Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Stoeger Condor

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I'd purchased a new shotgun while out of town in San Antonio. As some of you may already know, last year marks the first time in my adult life that I've gone hunting. It started out dove hunting with a coworker, and worked its way into duck hunting and finally a white-tail deer hunt.

While I did have a shotgun of my own for the hunts last year, it is not exactly suited for the purpose. I call this shotgun the EBS (or Evil Black Shotgun), and it's outfitted for a specific purpose: self defense. Sure, it can take a dove (and has, several times), but with no choke and an 18" barrel, it's outfitted for taking down two-legged critters at close range. Those of you who saw my last post will have read about my new shooter Jennifer firing one, with a photo as testament to the event. You will also see it (though somewhat obscured by a posterized inkblot effect) in my "Obamicon" post early on in the blog. I suppose it does need its own post, and I'll have to remember that for the future. However, today we'll be taking a look at my new shotgun.

So, for about the past year I've been wanting to get a proper bird-hunting shotgun. My previous job, as it were, left me very little money to put towards any purchases of significant price. In such a predicament, I made do with what I had and hunted dove with the EBS, or borrowed a shotgun for duck. Once I procured a decent-paying job, the possibilities opened up.

I had a several options jostling around in my skull, and slowly I began to narrow them down. While a pump-action shotgun is certainly economical and a very suitable weapon, I already have a pump-action and I'd prefer something more elegant.

I also crossed out semi-auto guns from my list for a couple of reasons. From my limited hunting experience, semi-auto shotguns are the biggest pain when it comes to stoppages or failures. Aside from short-shucking on pump-action guns (which is really a user error), every failure I've seen in the field (light strikes, hard jams, etc) have all been on semi-auto guns. I've also come to learn that if I don't hit the bird with the first two shots, I'm not going to hit it with the third. Capacity is nice on a defense gun, but I've decided two is all I need for taking out feathered critters.

This narrowed my search down to two options: Over-and-Under (OU) or Side-by-Side (SxS) double-barreled shotguns. Now, we've forayed into an area of the firearms industry that still leaves me wondering.

A little background on me first. I do not consider myself a cheap person. I appreciate quality and fine craftsmanship. I do, however, believe in the right tool for the right job. When that job is dirty, I don't wear my nice, new, expensive clothes to do it. Life is a balance of trade-offs, and luxury is never on my list of needs.

With that said, I'm going to talk about the double-barreled shotgun market - specifically why I don't understand the near-ubiquity of high-dollar guns. I have no problem with finely-crafted firearms and those who buy them. What I do not understand is why it is commonly percieved that a double-barreled shotgun is no good unless it's approaching $1000 or more on the price tag. I know it wasn't always this way. My dad has a 1930's production Stevens 16ga SxS shotgun that he bought when he was a teenager, and teenagers living on farms don't have piles of money to spend on shotguns.

Seriously, a break-open shotgun is the simplest you can get when it comes to a firearm. Why do we not have utilitarian double-barreled shotguns readily available from every manufacturer? In fact, none of the major manufacturers make inexpensive shotguns. Remington imports them from a Russian manufacturer called Baikal, but from my experience you're not going to find them at any major retailer, or even on the Remington website itself without some serious googling. As I said a couple posts ago, it's as if Remington is ashamed to put its name behind these guns.

Anyhow, there's a few options I've found when it comes to a utilitarian double-barreled shotgun, and none of are manufactured in the USA. I decided on an O/U, as that configuration seems to be better-suited for dual duty with skeet and bird hunting. My budget was set at $500 or less.

As mentioned above, Remington imports its Spartan series of guns from Baikal in Russia. I decided to avoid them partially on principle because Remington seems reluctant to put its name behind them, and partially because I wouldn't know where to buy one anyway.

Yildiz shotguns are imported from Turkey, and it appears that Academy Sports & Outdoors is the sole importer of these guns. I've heard relatively good reviews about them. I decided against these guns mostly because there is no dedicated firearms importing company associated with the brand, but rather a large retail box store.

TriStar Sporting Arms, from what I can tell, are also manufactured in Turkey, but do have a dedicated importing company, located in Kansas City, Missouri. I've seen them in a couple different retailers, but seem to be lower quality design and manufacture than I'm comfortable with. Also, the models I see in stores that run in the $300-$400 range seem to be absent from the website, similar to Remington's Spartan offerings.

The final option is Stoeger Industries. Stoeger is actually owned by Benelli, which is an encouraging fact in itself. Also a plus is that it has a nicely put-together website where you can find all the specifics of the guns that you see in the store. Also refreshing is that the company seems very up-front about its offerrings. Searching the website, you will find the specifics of each gun, with highlights on what each series does and does not include. The guns are manufactured in Brazil. I read many reviews on the gun, and they seemed to be mostly positive. The only naysayers I really came across were guys who insisted the guns weren't up to par for serious amounts of skeet shooting - as in the tens of thousands of rounds. Since I'm not buying this gun for competition shooting, I'm OK with that.

