Review: Stoeger Condor Over and Under Shotgun

Most reviews take a gun out of the box, take a few pictures, shoot maybe 25 or 50 rounds out of it and then write it up. I could have done the same thing last year when I bought the Stoeger Condor with 12 and 20 gauge barrel set, but I decided to put several thousand rounds through it so we could see how it held up.

Deciding to Buy a New Shotgun

When I was deciding whether or not to purchase the Condor, I was actually trying to find an inexpensive over-and-under shotgun to use for upland birds and sporting clays. I expected to only shoot maybe 200 shells per month and figured that a budget gun would be fine. There were many reviews out there that said the Condor was a solid, well-built gun and others that said that it fell apart in their hands after only 50 shots. For the price, $475.00 off of GunBroker.com, the 12 and 20 gauge combo model made sense. That would allow me to shoot sub-gauge events in Sporting Clays and use a lighter gauge to hunt with if I choose. So I “pulled the trigger” <<- see what I did there?

Specifications

Trigger: Single
Chokes: IC & M (12- and 20-gauge)
Type of Sights: Brass Bead
Length of Pull: 14-1/2”
Drop at Comb: 1-1/2”
Drop at Heel: 2-1/2”
Weight: 7.4 pounds
Barrel Length 12/20: 28″/26″
Overall Length: 44″/42″

 

Opening the New Shotgun

High-use review of the Stogor Condor

Click picture for a larger image

When it arrived, it was as-promised, new-in-box, no marks or defects. The first time I put it together, I noticed that it was very hard to open. Most new breech guns are, so  I didn’t worry about it too much. I just took the stock off, cleaned up the mechanicals real good and re-lubed them.

I am not a fan of the forearm release mechanism on the Steoger. As you see in the picture below, it is a serrated, half-moon, wheel-style release. Unfortunately the wheel is near where my left hand is while shooting. I had to get a heavier spring put in it as occasionally the kick of the gun and my hand being near the wheel would cause the forearm release to move towards the open position. It never fully released, but it was annoying. Easy and cheap to fix, but certainly not well thought-out. The level style release mechanisms found on most breach guns is far better. If you tend to hold the gun near the front part of the forearm, this won’t bother you at all.

Stoeger Condor Forearm release

Other than a trivial annoyance with the release, the gun seemed well put together for a gun in this price range. The pivot points are extrusions of the receiver that are about 1/8″ in depth. This is similar to how Mossberg does it on their Silver Reserve over-and-unders. It doesn’t have a ton of surface contact and isn’t replaceable so great car should be taken to clean and grease up the pivot points at the start of each shooting session.

The block is jeweled which should give it some longevity and is certainly more pleasant to look at than a simple blued block. The extractor is a simple one piece mechanism that will push both shells out far enough to make pulling them out easy. Both shells will always come up, regardless of which barrel has or has not fired.

The bead is a typical field gold bead on the muzzle with no mid-bead. The barrels are 28″ long for the 12 gauge and 26″ for the 20 gauge. The trigger has a little play in it, but nothing too disturbing for non-competitive shooting.

Shooting the Stoeger

I took it to the patterning board and put 3 shots on the board at 20 yards with an improved cylinder, extended choke from Briley.com (not the ones that come with the gun). Due to the cast, it was shooting about 1″ left and due to the drop at comb, dead-flat. This gun showed a 50/50 pattern which is just fine for upland game, but not so great for clay games like Sporting Clays or Skeet. A cheek pad would raise the point-of-impact (POI) if I really got too concerned about it. The cast.. I’ll just have to live with it as I am not going to spend money on a custom adjustable stock on an inexpensive gun.

The next trial for the Stoeger Condor Combo, was a trip to a Sporting Clays range to see how it would act in the field. The first day it saw action, it saw 100 targets. The stiff-opening action was a slight pain, but manageable – I knew it would loosen up after a few hundred rounds.

