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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 9:09 am 
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Dr Duk wrote:
So now show us the documented cases where this happened!


Why? It was commentary from Michael McIntosh, https://www.shotgunworld.com/shotgun-live ... chael.html , who has been gone for nearly seven years. Anyone who really wants to discuss this with Mr. McIntosh long ago lost that opportunity.
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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 9:26 am 
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Dr Duk wrote:

So now show us the documented cases where this happened!


No can do.


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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:00 am 
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The up side of the 3.5 is payload, more is better. Where it shines is shooting steel 1's to T's. The down side is recoil, if you want to shoot a 7# gun and 3.5's you will pay in recoil. With the MAP of the 3.5 you can shoot a bigger payload faster and really pay in recoil(hopefully not with detached retinas). With a 50 snow goose limit, 4 dollar shells are not in the cards for most people. For pass shooting or bad weather conditions the 3.5 is better. An 11 pound 10 gauge shooting 1 1/2 oz loads @1450 fps is doable all day lone. The 7# 3.5 12 gauge shooting at 1550 fps not so much. They aren't all wings cupped, feet down sailing into the deeks. There is a place for these shells if you have the right gun to shoot them.


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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 1:55 pm 
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RandyWakeman wrote:
SBE3 wrote:
If you know that you will not be shooting any 3.5" shells, but the gun you want is available with 3" and 3.5", why not buy the 3.5 anyway since it will still fire your 3"? I assume that in a 3.5" gun the bolt will have a longer stroke, but does it make enough of a difference in cycling speed to make you opt for the 3" version instead?


Several issues:

1) balance: often too much weight-forward

2) excessively long receiver

3) weaker receiver due to larger loading ports and ejection ports

4) more difficulty with light loads

5) extra, needless cost.

6) less pattern efficiency with 2-3/4 inch unfolded length shells that have excessive freebore in a 3-1/2 inch chamber.


I know this post is almost four years old, and I think Randy is right in certain circumstances, but I also think there is an argument to be made in favor of 3.5". So let's answer each one individually in the parentheses that follow each point...

Several issues:

1) balance: often too much weight-forward (Randy prevers more of a neutral balance, but understand, that isn't necessarily most people. How many championships are won with shorter barrels weighted neutrally compared with 28" and 30" or longer barrels throwing weight forward? Why are 28" shotguns more popular and plentiful than 26" shotguns, as popular as they are? I would argue many if not most shotgunners today elect for 28" over 26" and most competitors and waterfowlers opt for even longer barrels because it helps aid in a smoother swing. That is certainly the case for me, and I even feel that way about even handguns for the same reason electing to carry a SIG P229. Most competitors and hunters in my opinion depending on the sport/quarry elect longer barrels for this reason. It's a matter of preference.)

2) excessively long receiver (the Browning Maxus or a Winchester SX4 is the same length regardless of 3" or 3.5". A Franchi is .25" longer for the 3.5". In many if not most cases, that is hardly going to matter IMHO. If it would, why would people use extended choke tubes? Wouldn't that throw the balance off? Yes, a Beretta 3.5" is 0.5" longer than a 3.0", but again people throw extended tubes on all the time without complaint. Again, it's a matter of preference.)

3) weaker receiver due to larger loading ports and ejection ports (again, I'm sure Randy is right that this has been an issue sometime/somewhere, but of all the people shooting 3.5" Berettas, Brownings, and Benellis, how many are complaining of failed receivers? This seems a bit of a stretch in the modern era.)

4) more difficulty with light loads (Randy sometimes has a point here, but then again, many 3" shotguns can also struggle with light loads especially before break-in. More importantly, how many people own 3.5" shotguns that cycle everything they feed them? These days, I would suggest more experience the latter, but let me ask you a question. How detrimental is the occasional failure with low brass? If you're competing, you're already going to have a gun set up to run for your sport. Most of us are not. If you want a 3.5", you're not going to care about an occasional issue with low brass because that's just for fun at the range. But like I said, many modern shotguns can handle anything, and that's why they usually command a higher price. Just research the gun prior to purchase to make sure it has a reputation for cycling various loads reliably.)

