Monday, April 30, 2012



Since 1923 Stoeger has been associated with fine firearms for the hunter, sporting shooter and even for defense.  Firearm diversity includes a variety of calibers and gauges: double barrel over & unders, side-by-sides, semi-autos, and pump-actions; as well as auto-loading defense and sporting pistols.

With a name like Stoeger you would expect it to be a brand which originated overseas, however it actually began in 1923 in New York City (cough .. back when NYC had common sense gun laws that promoted business).  Austrian immigrant Alexander Stoeger issued a price list noting he was the “sole authorized importer for the United States and Canada of the genuine Mauser and Luger Arms and Ammunition.” Obviously both were hot sellers and Stoger grew with a variety of imported and developed products until the 1990s when Sako purchased the company.  In 2000, Sako was in turn acquired by Beretta Holding and Stoeger was placed under the current ownership of Benelli USA.
Personally I had never heard of the Stoeger brand until the blitz of marketing around the Double Barrel Coach Guns a couple years ago with the boom of cowboy action shooting.  This short barreled shotgun rose to popularity back in cowboy times via the Well Fargo stagecoaches where a handy short double barrel shotgun could deter or address unwanted coach visitors.  With that need, the coach gun was actually produced by Wells Fargo as standard issue firearm at one point, but was followed in production by a number of other companies. Today, people are in love with the idea of the coach gun from a defensive perspective however it was the cowboy action shooting scene which made the Stoeger Coach Gun a sales phenomenon.

Recently, I finally put my shoulder behind a Stoeger Coach Gun as a potential extended-term survival gun, because a double barrel 12 gauge like the Stoeger Coach Gun Supreme is potentially a near perfect all purpose survival gun.

Stoeger has made its name with good quality products at a much lower than average price point. Every Coach Gun Supreme sports an AA-grade gloss walnut stock and beaver tail fore-end, extensive cut checkering in a border-point pattern, and is fitted with a soft rubber recoil pad which is appreciated considering the recoil.

The Stoeger Coach Gun are not considered “collector quality” arms, but what I would term as standard to mid field grade in fit and finish. Let’s face it, double barrel shotguns have always been some of the most expensive guns on the planet and even most field grade guns are easily over $1000-$2000.  Those in their right mind will not take a beauty of a double barrel to a cowboy action shoot and it would not look the part anyway.  Stoeger has taken a different direction than its parent companies with good quality at rock bottom price ranges of $400-$450 depending on the Stoeger Standard or Supreme Coach Gun series.

Now that I have set the stage and intent correctly for the Stoeger line, you will find the Supreme Coach Gun I picked up very well appointed with a weather resistant stainless receiver and polished nickel barrel finished inside and out. Blued and combo blued/stainless version are also available, however for a survival and preparedness gun the nickel coating and stainless construction makes for a very durable gun.

The polished nickel 12 gauge Stoeger Coach Gun Supreme has good fit and finish throughout. The Supreme version ups the fit, wood, and lacquer finish quality from the rougher finish on the standard line.  The standard coach gun line looks the part for the cowboy action shooters, the Supreme line looks like the shotgun the rich cowboys carrier. Does it have the seamless transition fit and finish of an entry $2000 Benelli or Beretta? No, but it would be unreasonable to assume it would for 25% of the price.  The Stoeger line does offer a nice looking and feeling grade of gun which you will not be embarrassed holding, which works as reliably as any other side by side.

From a feel perspective the Stoeger Coach Gun Supreme’s short 20” barrel delivers a short and quick handling at 6.5lbs shotgun. This this is about 8” and a 1lb lighter than a standard double barrel and definitely the direction needed for a survival based firearm.

The Stoeger Coach Gun Supreme packs a number of features into this versatile shotgun which are similar to other shotguns including 2-3/4” and 3” shell capacity, automatic tang mounted safety and barrel brake latch and screw-in improved cylinder and modified choke tubes for versatility beyond just being a cowboy action and defensive gun. Beyond that the gun breaks down quickly just like any other double barrel shotgun.  Remove the handguard by flipping the guard latch, and break the action and the barrel separates from the receiver. For long barreled skeet and hunting guns this is a handy feature, but on the Stoeger the short 20” barrel and broken down action becomes a stowable little survival gun.

Because of the shorter size, the Stoeger Coach Gun Supreme would make an excellent home defense thunder stick loaded with OO buckshot, however it is not the quietest of options and ear protection would be highly advised.

Nothing is for free and that 8” shorter length and 1lb lighter weight does have a trade off; the 12 gauge Stoeger Coach Gun Supreme kicks like a mule. As a guy who once shoot skeet and trap, I can manage recoil and for a short survival and durable hunting and small game gun used for a couple shots here and there, the recoil is the compromise you make for the lightweight and packable size. That said I would not want to run defensive drills with this gun for an afternoon without a thick Limbsaver cushion on the stock or reduced loads... those cowboy action guys are a tough bunch.

The really good news is that despite the shorter length, the removable chokes did provide nice patterns similar to what I would expect from a full length shotgun.  The Stoeger Coach Gun Supreme comes with screw-in IC (Improved Cyclinder) and M (Modified) chokes which proved efficiently flexible for seasonal game and junk bird hunting as well as  testing defensive rounds.  Add a couple extra full and modified chokes and you have an all purpose upland goose and short range deer gun.  