As you already know, I went with the Stoeger Condor. More specifically, I purchased the A-grade Condor in 12ga with 28" barrels. This model includes Improved and Modified screw-in choke tubes (one of each) installed. Sighting is done with a single brass bead.



For the $350 price tag, you get a low-frills, but well put-together gun.

The first thing I noticed when I assembled the gun was how very tight it was. Initially, it takes quite a bit of effort to open and close. I gave it a little gun oil, and it loosened up a bit, and I imagine it will become easier with use. Better tight than loose is how I see it. All the surfaces mate up beautifully.

The A-grade models lack ejectors, but rather come with an extractor instead. This means that after firing and opening the action, the shells are pulled out from the barrels far enough to be pulled by hand rather than automatically popping out.

This grade also uses a single-trigger mechanism that I've never seen before. When I first got the gun home and assembled, I tested the trigger in dry fire. The first pin fired just fine, but the trigger wouldn't set to fire the second barrel. Worried that I'd bought a defective gun from a store 100 miles away from home, I hit Google to see if anyone had experienced the same problem. Sure enough - yes. Apparently, the trigger mechanism uses the recoil from the first shot to set the trigger for the second. Weird, but as long as it works, I'm OK with it. Incidentally, you can get the trigger to set for the second barrel in dry fire by cycling the safety.



The Stoeger came along for my range session with Jennifer from the last post, and functioned just fine. I patterned it at 15 yards (see photo above, taken by the lovely Jennifer), and the loads I brought along look perfect for dove.

I'm quite satisfied with my purchase and the performance of the gun so far. If you're looking for an enexpensive O/U for basic shotgunning, I'd call this one a winner. Once I get some trigger time into the gun, I'll post another review on my experience.

23 comments:

  1. For the price, you seem really happy with it.

    It's made in Turkey, right?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nope, Brazil.

    Yildiz and TriStar are Turkish.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have the same exact shotgun. I bought it for $199 last year through Dick's Sporting goods. They had a sale with a Rebate and an instore credit. I couldn't pass it up. It is a great shotgun for my uses, phesant and target. Enjoy it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wise words. Thanks for this review. I think that in the case of this gun fit and finish was not top priority but Benelli made sure that the plant in Brazil is up to the specs. I have seen people shoot 25/25 with this when the other guys with te $2K+ guns wondered how this was possible. Very simple, know your gun and learn how to shoot. I also heard very ignorant comments that put Spain and Brazil in the category of Western Europe manufacturing. Those folks just don't know what they are talking about. These plants have manufactured for decades for their own local brands (ie: CETME in Spain) and H&K Germany among others. Pretty much in line with Italian quality and manufacturing. They have high preccission processes and machines but obviusly in this case they are not going to put the time and materials for finishing if you cannot up the price but other than that these guns should be rock solid. I had a Norica when I was statiioned in NATO in Europe and I am going to get the stoeger condor competition because as I see it there is not much difference in the results. I will make sure that I get the latest edition since like any manufacturing product it is better to wait at least a year until all the tooling and processes are bug free which results in bug free products. Bugs can happen with 400 dollar gun as it can happen witha 4000 dollar gun.

    Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I just bought the same gun yesterday! I am very happy to hear + feedback on it. I also thought it was a bargain but was worried I sold myself short. I also had the dry fire experience and your post sets my mind at ease. I plan on killing some clays Sunday with it and now, thanks to this article, I feel alot more confident. The gun snobs at the range may not like it, but I didnt buy it for them!

    ReplyDelete
  6. nice, just ordered one myself, cant wait to get it...

    ReplyDelete
  7. one thing that you need to think about when buying an O/U, before you go spend a bundle, is how are you going to feel if you buy,say, a citori or weatherby and take it hunting in the field. if your s serious hunter, there are occasions you may scratch your gun, dent the stock,ect. unintentionally of course, but it does happen. how would you feel if you dinged up a $2K weatherby, or browning?.....not good, cause your $2K sotgun just went to about $1K that fast. people who are looking for a high end shotgun arent looking for a high end beat up shotgun, so resell market is chit. i know, i had a weatherby crown grade athena, and sold it without shooting it, just because i couldnt see spending all that cas to hunt with it. maybe if i were one of those white gloved skeet and trap shooters, but that aint me. in comes the stoeger. the AA grade has darn near all the features of a top end shotgun, but for pennies. they shoot wonderfully, as well as ant high end O/U ive ever owned. remember guys, you can shoot a shell out of a $2k shotgun and a $400 shotgun, and no matter how you look at it, a shotguns a shotgun. they all shoot the same shell ( of course, depending on gauge!)i was going to break down and buy a ruger red label myself, but after taking a stoeger AA grade ( with ejectors) thru its paces, i decided on the stoeger for hunting. cant go wrong for the price.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Bought Condor Stoeger and after four to five shots the barrel fell off. The forearm would work loose and barrel would fall off this happened five times before we decided it was not safe.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I bought one last year and have since put about 5000 rounds through the gun with no major problems at all. I'm extremely happy with it and have shot my share of 25/25 locally, with a few $2k gun owners looking rather quizically at my Condor. The only problems I've experienced involved cleanliness. After several hundred rounds one weekend, and not cleaning the gun very thoroughly, I experienced several misfires. Took it apart, cleaned it as thorough as a surgical instrument, no problems the next weekend. I expect to run a hundred rounds through it tomorrow!!! Enjoy it, it really is a great gun for the money.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I bought a Stoeger Condor last year and following posted advice brought it to a smith and had it gone over. I ran 200 shot last year. This year I ran another 200 shots at the trap range and the forend and barrel fell off. I brought it hone and checked and tightened the screws which were loose. Went back to the range the following week and it fell off again. This time I disassembled, smoothed the catch and found that one of the wood screws were stripped. The mechanism relies on one small spring and is not a positive locking device that is found on most shotguns. The gun is fine but I would love to find a more positive lock.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I bought the Stoeger Condor I O/U, (12 gauge)26 inch barrell, in July of 09. Shot about 150 rounds a week through it for a year. The only problem I had, was a misfire, 1 in 100, I changed my brand of ammo and the problem went away. I therefore, bought the Stoeger Competition O/U, 12 gauge / 20 gauge, in July of 2010. Still putting about 150 rounds a week on it, and, yes, it's only been about 2 1/2 months, but I've had zero problems with it, and I am competitive with the big shooters with their $$$$$$$ guns. I do however, expect that it probably won't last as long as one of those $$$$$$ guns.
    Well, you can't have everything. I'm happy with both of mine.

