3" or 3.5" What do we need?


February 26, 2006, 09:11 PM
Is there any reason to buy a 3.5 inch gun other than resale? Does a larger load of pellets do that much for you? Today a guy at a local shop was telling me that 3" were actually more effeective due to higher velocity of load. I am trying to decide on whether to buy an express or express super mag or a 500 or 535 mossberg.

Can someone help me cut through the hype and BS?


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Dave McCracken
February 26, 2006, 09:43 PM
I've managed to survive 5 decades of shotgunning without a 3.5" shotgun. Lifetime total of critters has to be well into the hundreds.

It boils down to this....

Someone who can take advantage of the heavier payload is most likely to NOT take the long range, risky shots that the 3.5 shell is supposed to be better at than mere 2 3/4 and 3" rounds.

Experienced goose hunters pass shooting big geese, swans or cranes may benefit, but it's doubtful..

In the last year, I fired maybe 6K rounds all told. Less than 20 were Magnum 3" loads.

February 26, 2006, 10:12 PM
i like a 3.5" chamber gun just because i can throw any 12 guage shell in there are fire it no problem. other than that you really dont need anything more than 2 3/4 and maybe a 3" for high birds

February 26, 2006, 10:54 PM
My father and grandfather grew up shooting 2 3/4 " shells succesfully all their lives. I got a 870 Wingmaster a year ago or so. It shoots 2 3/4 or 3" and I still pretty much shoot 2 3/4. I don't see a lot of need for 3 1/2 shells. A quality 3" Turkey load (Winchester Extended Range) can still take a turkey at 45 yards for example.

Just my opinion. What do I know? I shoot at clay birds most of the time anyway!:D

February 26, 2006, 11:16 PM
The guy at your gunshop is FOS, on average the 3.5" shells are faster than 3" by a large margin.

I am a fan of the 3.5" shells in some circumstances, but tired of swimming against the current. A search on my username and 3.5" as the keyword will turn up my thoughts and postings.

February 26, 2006, 11:54 PM
Hard to see.

I've shot both when geese hunting, usually whatever I have from last year. 3.5" brings them down as well as 3" I think.

But I do usually go with 3.5" just for the extra oomph it may have.

Scientifically, I don't know if it's better. But that's what I shoot. That's how the Benelli SBE II comes.

February 27, 2006, 07:53 AM
A) You really need a 3.5 because you shoot high-flying geese so often you can only afford to use steel shot.

B) You're a waterfowl hunter and you want to be able to borrow shells from everybody.

Although I've never fired a 3.5, the reason I bought one. C) The camo on the used SX-2 Waterfowl I ran across matched my coat and waders. :uhoh:


Fred Fuller
February 27, 2006, 08:08 AM
"What you mean WE, kemosabe?" 8^)

I do fine with 2.75", save for a limited bit of extra long range experimentation with 3" 000 buckshot loads once upon a time. There's still some of that left over but as a matter of daily use, it just doesn't happen here. I don't hunt waterfowl or turkeys, if I did there might be more and more varied 3" loads here. My take on 3.5" is that like so many other things in modren life, it is an attempt to sell a "bigger is better" approach. Anyone who really does need to throw lots more shot is better off doing it out of a 10 ga. IMO.

YMMV of course.

lpl/nc (old Lone Ranger joke: "Tonto, look at all those hostile Indians over there. We're in real trouble.")

February 27, 2006, 02:43 PM
IMHO, and meaning no offense to anyone... the 3.5" 12 ga is ballistically inefficient, and is the answer to a problem that doesn't exist. If you desire to throw more lead, do it right with a 10 ga magnum...:D

February 27, 2006, 03:49 PM
There are a few pretty nice public land wetlands game preserves that limit hunters to 12 Ga or smaller. I figure some people who want a 10 Ga might use a 12 Ga 3.5" in an overbore gun like a Mossy 935. That's a pretty small niche, but it's a reason someone might want one.

I have a 3" gun and it's good enough for me to miss ducks with.:)

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