5) extra, needless cost. (People pay that cost for a reason. Going from product assortments, 3.5" is as popular as 3". I'm sure most people buy 3" especially when you include HD guns because they're generally significantly cheaper, but people wouldn't spend $100, $150, or $200 or more on a 3.5" shotgun if they didn't feel it was worth it. Again, this is subjective depending on one's budget. If you buy a Winchester SX4, you may not pay anymore depending on where you buy it. Other times it may only be $50 or $75 more. Shop around. It won't be a waste if you can take down more waterfowl because of the greater range and shot density.)

6) less pattern efficiency with 2-3/4 inch unfolded length shells that have excessive freebore in a 3-1/2 inch chamber.[/quote] (Again, Randy has a point, to a point [pun unintended]. Different guns pattern different loads differently. For every problem described above there are 3.5" loads that pattern better than their 3.0" counterparts. You have to test the load for your gun, even when it comes to guns of the same model. They are individuals, and just like people, we all have our preferences.)

In conclusion, I would never talk someone out of a 3" or 3.5" shotgun. They both have their advantages, but in my opinion, it is more of a matter of price for me. If you're looking for a "do all" shotgun, I would consider spending a little more money on a 3.5" unless your do-all shotgun isn't really going to be used to do it all. Just do your research if the uber reliability of light loads is a consideration.


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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 3:13 pm 
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TAHD wrote:
How many championships are won with shorter barrels weighted neutrally compared with 28" and 30" or longer barrels throwing weight forward?


Well, you made a valiant effort . . . but how many championships are won with 3-1/2 chambers? This is perpetual motion non-argument.

There is only one fundamental reason to buy a 3-1/2 inch chambered gun: you plan on using 3-1/2 inch steel shotshells. If you are performance-minded, you'll not shoot plain steel at all, opting for bismuth / tungsten blend / 12g / 15g / 18g tungsten pellets and so forth.

The balance of the gun hardly relies on barrel length alone. A 24 inch Savage Renegauge (3 inch chamber) has a ridiculously heavy barrel, for example. The 24 inch Renegauge barrel alone weighs 3 lbs., 6.6 oz. To give you an idea of just how ridiculously heavy this barrel is, I weighed a 30 inch Browning B-80 12 gauge barrel: it comes in at 2 lbs., 5 oz. This is no typo: a 30 inch B-80 (or 303) barrel weighs over a solid pound less than a 24 inch Renegauge barrel.

My interest piqued about barrel weights, I grabbed a camo 26 inch Remington V3 barrel with a Trulock Precision Hunter extended choke and weighed it. The longer 26 inch V3 barrel came in at 2 lbs., 12 ounces: close to 3/4 pound lighter than the Savage Renegauge. The V3's pistons work directly on the bolt, so there are no dual action bars or any action bars at all on a Remington V3. There is little mystery here: the Remington V3 is a 7-1/4 lb. gun and well-balanced with a 26 inch barrel. The 26 inch barrel of my Fabarm L4S Grey Hunter with an extended choke installed weighs 1 lb., 15 ounces. That is a stunning 1-1/2 pounds less than the 24 inch Renegauge barrel. The 8 pound Savage Renegauge gets all of its excessive weight and ridiculous muzzle heaviness from the bloody barrel.

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A longer receiver moves not only barrel weight to the front, but magazine tube weight to the front, and loaded shell weight in the magazine more to the front as well.

Many people buy 3-1/2 inch chambered guns that never, ever see a unfolded length 3-1/2 inch shell. Even if you decide to use steel, all 3-1/2 inch steel loads get you is more cost and more unwanted recoil with a few yards of range . . . maybe.

