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Old 11-23-2021, 01:34 PM   #1
CEO
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Default Is there a "need" for a 3.5" shotgun?

Been researching shotguns for a year now. I came into it with just basic knowledge and have reached the point where all guns are the best or worst depending on which opinion you read. That said, one of the questions I have is what I posted as the title. 3.5" seem to be all the rage, but plenty of guys say they're just popular with the young crowd and 3" will do everything you need.

I'm not a huge gun guy so I want one shotgun that can cover all waterfowl, turkey, etc. I was originally leaning 3.5" so I could cover geese, cranes, and anything else we may make a trip for that flies. Just looking for advice. All my buddies that are shotgun aficionados just tell me to buy what they have because it's the best
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Old 11-23-2021, 01:40 PM   #2
bobbaganoosh
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People have been killing birds with 2 3/4 and 3 in shells for a long time. So I dont think there is a "need" for a 3.5inch.
That said, the extra pellets and knock down of a 3.5in shell comes in handy on those blue bird days when the birds are flying a little higher or you need the extra power on bigger birds like cranes.
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Old 11-23-2021, 01:41 PM   #3
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A 3.5 will shoot 3's
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Old 11-23-2021, 01:41 PM   #4
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3.5” will get you out there a little bit farther with more shot. That being said, I’ve killed a truck load of birds with 2 3/4” & 3” over the years.
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Old 11-23-2021, 01:43 PM   #5
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3" will do everything you need.
You answered your own question. The 3-1/2 met a need that didn't exist, except to sell guns and ammo. I know somebody's brother knows a guy that can kill geese at 134 yds with it, but
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Old 11-23-2021, 01:44 PM   #6
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I don't waterfowl hunt, but I think there is if you varmint hunt with one. You can fling a lot of shot out of a 3.5" shell. Some will argue you don't need one with the new heavy shot that is available and it may be true, but I don't like the cost of some of the new loads available.
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Old 11-23-2021, 01:46 PM   #7
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i dont fowl hunt enough to answer your question, but i grabbed a box last year to go duck hunting just because i had never shot them before. my first shot was at a teal, which i have never killed before, and was rushed, catching WAY more of my bicep than my shoulder, sumbuck thumped me pretty good. left a huge nasty bruise on my arm for a couple weeks. i figured them 3's do just fine for ducks.

i am interested to hear what guys say about geese and cranes....
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Old 11-23-2021, 01:51 PM   #8
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I've done my share of duck hunting in different conditions. A 3.5 is really nice on big ducks like mallards and cans when you're having trouble getting them close. In the 40-45 yard range. It allows you to shoot a heavier pellet without dropping into thin pattern territory. Dead birds compared to chasing cripples.
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Old 11-23-2021, 01:52 PM   #9
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I feel like it has given me more options when shooting geese. Still use 2 3/4 and 3” for duck hunting. A lot of it depends on how many drams you are shooting and the weight of shot. Lots of variables and different conditions. I typically use 2s or BBS for geese rather than some using BBB and T.
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Old 11-23-2021, 02:04 PM   #10
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3.5 is a waste of money imo.....from somebody that hunted ducks and geese for 18 years. Sore shoulder and less cash in my wallet is all I ever got from it out of my SBE. When I was heavy into the game, I patterned steel shot and my 3" loads patterned better than my 3.5s. The theory was more of the non-deforming non-toxic shot down the same size barrel blew out with an internal ricochet effect and created a less even/less dense pattern. The distanced gained was minimal as well unless you have the same amount of shot as a 3" load. In your typical 3.5", you have more powder pushing more shot through the same sized barrel. That lends itself to similar distances as a proportionate powder and shot load in a 3" shell. If nothing has changed with the patterning of the even new notox loads, you are gonna have bigger holes at longer distances anyway.


The only real positive is more big shot for geese or turkey loads but if you can shoot you shouldn't need it anyway..


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Last edited by Smart; 11-23-2021 at 02:24 PM.
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Old 11-23-2021, 02:15 PM   #11
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3.5” - biggest hunting scam since Ozonics.
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Old 11-23-2021, 02:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smart View Post
3.5 is a waste of money imo.....from somebody that hunted ducks and geese for 18 years. Sore shoulder and less cash in my wallet is all I ever got from it out of my SBE. When I was heavy into the game, I patterned steel shot and my 3" loads patterned better than my 3.5s. The theory was more of the non-deforming non-toxic shot down the same size barrel blew out with an internal ricochet effect and created a less even/less dense pattern. The distanced gained was minimal as well unless you have the same amount of shot as a 3" load. In your typical 3.5", you have more powder pushing more shot through the same sized barrel. That lends itself to similar distances as a proportionate shot powder and shot load in a 3" shell. If nothing has changed with the patterning of the even new notox loads, you are gonna have bigger holes at longer distances anyway.


