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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking at adding options to my shotgun hunting equipment, and am considering a Rem 870 ESM in 3.5". Am I correct that any Rem 870 barrel will fit the Super Magnum receiver?

I would be using it for every sort of western Pennsylvania hunting as well as for Dixie slugs as possible dangerous wildlife protection if travelling in other parts. So I'd want to have a long barrel with chokes, a short smooth barrel for home defense, and a rifled barrel. 870 is it for me if I decide I need 3.5" shell capability. Most of what I'd shoot would be 2.75" and 3", the 3.5" would be on rare occasion. I'm not particularly recoil sensitive, but will definitely try out my friend's 870 ESM before buying one of my own.

So would you guys say there are any significant advantages to having at least the capability of using a 3.5" shell? Any slugs in that size?

Or would I be better served by having a completely separate 10ga shotgun? Having to pay for a whole different gun with narrow uses doesn't seem best, but how do they compare for effectiveness, ammo choices, and ammo affordability?
 

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The 3.5 inch 12 gauge shell owes it's existance to the crappy ballistics of steel shot. It was the only way to get enough of it down a 12 bore barrel to kill anything. Nowadays there are much better alternatives for waterfowl, such as bismuth and Hevi-shot. I doubt you will need more than a 3 inch gun for any sort of hunting you might do.
 

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I was just having a converstion with a couple of friends last Friday about this. They both use theirs for turkey hunting and both use 3" shells because they shoot a much better pattern than the 3 1/2. They both have tried many different shells and have never got patterns as good with the 3 1/2's. One guy is selling his and the other is keeping his but only shooting 3"ers in it. I personally do not have one so I cannot give you any firsthand experience. 3"ers have killed everything I have wanted to kill and my shoulder appreciates it.
 

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I bought a box of 3 1/2" turkey loads when I bought my Mossberg 835. I shot four rounds out of the box and gave the rest away. My shoulder loves me for it.

I now only shoot 3" shells for turkey and 2 3/4" are a joy to shoot for anything else.

I really can't see the advantage of the 3 1/2's. Sure more pellets and maybe range, but at the cost of the recoil.....I'll pass. 3" will work on any normal and ethical turkey range.

3 1/2's out of an autoloader howerver, might make them a little softer to shoot.

My 2 cents.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'll be trying out my friend's 870 ESM next to his standard 3" 870 and my 3" 590. See how badly the 3.5"s hurt and how they all compare with 3" and 2.75" loads.

I generally don't consider myself recoil sensitive, at least while standing, but there is such a thing as more than necessary. I shot a 458 Win Mag ok, but wouldnt use it on turkey or waterfowl.
 

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Mabe for long distance ducks or big geese. ocasional turkey if ya can't work 'em in close enough.

3" is adequate. Most guys with 3.5's shoot a lot of 3" anyways.

of no real use to me
 

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I've only got 1 gun that shoots them (a 12ga Charles Daly Maxi-mag pump). On the rare occasion that I take that gun out I only ever shoot 3" loads in it. I've not found knockdown to be a problem (even with steel shot). With 3.5" shells they cost more money, recoil harder, and I'm limited to only the 1 gun to shoot with, rather than just being able to pick up any of my shotguns and go with it.

That being said, I can't really say that having the ability to shoot 3.5" hurts you any; versatility is always good.
 

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Hi i like how the 3 1/2 turkey loads works i seen 2 guns out at Anderson Custom Choke and Shotgun @ 40 yrds put in a 10 inch circle one was a Mos. 3 1/2 new Win hevi Shot put 215 pellets in that circle with a custom choke and the other one was a BPS 12 ga 3 1/2 with the new Win hevi Shot it put a 198 pellets of 6's the best my 3 inch gun would do was a 146 pellets they had a Win S X 2 3 1/2 12ga shotgun that they said it was putting 214 pellets in the circle i have got a new Win S X 2 12ga NWTF shotgun i hope when i get the foring cone cut out and a custom choke mine will put that many in a 10 inch circle i havent shot the gun yet VM
 

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Hi I have a moss.835, I bought for turkey hunting, but after a couple of years of shooting the 3 1/2's, I changed over to win. supremes in 3" and never looked back, much tighter pattern, and so much easier on the shoulder, funny how you don't notice its kick when shooting at a bird, but when your shooting at a piece of paper, I can hardly hold onto the gun. NO, you don't really need a 3 1/2", a 3" will do the job nicely.
 

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3 1/2" is a reasonable shell for turkeys. For everything else it's not going to help you. Having a 3 1/2" gun will cause you to shoot slower and short shuck more often on the other shells. I don't hunt with one except for my turkey gun.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Had a thought just now. Yup, it did hurt me, as my shoulder hurts from trying out several shotguns including my friend's 870 ESM with 3.5" shells.

