Price / Value: B
This new 3 1⁄2-inch semi-automatic from Stoeger is not destined to win any beauty contests. It is a solid brute of a gun with all the charm and subtlety of a Mafia enforcer. But despite its rough exterior (and rough, 9-pound trigger), it impressed the Outdoor Life test team at the range when it mattered.
The M3500 uses the same inertia recoil system employed by its more refined cousins from Benelli, and delivers the reliability that their actions are known for, cycling everything from light target loads to heavy 3 1⁄2-inch waterfowl shells.
Made in Turkey, the M3500 would be perfectly at home bouncing around in the bottom of a duck boat or lying in the mud next to a goose hunter stretched out in corn stubble. The gun practically begs for rough treatment, and you’d have to go to extraordinary lengths to get it to stop working. It earned high scores for easy loading, operation and no-nonsense ergonomics.
The raised rib is cut with deep checkering to reduce glare, and the 28-inch barrel sports a slightly oversized red plastic bead for sighting. The plastic buttstock has a molded-in sling swivel attachment, as does the cap that screws down to hold the forend in place.
The receiver is tapped to add a mount for optics, giving the shooter the option to use the M3500 as a scope-sighted deer gun. For a hunter on a budget, the $629 MSRP makes the M3500 a good value in a 3 1⁄2-inch autoloader.