There were no failures to fire, the gun pointed and shot great. I was shooting 12 gauge, 1-1/8 oz, 1300 FPS loads and after 100 shells, wasn’t feeling overly beat-up by the gun. It is just under 7 and a half pounds and has a decent recoil pad.

The gun was easy to take apart and clean that night. No weird wear marks or anything to tell me that the gun was going to fall-apart at any minute.

The Stoeger Under High-Use

I joined a gun club last year where Skeet and Sporting clays fields existed. I decided to try my hand an skeet and got addicted – so much so that I decided to prepare for competition. I knew I was going to have to upgrade to a B-Gun (browning, Beretta, Benelli) for a competition class gun, but until then I would just work with the Stoeger.

Starting in December, I averaged 3,000 shells a month in practice. December and January were shot only with the 12 gauge barrels, a 1oz 1150 FPS load, and February and on have been with the 20 gauge barrels – 7/8oz 1155FPS load.

Towards the end of January I noticed two things. The breech release lever was closer to centerline (to be expected after roughly 5,000 rounds through an inexpensive gun) and the piece of metal that covers the space between the barrels had started to come up near the receiver. The metal piece is entirely cosmetic and would be easy to re-solder, but release lever indicated that the gun would be shooting loose in another 5,000 or so rounds. This gun wasn’t going to hold up under competition load. The 12 gauge barrels still lock-up tight, but those barrels have been relegated to the occasional round of clays.

I have been shooting 20 gauge for the last month and have put about 2,000 rounds through those barrels. The lock-up is tight and the release lever is right-of-centerline, pretty much where it started. No other major defects have appeared on the barrels.

In all of this shooting, 7,000+ shells, the gun has only failed-to-fire (FTF) twice. Both failures were out of the same set of reloads and were caused by the primers being seated too deeply. Since fixing that issue on the loader, (4,000 or so targets ago), not one fail-to-fire. The gun has been shot in temperatures from 18 to to 90 degrees Fahrenheit with no difference in reliability.

Performance as a Skeet Gun

The Stoeger Condor has done pretty good as a skeet gun while my Browning is off getting sub-gauge tubes. I regularly shoot 23’s and 24’s out of the 20 gauge barrels which are really too short for the sport. The gun is a little light and whip-y for my tastes and the trigger has a bit of play in it.

The “So-What” of it all

Stoeger Industries has put together a good budget shotgun for field use. Under standard hunting use, this gun would probably have a 15-30 year serviceable life. The gun is also very capable for light use on clays fields, but will not hold up to extensive shooting. If you are looking for a gun to put 10,000 rounds per year through, this one isn’t it. Then again, you won’t find a gun for $500 that will.

The Stoeger Condor Combo is a great upland bird hunting shotgun that will always go bang if you take care of it. As soon as the Browning gets back, the Stoeger will be cleaned, serviced and put away until the next bird hunt – and it will be going on that trip as my primary gun.

 

52 comments

  • I appreciate the review, I too am considering a budget gun and couldn’t find many solid reviews like this on the condor

    • I still have the condor and it still goes bang every time. I shoot a browning Citori XS special for skeet and clays now, but for the field, still use the Stoeger.

  • I have recently purchased a stoeger condor in 20 ga and was wondering, what different brands of choke tubes would fit the gun?

  • HELLO, I’M LOOKING FOR A STOCK AND FOREARM FOR THE STOEGER CONDOR 12 OVER AND UNDER SHOT GUN. I BOUGHT ONE FROM A GUNSMITH BUT IT WAS MISSING THESE PARTS. AND I’M LOOKING FOR THEM. IF YOU HAVE ONE PART OF IT OR ALL EMAIL ME.
    THANKS,HAROLD

  • Thanks for the review. Where are the current Stoger O/U made now?

  • Would I be able to put a deer slug through this gun as well?

    • The barrel isn’t rifled, but would handle a slug with the right chokes. An over-and-under is not usually the best choice for a slug gun as the barrels will likely not have the same point-of-impact which will be magnified at 50-100 yards.

      The condor is an upland bird and skeet gun – trying to use it as a slug gun is probably not the way to go.

