Gun Review: Stoeger P3000 Pump-action Shotgun

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The Stoeger P3000 is a working gun bargain.

The Stoeger P3000 is a working gun bargain. It provides users a solid pump-action shotgun at a very reasonable price.

For more information, visit Stoeger.When I think of Stoeger, the picture that always comes to mind is that of the classic Stoeger Coach Guns. I shot one of these at “rabbit” clay targets bounding across the Cody, Wyoming brush a few years ago at a Shooting Industry Masters event and was instantly hooked. A side-by-side design, the Coach models have short and compact 20-inch barrels, so they’re super handy and maneuverable. Recoil was “enlightening” but in some strange and masochistic way, that made the compact little buckshot launcher even more fun.

When I think of Stoeger, the picture that always comes to mind is that of the classic Stoeger Coach Guns. I shot one of these at “rabbit” clay targets bounding across the Cody, Wyoming brush a few years ago at a Shooting Industry Masters event and was instantly hooked. A side-by-side design, the Coach models have short and compact 20-inch barrels, so they’re super handy and maneuverable. Recoil was “enlightening” but in some strange and masochistic way, that made the compact little buckshot launcher even more fun.

The Stoeger P3000 is a nice looking gun with sleek lines and good handling.

The Stoeger P3000 is a nice looking gun with sleek lines and good handling.

Once you get past the classic Coach gun, you’ll find that the Stoeger folks offer a variety of firearm types and styles and not just shotguns. As an example, one of their product lines includes the former Beretta 8000 semi-automat pistol. As a “child” of the Beretta family of companies, it’s not surprising that Beretta shipped all the original 8000 tooling to Turkey to allow Stoeger to continue production, but at a far lower price point. Over the decades, the Turks have figure out how to make quality guns at very compelling price points.

That brings us to the Stoeger P3000 Pump-action Shotgun. This sleek looking gun sports a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of just $299. With that MSRP, you’ll be able to find one of the shelves for less than that. If you need a waterfowl, hunting slug gun, or home defense shotgun, and are constrained by budget, this is a great way to pick up a brand new one for less than 300 bucks.

SPECS

  • Chambering: 12 Ga, 3″
  • Barrel: 28 inches
  • OA Length: 49.5 inches
  • Weight: 6.9 pounds
  • Stock: Synthetic
  • Sights: Fiber-optic front
  • Action: Pump
  • Finish: Matte black
  • Capacity: 4+1
  • MSRP: $299

A Quick Look

The P3000 comes in your choice of stock material and finish, as long as you choose black polymer. Presumably, that’s one of the ways that Stoeger is keeping the price point so low. If you want more variety, you can check out the P350 line which offers different stocks, finishes, shapes and barrel lengths. To help keep production costs low and meet the price point goals, there’s exactly one variation of the P3000 shotgun, at least at this time.

To keep the price as low as possible, the P3000 comes with this single improved cylinder choke. If you need others you an buy them separately.

To keep the price as low as possible, the P3000 comes with this single improved cylinder choke. If you need others you can buy them separately.

The barrel is 28-inches long and tipped by a single red fiber optic front sight. While there is a full-length, medium-width rib, you won’t find a small bead halfway to the muzzle. You also won’t find little detail touches like fine serration in the rib surface to reduce glare. As the barrel and rib are flat black, that doesn’t matter anyway. This is a working gun, not a safe queen. I didn’t find glare to be a problem anyway.

The barrel is topped with a plan flat black rib.

The barrel is topped with a plain, flat-black rib.

The front sight is a red fiber optic tube. There's no mid-barrel bead.

The front sight is a red fiber optic tube. There’s no mid-barrel bead.

The Stoeger P3000 sports a three-inch chamber in case you want to use magnum shells. While firing three-inch shells from a pump gun will wake you up in the morning, I suspect this magnum chambering choice is to support the desire to use less dense steel shot on large and stubborn waterfowl like Canada geese. The magazine tube is sized so that it will hold four 3-inch shells or four 2 ¾-inch shells – you’re not going to be able to jam an extra standard length shell in there. As a side note, the gun ships with a magazine plug installed which limits internal magazine tube capacity to two shotshells, making it “field legal” for hunting in many states. The plug takes seconds to remove. Just unscrew the magazine tube cap and it drops right out, bringing you to the four-plus-one capacity.