    ReplyDelete
  12. John, do you still have the Stoeger Condor? How many rounds have you put throught it? Do you still recommend it?

    ReplyDelete
  13. DonW: Yes, I do. I've not had it out much since I shot some skeet earlier this year, but I'd estimate 400 rounds or so though it so far. Dove season all but fell through for me this year, and I haven't been out hunting yet due to other obligations and commitments.

    Last year, the gun performed admirably, and in particular I nearly took the head off a fast-flying overhead wood duck in December. The chokes that come with the gun seem to pattern really well for duck using #4 steel.

    My only gripe with the gun is that the shape of the recoil pad (sort of an acute point) at the top makes for a slower shouldering time, as it gets caught on my jacket on the way up. Stock fit being as subjective as it is, I don't see this as an issue with the gun as it is more of a fit with my particular body geometry. Recoil pads are easily replaced, so I'll be looking into a replacement for the pad whenever I get around to it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Who makes the chokes for this gun ????

    ReplyDelete
  15. I do not own one of these yet but I have shot skeet before at 23/25 with both a $1000 SKB and a Stoeger Condor. Take into account that I have shot only 4 or 5 rounds of skeet in my life. I remember being snobbed at the skeet range for my borrowed Stoeger and then out shooting all of them.

    I plan to go to Dicks Sporting Goods next weekend and if they have one in 12 gage, 26 inch barrel with screw in chokes I will buy one, If not I will order one

    I also own a Stoeger X10 .177 pellet gun which works great and I take it small game hunting every now and then.

    ReplyDelete
  16. i have stoger condor 12 guage and took it out shooting sporting clays.the bottom barrel does not want to fire all the time(misfires). the firing pin hits the shell but it seems like it doesn't hit it the shell hart enough. i was wondering if i should take the action apart n clean it. I cleaned the whole gun on the outside when i first bought it but i did not take it apart and clean the action. i wonder if the firing pin is sticking with the factory oil or rust inhibiter that is on it. any suggestions

    ReplyDelete
  17. I would begin by changing your brand of ammo. Some manufacturers set their primers deeper than others. If you are reloading your own, adjust your reloader.

    Page1412, they should take standard Winchester brand choke tubes. All the info I can find says the threads are the same.

    ReplyDelete
  18. You need to clean the gun or have a smith go through it. It is packed with a heavy grease for protection from shipping to end user. most guns are. It is recommended that a thorough cleaning of all new guns be performed before they are fired. I have read of several people that have had this misfire issue and it was solved by a good old fashioned scrubbing.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I have read where other people had this happen and when they removed the stock they found that the stock did not have enough wood removed along side where the hammer springs run and were rubbing on the stock. Removed a little wood for clearence and never any mor prob.Dave

    ReplyDelete
  20. thanx dude share the post.... i happy ur site...
    tooth extracting forceps

    ReplyDelete
  21. My Stoeger Condor Supreme (circa 2004) uses the same chokes as my Mossberg 9200.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Just bought one and I have some questions. How do you select which barrel fires? The website is not to helpful. Someone had said the safety acts as a barrel selector but I would like to know for sure. Please email me at Primaveray2k@comcast.net! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I also purchased a Stoegar Condor in March of this year. I am a beginning trap shooter and was very disappointed when I noticed that my gun misfired about one or two times out of every twenty five rounds. I returned it to the large chain sporting goods store where I purchased and they sent it back to Stoeger's. Not sure exactly what they did, the repair bill said "adjusted the trigger". I can say that it has shot about 300 rounds with our a single misfire and I am using some cheep target ammunition from Cabelas's. I think this gun and I will have a long and pleasant relationship.

    ReplyDelete