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Stoeger M3K Freedom or FN SLP Competition - which is more reliable out of the box?


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Mostly will be used for hobby trap/sporting clay, but I want it to be good to go for the occasional 3/multi-gun/shotgun match

My main concern is whichever is most reliable without gunsmithing/permanent modifications; drop in parts are fine for customizing/upgrades, but not needed for reliability.

 

I'm leaning towards the SLP because gas systems are generally regarded as less picky about light loads

My girlfriend will be shooting this as well, and gas guns generally have less recoil and is more forgiving when recoil is cushioned(bad grip, recoil reducers, etc)

I can load the FN faster and consistently even though the Stoeger is opened up more.

 

Stoeger is on my list due to being more competition ready with extended handle, bolt release, opened loading port, 10+1 vs 8+1 capacity, and of course price.

Edited by CheekyChung
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  • CheekyChung changed the title to Stoeger M3K Freedom or FN SLP Competition - which is more reliable out of the box?

I don't have any first-hand experience with the SLP - in fact, I think I've only even seen one in person once, at a multigun class at TPC like 3-4 years ago (and while I don't think the "well, this is what everyone's doing, so it must be right" train of thought is a valid decision-making process, the fact that I've seen a ton more Benellis/Stoegers/Versamaxes/Berettas than SLPs at the various matches and training courses I've gone to over the years probably means something, at least. Make of it what you will). But since I've become that guy that rants about Stoegers every time they come up, I guess I'll keep up the pattern from that perspective....

 

To answer your specific question directly: I've owned multiple M3ks, and I still think they're one of the best budget options for 3 gun shotguns. That said, I'll freely admit that not all of them are perfectly reliable out of the box. Everything's a tradeoff, and the low price point of the Stoegers means that you're going to sacrifice a lot of fit and finish, some of which can impact reliability. The most frequent issues that I've run into are rough finish on the mag tube causing friction that can hang things up (since the action bar rides on the mag tube during cycling), and slight burrs on the channel in the bolt that the extractor sits in. None of this requires a gunsmith to fix, but it might require a couple of hours with emery paper and/or a needle file. Note that this is in addition to the standard break-in period that you're going to need to do with any inertia gun.

 

I'll also add that every "competition-ready" 3 gun shotgun that I've ever seen actually isn't. You're always going to want to open up the loading port a little bit more, and you're almost always going to want more rounds in the tube (even the 10+1 of the M3k Freedom edition is less than the 12+1 that's become the de facto standard in most 3 gun divisions), so number of competition-oriented bells and whistles that a gun has out of the box is generally not major deciding factor.

 

That said... I don't know anything about trap shooting or sporting clays, but I do know that the requirements for a good 3-gun shotgun are a little unique, and I've done the whole "try to buy one gun that fills multiple roles well" thing more than a couple of times. To refer back to my "everything's a trade-off" point above, I would not be surprised if trying to find a single shotgun to use for both hobbies results in a pick that's not all that great for either of them. There's probably a break-even point somewhere where 2 cheap guns optimized for the different sports is a better value than one generally nicer gun that's not as optimal for either, but that's something that you're going to have to do the math on yourself.

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That’s why I’m sorta torn. The m3k has some better “gaming features” out of the box and I’ve been recommended them by others, but all of them have been tweaked one way or another to run better. 
I’m thinking the FN would have better fit and finish for out of the box reliability, but I know it’s not popular in shotgun games. Only bad reviews from gamers I’ve seen are for the old version that came with two different pistons. 

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2 hours ago, TonytheTiger said:

@CheekyChung just curious, how did you narrow it down to those two very different guns?

It's really the only two I've had my hands on that I liked. Remingtons are nowhere to be found now except used. I don't really like the 930/940, and Benelli's and Berettas are just above my budget.

I could probably get a standard shotgun like a SX3/4, Montefeltro, and upgrade them, but that's what I'm looking to avoid or at least minimize.

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Cheeky,  you're wrong about the FN's running light loads.  Gas systems like the FN/SX3 are more reliable with heavier loads. I have a SX3 and the gas system never liked light loads. I've shot with guys from the former FN 3G team and they mostly used heavier/stout loads.   My TTI Benelli M2 will eat 1oz, 1150/80fps all day long.  Over the years I have seen junior girls, 80lbs soak and wet, shredding up SG course of fires with TTI M2 using light loads. You will get different recoil feelings with gas vs inertia systems.  The Winchesters SX3/4 are great SG's but there is very little to no aftermarket parts/support. 