  • Thanks so much for the review…I have been looking at the field combo to use for all around hunting and love the fact that I get two sets of barrels with this gun for that low of price. I am not a clays shooter, so I figure it should last me just about forever for squirrel, rabbit, and the few pheasaants we have left in Illinois.

    Thanks!!

    • You are very welcome. It’s always good to hear that our reviews help people make good decisions on their guns. Please let us know how your hunting trips go. Oh, and I’m jealous – since moving to NC, all my pheasants are farm raised.

  • Thanks for the review. I am considering buying a condor and it will get most of its use shooting trap. I have an 870 express now and am just looking for a gun to mess around with for trap and some upland bird hunting. Any other ideas/words of wisdom?

    • For upland bird hunting the Stoeger will serve you well. If you’re just messing around at trap, the gun will also serve that purpose. If you’re thinking about shooting trap seriously (ATA competition) you’ll want to consider a gun with an adjustable comb.

      The Steoger comes with IC and Mod chokes which will work fine for birds and trap. I found that the gun patterned better with the Briley extended chokes with the loads that I tend to shoot.

    • I too have a 20 ga 870 Express but wanted something a little different for shooting clays. I bought the Stoger Condor in the 20 ga. Have shot more than 1500 rounds through it with no problems at all. For the price, you can’t beat it and it is a well made gun. I looked at other reviews and noted some of the problems. I haven’t had any of them.

  • i got the stoeger condor for my birthday and loved it. after about 10 years though the forearm would fall all the way apart in the woods pheasent hunting. the barrel would not break down past the first barrel and would not eject the shells

  • I had been looking at the stoeger condor competition combo as a way to get into trap and possibly skeet without breaking the bank. After reading your review I feel that this choice should be a good one.Seems like a good bang for the buck. Excuse the pun. Wondering your thoughts on this. Any insite/help is appreciated as I am new to this. Thanks

    • Just as in the review, if you’re going to shoot a few hundred targets per year or use it for hunting, the gun will do fine. If you’re going to shoot several hundred rounds per month, realize that the Stoeger probably won’t hold up as well as some others like the Browning’s, Benneli’s and such.

      Also note that I reviewed the standard model, not the competition gun. I haven’t run into a competition stoeger so I can’t speak to whether they’ve strengthened the locking mechanism or changed the pivot points to something a bit stronger.

      It all depends on how much skeet and trap shooting you intend to do.

  • I purchased the Stoeger Condor in 12 gauge today after comparing it to several other guns in similar setup. I have to admit, i was skeptical at first, but the big deciding factor was the price ( it was marked $379 and was reduced to $349)
    After getting it home, giving it a good wipe down and assembling it, i headed out to my range with a box of shells and a few clay pigeons. I first fired a shot at my pattern board. I was impressed. I then continued this little familiarization by turning 10 clay pigeons to dust.
    While I do intend to hunt with this gun, I will also enjoy shooting clays the occasional nuisance bird with it. the fit and finish are not to be sneered at. for the money, I feel it is money well spent.
    I want to locate a few new choke tubes so it can be a little more versatile, maybe try to do a little turkey hunting. but I definately have no regrets in buying this gun.

    • I’ve had mine for quite some time and haven’t looked back. I put it through heavier shooting than most consumers would and it held up with minor issues.

      For the price, there isn’t a better o/u light duty hunting and clay shooting gun available.

  • what recommendations for a good choke tube can you give if i wanted to use steel shot in this gun. keep in mind that price is a deciding factor for me.

    • Overall, don’t go tighter than modified on the chokes for steel. The exact choke selection depends on the presentations you intend to shoot at.

      If the ducks will be feet down on decoys, Improved Cylinder (IC) is my favorite. For passing birds, Mod is the way to go.

      If you are asking about brands – Briley is my favorite choke company and I have an entire invector set from them (cylinder to Full) for my Condor.

  • Thank you so much for the thorough review. I purchased the Stoeger Condor 12 ga yesterday and I haven’t even shot it yet and after reading this review I’m pretty sure I won’t be disappointed.

