[Review] Stoeger Condor Over/Under: Best Under $500?

What’s the best over/under shotgun for under $500?

This one…the Stoeger Condor!

These double barrel guns hold 2 shells and are accurate as can be.  They are also the preferred gun of choice for shooting clays.

Best Value Over-Under Shotgun
450
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

They have almost no moving parts at all so, in theory, they should be way less money than pump action and semi-automatic shotguns, right?

Yeah…no…they’re not.

Mo Money Mo Problems

Over/Under shotguns tend to be the most expensive shotguns out there.

The most expensive semi-automatic shotgun I can find in a 30-second search is the Benelli Performance Shop SuperSport at a respectable $3000.

By contrast, a 30-second search for the most expensive over under I can find is a Perazzi over under that comes in at $21,000 but I’ve personally seen some by that manufacturer listed at $80,000 or more.

The average over/under price seems to be in the $1000-$1500 range.

That’s still a bit pricey for a mere mortal like me especially when you consider that I’m not exactly a hard core clay shooter.

I’m not competing and, as much as I’d love to, I’m not at the skeet range every weekend.  I try to keep my fun guns in the under $500 range.

Stoeger Condor Open
Stoeger Condor Open

That’s when I discovered something: there are some pretty slim pickings for over/unders in the under $500 range.

Fortunately, Stoeger is there to help.

Stoeger Condor Models

Stoeger, which is owned by Benelli which is owned by Beretta, has a pretty extensive line of inexpensive shotguns under $500.

This isn’t some piece of junk, borderline cardboard boomstick that will fall apart after 2 or 3 shots either.  This thing is rugged, heavy and ready to get out there and work.

Most skeet ranges that have rental guns available will usually have a few Stoeger Condors to hand out.  Like I said, this gun is a work horse.  If they can hold up to the abuse that renters give them, then they’re going to handle your weekend hunts or clay shooting with no problems.

On the bright side, if you’re hunting and accidentally drop it into the swamp never to be seen again, you’re only out a $500 gun instead of a $2000+ Beretta.

Stoeger Condor Disassembled
Stoeger Condor Disassembled

Beyond just ruggedness and a great price, the Stoeger Condor also features everything you’re going to need to get out there and start destroying clays and doesn’t have any of that fancy schmancy engraving or ultra-rare exotic hardwood to get in the way.

It’s got a single trigger that breaks nice and crisp and switches between the bottom and top barrels automatically.  It also has the ability to screw in choke tubes and it has 26-28 inch barrels.  There’s also auto extractors to make it easier to remove the spent shells.

The Condor is also available in .410, 28, 20 and 12 gauge although the ability to add choke tubes is only available in the 20 and 12 gauge versions.  For those that want to take their kids out to the range or for those people with small stature, there is a youth version available with a much shorter stock.

My only complaint isn’t really a complaint but still, I find this gun feels a bit heavy.

This particular model, the 26’ barreled version, weighs in at just over 7 pounds.

Now, a heavier gun means a bit less felt recoil but it also means that my out of shape self has trouble holding it up to shoot after only a few minutes.  In looking at other guns, that seems to be about standard for over unders.

Puzzlingly, having shot some Berettas and even a Perazzi, those felt lighter even though they’re the same weight.  I don’t know why.  Perhaps it was ergonomics or something else.

Maybe I wasn’t tired or overheated the day I shot those.  It’s still something I thought I should point out even though I can’t explain it.

Alright, time to launch some tests into the field.  PULL!

By the Numbers

Ease to Breakdown 5/5

Over unders are kind of like the revolvers of the shotgun world.

If you ever need to go beyond the basic “pulling the barrel off”, it’s usually a big problem and should be left to a gunsmith.

For 99.999% of your needs, you push a little button, pull off the front grip, tilt the barrels forward and they pop right off.  A monkey could figure it out.  I mean that literally.  There’s a YouTube video of a monkey taking apart an over/under.

5 out of 5

Maintenance 5/5

Once you have it apart, wipe it down and pass a bore snake through it.

No fuss, no muss.