Suppose anything with that kind of power should be handled by a heavier gun, say a 10ga? Ie a heavy gun for heavy stuff and keep the 12ga at 3"? What say ye all?
 

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That's precisely what I own. I use a BPS that shoots nothing larger than 3" for almost everything. When I goose hunt I shoot a BPS 10ga with the 3 1/2" and it doesn't kick too bad. It weighs a ton, which is why I bought a 3 1/2" 12ga 870 a few years back to turkey hunt with. That gun kicks like a mule, handles terribly, and has tremendous muzzle jump. I don't even consider using it for anything but turkeys.

To me those three guns represent the best of the "big" loads.

My experience has been that those who consistently hunt with a 3 1/2" are usually trying to compensate for a lack of some other type of skill (calling, working, aiming, etc). Generally these are the guys blasting away at 65 yards with 3 1/2" T's just hoping to get a lucky hit. I'm sure there are exceptions to this but you really don't need 3 1/2" outside of turkeys or geese.

I would never consider a 3 1/2" 12ga for a safety gun simply because it's SOOOO slow and easy to short-shuck. Also the considerable recoil slows down second shots.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Each time I keep thinking a 3" is good enough based on experienced folks' opinions, they say "unless you hunt turkeys or geese". Indeed I fully intend to hunt turkeys and geese. Regarding defense guns, I had no trouble short chucking my friend's 870 ESM. I wouldn't mind at all using it for home defense with standard loads and a shorter barrel. So I'm still severely torn. Thanks guys :p

Still, the idea of using only a heavy 10ga for those heavy loads has its appeal. Question for the experienced, would there ever be a need to have lighter ammo handy just in case you have a close shot and don't want to blow up the bird?

Apart from that, I'm leaning towards a simple 3" gun for now with the possibility of getting a 10ga for when I'm more experienced and have filled up the gun fund a little more. Course with that extra experience I'd probably just get good enough with the 3" 12ga...
 

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I have an O/U and a semi-auto in 3.5". I use the "roman candle" shells in two instances. One when the ducks are skittish and won't commit to the decoys and when I am hunting without a dog. When I don't have a dog, I want to hit them as hard as I can with as much shot as I can. I have had some bad experiences chasing cripples through a flooded rice field. I absloutely HATE to lose a bird. It wastes the animal, and besides, it might have a band on it!
 

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Their are alot more turkey and geese killed per year with 3" guns than with 3 1/2" guns. The 3 1/2" guns just never caught on that well. As one other poster stated their are other things that we now have that acheive the same goal as the 3 1/2 without the cost and shoulder abuse.
 

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Another case of magnumitis....

Reminds me of an old Viking saying "If you get in close enough, your sword will be long enough."

Good thing that turkey this spring didn't know my buddy was using a 20 ga. He might not have died... :D
 

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:oops: The 3.5 wil bust a---- like nothing i have ever pulled a trigger on. I hunt geese, ducks and Sandhill's and use 3 inch. I shot a mossy 835 for years and ever time I shot geese I'd have a headache for hours. i had a friend break his collar bone on a 3.5. if you need a 3.5 look at a auto not the pump. The Remington isn't backbored and kicks like a p-od mule. With the new non toxic shot and 3 Gobbler loads stick with the 3" and you'll be glad you did. Im not a little fellow at 6'5" but i'll be whimp on this one and shot a 3 inch gun. :D Jess
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Recently fired a few 3.5" steel loads out of my Rem 870 ESM. Didn't feel too bad at all. Then I compared their specs to 3" loads I have. Not too different at all.

I have concluded that 12ga 3.5" shotguns have one tremendous advantage. They can still use 3" and 2.75" shells. And Rem 870 ESMs can still use barrels for the regular shells.

I'm sure I'll still use 3.5" loads. Sparingly.
 

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BattleRifleG3 said:
Recently fired a few 3.5" steel loads out of my Rem 870 ESM. Didn't feel too bad at all. Then I compared their specs to 3" loads I have. Not too different at all.

I have concluded that 12ga 3.5" shotguns have one tremendous advantage. They can still use 3" and 2.75" shells. And Rem 870 ESMs can still use barrels for the regular shells.

I'm sure I'll still use 3.5" loads. Sparingly.
:) Having stated in so many words I do not like the 3.5 I shoot a New Mossy 835 ported and most all the shotgunning I do. If I get into some Giant Canadas then I may just need the big shell. But, like you only on those rare times when noting else will do. Plus you are younger than my baby and your young bones take recoil a little better than my ole hind-end does. Jess
 
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