I've been shooting the P3000 with all sorts of 12 gauge ammo including slugs, buckshot, birdshot and even the Aguila Minishell slug and buckshot loads.

I’ve been shooting the P3000 with all sorts of 12-gauge ammo including slugs, buckshot, birdshot and even the Aguila Minishell slug and buckshot loads.

Just behind the trigger is a cross bolt safety. While the choice of a tang or cross bolt safety is largely one of personal preference, I like the location on this one. Using your trigger finger, just push from right to left to shift from safe to fire mode. You’ll see a red ring exposed when the safety is deactivated.

The barrel is threaded for choke tubes, but only a single improved cylinder choke tube is supplied. That’s just one of the ways the price point has been kept low. If you don’t need an assortment of tubes, you don’t have to pay for them in the initial purchase price. Just buy any additional choke tubes you need as you go.

While not included, again to keep the price down, you can get stock shims to adjust drop and cast off.

While not included, again to keep the price down, you can get stock shims to adjust drop and cast off.

There are two sling attachment points; one on the buttstock and the other under the magazine tube.

There are two sling attachment points; one on the buttstock and the other under the magazine tube.

With its 28-inch barrel, the P3000 measures 49.5 inches overall. The length of pull is 14 1/8-inches, drop at heel is 2 ½”, and drop at comb is 1 ½”. The stock is mounted to the receiver using a shim plate so additional plates can be ordered to adjust drop and cast dimensions. Again, in support of the low price point, no others are included in the box. If you want to adjust the stock to your exact fit, you can order a $29 set of four additional plates direct from Stoeger. The gun weighs in empty at 6.9 pounds.

Takedown

Breaking the P3000 down for cleaning and maintenance is a piece of cake, and I’m not using the phrase “piece of cake” casually. After ensuring the firearm is unloaded, just unscrew the magazine tube end cap and the barrel will effortlessly slide out of the receiver. Then you can slide the fore-end off over the front end of the magazine tube. The dual action bars remain attached to the fore-end and the entire bolt assembly slides right out. The bolt just rests on top of the dual action bars and as soon as it clears the receiver you can lift the bolt assembly off the action bars. At that point, you can continue to disassemble the bolt for detail cleaning if you like.

Here's how complicated the takedown procedure is: unscrew the magazine tube cap.

Here’s how complicated the takedown procedure is: Unscrew the magazine tube cap.

Once the end cap is removed, the barrel slides off effortlessly.

Once the end cap is removed, the barrel slides off effortlessly.

Then the fore-end slides off with the dual action rails.

Then the fore-end slides off with the dual action rails.

The bolt assembly sides out with the action rails.

The bolt assembly slides out with the action rails.

The bolt assembly just rests on the dual action rails.

The bolt assembly just rests on the dual action rails.

If you want to detail clean the bolt, that's easy to disassemble too.

If you want to detail clean the bolt, that’s easy to disassemble too.

The trigger group pops out with the removal of a single cross pin in the receiver, then the trigger assembly drops out the bottom of the receiver.

To remove the trigger group, just push this pin through the receiver.

To remove the trigger group, just push this pin through the receiver.

With the pin removed, the trigger assembly slides out.

With the pin removed, the trigger assembly slides out.

The net-net is that the P3000 is one of the simplest shotguns to break down that I’ve seen. When the parts are so accessible, cleaning is a breeze. Not that you’ll have to worry too much about cleaning anyway. The pump-action guarantees that most of the grime goes right out the muzzle, and since reloading relies on your muscle rather than a finely-tuned semi-automatic action, it’s going to work even under adverse conditions. That’s the big benefit of the pump-action design in the first place.

Loading and Unloading

There are two ways to load the P3000. Regardless of the cocked / uncocked status, you can load shells into the magazine tube as long as the action is closed, or at least mostly closed. If the forend is too far back, it not only covers the ejection port but locks the shell lifter, blocking access to the magazine tube.

Once one or more shells are in the tube, you can simply cycle the pump action to load one from the magazine tube into the chamber. At this point, you are free to “top off” the magazine tube to full capacity.