There’s really not much more I can say about this.  When I said in the intro that there isn’t much to an over/under, I meant it.  Remove the trigger and put in a fuse instead and it would be no different from the old cannons, in the grand scheme of things.

5 out of 5

Reliability 5/5

Much like revolvers, there isn’t much to go wrong here.

The trigger setup is relatively simple even compared to a revolver.  If something doesn’t work, it’s going to be either a catastrophic failure in the trigger or the ammo is bad.  Your everyday shooting just isn’t going to mess up this gun.

5 out of 5

Safety 4/5

Unlike the majority of revolvers, which I have used a bit too much for comparison at this point in the article, the Stoeger Condor features a manual safety.  Not only that, but the safety automatically engages itself every time you flip it open to reload.

This makes is very difficult to accidentally shoot the gun while you’re closing it.  It also makes things rather embarrassing when you call “pull” and forget to take the safety off.

It will happen far more than you think.

Either way, I can tell you that automatic safety works great and no matter how hard you pull that trigger, it’s not going to go off.

That’s pretty much the only safety feature, however.  Still, it’s effective.  The fact that the gun puts the safety on for you helps to bump it up to a  4 out of 5 hats.

Poor technique 3/5

This gun is more accurate than you are.

Period.

It’s going to shoot wherever you aim it and, barring catastrophic failure or bad ammo, it’s going to shoot the same way each time.  That means it’s entirely up to you in order to make it work.

If you’re going to break a clay disk, you need to have your technique down.  If you’re not holding this gun the right way, it’s going to punish you.

The entire “equal but opposite force” of a 12 gauge shell explosion is going to go right into your shoulder or your chin.  Clay shooting requires good technique and I highly, highly recommend at least some basic instruction if you’ve never tried it.

Regardless, poor technique isn’t going to affect the function of this gun.  It can affect the size of the bruise on your shoulder, however. 3 out of 5.

Starter kit 4/5

Stoeger Condor Kit
Stoeger Condor Kit

It’s not a bad set up.

You get the gun and a set of 3 choke tubes.  Compared to most other shotguns, that’s pretty darn good.

Granted, a $25,000 Perazzi gives you multiple barrels in various gauges and such but this isn’t a $20k shotgun.

Even compared to most $1000+ shotguns, this has a good kit.

My only wish is that it came with a full set of chokes for both barrels in case I wanted each matching.  Either way, considering the shotgun market as a whole, this gun earns a 4 out of 5.

Accessories/Upgrades 3/5

The Condor ($450) has been around for a while.

The thing about it is that it’s kind of a “stepping stone” gun.

It’s that cheap entry into the world of shotgun sports and, after people get good enough, they tend to trade the Condor in for something else.  That doesn’t mean that this is a bad gun, mind you.  It just means that many companies haven’t put forth the effort to make aftermarket parts for them.

There are quite a few companies that make all kinds of choke tubes and such.  You can order some replacement stocks from Stoeger.

Beyond that, anything you want to do is more than likely going to be done by a gunsmith (things like trigger jobs or stock fitting).

While I wish there were some more things available, I’m not too disappointed in what’s out there now.  An over/under isn’t exactly a gun to tacticool out (even though Stoeger does offer a tactical O/U model).

3 out of 5.

Final Word 4/5

Conclusion

I’m happy with this gun.

It’s solid and I know that it’s going to work every time I pull the trigger….as long as I remember to disengage the safety.

Sure, there are nicer guns out there but this isn’t some Ferarri.  This is a working man’s pickup truck.

Best Value Over-Under Shotgun
450
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

It’s not something you’ll show off to your friends but you’ll always remember it fondly.  I like those kinds of cars and I like those kinds of guns.

While I would never turn down a super fancy, high-end shotgun if it was given to me, I’d much rather spend my money on a plain gun that will be a good friend.

Or maybe you’re looking for a more standard tube-fed shotgun instead of the over under mechanism, see our Best Shotgun for Beginners Guide.

