The number of cheap shotguns on the market is somewhere on the far side of a million. I am pretty sure, anyway. They all have a few things in common. They are made in Turkey, they have weird names, good luck getting good service if something goes wrong, and aftermarket support is, at best, really light.
There are a couple of exceptions to this rule of cheap shotguns, though. One of the more notable is Stoeger. What makes Stoeger different than the others is that it is owned by the #1 name in shotguns, Beretta (who also owns Benelli). Stoeger M3000/M3K’s also have a fairly good track record in the gun games that require shotguns. This gives me some hope. Maybe the less commonly used Stoeger pump guns also have some secret sauce that sets them apart from the rest of the cheap shotgun crowd.
When Stoeger introduced the Freedom Series of shotguns, they made a big step towards meeting the needs of the defensive shotgunner. They put real sights on the guns (yes, sights on fighting shotguns are useful) and gave the guns a fair capacity. In this particular case, we are looking at the P3000 Freedom Series Supreme because everything that has SUPREME in the name is automatically better. Pizza being the primary indicator of this truth. Away with your lies if you think something different.
One of the problems with buying shotguns that aren’t Remington or Mossberg, or one of the higher-end semi-auto brands, is that aftermarket support is pretty weak. While the P3000 doesn’t get quite the same support as its semi-auto brother, the M3000/M3K, it does benefit from some crossover. Enough that if someone wanted to spend the money, this could be turned into a pretty decent pump gun. There is also plenty of factory parts support too. Honestly, more than I can say for Remington right now.
Why Sights Matter
We have already talked about this a bit, but let’s talk about why good sights are important. I have written before about why a tighter pattern is preferable, and nothing has changed my mind yet. Pellet accountability is important, and we are not guaranteed full profile shots on our attacker. For good hits that matter, this requires some aiming of the gun. A good sight setup helps to consistently get those hits. While the P3000’s sights aren’t perfect, they are quite a few steps beyond a simple bead sight. Just that they are adjustable has a lot of value, not to mention they are actually easy to use.
An Unreliable Gun Is a Worthless Gun
My sample size of one has been as reliable as any other pump gun I have tried. It has handled everything I have thrown at it. It does cycle a bit slower than I expected it to, but we aren’t talking about enough to really matter. I hit a handful of different manufacturers’ ammunition while testing and ran a mix of birdshot, buckshot, and slugs. The gun never seemed to notice things were constantly changing.
One knock I will give it here is that you do have to be careful with the carrier. If you don’t manipulate your thumb correctly when loading shells into the magazine tube, it will grab you. Easy to fix with good technique, but you have to know the technique.
While Stoeger has done well on some things, this gun is far from perfect. Among the things that fall into the “not the worst” category are the size of the safety and the length of the forend. There is some debate on how the safety on a shotgun should be manipulated, but to my mind, a small safety is a detriment regardless of which side of the fence you fall on. It wouldn’t take much to make this safety just a little bit better, especially since they already make a better one for the M3K. This is the SUPREME, after all. Stoeger decided not to go that route, though.
The length of the forend is an issue because it precludes the use of most side saddle setups on the receiver. For home defense shotguns, fights will be fought with what is in the gun and on the gun. Making it difficult to put free insurance on the gun seems a bit disconnected from the supposed intended use of this shotgun. To the best of my knowledge, there are not any available aftermarket solutions to solve this problem either. Guess it is time to grab that Dremel tool and hope for the best (insert crossed fingers emoji).
So far, there isn’t much on the shotgun that is so bad that it can’t be worked with. We knew it couldn’t last, though, and we finally made it to the real black eye of the whole thing, the stock. I am not sure what Stoeger was trying to do, but the folding ATI stock on what otherwise is a really decent shotgun very nearly ruins the whole thing. Stoeger, if you are reading, please fix the stock. Really, if they had just dropped the folding part, this might have been “okay enough” to get a pass. The folding component of the stock just mucks up the whole thing.
Fully collapsed, the length of pull (LOP) on this stock is about 14”. That is the same as a normal-length shotgun stock. So why bother with using something adjustable if it isn’t going to be adjustable within a range that matters? Adjusted all the way out, the LOP is about 17”. Unless Stoeger was designing this gun for Andre The Giant, they really missed it on this one.
To put an actual good stock on the gun, I would have to spend about $60.00 on an adaptor and then another $100 or so on a Magpul SGA. After a $150 stock upgrade, then the gun would be good. That also means the gun is now trying to punch above its weight class, and the value that was there has diminished significantly. For $550, there are other options on the market, and the P3000 Freedom Series Supreme loses that fight every time. It is like Stoeger went for the home run but instead hit a pop fly with 2 outs and left runners on the bases. All because of a cheesy stock.
This one gets really close to being a great budget shotgun, but I don’t think it is quite there. For what would turn into a $500 or $600 shotgun, there are better options out there. If the retail cost drops enough to offset ditching the stock to get something decent on the gun, it might be a different story. Stoeger, if you are listening, throw your normal stock on it and drop the price $25-$50. This would be a winner. Until then, I think there are better options in the same price range.
P3000 Freedom Series Supreme