Some folks buy 3-1/2 inch guns because 4 inch chambered 12 gauges and ammo aren't readily available. That's why they call them choices. In another four years, perhaps 3-1/2 inch guns will be so good that no one would be so tragically dumb as to manufacture a 3 inch chambered 12 gauge dinosaur? I doubt it. It was 33 years ago when it started. 1988 was the year that Mossberg introduced the 3-1/2 inch 12 gauge and Federal Ammunition introduced 3-1/2 inch unfolded length shotshells to go along with it. While it killed off the 10 gauge, it hasn't killed off much beyond that.

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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 5:37 pm 
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"Why not buy a 3.5" gun instead of a 3" gun?"

No reason, as long as you can get the 3.5" gun to employ all of the characteristics you need! That could work for some folks, especially waterfowl hunters but it is a pretty tall order to get a heavy 3.5" magnum to display the handling characteristics of much lighter weight & nimble 2 3/4" & 3" guns, if the reasons already given are not enough! How does it go? Something like anything that does everything doesn't usually do anything very well!


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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:49 pm 
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This is an interesting topic, so I thought I’d chime in. I own a 3.5” gun (Versa Max Sportsman), and two 3” guns (A300 Outlander, and a V3). All three of them will cycle 2 3/4 1oz loads reliably. I’ve put over 300 rounds of various ammunition through the VM and it has never failed to cycle once. I’ve shot well over 5000 rounds through the A300 (I’ve had it the longest) and the only cycling issues I had with it was within the first 100 rounds. I didn’t clean it before shooting it the first time. It has not failed to cycle 1 time since. I’ve only had the V3 for a few weeks, and I’ve put about 80 rounds through it. It has had 1 failure to fire (Old ammunition), and 1 failure to feed. I suspect it just needs a little “breaking in”

My Versa Max weighs 8lbs .6oz and the trigger pull breaks at approximately 5lbs 6oz. I have shot ducks, geese, and clays with it, and I hit just as well with it as I do with the others. Yes the receiver is longer, but the gun points well for me, and it isn’t muzzle heavy IMO. The LOP is the same as my V3. My A300 weighs 7lbs 7oz, and my 26” V3 weighs 7lbs 3.8oz. Both of them have a trigger pull under 4lbs. Yes, I can tell the VM weighs more than my other guns, but it doesn’t affect my ability to hit what I’m shooting. I can comfortably carry any of them while walking as well. I don’t notice the difference in trigger pull when shooting either. I am focused on my target. I pull the trigger, instead of squeezing. Unless a shotgun has an outrageously heavy trigger, I don’t really get the whole concern over trigger pull. My finger can easily pull a 7lb trigger without negatively affecting my ability to hit what I’m shooting at.

Price. My Black synthetic VM Sportsman was $832. My Max 5 Camo A300 was $725. The black synthetic 26” V3 was $715. So My VM cost $117 more than the least expensive shotgun I own. It is the best of the three for my application. It shoots softer than the others, however both of my 3” guns are very soft shooters as well. It is the easiest to field strip for cleaning of the three. And the action on it isn’t as stiff as the A300, and it’s much smoother than the V3. For most of my hunting situations, it will be the first one I grab. I do enjoy shooting the others as well, but the VM is my pick of the three.

Most of the reasons to choose one size chambered shotgun over another are either subjective, or based on price. In my experience all three of mine cycle light loads, all of them will bust clays, and all will drop birds. The VM just happens to have the capability of shooting 3.5” rounds. I’ve shot 2 3.5” SX4s and 2 A400 extreme pluses. All cycled 1oz light loads reliably. I’ve seen som 3.5” guns that would not as well. The SX4s both weigh less than my V3. I know some report that the SX4 is forward heavy, and they are balanced to the front, but so is the V3. That’s an easy solution as well. Just try a 26”. The best thing to do is research the guns you’re interested in, shoulder and shoot them if you can, and make a decision.


