View Full Version : Need 12 ga 3.5" shotgun - advice?

December 2, 2000, 01:02 AM
I want to get a 3.5" 12 Ga for goose hunting. I am open to either a pump or an auto. The Benelli super black eagle is obvious first choice, but I am looking for something a bit cheaper. I saw a Nova the other day and it looks interesting. Anyone have experience with them? Any other recommendations?

Dave McC
December 2, 2000, 07:45 AM
Bdog, nobody NEEDS a 3.5 inch shotgun, tho plenty of folks want them. If all the geese and deer I've killed with dinky lil' 2 3/4 loads were lined up, they'd reach to the Bay from here.

However, Remington makes their Express 870 in this oversized and priced chambering.And, 870s have lots of fans, including me.Reliable, durable,effective and adaptable, they are the best buy on the market, tho getting a used one to avoid some of Remington's more PC changes is a good idea.

You might want to read some current and older threads about 870s, there's plenty of input, 99% positive...

December 2, 2000, 08:53 AM
I've shot the Nova with a heavy load and the gun kicked the living snot out of me. Light gun, heavy load and a hollow plastic stock is not a good combination. Apparently the Nova has a recoil reducer that fits into the stock as an option and I can see why. If I felt the overwhelming need for a 3.5 (and I don't) I'd go for a nice, soft shooting Browning Gold and get a real thick recoil pad.

December 2, 2000, 07:19 PM
"What will a 3.5" do that a 2 3/4" or 3" won't?"
answer: deliver 1&9/16oz steel shot.
The 3.5 is over-rated IMO. Larger shot load but really no more lethal in use, at least in my experience.
I did pick up a Browning BPS in 3.5 used at a good price. I think the guy no longer wanted to carry this HEAVY hunk of shotgun. It does help with recoil, and I don't mind it in the blind, but getting it there and back was hard work. That is until I drilled the stock and fitted an axle and 2 pneumatic tires. (just kidding about the modifications, but the weight is real)
One advantage; it will chamber and safely fire every 12g shell in the blind. Like last week when the shooting was fast and furious and one bonehead left his shells in the truck.

Dave McC
December 4, 2000, 08:36 AM
Kingcreek, most of us do not want/need to deliver that much steel shot. I think my snow goose loads are 1 3/8 oz,in a 3 inch case,and they work fine at REASONABLE ranges. I quit long range pass shooting when lead shot was banned, and still regard steel as no humane 60 yard+ killer.

The big reason, IMO, for the 3.5" is to sell guns and ammo to folks that have plenty of both already.

But, I do agree that a 3.5 simplifies ammo selection. I am glad I don't have to tote a shotgun that weighs in heavier than an M-14 in the E-2 stock.In fact, real glad considering myt age and decreptitude....

December 4, 2000, 01:13 PM
Dave, I agree with you.
I have a 3.5 but could get along just fine without it.
A heavier shot load does not make it more "lethal" in my personal experience, but marketing hasn't bothered to mention that.

Dave McC
December 5, 2000, 08:03 AM
Kingcreek, the "More Is Better" Principle is invalid when it comes to shot payload. A friend with a fondness for the 28 ga drops Huns and ringnecks with regularity and aplomb. That's a 5/8 oz load of 7 12/s. He hunts with close working Welsh Springer Spaniels,and his shots run short.Last time we hunted together, I used a little French 12 ga with 1 1/8 oz of 7 1/2s in the open bbl, 6s in the other, and I missed birds while he ran 100% on a mess of preserve holdovers.

No offense intended to anyone, but if ya ain't hitting them with a 2 3/4 or 3" cartridge, you'll hit them little if any more or harder with a howitzer canister load.

December 5, 2000, 09:27 AM
Thanks for all the replies. I was a bit surprised by all the negative comments on the 3.5". I agree that it is not necessary. I used to shoot skeet and have beaten people using 12 ga with my .410 and watched their jaws drop.

The main reason I want a 3.5" is that where I go goose hunting the majority of the shots are far. Also steel is not as effective as lead so keep that in mind. Last year when we went I was using a 3" and another guy was using a 3.5". I had several shots where I clearly hit the bird and saw some feathers fly but they did not drop. The guy with the 3.5" made more consistent kills and yes these shots were at about the same distances.

I was loking at a Mossber 835 (I think) Ultra mag pump that had a camoflauge finish the other day. It was $350 new. Anyone had any experience with them?