The only real positive is more big shot for geese or turkey loads but if you can shoot you shouldn't need it anyway..

Couldn't have said it better myself!! No different than comparing a .410 3" to a 20 or 12 gauge... Both shoot their standard loads at the same speed, same energy. Only advantage is more shot on target. If you can shoot, it's a waste of lead...


In fact, before the steel shot requirements, I was on a duck/goose lease with several guys, and 2 among them were a couple old retired bankers that always goose hunted with .410's... I was flabbergasted! I asked them how/why? They asked me if I dove hunted (the knew I did and used a .410 for that). I of course told them that yes indeed I did dove hunt, even hunted with them before on the same property... They told me, "Son, a goose's head is about the same size as a dove and they fly a lot slower and steadier... If you can shoot a dove with that little pop gun, should be able to shoot a goose in the head... Those guys always killed as many (or more) geese as the rest of us, and shot fewer shells and a heck of a lot less punishment on the receiving end of our scatter guns!!


I have never had any use for a 3.5" 12 gauge... That's another gun, caliber, etc. that solves a problem that doesn't exist... If you want to go bigger, just get you a 10 gauge...
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Old 11-23-2021, 02:21 PM   #13
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I love my Ithaca 10 ga auto with 3.5 in. for turkey. My wife shoots first with her 20 ga and if there is a second one, I'm on it. Haven't missed yet, though I did have to shoot one twice.

When I duck hunted I used 2 3/4 & 3's, goose hunted with 3's.

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Old 11-23-2021, 02:23 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by 3rdCoastHunter View Post
3.5” - biggest hunting scam since Ozonics.
What abouT HECS
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Old 11-23-2021, 02:40 PM   #15
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The 3.5" was originally developed as a turkey load. I have a first production 835. And a few of the original Fed 2.25oz loads. The advantage was being able to throw the same shot weight as a 10g. That is why it was developed.

The fish are biting, and there's hogs to be kill-t. Gotta go!
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Old 11-23-2021, 02:40 PM   #16
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3.5" guns exist cause most guys are willing to pay just about anything for an extra half inch...
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Old 11-23-2021, 03:03 PM   #17
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When I do Duck or Goose hunt, I shoot 3.5" shells. I use a Remington Ultra Mag pump, & it does kick like a mule if not wearing cold weather gear.
More is always better
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Old 11-23-2021, 03:21 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrc View Post
I don't waterfowl hunt, but I think there is if you varmint hunt with one. You can fling a lot of shot out of a 3.5" shell. Some will argue you don't need one with the new heavy shot that is available and it may be true, but I don't like the cost of some of the new loads available.
It’s about patterning… not about payload
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Old 11-23-2021, 03:30 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by txbowman12 View Post
3.5" guns exist cause most guys are willing to pay just about anything for an extra half inch...
HA!
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Old 11-23-2021, 03:32 PM   #20
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When I got my Remington 870 to get the super mag which takes 3.5” was only like $20 more, so why not. I still shoot 3” 99% of the time, but nice to know I can shoot 3.5” if I want
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Old 11-23-2021, 03:42 PM   #21
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I use 3.5 because they don't make 4 inch......I'll take the extra shot count, we hunt geese and cranes along with ducks. I use 3.5 if steel and 3 when using BOSS bismuth.
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Old 11-23-2021, 04:12 PM   #22
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The 3.5 inch shells will help drain your pocketbook quicker and make your shoulder more sore. I used to guide waterfowl hunts and the guys that shot lots of birds usually used 3 inch shells. I have done lots of personal research and 3 inch number 2 shot will kill almost everything at 40 yards in. You can include coyotes, bobcats and hogs on that list.
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Old 11-23-2021, 04:16 PM   #23
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Not for me. I don't even care for 3" anymore.

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Old 11-23-2021, 05:03 PM   #24
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I shoot 3.5’s at cranes, 3’s at Waterfowl/most upland and turkey, 2.75’s at doves and quail.

A 3.5” chamber is nice to have if you want it. I have an 870 with a 3” chamber and besides shooting federal tss 3” it jams up because the ejection port isn’t long enough for an expanded spent shell. Just saying shooting a benelli SBE 3.5” BB at cranes is no where near as bad as shooting 3” #4 or #9 tss out of my 870.

