3" vs 3.5" shotgun

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3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby greasy70 » Thu Oct 31, 2013 2:18 pm

I currently use a pump Remington 870 to shot Dove now. I am going to go on my first goose hunt here in California and I am looking to make the jump to a Semi-auto shotgun. I have a lot of my friends telling me to get a 3.5 shotgun, while some of my older friends say it is not needed. My question is, what am I really gaining with going to a 3.5" shotgun? I also don't want to spend a lot of money, so for a 3.5" I was looking at the stoeger M3500. Can get for around $700 out here. If I don't need a 3.5" then I was looking at the Bereta A300 which I can get for around $750. Is is better to get a shotgun from a lesser known and used company just to be able to shoot 3.5" shells, or buy a better brand in a 3" that will be more reliable. Please note that used is not an option out here as there are far and few used hunting shotguns.I also will probably only be hunting around 4-5 days a year and the rest is just shooting skeet and junk in the desert.
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby mawtrfowler » Thu Oct 31, 2013 2:24 pm

You don't need 3.5" shells. A good 3" lad is more enough to bring down any bird at reasonable range. You're better off getting a good quality 3" gun from Browning, Franchi, Benelli or Beretta than a low quality 3.5". I've heard good things about the 3500 but have had bad experience with other stoegers in the past and don't have any now. Your better off going with the A300 or a Franchi Affinity. You can probably find a used SBE for that price as well which is a 3.5" and much better than the 3500.
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby z51 » Thu Oct 31, 2013 2:57 pm

If you are going to be goose hunting I would go ahead and get a 3 1/2" gun just not that one. You can shoot any length shell you want. I bought a Winchester S X 2 in 1999 and never regretted it. Get a used SX 2 or S X 3 in 3 1/2". They are better waterfowl guns than the Beretta A300 or 3500.
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby clampdaddy » Thu Oct 31, 2013 3:03 pm

Just saw that there's a used 3.5" Browning Silver in the classifieds that's in your price range.
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby z51 » Thu Oct 31, 2013 3:05 pm

Good deal, same as the SX3.
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby clampdaddy » Thu Oct 31, 2013 3:09 pm

Yep. If I had a few extra dollars I would have snapped it up. :lol3:
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby alex is a DUCK hunter » Thu Oct 31, 2013 3:21 pm

I shoot an A300 and love it, i got mine dipped in Natural Gear gear lol. If you shoot enough 3.5in will make you develop a flinch which is never good.
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby mudpack » Thu Oct 31, 2013 3:31 pm

Do we need 3.5" shells to kill waterfowl? No. We don't even need 3" shells to kill waterfowl. I daresay more ducks and geese have been killed with 2 3/4" shells than with 3" and 3.5" shells combined.
I have three waterfowl guns; two are 3", one is a 3.5". I shoot the 3" a LOT more than I shoot the 3.5" gun. So far this season, I've shot 264 shells....all 2 3/4"...and killed 144 ducks. I'll be transitioning to 3" in November, as the big birds become predominate in the bag....but I could shoot 2 3/4" all season and not feel particularly handicapped.

That said, a 3.5" gun is handy to have....gives you options. However, if budget constraints make the choices a cheap 3.5" gun like the Stoeger or a good quality 3" gun like a Beretta or Browning or even a Remington.....I'd go for the 3" gun in a heartbeat.
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby mudpack » Thu Oct 31, 2013 3:35 pm

alex is a DUCK hunter wrote: If you shoot enough 3.5in will make you develop a flinch...

Not necessarily.
Everybody is different in how they react to recoil, and some 3.5" guns are pretty soft shooting. My Xtrema2 (w/ Kick-Off)shoots 3.5" shells much more softly than my 870 shoots 3" shells. :thumbsup:
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby greasy70 » Thu Oct 31, 2013 4:08 pm

Thanks forr all the input. I think I will lean towards the 3" shotgun. Someone mentoined Franchi Affinity I believe. Are those pretty reliable compared to a Berreta A300? I have seen them both at Bass Pro by my house for around the same price. Also just a general question for my knowledge with the shells, is the main benift of the 3.5" is that you are going to get more shot out the shell? Cause I would think that is the only benefit, as a 1 1/8oz load in a 3" or 3.5" shell would go the same distance since they are the same size oz. Or am I totally confused.
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby mawtrfowler » Thu Oct 31, 2013 4:31 pm

