Claudia Norman wrote:
January 02, 2013

Is the Stoeger M3500 a good gun for a woman? How is the recoil on it? I started with a Remington 870 youth model but I'm ready to move to bigger! Just nervous on recoil.

matt link wrote:
December 27, 2012

does anyone know if the 3500 comes in a left handed model?

matt gray wrote:
December 19, 2012

I live in alaska how does the stoeger do in single digit temps? cause it gets a little cold during duck season up here

Richard wrote:
November 17, 2012

Does stoeger make a m3500 in a left handed gun

cyberjay03 wrote:
October 25, 2012

I have one I shoot lefty no prob at all. So far four ducks this season great gun.

Paul Easley wrote:
October 24, 2012

I purchased my model 3500 in may 2012 , since then I've hunted the last 20 or so days of the Arkansas duck season . Wow am I ever impressed with it. After over 300 plus rounds of 3.5 ' Remington Sportsman Steel loads it has worked flawless ! Would recommend to anyone who is in the market to try this low cost but very capable auto out .

Paul Easley wrote:
October 24, 2012

I purchased my model 3500 in may 2012 , since then I've hunted the last 20 or so days of the Arkansas duck season . Wow am I ever impressed with it. After over 300 plus rounds of 3.5 ' Remington Sportsman Steel loads it has worked flawless ! Would recommend to anyone who is in the market to try this low cost but very capable auto out .

Paul Wrabec wrote:
October 23, 2012

Does the 3500 come in a left hand model or can the safety be changed?

Lucas wrote:
October 14, 2012

Just bought one today. Hunted with the 2000 for four years and punished it as only a South Dakota pheasant/waterfowl boy can do. Anyway, very pleased with it overall. Bill, the guy I bought my 3500 from said that Stoeger fixed the problem you are talking about. The customer service you experienced is BS. Hope I don't have to deal with that.

David goetz wrote:
August 31, 2012

I bought one a year and a half ago and have been impressed with it. I did have a problem in that after shooting magnum loads the action would stick in the full open position and not load the next shell. The problem turned out to be the spring under the forearm actually went up and over the magazines spring stop and thereby did not return the bolt. I flipped the spring around and it is ok. Stoeger sent me another spring also, no cost! As I said, so far I am impressed.

Zack wrote:
August 26, 2012

Just bought the 3500 and had a little trouble with the target loads 2.75. From what I hear, after a good break in period that will resolve. If that is the case, I will be satisfied with my purchase.

Darren wrote:
June 27, 2012

Does the Stoeger 3500 have a slug barrel available

Cody wrote:
June 27, 2012

I work for a large sporting goods company that is based here and Texas and have sold many of these guns from Stoeger. I never had anyone come back with any problems. You are buying a "B" gun for a lower price. They are great guns for the money. To have a major failure with it would be forced only with a lack of proper cleaning and care or using hot loaded reloads. These things are a tank. Well worth the money.

Bill wrote:
June 24, 2012

I purchased a Stoeger Shot gun 6 years ago. This year a portion of the breach broke away where the bolt locks in. It broke on opening morning when I fired at a Canada Goose. Potenially very dangerous. The whole action jammed. It could have blown back in my face or at anyone standing to my right. The gun is now useless. The Importers (Beretta NZ Ltd)said they couldn't do anythng for me and they see that sort of failure about every 12 months. Hunting and Fishing where I purchased the gun have also not offered any help. Although the owner of the store did comment that this sought of failure should not happen ever. My advise is do not buy one of these guns. They are cheap and you get what you pay for.

doug wrote:
May 24, 2012 my m3500 great gun and all my buddies with their SBEII all agree great gun!!!!

Chris wrote:
April 04, 2012

Love my 3500 I got the 26inch in APG. Had a little problem breaking it in with the light loads but after break in it functions flawlessly Would recommend to anyone that wants a semi auto I would buy anothe before I bought a Benelli

PJ wrote:
March 14, 2012

Dennis, Since you are so dissatisfied with your shotgun I'll take it off your hands for u.

warrior wrote:
February 09, 2012

awsome gun !!! not much different from my super black eagle...truly amazed by the performance

Eddie wrote:
January 02, 2012

I bought this gun for my 13 year old son when he began duck / goose hunting. He is 6'02' / 140lbs but handled the 3500 with no problem. The gun does exactly as expected. Great gun for the price!!!

Dave wrote:
December 28, 2011

So far so good. Went goose hunting and it performed flawless

Steve Marko wrote:
December 19, 2011

This is a great gun for the money! Hunted with it in all types of weather flawless! Two of my friends have bought them as well.

Dennis wrote:
November 27, 2011

I shoot one of the B guns that the reviewer spoke of. I had always wanted a gun with a 24' barrell to hunt the timber with. Well I bought one and it kicks like a mule. I was unalble to hit a pizza box at 30 yards. Needless to say I am less than satisfied. I will probably try it again later

Kevin Miller wrote:
November 26, 2011

Does the Stoeger 3500 come in left handed models?