December 5, 2000, 10:13 AM
I see the need for a 3.5" 12 Gauge. The geese around here travel in packs and carry 1911's. Very surly and belligerent in their speech and action. I wish I could get a Browning M2HB so I could be safe from these winged demons. Its a rough neighborhood or something. Even the rabbits in my yard usually hang around smoking Lucky Strikes and carrying Glock 19's.

Dave McC
December 5, 2000, 01:11 PM
I sleep better at night when I take shorter shots, and regard that as a better choice than getting a bigger shotgun. And I probably bring in as many as the guys with the Testosterone Specials.

A coupla things that will help any waterfowler are:

Load testing. Quite often, one load will be superior in ONE shotgun to all others for patterning.

Choke testing. Oft someone can do better with a small change in constriction, even .0002" might show changes. This is where custom tubes like the Brileys shine.Or a good smith can take out a little at a time until a selected load works best.

Lengthening the forcing cone. IMO, this works best for big shot, and goose loads do qualify as such.

Unfortunately, steel is still the only reasonable option, bismuth and tungsten are way too costly.

Now, if I HAD to go to a heavier load to get geese, I'd probably get a 10 ga, and get better patterns and maybe a bit more longevity.

But the choices are yours. good luck and good hunting

December 5, 2000, 07:53 PM

You better learn "goose-onics."

December 6, 2000, 07:51 AM
Shhhh! I have to type quietly. There are a couple of really angry looking geese out by the mailbox. My Little 870 will only hold 3" shells. I think I'm doomed. Maybe the rabbit will watch my back while I go to the closet for the FAL.

December 8, 2000, 02:48 AM
Dread - one blast of 00-aught buck should take care of those dirty birds. *wink*

December 8, 2000, 02:00 PM
I just noticed that Ballistic Products, Inc. website has a very informative article on the 3.5" 12ga. It is under the reloading information section, but should prove interesting to the non-reloader as well!


Regards! DaMan

P.S. - They did make brief mention of my 3.5" slug load for dangerous game (ie. dinosaurs)! ;-)

December 8, 2000, 02:06 PM
A Mossberg 835 would serve you well. I have owned one for several years now and you cant go wrong there. I like the interchangeable choke system and 2 3/4--3 1/2 inch ability. although I personally rarely go beyond a 3 inch shell.

December 9, 2000, 11:49 AM

My first goose was taken in 1972-73?. It was about 10 yards sitting beyond my dekes 50 yards out.

This was in lead shot days and I was shooting 5's over the dekes and didn't have any 2's with me.

But I did have five rounds of 00 Buck. I popped that goose with four rounds and he paddled off to the over side of the res. and headed for a corn field where I killed him with a round of my reloaded 7 1/2 for cripples.

When I cleaned the old bird he had taken 8 hits from the 00 buck.


December 10, 2000, 12:02 PM
Look at the ballistic stuff. That extra load does nothing but slow down progress and belt you in the face.

I don't want to sound smug but perhaps you should find a new place to hunt.

I live in southernmost Illinois where the Mississippi Valley Canada population stops for the winter. I use a 20ga 3" gun with steel 2's. My 12 ga load is 2.75 of trip B's. Thee loads work (12 ga.) out to 40+ yards.

That big gun will beat you to death..

"Single shot shooters only shoot once"

December 22, 2005, 04:37 PM
i want to get a 12gauge remington 3.5 inch shotgun semi auto. is there a difference in range from a 3 inch to 3.5? can u shoot farther. or should i just stick with a 3 inch any good brands to get i want to get the 1187 remington do u suggest any thing else thank for all ur help

December 22, 2005, 05:39 PM
i scored an 870 supermag (3.5 in) at a pawn shop for $150
found a 20 inch bbl off a 3 inch gun for $55:) for auto theft prevention/ home def.
shoots fantastic!

have heard the 3.5 inch comes close to a 10 guage in terms of power, though ill probably get flamed for that;)

December 22, 2005, 05:51 PM
The 3.5" magnum DOES have advantages over 3" using steel shot regardless of the distance. Throwing the same pellet count with pellets 2 or 3 sizes bigger with the same pattern density IS an advantage. I've typed about this until my fingers are blue. The difference on birds is REAL!!!!!

bdog, do a search on my username and 3.5" for the rest of my opinion on this matter if you like.