To load the chamber, you can chuck a shell in the ejection port. As long as it's mostly facing forward, it'll chamber when you close the action.

To load the chamber, you can chuck a shell in the ejection port. As long as it’s mostly facing forward, it’ll chamber when you close the action.

Whether loading from the magazine tube or ejection port, feeding was reliable.

Whether loading from the magazine tube or ejection port, feeding was reliable.

The second method takes advantage of the side ejection port. With the action open, just drop a shell into the side port. As long as it’s facing generally forward, closing the action will chamber the shell reliably. At this point, you can load up the magazine tube to full capacity. Of course, make sure the cross bolt safety is engaged regardless of the method used. Also, as goes without saying, remember to watch the muzzle. Any time that shells are going in and out of chambers, there’s no such thing as too much caution.

To unload shells from the magazine, you can simply depress the action release locking lever and cycle the pump action repeatedly until each shell feeds into the chamber and then is ejected out.

You can unload the magazine tube without cycling the action by pressing the silver locking tab visible in the upper left.

You can unload the magazine tube without cycling the action by pressing the silver locking tab visible in the upper left.

You'll need to press the locking tab to remove each shell from the magazine.

You’ll need to press the locking tab to remove each shell from the magazine.

If you prefer not to cycle shells in and out of the chamber just to empty the magazine tube, there’s a way to do that. With the safety on, just flip the shotgun over and depress the shell carrier up into the receiver body. You’ll now see a small shell latch lever on your left just behind the entrance of the magazine tube. Depress this to allow removal of a shell from the magazine tube. Repeat until the tube is empty.

Shooting

As I’m looking at this as a general purpose shotgun, I’ve taken it to the range with an unusually broad assortment of ammunition. So far, I’ve shot everything including high-velocity slugs, buckshot, clay target birdshot loads, and even some specialty ammo that I’ll get to in a minute.

I figured I’d be a big boy and face the pain head on, so I decided to launch some slugs down range first. I loaded up the P3000 with some Winchester Super-X Rifled hollow-point slugs. This particular load is stuffed with a one-ounce lead slug in a standard 2 ¾-inch shell. The rated velocity is a whopping 1,600 feet per second. To check those numbers out of the Stoeger P3000, I set up my Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph 15 feet down range. After really hoping that point of impact and point of aim were fairly well aligned, I launched some slugs through the chrony screens. Thankfully, I didn’t blow my chronograph to bits because the P3000 delivered slugs right where I expected. I averaged out the recorded velocities and came up with an actual speed of 1,604 feet per second. In case you were wondering, this particular load, when fired from a pump-action shotgun, will thump ya good.

Federal Premium Tactical buckshot

While we’re talking about recoil, the P3000 is set up to accept an optional recoil reducer in the buttstock. Just remove the recoil pad to expose the interior of the stock. The Stoeger recoil reduction device screws onto the exposed threads of the stock mounting bolt. Reattach the recoil pad and you’re ready to go. The recoil reducer lists for $49.95.

I didn’t have the recoil reducer, so I manned up and moved on to tactical buckshot loads. My all-time favorite shotgun load is the Federal Premium Tactical 00 8-pellet buckshot. It’s almost identical to the Federal Premium Personal Defense 9-pellet 00 buckshot load, except for that one less BB. This particular load uses FliteControl wads to keep a tight, predictable pattern even when shooting from a pure cylinder bore. With most shotguns, you’ll keep all pellets on a standard silhouette targets at ranges approaching 50 yards. The P3000 comes with an improved cylinder choke, so I set up 12-inch square targets 25 yards down range to see how it would pattern with the tactical buckshot load. Not only was the point of impact right where I expected, all pellets easily stayed inside of an eight-inch square. That’s pretty impressive. While conceptually it sounds cool to have a shot pattern spraying all over the place, I would much rather my buckshot patterns be predictable and controlled. After all, when you pull the trigger, you’re responsible for each and every pellet. Considering that each 00 buck pellet is roughly equivalent to a .32 caliber bullet, it’s a big deal to know where they’re going.

This Federal Premium Tactical 12-gauge with FliteControl wads is the best buckshot load I've found.

This Federal Premium Tactical 12-gauge with FliteControl wads is the best buckshot load I’ve found.

