After reviewing Stoeger guns for a while, I’m not surprised by the M3000 Tactical at all. Stoeger’s owned by Benelli and the company offers good Turkish-made guns at an affordable price. With the semi-automatic M3000 Freedom Series Defense shotgun, Stoeger has delivered again, giving the budget-minded shooter a lot shotgun for not a lot of money.
If you pay close attention, you’ll see that the lines of the gun flow together very well. Note the rear of the receiver and how well it blends into the stock, and how the checkering line on the stock flows from the edge line of the receiver as well. Nothing on the gun is shiny, but none of the finish is sloppy or uneven.
On the inside, most areas are un-polished and there are definitely some tool marks to be found. But overall, it’s done pretty well.
There are no real burrs or catch points inside the gun, and nothing that needs to be polished in order for the gun to function smoothly and reliably. It’s every bit as polished internally as a new Remington 1100, and better than a new 870.
The sights are a nice set-up. The enclosed rear peep sight is adjustable for windage and elevation. The front sight is fiber optic and also protected by metal wings. It’s bright even in low light which makes for quick target acquisition. The stock irons sit pretty high on the gun. Those of you with small/short faces may not get a great cheek/stock weld, but I found it to be well positioned. It’s also well positioned for a red-dot optic, and the receiver has a rail mounted for just that.
This model runs in 12 gauge only, and with accommodate 2 3/4 and 3-inch magnum shells. 3 1/2″ shells aren’t safe in this gun, and I wasn’t able to get the Aguila mini-shells to load either. I didn’t expect them to, and I can’t find anyone online that’s modifying the M3000 shotgun to accept them.
The bottom loading gate is large enough that a quick load of two shells at a time wasn’t a problem. (If anyone struggles with dual loading or quad loading, watch Lena Miculek’s video, she makes it a breeze.) The forks of the loading gate are rounded, and I had no issues with the gate stabbing into my thumb as others have experienced with other shotguns, like my Remington Versamax Tactical. You’ll also find that the follower is bright, obvious, and moves without jarring or turning in the tube.
The trigger on the M3000 is not particularly heavy, but it does have quite a bit of mush and creep. I wouldn’t expect a defense-focused shotgun to have a crisp light trigger. The Stoeger’s is no better or worse than most of the others out there, although the trigger shoe itself is fairly small.
You’ll find the crossbolt safety in a familiar spot near the back of the trigger. On this type of gun, I would definitely expect the safety to be larger. As it is, it’s exactly the kind of thing you’ll have trouble hitting with gloves on, or quickly snapping it on and off.
The same thing goes for the bolt release. It’s the same small release we find on hunting models. I don’t like a small bolt release on an auto-loading shotgun for any use. They make no sense to me. For a tactical gun, getting to that release fast, without looking, and under any conditions is paramount.
For hunting, getting to the release when your hands are cold, wet, or gloved up is always a concern. Either way, a big flat bit of real estate from the factory is helpful. You can find those controls on Stoeger’s 3-Gun model, but that also has a longer barrel.
The bolt handle itself is quite large and easy to find. You won’t have any difficulty getting it back, and in case of a jam, you’ll have plenty of room to crank back on it. It comes straight out from the bolt, not curved or hooked in any way.
There is no place on the stock of the gun to add a light, but there are aftermarket options that are available. There is a sturdy tube mounted sling attachment included from the factory.
And now, for the truly amazing thing about this gun. Using the factory butt pad, and the factory pistol grip, it has an appropriate length of pull. This is a first for me. I’m 6’2″, and it’s pretty rare that a shotgun fits me out of the box. This one did.
Of course, that means that if you are a little shorter, 5’8″ or so, you may have some issues with the length of pull. If you are of such diminutive height, try it out in the store, as a length of pull that is too long on a lightweight gun built for buckshot is a recipe for pain.
The 18.5-inch barrel is a fixed cylinder bore and won’t accept choke tubes. At 25 yards, shooting off a bench, 7 buckshot pellets out of 8 consistently struck a 19″ plate. That’s about how it should be, with a cylinder bore gun and 00 buck.
As with all shotguns, some brands of ammunition will shoot tighter than others. I’d recommend everyone pattern their scatterguns with several different loads to see what your particular firearm likes.
All of the M3000 models are inertia driven guns. A great explanation of the mechanism can be found on Stoeger’s website.
The big advantage of the inertia operating system is that the action stays clean and the gun remains fairly light. I’m not sure if others have had the same experience, but I find I can also cycle intertia-driven guns a little faster. That’s certainly the case for this shotgun. Double and triple taps, especially with 00 buckshot are incredibly fast. Those triple-taps at 15 yards are always fun at The Range at Austin, because there’s just nothing left of your paper target, and it all happens in about one single second.
Of course, one of the potential drawbacks to inertia driven guns is that they tend to be lighter in weight. What’s great for 2 or 3 shots at a time in the dove field isn’t so great running long strings during a shotgun course.
This shotgun weighs in right at 7 lbs. As a comparison, the fairly heavy-recoiling M37 Trench gun is only 3oz more, and the Stoeger shoots more shells a lot faster. The result of pushing 00 buck out of the gun as fast as I could was ballistically spectacular, but also pretty tiring. I guess there’s no such thing a free lunch.
Even though I got tired, the shotgun didn’t. I put 100 rounds of buckshot through the gun, most of it Armscor’s 00. I also shot some turkey loads, two boxes of slugs, some #4 high-speed duck loads, and some 7.5 shot dove loads.
If I held the gun loosely, the dove loads would occasionally fail to cycle. Maybe one out of every 6 or 7 rounds would have a failure to fully return to battery. That’s the only time I had an issue with any round failing to cycle in any way. There was no buckshot, 00 or #4 buckshot (my preferred home defense load) that failed to fire from any hold or any position, and that’s what this gun is really made for.
When it came to shooting slugs, I was a little disappointed by the gun. With the great sight set up, I expected it to do better. It is very possible that I just didn’t find the slugs this gun liked, and I only tried two different brands. As it is, I couldn’t keep all rounds inside a 12″ circle at 100 yards while shooting off a Caldwell Stinger shooting rest. I was, however, able to keep all rounds inside a 19″ silhouette at that range.
There are a few companies out there really tricking these guns out for competition, and I’m not surprised. At this price point, and with all of the features already on the gun, you won’t put much more money into the gun to get an extremely capable shotgun. For home defense, a good gun for the truck or farm, or a home-defense shotgun, you’d be hard pressed to find a better autoloader for the money.
Specifications: Stoeger M3000 Freedom Series Defensive Shotgun
Caliber: 12-Gauge 2-3/4″ and 3″
Stock: Black Synthetic
Barrel length: 18.5″
Overall length: 40.75”
Magazine capacity: 7+1
Weight: 7 lbs
MSRP $619 (about $550 retail)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * * *
Standard tactical black.
Customization * *
For a defensive semi-automatic shotgun, there’s not as much available for these guns as there are several other brands.
Reliability * * * * 1/2
It cycles everything but the lightest loads just fine.
Accuracy * * *
There were no oddball patterns with any particular shell, and shells within the same brand and weight/type. With Breneke slugs, every round fit inside a 19″ silhouette at 100 yards.
Overall * * *
The finish is ho-hum. The stock is not adjustable, and the controls that should be enlarged aren’t. But it’s a solid gun that runs great. The semi-auto Stoeger Industries M3000 Tactical gets all the basics of a tactical autoloader right, and at the right price point, too.