I don't use a 3.5" gun, but if I was buying a new one the SBEII is the only way to go IMO. I've shot several 3.5's and plain and simple it's the best handling, shooting, cycling and operating gun I've shot. Over the past few years I've shot freinds guns at the range and in the feild. I've shot the 935 Ulti-mag, Extrema and Browing as well as the x-2. The SBE was by far the best. It just felt great, TO ME. For a pump gun I'd go with the Binelli again.....NOVA.....again it jsut felt great...very comfortable. That being said, all my exp is based on my prefernaces. Betwqeen shooting a few models and some advice from the TF brotherhood I'm sure you'll find the right gun for you.
The SBEII is pricey, no doubt but when I can afford it I'm getting one[grin]
I have two Browning Gold Hunters----I would not recommend them. No matter how clean this gun is it is prone to jamming. Go with Benelli Super Black Eagle as H2O said. My Dad has one and it is yet to jam.
I have shot 3 1/2" guns since they hit the market many years ago. I now own a Benelli Nova and like the way it fits me. As far as over kill, I don't think so. I still wate until my target is in range,
I now have very few cripples and down birds on my last shot on a regular bases. I shoot my Nove for all of my shotgun hunting, I think I shoot it better because of this. Just because you own a 3 1/2" gun you don't have to shoot the big shells. I shot a limit of teal with it opening day shooting 2 3/4" #3's. I do not like the semi autos, the owners of them tell you they never jam. Hunt next to one for several days in below freezing weather with spray hitting you in the face and you will see some jamming by the semis. Its tough to beet a pump gun.
For turkey hunting I'd say yeah it's nice to have. For anything else including ducks, deer, and geese. I'd say it's not really necessary. I've got a 3 1/2" 870 w/ a 23" barrel. Great gun for everything! Shoots both 3" and 3 1/2" oo buckshot great. Shoots 2 3/4" & 3" steel very well also. For the money, shooting size BB and less in steel, I dont see much difference in killing between 3" and 3 1/2" steel. With the bigger BBB and such the more pellets in the 3 1/2" could very well make a difference.
I had a Benelli SBE for a couple of weeks. I had 7 choke tobes and could not get it to pattern worth a ****. I tried all the tubes with everything from turkey loads to buckshot. With the buckshot at 25 yards, 18 pellets I was getting 2 in a full sheet of newspaper.
Dude at Greentop told me two things...if you shoot buckshot in a SBE you need a aftermarket tube for $130, and to only shoot 2 3/4" shells. I took that beeatch right back and got a Rem SP 10. And have been mowing them down ever since.
I do have two other 3.5" guns though. I have a Mossburg 835 that isnt worth 835 cents. I also have a Charles Daly 3.5 that I really like. It has a good feel just like the SBE but was about half the price. Been mowing them down with it too. It shoots one hell of a pattern, and is fairly light. It wont shoot 2 3/4 low brass though. It has a lot of interchangeable parts with a Rem 11-87.
IMO I like the 3.5 inch gun because it gives you versatility. I have the 835 mosseberg and mine is awesome. I have killed a couple of gobblers with this gun at a long distance. The 3.5 is awesome on turkeys. I loved shooting it deer hunting, but went to a lighter gun and now shot 3" shells.
3.5" Benelli Super Black Eagle is a good gun and have never had any problems shooting full choke. In fact I had shot many birds, even though I usually don't, at 70 yrds. I have found some some shells are longer than 3.5 such as wichester. The kent tungsten 3.5 are good shells and worth the cost as long as you limit your shooting, which is hard sometimes.
I have been shooting a 3.5 since i was 15. I got an 835 for christmas when they came out with the 3.5. yeah i took some black shoulders but i killed alot. Now i have the winchester super-x2. I love the 3.5 load especially for ducks. Anyone that says a 3in will kill a duck the same, does not hunt big water. We hunt open water with long shots on tough canvasbacks, plain it simple it kills. My buddies in the blind with lesser loads wound alot of ducks we never find. Last year i went to hevi-shoot for geese and the range was incredible. Good luck to everyone this season.
I've never shot a 3.5 but i've talked to a few guys that stopped shooting 3.5 shells. They said they kill on both ends of the gun LOL
With Hevi shot i've never seen that i needed anything but a 3" for field geese and puddle ducks over decoys.
Just my opinion but if you shoot mainly steel like myself you need the 3 1/2 fast loads if you hunt big water, if you can afford hevi-shot or tungsten you probably dont need anything more than 3 inch, deer on the other hand if you have shot a deer with OO 3 1/2 buckshot you wont buy 3 inch buckshot anymore!!!!!!!!
also I have shot a box and a half a few days and steel is expessive, but hevi shot would have been almost a $40 dollar day, the way I shoot I will stick with steel[grin]
This my 2nd season with a browning gold 3.5 and have NEVER had a jam. ANY gun will jam if it is not cleaned. That is the former Marine in me. Can't go wrong with an 870 either! I agree with Paul 3.5 is not needed.
I shoot an 870 3" Love it. Actually the 3 1/2" shells aren't any faster than the 2 3/4 and 3" shells. They just have more pellets in them and more kick. My buddies have shot the 3 1/2 inchers and say the only difference they notice is the bruise on there shoulder. Like an old wiseman said " people have been killin ducks with 2 3/4 shells forever"
yllowfin, Don't own a 3.5 gun and don't really want one. I use 1 gun for everything, and 3.5's are too heavy to walk with much. Check out the Franchi I-12, it is only made in 3" but is made by benelli. It has the same inertia system as the SBEII but is 1/2 the price. The black synthetic gun sells for $579, and the 2 camo models are a little higher. I've shot remington's all my life, but this gun is really nice, and i'm going to get a Maxx4hd camo one as soon as they are available.
I shoot over a lot of open water for cans, scoters, old squaws, bluebills, etc. 3" kills 'em dead. If you can't kill with 3", it's not because you are missing 1/2", it's because you probably need practice.
I have a 935 ulti mag. It is an awsome gun. I mostly shoot 3inch#4 and #3 steel shot. It is a great gun. Would recomend it to anyone except dove hunters it don't like the light loads. I shoot 3.5 00 buck while deer hunting. Put 14 pellets at 30 yards into a paper plate with a full choke. I love mine and wouldn't trade it at this point in time.
Anything over 2 3/4" is more bang with only a little more benefit in the end. If you want to beat up your shoulders, go for it, but everything I've read said 3 1/2" is more waste of money and 3" is questionable. Read something a few years again that said that alot of that extra length is wadding.
Like someone said, 2 3/4" has more down range energy. That's the critical part. How does it carry, NOT muzzle velocity. Remember, you have a bigger shell with more pellet weight to be pushed, They almost cancel each other out. Only difference is you might be slinging more pellets at the same velocity.
Get a gun that patterns well and make the shots count and you won't need to beat up your shoulder as much.