You're right, the main benefit to a 3.5" shell is extra pellets. The Affinity has received rave reviews since it was released and utilizes one of benelli's inertia driven systems. If you do a search in the shotgun forum you should find a thread by someone who has had one since they're release and did a long term review. I've handled them and the fit and finish is good and the action is smooth. if they made a wood stock 20 gauge version I'd own one for pheasant hunting. They're lightweight as well.
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby 3200 man » Thu Oct 31, 2013 6:50 pm

If you're limited on funds , look at the New Stoeger Auto 3" for under $400. . It looks better than the New Benelli because ,
it shaped like a real gun and it's camo-ed in useable colors , kind of like the M 2 . You'll put the same shell in each , whether it's
a B gun or a S ,R or what-ever . Shooting straight is what's needed for success !
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby BBK » Thu Oct 31, 2013 8:40 pm

Properly choked, a 3" load is all anyone needs for ducks. For geese it is a little different, a 1 3/8 or 1 1/2 load is absolutely killer out of the 3.5". But, its not needed.

One thing with the 3.5" is it will retain a higher resale value and will be easier to sell if you ever choose to.
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby kbooger » Thu Oct 31, 2013 9:03 pm

alex is a DUCK hunter wrote:I shoot an A300 and love it, i got mine dipped in Natural Gear gear lol. If you shoot enough 3.5in will make you develop a flinch which is never good.


Typically when I shoot 3.5" shells I have on an underlayer, t-shirt, sweatshirt and jacket along with padded wader shoulder straps. Thats a ton of padding that takes that recoil. And it isn't like you are going to the range and shooting 3.5" for clays where you would more likely develop a flinch after a few rounds.
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby BBK » Thu Oct 31, 2013 9:11 pm

greasy70 wrote:Also just a general question for my knowledge with the shells, is the main benift of the 3.5" is that you are going to get more shot out the shell? Cause I would think that is the only benefit, as a 1 1/8oz load in a 3" or 3.5" shell would go the same distance since they are the same size oz. Or am I totally confused.


The 3.5" shells will hold more shot, thus giving you a better pattern at longer ranges... usually.

A 3" 1 1/4 load is going to be going about 1400-1475fps. A 3.5" 1 1/4 load is going to be going 1650fps or about that. That added speed will equate to your shot being lethal to a longer range. Its all about penetration.

If you are shooting less than 40 yards, a 3" 1 1/4 #BB load will be all that you will ever need. If you want to stretch it to 50-60 then a 3.5" is your friend.... and the guys around you, not so much.
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby fullpattern » Thu Oct 31, 2013 10:18 pm

I shoot quite a few 3.5s but I generally wait tell the end of november when the birds have more feathers, and I have gotten use to the recoil of 3inch shells. If your going to be on a hunt for mixed birds of ducks and geese I recomend shooting #2s as long as the geese are snows and specks or smaller. Try shooting at least a 1,3/8 ounce or you might as well stick to 3inch. I like black clouds 1,1/2ounce 1500 fps due to pattern density. Its pretty good for shots up to 55 yards for geese or 60 yards for ducks. You probably will have better paterns using improved cylinder chokes when shooting high payloads of shot. If going for honkers I would use BBs. For the most part 3.5inch shells are hard on guns and your body. Good luck on the geese.
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby A5Gunner » Fri Nov 01, 2013 7:11 am

You'd be better off buying a better 3" gun and some tungsten shells for geese if you think you need more than 3" steel shells. Remember, a 3 1/2" shell only gets you a 1/2" more range no mater what the advertisement says. Better shot is what is needed for big birds, not more steel IMO.
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby mudpack » Fri Nov 01, 2013 8:17 am

BBK wrote:The 3.5" shells will hold more shot, thus giving you a better pattern at longer ranges... usually.

A 3" 1 1/4 load is going to be going about 1400-1475fps. A 3.5" 1 1/4 load is going to be going 1650fps or about that. That added speed will equate to your shot being lethal to a longer range. Its all about penetration.


The first part of that is pretty much true: more shot usually gives more pattern density, which equates to longer range.

