Gun Review: Stoeger Silverado Coach Gun (12 Gauge)

When I found out that I was getting a coach gun to review, I had the same reaction that your Uncle Bob does when he finds out you got him new underwear and socks for Christmas . . . again. When the Silverado arrived at my local gun dealer, I swear I thought Stoeger had sent me some promotional T-shirts instead of a shotgun. I had to crack-open the box to verify that it did, indeed, contain a gun. The box was that light. But, as I was soon to discover, the Silverado was no lightweight. Nor, as it turned out, underwear, T-shirts or a pair of socks. No sir. Not at all . . .

When I got it home, I peeled the Coach Gun out the plastic bags surrounding its three pieces. There it was: a stock and action section, forearm piece, and the barrels. And that’s it. The 20-inch barrels are the longest single chunk of the gun. When assembled it was 36.5  inches long overall.

I know, I know: most side-by-sides break down the same way. But I was still taken by the bonzai tree of it all. The Silverado is a not-so-long gun you can stick in a backpack, wrap in a waterproof bag for a canoe trip, or stow behind the seat of a light aircraft. A go-anywhere-where-it’s-legal 12-gauge shotgun. And it’s hard to find a gun more versatile than a 12 gauge.

In contrast to all my collection of pistol-gripped shotguns, the Stoeger Silverado features a straight, English-style stock. The matte nickel action and barrels contrast nicely with the dark and figured walnut. Made by E.R. Amantino in Brazil, the Silverado looks classy, maybe even beautiful.

I wasted no time taking the Silverado into the great Arkansas outdoors for a work-out. I’m used to firing a Remington 870 equipped with a slug barrel and rifle sights, that gets its long barrel back during dove season. It took a little while to adjust to the Silverado, looking down a pair of barrels with a rib in between. But it was well worth it.

Firing light field loads containing 7.5 shot, the Coach Gun’s recoil was noticeable, but not unpleasant. Even better: the gun felt lively to my shoulder. It was light and fast to mount. The 20-inch barrels meant I could move from target to target by just twitching a little. The straight, English stock also made the piece feel more “shotgunny” and easier to swing than my Remington 870.

I felt my prejudice against the Stoeger Coach Gun slowly melting like the winter snow. Cantankerous bastard that I am, I remained determined to dislike it. So I decided to subject it to some tests to ferret out its weaknesses, and thus validate my preconceived notions.

I patterned the gun with shotshells, buckshot, and slugs at distances from 25 to 40 yards. With the shotshells at 25 yards, I discovered that the right barrel shot a little high and right, whereas the left barrel patterned right down the middle. The same applied with the buckshot and the slugs: the left barrel was dead on, and the right barrel was a little high and right in comparison.

With birdshot and buckshot, the groups were also different sizes. The right barrel threw a wider pattern than the left.

Aha, I thought! I’ve got you, Coach Gun!

I called TTAG’s main man at Benelli, Stoeger’s parent company. He informed me that the Coach Gun’s right barrel is an improved cylinder choke, with the left a modified choke. Two different chokes is a standard setup for twin-barreled shotguns. Since the Coach Gun is marketed specifically to Cowboy Action shooters who shoot large steel targets at fairly close ranges, a pair of chokes on the wider end of spectrum makes perfect sense.

Live and learn. So, back to the field with maximum firepower.

Compared to the light field loads, the recoil produced by Remington Express Magnum buckshot was super brutto. D’uh! If you shoot buckshot loads labeled “Express Magnum” out of a 12 gauge shotgun that weighs slightly more than a bag of sugar (6.5 pounds), you can expect a significant ballistic noogie. Not even an Italian-American-Brazilian firearms conglomerate can change the laws of physics.

I tried two types of slugs, Federal Reduced Recoil and Remington Sluggers, with similar pattern results.

At 25 yards, the Federal Slugs from the left barrel hit in the middle. From the right barrel, they hit about four or five inches to the right and an inch or two high. When I backed up to 40 yards, the left barrel remained in the middle, with the right barrel putting slugs about 10 inches to the high right. Once I figured out the pattern, I could easily put a slug from the right barrel into the same group made by  the left barrel by merely sighting down the top of the right barrel, instead of using the brass bead in the middle.

The same held true for the Remington Slugs, which kicked quite a bit harder than the Federal Reduced Recoil slugs, but nowhere near the beating dished out by the Express Magnum buckshot. Think angry-as-hell-donkey vs. ornery jackass vs. slightly miffed mule.

I thought I had the Coach Gun nailed for a major weakness, as the two barrels were not exactly, totally, 100-percent regulated to the same pinpoint of aim.