31 Leave a Reply

  • Joe

    So you can safety fire 2.75 thur the 3 inch condor

    1 year ago
    • Jimmy

      Thought so , thanks

      3 months ago
    • Jon

      Yes, you can safely fire a 2 ¾in shell through the 3in chamber

      1 year ago
  • Freight

    Just purchased a new "Stoeger Condor Competition" with the adjustable comb on Wednesday, October 18, 2017. Wondering why the lever stays to the right when you open or close to load or extract shells and does not move to the center when completed ??? By the way I really like the feel of the gun and "wow" you just can't beat the price.

    2 years ago
    • Tony Woconish

      the lever is your SAFETY and always moves to SAFE after opening the chamber. You HAVE TO remember to move the safety to FIRE before pulling the trigger.

      1 month ago
  • bulldurham48

    Recently purchased a new Condor o/u shotgun, 20 ga. Surprised to find NO operating instructions and no marking on choke tubes [3] And which barrel fires first? The upper or lower. All things that anyone with good sense wants to know, not just for hunting but safety sake. Very disappointed in no instructions and no markings but like the look and feel of gun, Guess if the folks at Stoeger do not answer the question I will have to find out the hard way, which is really a shame.

    2 years ago
    • Tony Woconish

      lower barrel always fires first on the Condor. you cannot select the barrels. the choke tubes may have little notches or TICK marks painted on them.... indicating IC, M, F or skeet choke.

      1 month ago
      • CR

        Do you have to adjust the toggle out of safety mode after each shot? For example, shot 1 (lower barrel), safety flips on, have to manually move safety off to shoot shot 2

        3 weeks ago
  • JP

    I just bought the 26" 12ga Stoeger U/O field shotgun and was wondering what type chokes are in it? It only came with the two already in it and the extrator tool.

    2 years ago
  • Daddio

    Great review. I have recently purchased a lightly used condor supreme 12g for trap shooting and I and my friends are impressed with its feel and finish. Sure there are a lot of impressive guns at the club but, at my age, I'm not embarrassed easily. I bought it to break clays, period. Is this gun fussy about which brand of shells are used? I find it is hard to close after loading. The Stoeger manual is useless and does not explain the operation of the safety/selector which also slides sideways. Am I right to assume the left two dots mean both barrels can be fired and one dot means only the lower barrel can be shot? Keep up the great great reviews.. Daddio

    2 years ago
    • Thomas

      Daddio, The selector 'selects' which barrel fires first. The single is the top, and the double is the bottom. It would be exciting if both rounds fired at the same time, but fortunately, it just allows a selector for when you are shooting doubles. The idea being that you can choke for close and far, etc, and then decide which to fire first. T

      2 years ago
      • James

        Thomas, I thought that the two dot's resembled the "Over" barrel and the single dot resembled the "Under" barrel J

        1 year ago
  • Mike

    I'm considering buying the Stoeger Field 12 ga. 26" barrel. Gun description states it's not a selective trigger meaning you can't chose which barrel fires first. My question is which barrel does fire first on these guns, top barrel or bottom barrel? Thanks Mike

    2 years ago
    • ehung

      Hi Mike, I'm not super sure but I know most people prefer the bottom one shooting first to reduce "jump" from the top one. If there's no way to choose they probably went with that method.

      2 years ago
  • Michael

    ehung, I just picked up the Stoeger Condor Competion. Can I change barrels for a different gauge shell? Can you also tell us more about breaking in the gun and mantaince . Thank you Michael

    3 years ago
    • ehung

      Hi Michael, as far as I know you can swap out barrels only for the one gauge. Break in should be minimal since it's an O/U shotgun and maintenance is likely minimal too. I'd check out my general cleaning article.

      3 years ago
  • Brian

    Nice comparison to an old pickup truck. the car i miss most is my first one: a 96 used 4cyl ford ranger. nobody is impressed by that car...but i loved it.

    3 years ago
    • ehung

      Thanks!