The second part is incorrect; penetration does not determine max range of a shotgun, pattern density does.
When you run out of sufficient pattern density, you've reach max range...no matter how fast each individual shot is going. :thumbsup:
In 99.99% of the waterfowl loads and chokes used today, you will run out of pattern density before you run out of penetrating pellet energy. Even the slowest waterfowl loads today....about 1275fps MV...have enough penetration to kill birds long after their pattern densities have degraded to the point where they are no longer effective.
I just shot up my last six boxes of 1275fps 1 1/4oz duck loads. They killed ducks as efficiently as any other load I shoot (which are usually 1400fps). I hope I can find some more......
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby A5Gunner » Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:35 am

Faster pellets will have a little more energy further out and more pellets will get better pattern density therefore more range, so you are both right, on paper. IMO in reality for most preople the killing range of a 3 or 3.5" shell is a mute point because it is longer than the effective range most people can hit a flying target like a duck. I am talking myself included, 40-50 yards is probably max depending on speed, angle of target and a lot of other real world variables. IMO a good 3" shell of proper weight, size shot,and speed for the game is more than adequate for any shot a hunter should be taking. From what I have seen, anyone who can consistantly shoots long shots will choose to use some kind of tungsten loads vs. a 3.5 and those guys are few and far between. Granted, I don't do a lot of goose hunting so some may have a different opinion but for a recommendation for a new guy or gun; that's my 2 penneys.

For geese, i like the tungsten because I get cleaner kills than steel of any length. I noticed little diference between BB 3 or 3.5 steel, just more recoil. Not scientific, just observation. For ducks, steel works good for me.
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby TomKat » Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:44 am

mudpack wrote:Do we need 3.5" shells to kill waterfowl? No. We don't even need 3" shells to kill waterfowl. I daresay more ducks and geese have been killed with 2 3/4" shells than with 3" and 3.5" shells combined.
I have three waterfowl guns; two are 3", one is a 3.5". I shoot the 3" a LOT more than I shoot the 3.5" gun. So far this season, I've shot 264 shells....all 2 3/4"...and killed 144 ducks. I'll be transitioning to 3" in November, as the big birds become predominate in the bag....but I could shoot 2 3/4" all season and not feel particularly handicapped.

That said, a 3.5" gun is handy to have....gives you options. However, if budget constraints make the choices a cheap 3.5" gun like the Stoeger or a good quality 3" gun like a Beretta or Browning or even a Benelli M2.....I'd go for the 3" gun in a heartbeat.


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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby A5Gunner » Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:52 am

Best bet would be to take the 870 you are used to shoooting and buy some high end shells. It would save a lot of bucks and your shooting will probably be better cause you are used to the gun. But hey, there is never anything wrong with buying another gun...no mater what my wife says.
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby Missouridukhunter » Fri Nov 01, 2013 12:39 pm

I can tell you first hand experiance with my Affinity it is a badass gun! Just got back from Nodak a week ago. Gun was in rain and mud and not a single problem. Best gun i've ever owned. Used it last year for fowl, shot in a trap league this summer and hunted this year with it. Havent even clean it once.. I know, I know shame on me. She's my baby but a work horse.
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby clampdaddy » Fri Nov 01, 2013 12:57 pm

Missouridukhunter wrote: ......Just got back from Nodak a week ago...... Used it last year for fowl, shot in a trap league this summer and hunted this year with it. Havent even clean it once.. I know, I know shame on me. She's my baby but a work horse.


Yikes! You're brave. No matter how bad ass I think my gun is, if I'm going on an out of state hunt, I'm giving it a thorough cleaning and inspection before I go.
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby greasy70 » Fri Nov 01, 2013 3:28 pm

Lots of good information here. I think I will definetly take a closer look at the Franchi.
Thanks for all the help with the clarification with the 3" v 3.5" shells. So much new stuff to learn for this rookie. Glad to see all good coments on here and no one talking trash to each other. Thats what its all about.Thanks guys!
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Re: 3" vs 3.5" shotgun

Postby starjcb » Sat Nov 02, 2013 8:22 pm

I'm new to the forum and only been shotgunning for Ducks & doves for about 3yrs. Take my opinion for what it is worth. The 3.5in. 12 and 10s are normaly heavier and slow to swing. I hunt with some of the greatest Duck hunters in the world in southwest Lousiana. Cajun People that live off the land farming , hunting and fishing almost every day of the year. These are shotgun people that treat guns more like tools than works of art. Great field testers that ware out model 12s , auto 5s , and 870s over the years for generations. They keep gunsmiths in business. They stick with the 2.75 and 3 in. 12gauges for ducks and claim the 3.5in. 12 gauges brake down more.
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