Shotguns > Semi-Auto

Stoeger Model 3500

Stoeger’s Model 3500 is affordable, reliable and comes with features for the die-hard hunter.


Since its unveiling in 2001, the Turkish-made Model 2000 has served as Stoeger’s flagship semi-automatic shotgun, and for good reason. When teamed with modern, high-performance shotshells, the 3-inch-chambered, 12 gauge handles nearly all tasks without costing the proverbial “arm and leg.” For a marketplace increasingly dominated by more-versatile 3½-inch-chambered shotguns, Stoeger recently introduced its 3½-inch-chambered Model 3500.

Like the M2000, the M3500 uses what the company calls the “Inertia Driven System” of operation, but the M3500 has a fixed cam pin in the bolt body and helical cam on the bolt head, while the others, the M2000 included, have a cam groove cut into the bolt body and the cam pin runs through the bolt body.

Upon firing, the gun, steel locking head included, moves rearward; however, due to its mass the steel bolt body temporarily remains in place. As the locking head travels rearward, the stiff “inertia” spring is compressed, which delays opening of the bolt head until pressure has dropped.

During firing, the M3500’s hammer spring also moves the cartridge lever upward, which disengages it from the carrier latch. This enables a shotshell to transition from the magazine tube onto the carrier. By pressing against the rear of the carrier latch, the shell rotates it counterclockwise, preventing another shell from exiting the magazine tube.

As the bolt body travels rearward, the locking head pin, in conjunction with the angled cut on the locking head, forces the head to rotate, unlocking it, extracting—via a claw-type extractor—the spent shell (hull) from the chamber and pulling it against the spring-loaded ejector. As the bolt assembly moves rearward the hull is ejected, the hammer is re-cocked, and the action bar spring, located on the magazine tube, is compressed, which forces the bolt assembly forward. This lifts the awaiting shell into position and chambers it, at which time the locking head rotates to lock up the action. Once the hammer spring is compressed the cartridge drop lever moves downward.

Since the system requires no gas to function, the action, fore-end and barrel (exterior) remain cleaner, thus contributing to enhanced reliability and quicker clean-up. In fact, even after shooting about 100 rounds of assorted 12-gauge shotshells of various brands, lengths and types during testing, a quick wipe down with a silicone-impregnated cloth was all that was necessary to clean and preserve the M3500. Regardless of length (from 2¾ to 31/2 inches), when using shotshells meeting the 2¾ inch, 11⁄8-ounce, 3-dram-equivalent minimum, the Stoeger functioned without issue. Even with light, 2¾-dram loads, the M3500 exhibited only a few hiccups.     

Because it’s a non-stressed component, the M3500’s receiver is made of aluminum alloy to save weight. The bolt head locks into the steel barrel extension. The barrel, which is available in Realtree APG and Max-4 HD camouflage patterns as well as matte black to match the receiver, buttstock and fore-end, features a stepped, ventilated rib and front sight with a large fiber-optic strand. Interestingly, the receiver is drilled and tapped for the included Weaver-style base, though the included screws with the test gun were of insufficient length to install the base. Stoeger informed us this has not been reported with other production M3500s. The barrel accepts choke tubes and comes with five.

The synthetic buttstock and fore-end both feature molded-in checkering to enhance purchase, and the buttstock has a molded-in sling swivel stud. The second is located on the magazine tube cap. Capping the buttstock is a 3/4-inch-thick ventilated rubber recoil pad. Given its 3½-inch chambering, Stoeger thought it prudent to help attenuate recoil. Its cost-conscious solution is a 10.2-ounce cylindrical steel weight that screws directly onto the stock screw. The gun also comes with shims to adjust drop and cast.

The M3500’s fire controls mimic those of the M2000, featuring a standard crossbolt-style safety and a cartridge drop lever. The test gun’s trigger broke at 8 pounds, 10 ounces and exhibited considerable creep.

To evaluate the M3500, in this case a 28-inch-barreled Realtree Max-4 HD version, we subjected it to function- and field-testing, as well as patterning.

The addition of the weight certainly reduced recoil with 3 and 3½-inch loads; however, after a box or so of magnum-type loads it worked loose, requiring removal of the recoil pad for retightening. This occurred several times during testing.

From the bench, using sandbags for support, we patterned the M3500 at 40 yards. A modified choke tube, combined with Winchester’s new 3-inch Blind Side 13⁄8-ounce steel loads, led to fairly consistent patterns, and more importantly, consistent sighting, though we found the fiber-optic strand a bit large.

As for field-testing, a staffer used the initial prototype in the spring of 2008 to take a Rio Grande gobbler while hunting at Sarco Creek Lodge in Texas. Although its release was delayed until this year, the same American Rifleman editor used the test gun to kill a Virginia tom. In both cases the M3500—with the supplied Extra Full choke tube—performed admirably, delivering the tight patterns to cleanly take the birds.