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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 5:41 pm 
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SHughes wrote:
I did find Randy Wakeman's reviews to be much more informative than most other's I had watched, but his review of the SX4 was confusing. I watched one video where he complained about the features on the SX4 that were different from the SX3, then another video at a shot show where he said it was a good gun. I found his video review of the Remington V3 to be very informative concerning the versaport gas system. However, just as with everyone else, I detected quite a bit of bias in his reviews. He bashed the Beretta for having too much plastic in it, and the trigger pull being too heavy. When looking at the V3, he gave it a glowing review, but it had just as much plastic on it as the Beretta. I went to a gun store to look at the Beretta again, and used the same method he used when testing the trigger pull. the trigger pulled rather quickly when I began letting go. Seeing as how the gun weighs a little over 7 lbs, I'd say the trigger pull was in the 4.5 to 5 lb range. much better than his article suggested. Mr. Wakeman is obviously a very experienced hunter and outdoorsman, and I don't mean to be critical of his reviews, but there is clearly bias as it pertains to the Beretta.


I realize you're new to autoloading shotguns. If you were not, you would realize that over the last 50 years of hunting and shooting autoloaders, I've used Beretta 303 / Browning B-80 / and Beretta AL390's more than anything else. That's not by accident. Particularly Browning B-80s, made by Beretta for the most part. To make a snippy, knee-jerk claim of bias means you are at least 40 years too late to the party.

If you want a realistic view of the functionality, usefulness, and enjoyment of an autoloading shotgun, it makes no sense to start off with the very first autoloader you've ever owned and start expounding on that and discontinued shotguns.

The autoloader was essentially perfected over a century ago by John M. Browning. It was extremely high production costs as well as fascination with excessively light and excessively loads that has driven shotguns in a different direction. Some of the features of the Automatic-Five such as extremely low maintenance, soft recoil, fast cycling, intuitive speed-loading, excellent triggers, crisp safeties, all steel and stainless-steel construction, and extreme durability have not been exceeded to this day.

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There are twice as many wild pheasants than Wakemans in this picture and A-5s dropped them all.

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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 6:06 pm 
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That's a great photo! Those A-5's look right at home, along with the smiles and birds. Sure wish Browning was still making them like they used to.

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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 8:14 pm 
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SHughes wrote:
You do in fact have bias. You were obviously paid by remington to push the V3.


That is an absolute, 100% lie. You can go suck mud with imaginary, completely false allegations like that wingnut whopper. May your time pass quickly.

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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:44 pm 
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Have shot many tens of thousands of 2.75” shells in guns chambered for 2.75”, 3&3.5” shells. May not have gotten what I was looking for from a given load through a particular gun, but no problems either.

I’ve rarely felt the need for 3.5” shells, but in some far north waterfowl spots, I’ve run into them a few times.

It’s more of a paper/ internet issue than a practical one.


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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:30 pm 
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If you really care about effective long-range performance, you'll be forced to pony-up and use tungsten blends. If you are using tungsten in a 20 gauge, you can easily outperform any 10 gauge or 12 gauge. Just 1 oz. of TSS #8 whacks everything from ground hog to goose, with low recoil as a bonus.

Look how sad a heavy #5 lead load is, compared to lighter TSS #8 load.

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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:43 pm 
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My SBE is 3 1/2 inch chambered. It's been my main hunting shotgun for over a decade...especially for foul weather and duck hunting.

Where the 3 1/2 inch really shines is in the duck blind, with friends. We usually have our shells open to be shared at various parts in the blind. If you have a 3 1/2 inch gun...you can shoot everything.

If you're a 3 incher, then you're often picking and choosing while everyone else is shooting away.

IIRC the 3 1/2 was borne from steel shot shells and payloads. It really hasn't affected my swing or follow through...I miss just as well with my SBE as I do with my AL 390 ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:45 am 
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Jim Miller wrote:
What are you hunting that you just have to have 2 3/4 inch ammo? I have shot wild turkey, geese, ducks on down to woodcock as well as rabbits and squirrels, etc., all with 3 inch ammo.


