I initially bought the Stoeger M3500 last Winter to use as my primary Turkey and waterfowl hunting shotgun. I’ve learned a lot about my semi-auto shotgun and would love to share some of the things I’ve learned this year to make it better and more enjoyable. I will address some of the most common issues, such as shooting light loads, such as dove shells (1 1/8 oz 7.5 shot).
My goal with this blog is to help fellow Stoeger owners get the most out of their shotguns with each hunting season in mind. I’ve used my Stoeger M3500 to hunt ducks, geese, dove, and turkey within this past year. The Stoeger M3500 can handle any game you want to hunt and is perfect for a home-defense shotgun. You can find the Stoeger M3500 for under $700 at most online stores.
Since I wrote the last blog in April of 2021, I’ve changed my mind on some of the things that I like and don’t like about the shotgun, but that’s to be expected the more you work with any gun. With some minor upgrades to the Stoeger, I’ve enjoyed the shotgun much more than when I first bought it and started hunting turkey. There are 5 things that I’d like to share that I’ve done with my Stoeger that have increased the effectiveness and overall enjoyment of the shotgun.
I’ve read about quite a few problems that people are having with the Stoeger M3500, such as cycling lighter loads and jamming when shooting a lot of shells. I have seen some of these same problems with my Stoeger, but fortunately, I. have found remedies to these problems. Dealing with jamming issues is normally a result of a dirty gun and can be fixed pretty easily with a nice solvent, such as the CCS Lucas Oil Extreme Duty 1oz Needle Oiler & 4oz Bore Solvent Cleaner.
Stoeger M3500 Cycling Problems
The most common problem shooters have with the Stoeger M3500 is cycling between heavy 3.5" shells and the lighter loads, such as 2.75" #6-8 shot. First, Stoeger recommends that you don’t go lighter than the 1 1/8 oz shells. I’ve had no problem running 1 oz. shot as long as I properly conditioned my inertia system.
How Do I Avoid Cycling Issues?
I was fortunate enough to be friends with a lifetime turkey hunter and Benelli fanatic. He told me before I hunt with anything to clean the shotgun from the manufacturer’s oils and debris, then thoroughly lube every spot with metal-on-metal contact.
When you first shoot your Stoeger, start with the heaviest load you can find, such as Federal Vital-Shok Buckshot 3-1/2" #00. After the gun is oiled and ready to go, shoot anywhere from 100-300 shells. This seems like a lot and I spent about $100 in shotshells breaking in my Stoeger, but it loosened up the inertia system to allow lighter loads.
After you shoot with the heaviest loads, start working in with the 3" shotshells with #4 shot and shoot a couple of boxes (50 shells).
Work your way down to the 2.75" shells with #6 shotshell and see how your shotgun is cycling the lighter shells. For me, my Stoeger cycled the shells like a champ with no problems.
One misconception about an inertia-driven system is that it’s completely self-cleaning. Even though it doesn’t need to be cleaned near as often as a gas-blowback shotgun (Mossberg 500, Remington 870), it needs to be cleaned when putting hundreds of shells through it. A good rule to follow is to clean the shotgun after every 100 shells.
Stoeger M3500 Upgrades
Fortunately, there isn’t much that needs to be done to improve the overall experience of the Stoeger M3500. As I stated in my first 100 days blog, this is a heavy shotgun and you could really benefit from a higher-end tactical sling that will stay secured to your body and not give you nerve pain in your shoulder from a sling with no cushion.
The biggest improvement on my Stoeger M3500 is attaching a shotgun optic for faster target acquisition and accuracy, especially for waterfowl. There is a new shotgun optic, called the CT RAD Max Pro that I want for duck and turkey hunting this year. An upgrade like a great optic can make a huge difference in the capability of your shotgun.
When I first bought my Stoeger and went turkey hunting for the first time, I learned that the weight does impact your ability to hold your shotgun up as you hear a Tom walking from the tree line into the open shooting lane. If I’m turkey hunting, I like to use the Caldwell XLA 13.5-27" Bipod.
Finally, a laser and light combo is a great choice using the Stoeger as a home defense or turkey hunting shotgun. Obviously, I’d never use a light with a turkey, but you could use the laser attachment if you didn’t have an optic. There are multiple configurations that can be done with your shotgun, it just depends on the purpose of the shotgun. For example, I run different shot sizes and configurations for each species of bird I hunt.
My biggest lesson learned last season of turkey hunting is less is more when carrying a heavy shotgun around the woods. I only add 2 attachments to my turkey setup (an optic and a Turkey choke).
The CT Rapid Aiming Dot (RAD) Electronic Sightis equipped with some really cool technology called the CT Radiant. Having an automatic ambient light sensor that adjusts to my environmental conditions is very beneficial when hunting in the golden hour of the day. I love the ability of the red dot to adjust to the changing light as the sun shines through the canopy at both sunrise and sunset.
The RAD optic runs on 50,000 hours on a single battery (included) with automatic shutoff after 8 hours to conserve battery life. Crimson Trace used the very expensive and versatile 7075 Aerospace Aluminum. The RAD Mac Pro is also very intuitive with a motion sensor feature on the optic that turns the optic from off to on with the flick of your wrist.