Shoot what you want, waterfowlers remind me of flyfisherman: scoff at everyone who doesn’t do it just like them its ridiculous.
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Old 11-23-2021, 07:40 PM   #25
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I don't care what anybody shoots, as long as they are having fun. And it's legal.
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Old 11-23-2021, 07:42 PM   #26
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I like them for shooting turkeys. I think it all depends on the choke you're using. I know a guy that use 3 1/2 BB for pheasants even. When everyone else stops shootin he starts. I've seen him drop birds way out there and they don't get up and run. Uses a Carlson's Dead Coyote choke. 3 1/2" turkey loads pattern really good out of my factory Benelli full choke. I've killed a turkey at a little over 60 yards with that setup. The more pellets getting out there the better. That's just my opinion.

But I've killed a ton of stuff with 3" shells too. They cost less. If it patterns good I'd say use whatever you think is best. If 3" shells shoot better out of your gun that's even better. There are so many different shotgun loads out there for bird huntin it's unbelievable. You're bound to find some 3" that'll pattern better than any 3 1/2" shell. There's a ton of them out there.

Last edited by okrattler; 11-23-2021 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 11-23-2021, 07:51 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diamond10x View Post

Shoot what you want, waterfowlers remind me of flyfisherman: scoff at everyone who doesn’t do it just like them its ridiculous.

This goes for numerous threads.
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Old 11-23-2021, 08:32 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Grown View Post
The 3.5" was originally developed as a turkey load. I have a first production 835. And a few of the original Fed 2.25oz loads. The advantage was being able to throw the same shot weight as a 10g. That is why it was developed.

The fish are biting, and there's hogs to be kill-t. Gotta go!
Correct, I have one as well and still like it for turkeys. For ducks I shoot 2 3/4 for teal and 3’s in the later season.

There is still value in a 10 gauge if you want a longer range for ducks. A buddy of mine was talking about hunting in LA and said there’s guys were sky busting ducks that looked to be out of range, then they started dropping. He went over to their blind when they left and it was all 10 gauge hulls.
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Old 11-23-2021, 08:44 PM   #29
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Yeah, bad thing about the 12 ga 3.5s is that it made it harder to find 10 ga ammo
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Old 11-23-2021, 08:49 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by txbowman12 View Post
3.5" guns exist cause most guys are willing to pay just about anything for an extra half inch...
Well that half inch has made a difference over the years. I have killed many more birds with the extra 1/2 inch. Size really matters on bird hunting
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Old 11-23-2021, 09:14 PM   #31
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2 3/4” boss shells will fold em up just as good as 3.5s. No need with the advancement of bismuth technology. It literally is like the old days of shooting lead.
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Old 11-23-2021, 10:32 PM   #32
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3.5” - biggest hunting scam since Ozonics.
And mechanical broadheads

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Old 11-24-2021, 06:19 AM   #33
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Yeah, bad thing about the 12 ga 3.5s is that it made it harder to find 10 ga ammo
Last time I was at Scheels they had alot of 10 ga. ammo which was about the only place I've seen it.
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Old 11-24-2021, 06:21 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Full Throttle View Post
2 3/4” boss shells will fold em up just as good as 3.5s. No need with the advancement of bismuth technology. It literally is like the old days of shooting lead.
I use the 3 inch BOSS with a 3/5 mix shot. We field hunt and get geese and ducks and many times the snows aren't in your face shots...some days all geese, some days all ducks and some days a mix
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Old 11-24-2021, 06:26 AM   #35
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I will say one huge advantage of the waterfowl 3.5 shotguns to replicate the 10 ga. performance is the inertia/kickoff technology of today vs a 10 ga marlin bolt goose gun or a 10 ga bps pounding your shoulder.
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Old 11-24-2021, 07:28 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by friscopaint View Post
I will say one huge advantage of the waterfowl 3.5 shotguns to replicate the 10 ga. performance is the inertia/kickoff technology of today vs a 10 ga marlin bolt goose gun or a 10 ga bps pounding your shoulder.
My BPS 10 is heavy and doesn't pound me any more than my 12 gauge. My 12 gauge OU kicks harder than my 10ga
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Old 11-24-2021, 10:45 AM   #37
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the good thing about a 3.5 chamber is that you can shoot what ever you want,, not so with a 2.75 or 3". you will also never "wish" you had bought a 3.5", because you will have it if you ever feel the need for it,,,, with ammo being like it is who knows how much better it will get or worse? the 3.5 chamber makes a lot of sense, even if you don't "need" it right now ......
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Old 11-24-2021, 11:07 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by friscopaint View Post
I will say one huge advantage of the waterfowl 3.5 shotguns to replicate the 10 ga. performance is the inertia/kickoff technology of today vs a 10 ga marlin bolt goose gun or a 10 ga bps pounding your shoulder.
Yeah, but mine is an auto.
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Old 11-24-2021, 12:30 PM   #39
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I appreciate all the responses.
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Old 11-24-2021, 08:18 PM   #40
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I shoot 3” shells through a 3.5” gun. The reason why I have a 3.5 is because it can cycle anything. Drop your steel shot in the water, leave them at home, whatever the reason it doesn’t matter you can borrow your buddies shells or find whatever may be available at the local sporting goods store. As long as it’s 12ga then my gun will shoot it.