I've shot all of those plus deer, coyote and swans with 2-3/4". I've always been willing to spend money on premium ammo and shot. There isn't anything that a 3-1/2" gun can do that a short shell shucker can't if you feed it well.

The single biggest strike against a 3-1/2" 12 gauge is weight.


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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:55 am 
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Leaky Waders wrote:
My SBE is 3 1/2 inch chambered. It's been my main hunting shotgun for over a decade...especially for foul weather and duck hunting.

Where the 3 1/2 inch really shines is in the duck blind, with friends. We usually have our shells open to be shared at various parts in the blind. If you have a 3 1/2 inch gun...you can shoot everything.


That's not an uncommon line of thinking at all. The 'problem' of course (or indeed not) is that Barney the shell-snatcher has no clue what type of pattern he ever throws, for he's shoving in whatever he can grab from others, so every pattern is a new adventure for him. It vacates the idea of matching specific shell to choke to game to range.

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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 6:58 am 
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Most who battle the paper lions don’t put in the time where it matters most. Learning to shoot well.

The better shooter will outperform consistently the guy poring over data sheets endlessly, spouting crap as if it were proven, and shooting nothing but cupcake 20 yd straightaways. Truth is very few put in the time and expense to become a solid field shot.


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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:46 am 
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Flyingtargets! wrote:
Most who battle the paper lions don’t put in the time where it matters most. Learning to shoot well.

The better shooter will outperform consistently the guy poring over data sheets endlessly, spouting crap as if it were proven, and shooting nothing but cupcake 20 yd straightaways. Truth is very few put in the time and expense to become a solid field shot.

I agree. I do a little patterning with new chokes and ammo, but spend much more time shooting at things that fly. Way more fun than shooting stationary paper as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:55 pm 
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SBE3 wrote:
If you know that you will not be shooting any 3.5" shells, but the gun you want is available with 3" and 3.5", why not buy the 3.5 anyway since it will still fire your 3"? I assume that in a 3.5" gun the bolt will have a longer stroke, but does it make enough of a difference in cycling speed to make you opt for the 3" version instead?

Is it about the forcing cone or something else I'm missing? Thanks.


It has been quite a few hours since July of 2017, so it is easy to forget what the original question was. The presumption was "you know that you will not be shooting any 3.5" shells."

It isn't about cycling speed, for fast enough is fast enough, and comparatively turtle slow pump guns take their fair share of waterfowl every year. Several guns were designed to be 3-1/2 inch guns from the beginning (Vinci, Maxus, A400).

You'll pay a bit of a price premium for no reason with a 3-1/2 inch gun, and you'll lose light load capability with many (Mossberg 935, Maxus, Vinci) and others. With better shot materials than steel, the 3-1/2 inch guns have lost some of their appeal. Benelli now has a 3 inch chambered SBE. Caesar Guerini / Fabarm, the second largest shotgun manufacturer in Italy, does not so much as offer a 3-1/2 inch autoloader, and so it goes.

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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:27 pm 
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The SX4 and the Browning Silver (the OP mentioned) are both 3.5” guns that will reliably cycle light loads. He mentioned finding a 3.5” Silver hunter for the price of a 3”. His original question was are there any advantages of waiting for a 3” when he can purchase the 3.5” for the same price. Seeing as how the 3.5” silver hunter will cycle lighter rounds, only weighs a little more than the 3”, could have been purchased for the same price as a 3”, I don’t see an advantage in waiting for a 3” Silver. That was what the OP was actually wanting opinions on.


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 Post subject: Re: Why not buy 3.5" chambered gun when available?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:44 pm 
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I bought a Versa Max several years ago as an all purpose shotgun. I don’t really need the 3.5” chamber but that’s the only way it came. Price was way, way under $1000 with the rebate so it was a bargain compared to almost everything else. It will shoot my lightest 3/4 oz loads with ease and it tames my heavy trap loads. And honestly I don’t even notice the extra receiver length. It’s a great gun even though it exceeds my needs because I’ll probably never shoot 3.5” shells.



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