Priced at $627 (matte black) or $679 (camouflage), the Stoeger Model 3500 could easily be the best buy for hunters demanding a 3½-inch-chambered 12-ga. semi-automatic shotgun. It’s stylish, simple to maintain, reliable and has only those features important to the diehard hunter.

Importer: Stoeger Industries; (301) 283-6300;
Gauge: 12, 3½" chamber
Action Type: inertia recoil-operated, semi-automatic shotgun
Receiver: machined aluminum alloy
Barrel: 24" (Realtree APG only), 26", 28"
Choke: interchangeable, screw-in choke tubes: extra full, full, modified, improved cylinder, cylinder
Magazine: tubular; four-round capacity
Trigger: 8-lb., 10-oz. pull
Stock: synthetic: length of pull, 143⁄8"; drop at heel, 2½"; drop at comb, 1½"
Overall Length: 46" (24" barrel) to 50" (28" barrel)
Weight: 7.45 lbs. (24" barrel) to 7.65 lbs. (28" barrel)
Accessories: choke tube wrench, five chokes, magazine plug
Suggested Retail Price: $629 (matte black), $679 camouflage

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11 Responses to Stoeger Model 3500

December 29, 2013


lre wrote:
January 08, 2013

Rock , i thank you are suppose to break it in with 3 inch shells then move to 2&3/4 .

Brad Anderson wrote:
December 22, 2012

I got mine back at the first of this year and so far I've killed turkeys squrills rabbits ducks and geese with it the only problem was when I first got it it didn't like to cycle the light loads but sense I broke it in it loves any kind of shell

Rick wrote:
August 12, 2012

Got my new 3500 2 days ago shot traps this am using fed 71/2 1 1/8 as min req. Gun would not cycle and didn't bust 1 out of 10 birds,grabbed my 870 wingmaster of the rack and powdered 13 out of 15 I hope tubing some high brass and adjusting myself this thing gets better,manual doesnt explain how to install or application of shims

Johnny wrote:
June 18, 2012

Purchased the m3500 on the 10th had it out a few times shooting clays found that it cycles good with light 7-1/2 federal 3-1/4 drams doesn't like the Winchester 7-1/2 universal 3 dram shells but the gun seems to shoot high have to shoot under the clay anyone out there to give some feed back?

Brian Cook wrote:
June 03, 2012

Thanks for the review folks, looks like I found my next shotgun!

Chris wrote:
March 19, 2012

Bought my stoeger and have fell in love with it ever since my first shot. Best semi automatic I have ever owned reminds me off a benelli superblack eagle just a little heavier. Only problems I have had was the breakin period didn't want to cycle those light target loads but other than that give it a ten out of ten especially for the price

James Weber wrote:
March 12, 2012

I recieved my new 3500 and couldn't wait to shoot it. SO i read the owners manual about 5 times and was able to tear it apart, clean it up and check it out really good before I fired it. I took it outside loaded it up and it fired as fast as my ole super x 3. I checked to see if the thread fit for some carlson choke tubes would fit this gun, I purchased them for my P350 pump, exact same thread! The tubes are marked for benneli. This gun just shoots. I;ve heard the big front bead is a little distracting, not for me, I found that quick target acquisition with it forces your head right down on the stock where it belongs, this gun is made well, it could be improved as far as finish details, but it doesn't rattle and I never had any problems with recoil. I'm taking it as my only gun for the Spring turkey season, and I have every confidence this thing is as good as any benneli out there as far as hitting what you concentrate on. I think it's pretty rugged and the machine fit of everything seems to be in tolerance. For the buck this thing seems like a value! I'll keep you posted as I use this gun. I do have quite a few guns and they range in age from a hundred and 5 years old to this new gun. I shoot about 5000 rounds of shotgun ammo a year in all kinds of weather conditions. This gun is so simple it works. Jim

Hank Whitehead wrote:
February 27, 2012

I purchased my M3500 before this past duck season. I was leary about a Turkish made product and agree with the other comment about Turkey n their govt. My gun has functioned flawless. 2-3/4' to 3-1/2 '. Not one jam. Never had any other gun do that good. I'd buy another in a heartbeat. Prob will but a 2000 for my son n wife now.

James Weber wrote:
February 10, 2012

I just ordered my 4th Stoeger shotgun. The other three have functioned flawlessly for 4 years. The gun I ordered is the 3500 auto. We hunt over 100 days a year in all extremes for dove,turkey,pheasant,duck and geese. I have never had but one hiccup with a stoeger, and that was my fault. The worst guns we have trouble with that clients bring in are 870 express and Super Black Eagle Benelli, the Benelli's jam if you saturate them with oil. The 870 express are just cheaply made and they malfunction the most with Remington ammo! I'm sold on the Stoeger shotguns. The best shooting shotgun I have owned was a winchester superx-2.It wore out at about 5000 rounds. I'll bet the new 3500 will go further. I'll let you know in a year.

Gordon Fish wrote:
January 04, 2012

I would never buy anything that is Turkish-made. That government denied the United States access to invade Iraq from the north causing additional hardship and danger to U.S. troops.