quack fiend
December 22, 2005, 06:20 PM
anyone in the market for a cheap 3.5" gun should strongly consider the way over-built russian baikal mp-153, an adjustable-gas auto for $300 that will eat any 12 ga. load and is built like a tank, puts the remington/mossberg/charles daly budget offerings to shame--weighs 8 lbs. and has extremely low recoil even with magnum 3.5 loads--they are so reliable that remington bought the importation rights and sells them unchanged as spartan spr-453's for about $50 more--go to shotgunworld forums and read the reviews if you won't take my word for it, i sold my overpriced, hard-kicking, unreliable benelli sbe after shooting one of these

December 22, 2005, 06:30 PM
I had the chance to fire off a 3.5inch round through my bosses Winchester SX2 and the recoil was very manageable. He told me that since he bought it, he hasn't had any problems with it. Might want to check one out.

December 22, 2005, 06:41 PM
makes sense smith:)

December 22, 2005, 08:25 PM
I bought a 3.5" SX2 before Thanksgiving, shoot 3" Hevi-Shot over decoys, and still don't own any 3.5" ammo. I was doing just fine with an old Express and a 2.75" 1100 Synthetic, but I ran across an honest-to-goodness like-new SX2 ShadowGrass and liked the way it felt. Anyway...

I believe Browning and Winchester are running their $100 rebate on Gold Hunters and SX2's until the end of the month and it's driven the new and used prices waaaaay down. The SX3 is coming out and they're cleaning house. Used guns like mine that listed for $1215 new and sold for $1000 are going for $700 or so. The black synthetic or wood stocked models are less.

I had back surgery 2 years ago and if I wanna buy a new gas gun or two from time to time I have the perfect excuse. I think I need another SX1 - maybe one with a skeet barrel and fancy wood?


December 22, 2005, 09:39 PM
I have had great luck with my Mossberg 835. I use it for Turkeys and it is awesome. Bought it used for $150. My buddy uses the NOVA, good gun as well.

December 22, 2005, 10:52 PM
Well to be different go 10 gauge, I picked up a Ithaca Mag 10 this fall, used it for turkeys and got 2. Honestly I didn't think the recoil was much if any worse the 303 british I use for deer hunting. Not sure if I'm going to do any waterfowl hunting but I'm definitely keeping it for turkey.



roy reali
December 22, 2005, 11:11 PM
I am by no means a shotgun expert. But I was under the impression that all shotguns, regardless of gauge, shot their pellets to more or less the same distance. In other words, 6 shot from a .410 travels just as fast and just as far as 6 shot from a 10 gauge. The difference is that larger bored shotguns give more pellets in the pattern.

Am I right about this or not?

December 23, 2005, 08:37 AM
Roy, yes that is basically true. Another advantage of a larger bore or a larger payload is you can use larger pellets that retain energy better giving you a longer effective range provided pattern density is adequate.

roy reali
December 23, 2005, 11:57 AM
So if you stood 200 yards away and someone fired a 20ga. load of eight shot at you, then someone shot a dove load out of a 12 at you at the same distance, your odds of suffereing a serious injury would be the same?

I also noticed that some folks mention using buckshot to shoot waterfowl.

In my state, that is illegal. There is the concern of safety too.

The stuff some folks post here makes me glad that some of them hunt many states away from me.

December 23, 2005, 12:14 PM
I bought a rem 870 supermag.
Mostly because they offered a 50$ rebate.

Other than that, I had an old steven's 12 gauge that would ONLY take 2.75" shells and sometimes in the middle of nowhere, the local shop only had 3"
so I like the supermag becuase no matter what's available, it will chamber.

Most folks don't have that problem or take what they need with them. I try to do that as well, but i've been in a pinch before and hopefully will not be again.

That being said, I seriously doubt i'll ever use the 3.5" shells. Most guns now chamber 2.75" AND 3.0" so i didn't NEED the supermag. That's where the 50$ rebate changed my mind. :D

December 23, 2005, 03:54 PM
Roy, yes.

If I am not mistaken the buckshot comments were in jest........

December 23, 2005, 03:58 PM

Chip Dixon
December 24, 2005, 09:04 PM
I love my Mossy Oak Breakup 835 Ulti-Mag.
It's flexibility is awesome, it's beautiful, and the crown-grade
Mossbergs are nice guns--they're built a lot nicer than say, a 500.

December 30, 2005, 11:29 PM
The best choice would be to shoot hevi-shot or hevi-steel. If you are going to shoot steel, I like shooting a 3.5 inch load.