 

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, CheekyChung said:

It's really the only two I've had my hands on that I liked. Remingtons are nowhere to be found now except used. I don't really like the 930/940, and Benelli's and Berettas are just above my budget.

I could probably get a standard shotgun like a SX3/4, Montefeltro, and upgrade them, but that's what I'm looking to avoid or at least minimize.

Just did some googling, looks like the SLP's go for about twice the M3K money, very much into Beretta territory.

 

For what it's worth, the SLP's went extinct in 3 gun right about the time I started. I got to shoot a couple, and at the time my perception was that they shot soft but were pretty heavy and just didn't having that feeling of pointing naturally that shotguns are supposed to have. Their owners seemed pretty happy to get them sold and move into more mainstream guns. Not entirely sure what their reasons where though.

 

Edit to add: I just remembered how bad the forend was too. It hangs down pretty far below the receiver and really hampers loading.

Edited by TonytheTiger
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Kinda wild price difference between the two, but you mention price. The Beretta 1301 Comp gen2 is lower than the price of the FN SLP right now.

 

I have the 21" barrel. 13" stock LOP. I think it's the bee's knees.

However, no 922r tube extension for the 1301 outside of the LTT version which...not for me.

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Cheeky, to your original post, I had one of the first vent-rib SLPs and it has never faltered in more than a decade of 3gun. That said, Tommy Thacker gave me some sage advice when I got it. He said: "If you want it to last, run it the way it is." No extended lifter, no hogged out loading port. 

For me, that meant learning a thumb/knuckle loading technique to avoid blood loss. Certainly, no load-4. 

Also, started shooting it with the light piston for the first thousand rounds, then moved to the heavy piston.

Reliable and durable? Heck, yeah.

However, I might suggest, if cost is an issue with respect to Benelli, take a look at the Franchi Affinity. Except for the recoil spring, everything else is similar. Even uses most of the same aftermarket parts.

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Im saying that they are spotty right out of the box. Some are great some are not without some work. The box, however, is of a very consitsent size and capacity. The graphics are very precisely placed it closes every time and opens easily. The springs never wear out because it doesn't need them and you don't have to cut, polish, nor port, to use it to hold the originalc contents......yeah......the box.

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On 12/12/2020 at 10:36 AM, bushmeat said:

 

However, I might suggest, if cost is an issue with respect to Benelli, take a look at the Franchi Affinity. Except for the recoil spring, everything else is similar. Even uses most of the same aftermarket parts.

 

Exactly.

Like a Stoeger in function, but made by Benelli in Italy. And between the M2 and M3000 in cost. 

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Get your hands on a Franchi Affinity 3. I chose it over the m3k and all it needed was a tube on it. While not technically built for 3 gun it's a hell of a shotgun for the money. I want to say I paid like 600 for it and 150ish for the extended tube.

 

I shot the m3k and was looking for one last summer and they were all sold out so I settled for the franchi. Everyone I shoot with who has the m3k wish they would have known about the franchi.

 

 

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I went the route of a used M3k for a great price then got a carbon arms tube and did all the custom work I was interested in - was looking for an M3k freedom and glad I went the way I did.  From what I understand most are doing port work on the freedom anyway, and I'd say the one piece polished design of the CA tube is pretty nice.  Haven't found a cheap wal-mart load the gun won't munch yet and it points and handles well for me, which is probably more important out of the box than almost anything else. I've had very nice shotguns that ate a lot of money for fitting in addition to the price tag so I could hit something with them - if you haven't shot both yet do yourself the favor, decision may become quite clear. 

 

I'd upvote the Franchi as well - had the pleasure of using several for hunting and target from friends and family - if I didn't have a low budget for initial buy that would've probably been my #1 choice just cause they look prettier. That being said, now that I've had the stoeger for almost a year and seeing how it handles and performs, not sure I'd do it any differently next time. 

 

 

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I decided on the M3K Freedom.bang for your buck with out of the box features and the consensus is that over the FN.

 

Now what's a good source to shop/look for shotgun parts and other resources?

 

Thanks guys!

Edited by CheekyChung
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