      3 years ago
      • Bob

        Just bought mine. The Stoeger O/U shotgun...not the Ford Ranger. I purchased a Stoeger Condor Field...28"...for only $399 @ Sportsman's Warehouse. Can't believe the price. Feels great. Good swing. Didn't feel too barrel-heavy. Can't wait to put some rounds through it. 2 weeks week ago I purchased a STOEGER M3500 semi-auto. Like that one, too...but it will be more for ducks & geese. The Condor will be my skeet/trap & "field" (smaller bird) gun. I didn't know that Stoeger is a subsidiary of Bennelli...and that both of them are owned by Beretta. The M3500 has the same "inertia" ejection system as the higher-priced Benelli's. Should reduce the cleaning... Bob

        3 years ago
        • ehung

          Hi Bob, that's awesome...and glad I could drop some knowledge too!

          3 years ago
  • Vincent Flow Jr

    I ENJOYED READING ALL THE POSTS ,,,,AND, I AM ABOUT TO BUY A CONDOR 20 GA OVER AND UNDER WITH A SINGLE TRIGGER ,,,,WHEN OUR GUN SHOP COMES BACK FROM VACATION ,,,,,I DO HAVE A REDUCER TO A 410 THAT IS NEW IN THE PACKAGE AND IT IS THE ONE THAT IS 12 INCHES LONG ,,,,I DON`T AGREE WITH THE ONE THAT IS 4 TO 5 INCHES LONG ,,,,WELL ANYWAY WE`LL SEE HOW THIS MAKES OUT ,,,,,THE CONVERSION IS INSERTED IN THE UPPER BARREL ,,, THIS GIVES A 410 ON TOP AND A 20GA FOR THE BOTTOM ,,I THINK I`LL NEED THEM BOTH ,I`M A LITTLE WEAKER NOW, AT 90 ,,,,TALK TO YOU GUYS LATER VINCE

    3 years ago
    • ehung

      THANKS VINCENT!

      3 years ago
  • Andrew Miller

    Great review I was already thinking about getting one of these condor shotguns, and I think your review may have been the push I am waiting for.

    3 years ago
    • ehung

      Glad I could help, Andrew!

      3 years ago
  • radarphos

    A Novice question. i saw online a company that sells adapter inserts for over-under shotguns, such as a 12 gauge to 9mm Adapter (and including 12 gauge to .22LR; 410/45 Colt; etc.). I have three questions. (1) What will these other rounds do to the inside of the barrels, once they leave the adapter? (2) I would think use of an adapter would affect the accuracy of the round, except possibly at short range(s). You opinion? (3) Will firing rounds from an adapters essentially destroy the barrel over a short-period of time? The adapters were discussed as enabling a variety of rounds to be shot out of an over-under shotgun in a survival situation, where one might barter for rounds that could be shot from the over/under 12 gauge, if it had the correct adapter. Your help is appreciated

    3 years ago
    • ehung

      Hi, thanks for your question. I've heard of such inserts but never used them or even researched them more. It sounds like a decent idea for survival situations but for regular shooting I'd stick with what the shotgun was meant to shoot.

      3 years ago
  • rod

    witch length barrel is better for beginners also where can i get the best deal on a stoeger condor barrels come 26 or 28 inces

    3 years ago
    • ehung

      Hi Rod, thanks for your question. I like shorter barrels so the 26 for me. I'd call around your local gun stores to see the best deal.

      3 years ago
  • Dave

    The Stoeger Condor comes with a rubber recoil pad installed as standard from the factory. The second trigger pull operates only after recoil (or bumping the unloaded gun on the floor for testing) from the first shot. Dry firing is not recommended but an occasional click will not kill the gun. Shot caps are a great tool for practice and dry firing.

    3 years ago
    • ehung

      Thanks for the extra info, Dave!

      3 years ago
  • AzJmpShtr

    Luke the rattling noise you are hearing is the pin in the receiver that operates the shell extractors when you open the action. When the action is closed the pin loose so if you shake the gun you hear the pin moving back and forth. Nothing is wrong with the shotgun, I've had mine for over a year now and have put hundreds of rounds through both the 12ga and 20ga barrels. I bought the two barrel field combo and love it.

    4 years ago
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