Though the double triggers take a little getting used to, they do provide flexibility for touching off the left or right barrel depending on the shot and choke required. This is probably one of the single biggest advantages of a double barrel and double triggers for the survivalist.  If you slip up on a rabbit at 15 yards you don’t need to hit him with the full choke barrel... you have options. The other option is if you have purchased a drop in caliber conversion adapters.  I own a couple 12 Gauge caliber adapters including a couple in .22LR, .357, and .9mm. Others are available for converting 12 gauge to .44 Mag, 410, 16, and 20 gauge. Put a .pistol round in one chamber and 12 gauge shell in the other and you have a gun with a lot of options and a load of survival utility.

After months of shooting, I have yet to successfully launch both barrels simultaneously.  “Giving the targets both barrels”, always sounds like a full auto machine gun with only two rounds - “Ba-bam” due to the front trigger being a bit lighter than the rear.  Those mis-timed events in itself were punishing endeavors, so I cannot imagine the pain of accomplishing my goal of both barrels going off together.

I understand the safety concern of the automatic safety however it was a little counter-intuitive for running, gunning, and reloading defensive or cowboy action shooting. I found myself dropping in two shells, closing the action and pulling the trigger only to remember the safety automatically engages each time the action is opened. Training and practice would have to engrain a safety disengagement as part of a reload.

From a survival perspective 2-3/4” BB and 00 buckshot are good options for a lot of critters if you state’s game laws allow.  000 (.36”) buckshot is a handy size if you also carry a .357/.38 as you can use these balls to make rounds for those guns.  Most enjoyable to shoot were #6 “light” field or skeet loads which did a great job on junk birds out to about 40 yards.

For cowboy action shooters this is an automatic purchase as the 12 Gauge Stoeger Coach Gun Supreme is the quintessential stagecoach gun.  It is fast handling and at distances under 35-40 yards it works just dandy on defensive and critter based targets with buckshot. Visiting the local skeet and trap ranges proved that the Stoeger Coach Gun Supreme is not just a novelty and that “I still got it”.  Pretty impressive when you regularly start smoking clays out of a short barrel shotgun.

OK, the Stoeger Coach gun is a shooter, and performs about as well as a full sized version, so what do you give it besides 8” and 1lb?  Control and smoothness.  The short and light gun delivers fairly punishing recoil with full weight defensive rounds and slugs are painful however “light” field loads take the guns recoil back to a typical 12 gauge level. Many clays and bird hunters prefer longer barrels and one reason it that they are smoother and point more naturally.  The Coach gun can tend to be a little too quick on target and I had to concentrate to not overtake clays, however on rabbits and squirrels it works perfectly.
The Coach Gun Supreme shotgun is also a gun which you will not fear scratching through briars in search of that rabbit or deer, surviving drops during a cowboy action shoot because you fumbled the reload and dropped the gun, or will survive the muzzle scratches from standing up in the corner of the garage while you work ready for shots of opportunities at junk birds invading your property.  It is the perfect price and grade of a gun that will get used and abused hard, and heavy all for a great price.

In a survival situation, I would rather have the Coach Gun over a full length shotgun despite the recoil.  One of those reasons it that a 1lb less weight can equate to more food or other supplies that can be carried and that quicker pointing could save my life in a defensive situation.  This is an outstanding little shotgun which has all the features of a great survival gun, it is chambered in 12 gauge, the most popular cartridge of its firearms class, is short and maneuverable in tight quarters, is lightweight can be broken down quickly and easily for storage or transport, and with a nickel barrel it is less sensitive to handmade or even corrosive black powder powered loads. Despite not knowing who Stoeger was a couple years ago, I am a believer in the versatility of this handy little shotgun.


  • Model: 31481
  • Barrel Length: 20”
  • Finish Grade: AA-Grade
  • Gauge: 12
  • Shell Length: 2-3/4” AND 3”
  • Chokes: Screw-in
  • Weight: 6.5 lbs.
  • Trigger: Double
  • Chokes:  IC & M
  • Type of Sights:  Brass Bead
  • Overall Length:  36-1/2”
  • Length of Pull:  14-1/2”
  • Drop at Comb: 1-1/2”
  • Drop at Heel: 2-1/2”
  • MSRP: $499
Stoeger USA


Anonymous said...

These nice shotguns are made in Brazil by ER Amantino and sold here as the Boito A680 model.

There's a single trigger version too (but probably not sold by Stoeger). The only drawback I see is the lack of auto ejectors, a feature I would like to have. Sadly, looks like only Baikal MP43E has them, with some other more expensive SxS.

Nice post, nice pics.

Anonymous said...

Can you put extended choke tubes on this coach gun?

Major Pandemic said...

You should be able to install extended chokes, however I am not sure who makes them to fit.

Unknown said...

can slugs be run through with the chokes that ship with the gun?

Unknown said...

The chokes for the Stoeger are the same as Winchester,

Mossgerg 500 and browning Invecta Carlson has a conversion chart

Unknown said...

Stoeger uses the same chokes as Winchester and Mossberg

Carlson chokes has a conversion chart

Unknown said...


Unknown said...

I loaded mine with slugs and pulled both triggers . That was around 8 years ago . My shoulder is still screwed up .

pcanfield said...

How about double O buckshot with the standard choke? Was surprised after purchase that there was inserted choke. Told not to use without choke due to damage to barrel, but remember my grandfathers warning about firing slugs through full choke. (the gun might blow up.) Now not sure what I can safely do with my Stoeger now but in a pinch I would try the 00. Where can I get a proper open choke to fit this gun?