  • I have the condor i when i shoot trap i cannot not ejecet the shells gunsmith told me to get rid of the gun.i will not buy another stoiger poor work menship.

  • I bought the Stoeger Condor 12 & 20 ga yesterday and am excited to get out and shoot it. I must admit I am not very knowledgable about what shotgun is better than the other. I have had a Browning side by side (which I wish I still had) and my only other shotgun I have had for the last 25 years is a Remington 870 pump (which I have to hike high on my shoulder to line up the shot). The Stoeger fits great, but when I brought it home to clean is the first time I moved the safety. It was so stiff my thumb will roll right over the top without concentrated effort, I can see I will miss a lot of quick shots. Is this an inherent problem? And can a gunsmith fix this? I would say it is about 8 times stiffer movement than any of the other guns I have shot.
    I took it all apart and cleaned the inner mechanism and relubed with a higher quality lubricant but it didn’t help.

  • I’ve shot the Condor many times and enjoy the gun. The safety is still a pain but I can deal with it. It is so easy to swap barrels so my wife can shoot the 20 gauge (shooting clays), but I have to flip the safety for her, so I would not recommend the Condor for a woman or teens.

  • I just bought mine today. I can’t wait to get it to the range. It isn’t a Browning, but a great buy for the money. Thanks for the great reviews.

  • I had to return mine because the rib was bent. It had a hump in the middle, and the gun consistently shot under the rib with both barrels. Stoeger replaced the gun with an improved model. The latch problem described by some has been fixed and the barrels and stock seem to be improved. As others have noted, the recoil pad could be better, but you run into that issue with most shotgun manufacturers.

  • I read all of the reviews and replies above, researched different guns in the $400.00 price range and ended up buying a standard Condor. I believe the Condors spoke about in the above comments were the Condor Field Combo which has the 12 and 20 gauge barrels. The overall quality of the Field Combo vs the standard Condor is allot better. If you are buying a gun to use in the field (hunting) and not trap or skeet shoot with then the standard Condor is a good avarage o/u for that. I bought mine with doing both hunting and trap shooting and found out that the standard condor does not work well for trap or skeet. I will keep mine in the closet and just use it for hunting and go spend a couple hunder more and get a good trap/skeet gun.

  • I have a stoger condor competition. My problem is with the service, both metal pieces on the barrel came lose after about 3000 rounds.I snt it in june 5th and called the stoger office to let them know it was a left handed gun, I put a note in the box it came in saying it was a left handed gun. the orginal box was marked that it was a left handed gun.I called the office serval times asking where they were on my gun and each time I said make sure the new was a left handed gun, one lady said Iwill make a note of it.Today is october 4th and my gun finnaly came. Guess what it was right handed and like obama they tried to blame everyone but them. I was told by the person that I was talking to he would call me back.He never called me back so I went out and bought a different more exensive brand. I put the stoger in the garage with my old golf clubs.

  • I would like to know if the condor will shoot 2 and 3/4 shells

  • I recently purchased a used condor 1 in 12GA. It has a 3inch chamber but will it handle magnum loads?

  • FINALLY!!! Someone who can give a review that is of some use on the subject of this firearms durability and reliability. Thank you. I started paying on one today and then found I couldn’t find any reviews that put me at peace with my decision.

  • i bought the condor 28 gauge, and i am verry happy with the gun. i shoot sporting clays, trap and skeet. it works great for clay birds and for quail. the only problem i have, is finding choke tubes for it. everybody says invector, winchoke, accuchoke, mossberg 500, and weatherby will work. i went to brileys and they tried them but said not to shoot the gun with them. you can screw them in but they do not seat, and possibly could blow up when you shoot the gun. i also tried trulock and he said the same thing. stoeger says it is okay, but you can’t get any extra chokes from stoeger or anyone else. i love the gun but will never buy another stoeger. i also have a benelli legacy 28 gauge that is great. you would think that by benelli being such a great company, they would get this straight, i guess they don’t care either. i can’t believe stoeger tells you to shoot the gun with the wrong chokes.