From 25 yards, all eight pellets went into an 8x8" square using the included improved cylinder choke.

From 25 yards, all eight pellets went into an 8×8″ square using the included improved cylinder choke.

Moving on down the abuse scale, I loaded up some Aguila clay target shells. This particular load is a 1 1/8 ounce load filled with #8 shot pellets. Rated velocity is 1,325 feet per second, so it’s no pussycat. The P3000 handled these beautifully, and they were pleasant to shoot.

Just for fun, I brought along a couple of varieties of Aguila Minishell shotshells. At just 1 3/4-inches long, these are reduced recoil loads that are great for shorter-distance applications. The company offers Minishells in both slug and buckshot loads. I clocked the slugs during the same outing, and they averaged out to 1,151 feet per second when measured 15 feet from the muzzle. Recoil? Ha! There was basically none, just a little bit of noise.

While I had to feed them singly, the Aguila Minishell slugs and buckshot loads were plenty of fun.

While I had to feed them singly, the Aguila Minishell slugs and buckshot loads were plenty of fun.

The Minishells were ever so close to feeding properly. I think if the gun had a 2 3/4-inch chamber they might have worked. Note how two will fit on the lifter.

The Minishells were ever so close to feeding properly. I think if the gun had a 2 3/4-inch chamber they might have worked. Note how two will fit on the lifter.

Given the unusual size, I doubted that these would feed reliably in the P3000 with its loading chamber sized for three-inch shells, and they didn’t. That’s nothing on the gun, as these shells are really designed for break action shotguns. I just couldn’t resist trying them in single-shot mode. I suspect they might feed better from a gun with a 2 ¾-inch chamber, but that’s just an educated guess as most times the magazine tube would release two Minishells onto the lifter.

The net results of my shooting sessions have been positive. I’ve not any malfunctions, and the action is plenty smooth. I suspect the dual action bars go a long way to preventing any torque from interfering with smooth feeding and ejection.

Closing Arguments

How can you say anything wrong about a $299 MSRP shotgun that runs? If you need a general purpose pump shotgun for hunting, clays, and/or home defense, I don’t see how you can go wrong with this one. I actually appreciate the black polymer furniture on the P3000. It’s a working gun and built to take a little rough and tumble in the car, truck, or boat.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Ron October 17, 2016, 10:38 am

    did u have to change out the barrel or choke to shot the slugs put of it. if you can can you send me a list of ammo i can shoot out of my p3000 with the modified choke

    • Mark December 26, 2016, 9:11 am

      Ron, you don’t need to change out the barrel or choke to shoot slugs. You can shoot ANY shotgun ammo through a modified choke…there will be no issues. Just keep in mind that some buckshot or slugs might group tighter with an IC choke. Flight control buckshot often shoots worse the more it is squeezed…if you want the most accuracy possible, you would need to check them in your gun with different chokes to see what works best.

  • Honky Tonk TN June 27, 2016, 1:45 pm

    A very nice review. All I would expect for someone who is more interested in the gun’s functions and capabilities rather than writing about the gun manufacture fanfare. I had gotten a 870 20ga years ago from Dicks Sporting goods for a mere $249. Today it’s impossible to even come close to that price. Also, getting the 20ga vs. the 12ga was due to the recoil effects. I had pitched years of softball that caused my shoulder to be tender using a 12ga. Knowing that Stoeger P3000 has a recoil reducer is a BIG PLUS in my book. The only other option I would like to know about this pump shotgun is, does it have an optional longer tube for more shots like the 870. If so, I’m sold on this Stoeger P3000 to pick one up soon.

    • Cam June 28, 2016, 3:31 am

      Dicks has the 870 for 299 this week with a 50 buck rebate from Remington. So it’s $249 before tac

    • Mark December 26, 2016, 9:05 am

      The P3000 has the same magazine tube threads as the Stoeger M3000 and M3K, so any of those extension tubes from companies like RCI-XRAIL will screw right on.

  • Bill June 27, 2016, 12:40 pm

    This shotgun may work well, but $299 is no particular bargain. It’s easy to find a 12 gage pump for under $200. H&R’s Pardner and Mossberg Maverick are just two examples of reliable 12 gage pumps that cost under $200, tax included.

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