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Old 11-24-2021, 09:50 PM   #41
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The 3.5" 12 gauge came out in the early days of steel to try to make up for the lack of shot. The 3.5 12ga is a compromise between a 12 and a 10. With modern shells, a 3" is more than enough to kill anything in reasonable range. The few extra pellets mean nothing if you can't put them where they need to be. There is the benefit of being able to shoot any 12ga, but Imo the added cost and recoil isn't worth it.
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Old 11-25-2021, 10:43 PM   #42
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Quote:
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the good thing about a 3.5 chamber is that you can shoot what ever you want,, not so with a 2.75 or 3". you will also never "wish" you had bought a 3.5", because you will have it if you ever feel the need for it,,,, with ammo being like it is who knows how much better it will get or worse? the 3.5 chamber makes a lot of sense, even if you don't "need" it right now ......
This. You don’t have to load 3.5’s but it is nice for Sandhills and larger birds. 3.5 00 is something else.
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Old 11-26-2021, 12:01 PM   #43
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Yeah, but mine is an auto.
Oh, I didn't know there were auto 10's
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Old 11-26-2021, 01:56 PM   #44
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They don't sell a 4" shell
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Old 11-26-2021, 02:45 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by 3rdCoastHunter View Post
3.5” - biggest hunting scam since Ozonics.
Lol!
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Old 11-26-2021, 08:09 PM   #46
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A 2 3/4 will kill at the same distance if the lucky pellet hits a vital area. 3.5 has superior pattern density due to the larger payload. At the distances most folks can shoot you might not see a difference but the skilled shooter can use this advantage. That being said,when you factor in all of the costs for waterfowl or turkey hunting shells are the cheapest item on the list.Do you need one,probably not but its nice to have.
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Old 11-26-2021, 08:27 PM   #47
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As an owner of many shottys in various gauges from 12 down to the .410, some of which I've never shot, I really don't see what difference it makes. Just like bows, or anything else, shoot what makes you happy. What you feel best about.
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Old 11-27-2021, 05:17 PM   #48
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I ordered a 3.5" gun today. Not sure how much I'll use 3.5" shells, but knowing I can skim off my buddies ammo if needed was a great point I hadn't thought of.
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Old 11-27-2021, 10:32 PM   #49
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I ordered a 3.5" gun today. Not sure how much I'll use 3.5" shells, but knowing I can skim off my buddies ammo if needed was a great point I hadn't thought of.
glad for you,, i think you will like it a lot,,,, back about june i shot my first ever round of skeet with a mossburg 835 ulti mag,,, ran the 2.75" shells like a champ
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Old 11-28-2021, 05:38 AM   #50
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Originally Posted by xman59 View Post
glad for you,, i think you will like it a lot,,,, back about june i shot my first ever round of skeet with a mossburg 835 ulti mag,,, ran the 2.75" shells like a champ

It should run like a champ. Any pump is going to run the light shorter loads just fine. They’ve been fine since the 835 came on the market in the early 90s. If a pump has any issues with ejecting a shell, 99% of the time it’s the pumper and his stroke, not the gun. It’s the 3.5” semi-autos where the 2.75” 1oz load ejection issues can come into play. Especially the inertia recoil system guns. Hopefully the newer more recent 3.5” semi-auto guns have resolved those light dove and skeet load issues. Always had to shoot the 1-1/8 oz heavy dove load minimum to get a consistent ejection out of the SBE.

Have you shot the 3.5s” out of that pump yet?
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