  • hello, i just purchased a stoeger over under shotgun, never fired it yet, it is a single trigger, never used one, does the trigger reset after firing first shot or does it not.

    • i have the condor 28 gauge. the bottom barrel fires first and then the top one fires. it works very good. it is about like shooting a semi-auto. the only problem i have with mine is the safety is a little stiff, will probably loosen up with time. good luck, i think you will enjoy it.

    • I have the same gun, and love it. The Condors are great value.

      The trigger resets with the recoil of the first shell. To test it dry, pull the trigger to “fire” the lower barrel. Pull the trigger again and nothing should happen. Then, hit the recoil pad with your hand and pull the trigger. This time the upper barrel should “fire.”

  • I have a Stoeger o/u and have been having problems with the top barrel firing. The bottom works but the top has been less and less. I’ve been shooting 20 gauge Federal 2 3/4″ skeet loads and have even tried 12 gaugewith no success. I’ve tried different ammo which does not work either. Any ideas?It will reset when I rap the butt stock just not when firing.

  • Any suggestions on a Stoeger Youth 20 gauge Condor that doesn’t lock easily? It is brand new, never fired but when my son closes it the lock stays to the right. Is this normal? Can the lock be pushed to center and still be safe? I can get it to lock most of the time but with what seems like too much force. Help!

    • As long as the action is securely locked–can’t force open without pushing the lever- many guns lock up with the release lever off to the right. Usually the lever works its way to center as the gun wears. On some once it reaches center you can feel the looseness and gun needs a rebuild. I think the original review in this thread talks about this. For your own peace of mind -especially since your son is using the gun- you can ask a competent gunsmith to look at it. But odds are its fine as long as the action is actually locked. My Browning Trap gun and my Franchi o/u both lock up with the lever off to the right. My old side by side (grandfathers gun) locks up solid as a rock
      With the lever dead center.
      But again best to have someone competent(important word here!) take a look

  • I’ve just tried the first time my Stoeger Condor 12 gage. I like it.
    I have a question to all participants, which barrel goes first, top or the bottom? I couldn’t find answer in the manual. And second question, what choke should be installed at the barrels which going first and second for trap shooting? Thanks in advance for response,
    Alex

    • Usually in guns with a fixed firing order like these the bottom barrel goes first. Also, you would then use the more open choke in that barrel, tighter in the top for trap and upland hunting( first shot is closer) and go the opposite on ducks over decoys( incoming birds are farther on the first shot)

      • Ps. For trap, you should probably start with a modified int the 1st(bottom) barrel, full in the 2nd(top)
        One way to double check which goes first is to go to the line for singles with a shell in each barrel, and shoot one time-then open the action, covering the shells with your hand so they don’t eject, keeping them down in the gun so you can tell which one is spent and which is waiting for the next shot. A friend with an odd brand(can’t recall the name) loaded bottom barrel as he was used to from his old gun, and was rewarded with a no fire at the line– his new gun shoots top first, somewhat unusual in a non-selectable gun.!

        One other way to check is with snap caps (about 18$ at bass pro). Put a small paper stick-on circle cover the bottom of the caps ( end that sits by the firing pin) , put em in, pull trigger. Again, make sure the snap caps don’t eject and you will have a hole in the paper cover on whichever barrel goes first BE SURE TO ONLY DO THIS WITH SNAP CAPS, KEEP ALL LIVE AMMO AWAY, AND STILL KEEP GUN POINTED IN A SAFE DIRECTION–a mistake using live ammo is not acceptable and very possibly damaging and DANGEROUS! Remember rep the four basic rules
        Stay safe

  • bought a stoeger 12ga condor,want to bye extended chokes,briely chokes? how do I know what fits my gun.

  • Around 1865 the partnership of E. Remington and Sons (new Remington title) was integrated as a inventory company.
    They created many ‘firsts’ for the gun manufacturing world.

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