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I do most of my duck hunting with a 20 gauge and steel shot.

However, when I want to dump 13# down and fat coated late season geese, I'm shooting what I know works. Took 7 pokes this year and killed four geese instantly and immobilized a fifth. Poor shooting? I did way worse on back peddling 25 yard birds than 50 yard pass shots.
 

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When you shoot a pattern, the gun barrel is stationary. When shooting at live birds the gun barrel "should" be moving. Going to longer shells can ONLY add shot to the back end of the shot string. I am quite certain that the majority of missed shots are behind the bird. Adding more shot to the back end of the shot string will never correct the majority of misses.
The point of 3.5" shells isnt to get hits where a 3" shell wouldve missed due to lead. The point of a 3.5" shell is to get a denser pattern so that you can either: (a)take a slightly further shot. Or (b) run a more open choke and make your same-distance shot a little easier.

Yes, The barrel is moving, but the whole wad and shot payload is moving together as one solid mass until the wad opens. The shot string isnt necessarily going to be any longer with 3.5" shells.

If you're a bad shot, you'll miss all day with any length shells, but if you're a good shot, a 3.5" shell will let you take slightly longer shots. Emphasis on 'slightly'.

Before anyone calls me out for being a bad shot, or compensating, i hunt with 3" shells because that what my V3 will accept.
 

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The point of 3.5" shells isnt to get hits where a 3" shell wouldve missed due to lead. The point of a 3.5" shell is to get a denser pattern so that you can either: (a)take a slightly further shot. Or (b) run a more open choke and make your same-distance shot a little easier.

Yes, The barrel is moving, but the whole wad and shot payload is moving together as one solid mass until the wad opens. The shot string isnt necessarily going to be any longer with 3.5" shells.

If you're a bad shot, you'll miss all day with any length shells, but if you're a good shot, a 3.5" shell will let you take slightly longer shots. Emphasis on 'slightly'.
I will also add that not not all 3.5 inch shells are the same: with the right size shot pellets (being that larger pellets take up more space with the same weight) you can find/achieve a "slower" not so hot (less recoil) load with more pellets on target that wont kick your @ss.

3.5 inch shells help where steels takes up too much space to achieve the same oz. of shot that it once had with lead shot back in the day. Thus they lengthened the shell and kick just as hard as the magnum lead loads in the same weight back when lead was legal.
 

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Purest patterning load is a "square load" which is when the load length is the same as the bore of the shot gun.

What the old school people shot for duck loads back in the day would amaze most people. A big gun was a 2 7/8" 10 gauge and it shot about 1 3/8 ounces of lead. My father in law used trap loads in 7.5's for woodduck shooting, when they became legal again. Yep, that long ago.
 

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The same weight steel pellet, compared to lead, will have more air resistance, less energy down range, less sectional density, and far less penetration. It not surprising they were able to do so much with so little payload.
 

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It’s pretty simple if you’re a puss poor shot then shoot 3.5”. If you know how to shoot then you’ll be fine with 2 3/4”-3”.
 

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I use a single shot 28 gauge. I limit every time. If you use a repeating shotgun, or a larger gauge, then you simply suck at calling lots of birds in close, or are a lousy shot. Anyone who shoots 20 gauge or larger should be ridiculed for their poor waterfowl hunting skills.

I can piss further than everyone else.
 

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Getting ready to purchase a new shotgun. I've pretty much decided on a Benelli. Just looking for some opinions and thoughts on the M2 vs the SBE 3? Besides the 3" vs 3.5" is there much difference in these guns? I put this post in the waterfowl forum because 90% of the time this gun will be used for waterfowl hunting.
I'd just go with the SB3. The cost is within 300-400 bucks, and its nice to have the option for big shells if you ever want it.
 

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Honestly think you'll be happy with either. Both are super easy to clean and maintain. With the evolution of waterfowl shotshells, the need for 3.5" loads is probably less than it once was.

I have M2's in both 20 and 12 but have gotten away from them in recent years opting instead for flatter shooting guns.

Although I don't have personal experience using an SBE for more than a hunt or two here and there, I've heard some reports of 90/10 and even 100/0 patterns. Perhaps some like that but for me, it means misses on birds dropping vertically into the decoys.

Good luck!

Sent from my SM-N960U using Michigan Sportsman mobile app
 

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It’s pretty simple. 3.5 inch shells are more effective. Why settle?

AND DO NOT BRING OUR TRUCKS INTO THIS LOL
 

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I didn’t realize that there was this many shotgun and ballistics experts here, lots of knowledge. Which one of you is really Tom Knapp?
 

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It really depends on how they fit you and what you like. I have a SBE3 and I bought it because it fit me best out of all the guns in the price range I wanted to spend. I have a full season on it and it has performed flawlessly every time I pulled the trigger. From using it to stop me from face planting in mud in September, to completely dunking it under on the last day of the split. No misfires. Yes it had a high POI around 90/10 out of the box. This was fixed by tightening the magazine tube nut completely. Now it’s a 60/40 which is where I like my guns. Modern guns are all fairly easy to adjust to fit you so it shoots where you point it. Go with what feels best and adjust from there. I haven’t ran 3.5” shells through it for hunting because the few loads I tried patterned poorly, but I like the option.
 

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There’s far more differences between these two guns then just the ability to shoot 3.5”. The M2 is a classic. I personally love it. I’ve never cared for an SBE3 but you might feel differently. Just go hold the two and make your decision off of that. I have never ever ever been in a situation where I wished I had 3.5” with my M2. To me, that’s a non-issue. The feel and swing are more important.
 

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Discussion Starter #38
Thanks everyone for the input. My needs for 3 1/2 shells are far and few between. I spent a few days kicking it around after shouldering both guns. In the end the SBE 3 just felt better. I would highly recommend checking out Schanz supply in Otsego. His prices blew everyone out of the water. He has great prices on shotgun ammo to and he had a lot to select from.
Time to do a little shooting and get ready for Southern Illinois snow goose in February.
 

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Thanks everyone for the input. My needs for 3 1/2 shells are far and few between. I spent a few days kicking it around after shouldering both guns. In the end the SBE 3 just felt better. I would highly recommend checking out Schanz supply in Otsego. His prices blew everyone out of the water. He has great prices on shotgun ammo to and he had a lot to select from.
Time to do a little shooting and get ready for Southern Illinois snow goose in February.
Good luck!
 
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