by Shawn Skipper - Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Traditional, reliable, a staple: They’re all words that could be used to describe the pump-action shotgun. The design, which first appeared in the field more than a century ago, remains brilliant in its simplicity and efficiency. Pump guns continue to have a place in the blinds of hunters and under the beds of homeowners across the nation, and for good reason. That said, of late the design has seen far more popularity on the self-defense side of the shooting and outdoor industry. That the pump-action has held its place for so long among hunters is a testament to its reliability, because the semi-automatic shotgun came along soon after the pump gun.
And yet the pump has persisted. Though many of the nation’s hunters have grown accustomed to a semi-auto, or in some cases an over/under, there’s certainly no shortage of pump guns that kill birds and bust clays each year. The pump-action remains the workingman’s shotgun, a catch-all of sorts. A gun designed to take a kicking and keep on ticking, so to speak. It was with that in mind that Stoeger Industries rolled out its new budget-friendly P3000, a low-price pump gun that delivers anything but low-end performance.
Stoeger shares a relationship with Benelli, as both are part of the Beretta Holding Group. The manufacturer has become well known in recent years for producing some of the industry’s more affordable inertia-driven semi-automatic scatterguns, but it truly doesn’t discriminate—you’ll find side-by-sides, over/unders, coach guns and more among the company’s wares, most of which are produced in Turkey. The P3000 is not the company’s first pump-action, but it is the latest and, believe it or not, most affordable. As I said, this is a workingman’s gun, right on down to its $299 MSRP.
If you’ve handled a pump gun before, you won’t need any guidance around the P3000’s curves. For now, it’s available only in one simple, base model that offers a 28-inch barrel and is chambered for 2¾- and 3-inch loads. The gun features a simple black synthetic stock, a precision-machined, anodized aluminum receiver and a familiar cross-bolt safety at the rear of the trigger guard. The barrel is chrome-lined and has a matte-black finish. Chrome-lining, which isn’t found on many guns in the P3000’s price class, can help extend barrel life, reduce wear and sometimes make cleaning your barrel a little easier. A red fiber-optic front sight sits near the end of the gun’s full-length vent rib. The gun also comes equipped with lugs for attaching a sling.
During function testing, the P3000 performed just fine. I fed it an array of 2¾- and 3-inch shells of varying qualities, and never experienced a hiccup—not that I particularly anticipated one from a pump design. The action ran smooth, and the gun swung easily and naturally. It was also treated to a few muddy waterfowl hunts and acquitted itself nicely. Better yet, it never drew the ire of some of the high-end shotgun snobs that I shared a blind with. Though the simple black synthetic finish leaves the P3000 looking rather plain, at no point does the shotgun look or “feel” cheap, even to discerning eyes.
Disassembly is decidedly simple. All it takes is unscrewing the magazine tube’s end cap, and the barrel slides out of the receiver with ease. Once you slide the fore-end down the magazine, you’ll find the P3000’s sturdy, dual action bars and bolt assembly, which rests on the bars, ready to be cleaned. The entire bolt assembly, which includes a rotating bolt head, slides out with no problems. It can be lifted from the rails as soon as it clears the end of the receiver.
Given its pump nature and relatively light weight (less than 7 pounds unloaded), it is important to note the P3000 is capable of thumping you a little, especially if you’ve grown a bit too accustomed to the lighter recoil of semi-autos. Still, it’s nothing that should feel unfamiliar to veteran scattergun shooters, and, depending on the load, it shouldn’t be enough to rattle a beginner. A simple rubber recoil pad comes standard and does its job. You’ll have no trouble if upland birds or clay targets are your prey, but 3-inch waterfowl and turkey loads will remind you they’re magnums. Though the gun isn’t drilled or tapped for mounting optics, it’s capable of serving as something of a catch-all shotgun, and is more than capable of handling itself on the clays course, in a duck blind or afield chasing turkeys or predators.
Though only a single model was available at the time of this review, Stoeger rolled out an expanded P3000 line at SHOT Show 2017. It’s due to feature camouflage options, 26-inch barrel offerings and tactical variants, among other things.
As you might have anticipated, the P3000 ships with few frills. All that’s included with the shotgun is a single choke tube (modified) and a corresponding choke wrench. You won’t find a shim kit, or a case, or anything like that in your box. That said, a modified choke is enough to get you started, which is really all the company is trying to do. Once you’ve decided just what you want your P3000 to be, you can fill in the blanks. Like essentially every modern gun produced by Stoeger and the extended Beretta family, the P3000 is threaded for the standard Beretta/Benelli Mobil choke system, which makes additional choke tubes—be they purchased from the factory or on the secondary market—decidedly easy to come by.
You’ll have the budget to purchase those chokes, too, when the time comes to specialize. Typically I wouldn’t keep coming back to a firearm’s sticker price but, in this case, Stoeger has gone ahead and made it part of the P3000’s marketing campaign by promising consumers that its new pump gun won’t break the bank. That much is undoubtedly true. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more affordable pump-gun out of the box, even among some of the industry’s better-known bargain specialists. The P3000 is a gun that’s meant to be beaten, battered and abused in a way you’d never treat your four-figure semi-auto—but without letting you down. It’s budget-priced but not budget-quality. It’s backed by Stoeger’s five-year limited warranty, too, which is always good insurance.
The Stoeger P3000 delivers a tough-as-nails, reliable scattergun solution that you should be able to find with a shelf price in the mid-$200 range. Honestly, if you can’t get double or even triple that value out of the life of this working-class pump-action, you’re doing something wrong.
• Type: pump-action shotgun
• Gauge/Chamber: 12/3"
• Barrel: 28"; ventilated top rib
• Sights: red fiber-optic front
• Trigger: 8.6-lb. pull weight
• Safety: cross-bolt
• Stock: black synthetic; LOP 141/8"; drop at heel 2.5"; drop at comb 1.5"
• Metal Finish: matte black
• Overall Length: 49.5"
• Weight: 6.9 lbs.
• Accessories: choke tube (M), wrench
• MSRP: $299.99
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