Damn facts! Research into the matter revealed that I was being unrealistic. The vast majority of less-expensive doubles produce results similar to the Stoeger Silverado Coach Gun’s. Some owners reported patterns that differed as much as three feet between the barrels. To get side-by-side guns, shotguns or rifles regulated to shoot to exactly the same point of aim requires a lot of tedious hand-fitting and work—which is why double-barrel guns that perform that way usually cost more than my pickup truck.

When I took another look at the pictures of my targets, the differential between the left and right barrels really wasn’t that much. With bird shot, there was a good deal of overlap with the pellet clouds. With the buckshot at 25 yards, both barrels put plenty of good hits in a good place on the target. Firing slugs, I was able to get hits plenty accurate enough for deer hunting with both barrels at 25 yards, and back at 40 yards, I could easily compensate and get that right barrel to hit a target the size of a deer’s vitals.

But I still wasn’t sold.

And then I made my fatal mistake with the Coach Gun. I broke out my Do-All trap machine, and got a box of clay targets. Much to my chagrin, I found that I could absolutely crush clay birds with the coach gun. Smoke, disintegrate, obliterate, clobber. The coach gun turned me into a clay-bird-destroying machine of death. It was awesome!

Typically, I hit about five or six clay birds out of 10 with my Remington 870. The reason is that I’m a rifle shooter in my soul. I love rifles. I even coach rifle as a sport. When I see the bird fly, my elbows drop under the gun, my left eye closes, and I try to pressssssss the trigger slowly and smoothly, which is all completely, totally and utterly wrong with a shotgun.

But the configuration of the Coach Gun just wouldn’t let me revert to my old, bad shotgun habits. The Coach Gun’s stock fits me very well, and because it feels so different from a rifle, it’s easier for me to not shoot it like a rifle.

I hit so many clay birds that I reconfigured the trap, and begin flinging doubles. Now with my trusty 870 pump, with its very rifle-like stock and sights, I’m lucky if I complete one double out of three or four. With the coach gun, I wasn’t so much shooting doubles as I was wiling them to turn into little clouds of clay dust. Transitioning  trigger to trigger on the Coach Gun felt light years ahead of racking the 870’s pump between shots.

And that’s when it happened. The Stoeger Coach Gun passed one of the most stringent tests I apply to guns: the giggle test. If I shoot a gun for an extended period and don’t once giggle or gleefully exclaim something like “Oh, Hell yeah!” I know the gun isn’t for me. After about the sixth or seventh consecutive clay double I erased out of the sky, I heard a loud voice whooping and hollering, and then realized it was me. “I gotta get one of these!”

The Stoeger Coach Gun is a lot of fun in a lightweight, easy-to-handle package. It’s great for backyard clay shooting, and plenty of Cowboy Action shooters have picked one up to use in their game.

Obviously, there are better guns for home defense. I own several of them. But I would certainly not be unarmed if all I had was a Stoeger Coach Gun and six spare shells. It’s easy to maneuver through the house, and 12-gauge is absolutely devastating at across-the-living-room distances, even with birdshot.

With the correct ammo,  I could also use the coach gun to hunt everything that walks or flies in the state of Arkansas. Again, there are purpose-built guns that are better for specific types of game animals. But if I’m hunting when deer and squirrel seasons overlap, the coach gun is the only gun I own with which I can legally hunt both animals simultaneously. I can put a slug in the left barrel, and a charge of number 6 shot in the right barrel, ready for any large or small game that might cross my path.

While I can carry shells for both critters in my 870 pump, I cannot control which critter appears first, and thus might have to try to switch ammo with the pump gun. With the coach gun, all I have to do is choose which of the two triggers is connected to the correctly charged barrel.

And yes, I do mean guns that I own. I thought I’d find the Coach Gun boring and vanilla. But I liked it so much, that I bought one. There are cheaper guns. There are more accurate guns. There are guns that do certain things better. But the Silverado is a lightweight, compact, do-it-all shotgun that does one thing as well as any firearm on the planet: make me smile.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Caliber: .12 gauge
Barrel: 20  inches. Right barrel IC choke. Left barrel Modified choke
Overall Length: 36,5   inches
Weight (unloaded):6.5 pounds
Stock: English-style American walnut
Sights: brass bead
Action: boxlock side-by-side
Trigger: Double
Finish: Matte Matte nickel
Capacity: 2
Price: $479

RATINGS (Out of Five):

Style * * ** 1/2
Looks classy and cowboy, sort of like if Sean Connery had been the lead character in “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” instead Clint Eastwood.

Ergonomics * * * *
Light and handy; easy to swing on clay birds or move around corners.

Reliability * * * * *
Went boom every time.

Overall Rating * * * * 1/2
A good value that has a lot more going for it than you might think by just looking at it.