At some point in time within the dim recesses of my pre-SHOT show past (heretofore known as “earlier”), I reported that Stoeger has finally brought the M3500 shotgun to the bird-blasting party. For the last four years, I’ve been thinking that fears of brand cannibalization accounted for the delay. The six-bills-and-change Stoeger M3500 offers the same inertia drive system as the $1k-and-up Benelli products. Better, in fact (the new improved inertia system has less rebound). When I asked Stoeger’s Product Manager if the M3500 was a fine young cannibal, Keith Heinlein looked at me as if I was a stranger in a strange land . . .
“No one will ever mistake a Stoeger for a Benelli,” he said. “They don’t look the same. They don’t feel the same. The M3500 is a workhorse. Benellis are thoroughbreds . . . We’re hoping that the Stoeger will turn people on to our technology and entice people to trade-up to the Benelli.”
It’s the exact same logic that led Mercedes to introduce the C-Class, a downmarket automobile that defiled the brand and sold like rolling hotcakes (if hotcakes sold more because they rolled). Only it’s not the same; the M3500 is not a Benelli. It doesn’t look the same. It doesn’t feel the same.
Ah, but does it shoot as well or better than a Benelli? Watch this space. OK, now go out and get a cup of coffee or something. White with no sugar thanks. Oh, and Keith identified the reason for the delayed launch: “We wanted to make sure it worked.” Fair enough.