Stoeger’s P3000 Defense shotgun delivers high on the home-defense quotient with an easy on-ramp price

by Rob Reaser

Most of us are of the mindset that we can’t have too many defensive arms. The truth, though, is that we can’t afford as many guns as we want. Thus, we must pick our battles.

While I’ve never seen any statistics to support this, I would guess that a solitary handgun, readily accessible in the bedroom, summarizes the “home defense plan” for 90-, maybe 95-percent of American gun-owning households. That can be an effective plan, to be sure, but is it the best plan?

Certainly not.

Gun owners who take personal defense seriously understand the level of skill needed to be competent and effective in deploying a handgun for defense. Most folks, unfortunately, never invest the time and effort required to hit that skill level, the mindset being, “I’ve got a pistol; therefore, I can defend myself.”

That is what we who know better call a false assurance.

Efficiently operating and accurately shooting a handgun is only the first level of the defensive skillset. You must also learn to do the same under the extreme psychological stresses of a violent encounter. That requires steep training and a lot of practice — something most folks never do.

These are just a few reasons why a handgun is not necessarily the best option for home defense and why many trained defense professionals will argue that the function of a handgun is to fight your way to your long gun, be it a defensive carbine such as an AR-15 or something more suited to the home environment, such as a defensive shotgun.

Going back to our opening, we can’t always afford to buy all the guns we want. And what we want isn’t always what we need.

I, for example, want custom-grade 1911 pistols in every room in my house. Living in a rural area, what I need is ready access to high-capacity long arms to potentially fend off a multi-actor home invasion. I can’t afford the high-end 1911s even if they were the best option. I can, though, afford to buy a couple more judiciously selected defensive shotguns that, on the balance, are more suited to the task.

A perfect example of this is Stoeger’s P3000 Defense shotgun.

With an MSRP of only $329 and a street price as low as $279, the P3000 model #31892 is about as value-priced as you’re going to find for a defensive gun from a solid brand like Stoeger. In other words, here is a reliable defensive arm that you can afford to place in more than one location in the home.

The P3000 is about as no-frills as you can get, and that’s just fine given the purpose.

Model #31892 comes with an 18.5-inch blued barrel chambered for 12-gauge 2 ¾- and 3-inch shotshells. This barrel length, as with any defensive shotgun, is the minimum allowed, unfortunately, but is ideally suited for maneuvering in close quarters such as you find in a home environment. As with most defensive shotguns, the choke is cylinder bore, meaning there is no restriction at the muzzle so that defensive ammunition such as the always-popular #00 buckshot offers optimal patterning for typical defensive ranges — a tight shot column when working close and an effective spread as the range to target increases.

Since the P3000 Defense shotgun series utilizes the same receiver as Stoeger’s P3000 and P3500 sporting shotgun lines but without a ventilated rib on the barrel, sight height must be accounted for. Rather than a small brass bead at the end of the barrel, the P3000 Defense has a pedestal-style front blade sight that allows for easy sight alignment across the top of the receiver. This isn’t the type of sight setup you would want for precision slug shooting at 75 or 100 yards, but for typical defensive distances, this is a good option that is quick to acquire.

Shotshell capacity for the P3000 Defense is 5+1, meaning you can load five 2 ¾-inch shotshells into the magazine tube with one in the chamber for a total of six rounds on-board. I found loading the shotgun to be easy and pinch-free (unlike many shotguns). After removing the limiter plug, the five shells slipped into the tube with no problems. This gun also allows you to easily empty the tube of shotshells so that you don’t have to cycle them through the receiver. Just depress the carrier latch holding the shotshell in the tube and the shell comes out.

Operational controls follow the same pattern found across the Stoeger line. The slide lock, located on the right side of the gun in front of and above the trigger, prevents rearward travel of the action bar. Push up on the slide lock and pull the forend to the rear to load or eject an unfired shotshell. The safety is a crossbolt design and is located behind the trigger. Push left to fire, right to engage the safety. Simple.

And simple is kind of what you want in a defensive arm, in my opinion — no complicated controls or bulky add-ons to get in the way of business when you are already stressed to the max with a life-or-death confrontation.

Furniture for the P3000 Defense is straightforward. Model #31892 is your standard field stock adorned with modest grip checkering, a rubber butt pad, and a molded-in sling swivel loop. Those who favor a pistol grip stock will want to check out model #31893. This stock option bumps the MSRP to $399.

As for range performance, the P3000 Defense revealed no surprises. The gun cycled with authority, with recoil and patterning exactly what you would expect from a lightweight, 18.5-inch barrel pump shotgun with a cylinder bore. Standard 2 ¾-inch buckshot loads give you a solid thump in the shoulder; slugs tell you that you don’t want to shoot them any more than you must! The gun is easy to carry, nimble to maneuver, and quick to align with the target. I experienced zero malfunctions as the shotgun ran straight from the box.

For a $300-range shotgun, you can ask for no more than what the Stoeger P3000 Defense delivers.

Stoeger P3000 Defense (#31892) Specifications

  • Chamber: 12-ga., 2 ¾- and 3-in.
  • Action: pump
  • Capacity: 5+1
  • Barrel Length: 18.5
  • Choke: fixed cylinder
  • Stock: black polymer
  • Receiver: aluminum, drilled & tapped
  • Sight: front blade
  • Overall Length: 40 in.
  • Average Weight: 6.4 lbs.
  • MSRP: $329

Fiocchi Defense Shotshells

While there are several defensive shotgun ammunition options on the market today — some of them highly intriguing and some pure novelties that are best left on the shelf — you can never go wrong with the time-proven options of #00 buckshot or slugs.

Without question, #00 buckshot is the first choice for home defense. The 9-pellet load has the energy and penetrating capabilities of stopping most threats quite handily within a 50-yard envelope. At shorter ranges, such as within a home environment, the round delivers absolutely brutal terminal performance. Yet while #00 buckshot will get the job done, the pellets’ energy loss when it encounters structural materials (studs, wallboard, et cetera) makes it more suitable for use in domestic environments when compared to heavier, higher-velocity projectiles from a rifle.

Another option many defensive shotgun users employ is the rifled slug. These hefty chunks of lead have the kinetic energy to punch through structural material with alarming authority, making them not the best ammunition choice in multiple dwelling areas, such as apartments or among close houses. That said, slugs are going to deliver a serious, full-stop blow to an attacker and they can reach out well past acceptable defensive ranges with considerable accuracy, which is why many shotgun fans use them for hunting.

Whichever ammunition you choose for your specific needs, consider the several offerings from world-class shotshell manufacturer Fiocchi. Fiocchi makes several options within their Defense Dynamics lineup, including low-recoil #00 and high-velocity buckshot to low-recoil and high-velocity rifled slugs. They even make rubber pellet and frangible loads for law enforcement use. Over the years, we’ve tried them all on the range with predictable success.

Shoot On Editor-in-Chief Rob Reaser is a lifelong outdoorsman, former magazine editor, columnist, and contributing editor to numerous national publications in the automotive and outdoor segments. He has also authored and co-authored several DIY gun building books. His shooting and hunting passions cover everything from traditional archery and big-game bowhunting to the latest in handguns, rifles, and reloading. Rob has a troublesome habit of pulling guns and things apart to see how they work; occasionally, he manages to get them back together...

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