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Finding the Best Turkey Shotgun

What Gauge Shotgun is Best for Turkey Hunting?

You can’t go wrong with a 12-gauge shotgun when it comes to killing turkeys.  Not only is it the most versatile shotgun size for hunting multiple game species, but it also has the most options when it comes to finding the right load for your target species – especially turkeys. However, after the remarkable success of many new turkey specific loads over the past couple of years, ammo manufacturers are now catching up and creating similar loads chambered in 20-gauge. Shop the Best New Turkey Loads for 2019.

The use of 20-gauge shotguns for turkey hunting is becoming ever more popular and it’s not just the kids toting them around the woods anymore. Again, with shotshell technology advancing, the 20-gauge has been likened by a tribe of turkey hunters who prefer to cover lots of ground in the run-and-gun style of hunting. The biggest advantage is the weight and size reduction of a 20-gauge versus a 12-gauge, which can wear on you after a long day of chasing gobblers. Another major advantage a 20-gauge boasts is its significant reduction in recoil. Recoil is often one of the biggest fears for youth when it comes to shooting guns, which is why a 20-gauge will be their best friend.

Whether you opt for a trusty 12-gauge or lighter 20-gauge, be sure to consider the chamber size before you purchase. Turkeys are in fact a big and tough bird…just ask any experienced turkey hunter and they are sure to have a story of a longbeard they rolled only to watch get up and fly out sight, leaving the hunter in a moment of disbelief. Don’t be that guy. While you can certainly kill birds with 2 ¾ – inch shells, it’s advised to have a shotgun that can tote a 3-inch or even a 3 ½ – inch shell.  Again, improvements in turkey specific ammo such as the Winchester LongBeard XR and Federal 3rd Degree have made the smaller 3-inch shell size more capable than ever. With larger cartridge sizes, it’s not to go without saying, the larger the shell, the more recoil – an important consideration especially when it comes to youth hunters.

What is the Ideal Barrel Length for Turkey Hunting?

Shorter barrels have become the general norm for turkey guns because they are more maneuverable and lighter to carry.  Choosing a turkey gun with a barrel length between 21 – 26 inches will suit you well.  The shorter barrel length of a turkey gun makes it easier to use in a blind and is ideal for both adult and youth hunters.

What is the Best Action Type for Turkey Hunting?

First, we’ll look at the semi-auto shotgun.  A semi-auto will allow you to get off a second shot quicker than a pump, but there is an increased likelihood of experiencing a jam. A good semi-auto will often times double as a great waterfowl gun, however, you’ll pay significantly more for a semi-auto.  Semi-autos also have less recoil and they eliminate the need to physically load another shell.

Now, on to the pump action shotgun.  Here you’ll find perhaps the most popular do-everything shotgun of all time, the Remington Model 870 Express.  Pump action guns are extremely reliable and durable with proper maintenance. They often come with an attractive price tag and are simpler to use.  With a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to cycle through rounds nearly as fast as a semi-auto.  In the end, turkeys are made to be taken with one shot, after that you’re just sending prayers down range.

Should I Get a Turkey Choke?

If you’re setting your gun up to be a dynamic turkey killing machine, you’ll definitely want to equip it with a turkey choke.  A turkey choke is basically an extra-full choke that will hold a tighter pattern at further distances, thus increasing your effective range. Turkey chokes aren’t always a one size fits all type of accessory and they often require testing multiple chokes with different turkey loads to hone in on the best combination for your specific gun. Taking the time to experiment and pattern your shotgun before the season is the only way to ensure your shotgun will be shooting a perfect pattern when that longbeard steps into range.

Best Turkey Hunting Shotguns

Now that we’ve cruised through the meat of considerations to account for when choosing a turkey hunting specific shotgun, here are a few specific shotguns that will serve you well in the woods this season.

Remington 870 Express

The Remington 870 Express has been a time-tested legend in the turkey hunting woods. Perhaps the most popular shotgun of its time, Remington has kicked it up a notch with The 870 Express Super Magnum Turkey/Waterfowl model. The dual-purpose bird slayer cycles 2 3/4″, 3″ and 3 1/2″ 12-gauge rounds interchangeably and features full Mossy Oak Bottomland camo coverage that blends into everything. The 26″ barrel with HiViz fiber-optics sights makes it ideal for virtually every turkey hunting or waterfowl situation. Best of all, you can get the 870 Express chambered in 12-gauge or 20-gauge.

Benelli M2 Turkey

If you’re looking for a higher end shotgun to withstand the torments of belly crawling through the brush as you creep closer to that gobbler, look no further than the Benelli M2. The M2 Field shotgun is light, ruggedly built, and fast handling. It is the backbone of the Benelli semi-auto line that cycles everything from target loads to the heaviest 3-inch magnums. The ComforTech™ recoil-reduction system with gel recoil and combo pads dampens recoil by up to 48% and significantly decreases muzzle jump. The Benelli M2 is also available in 12 and 20-gauge models.

Browning BPS

When you combine the proven reliability of the most revered, top end pump shotgun ever with the extremely sophisticated and durable Hi-Vis 4-in-1 sights, you have a turkey smashing machine. It helps to have the time-tested Browning EXTRA FULL SPECIAL choke tube to put a tight, consistent pattern exactly where it needs to be.

Mossberg 535

The Mossberg® 535 Turkey Pump-Action Shotgun is specifically designed for serious turkey hunting. The 535 cycles and shoots 2-3/4″, 3″, and 3-1/2″ shells flawlessly. The 535 turkey gun comes with front and rear adjustable fiber optic sights that put you on target quickly, even in the deep woods. An XX-Full choke tube shoots tight patterns to knock toms down at maximum shotgun range. The buttstock, forend, receiver, and barrel are all finished in Mossy Oak® Obsession™ camo, designed specifically for spring turkey hunting. Mossberg’s 535 Turkey Pump-Action Shotgun delivers heavy magnum loads of shot at long range, cycles smoothly for quick follow-up shots, and blends into the turkey woods naturally. It’s everything you need to consistently bring big toms home year after year.

Wrap Up

Hopefully, this list of important turkey gun features has given you a reason to go out and buy another gun.  If not, hopefully, you’ve already got one.  In the end, buying the right gun ultimately comes down to personal preference.  Be sure to handle and shoulder as many different makes and models as you can to find one that fits you properly.  Also, spend plenty of time on the range experimenting with different types of ammo at different distances, as these two factors will significantly impact results.

Gun Accessories for Turkey Season | Fully Loaded Turkey Shotgun

Turkey Shotgun Accessories to Get You through the Season

Plenty of gobblers have been taken over the years looking down the bead of an old wooden stock pump action 12-gauge shotgun. There is nothing wrong with that and many hunters today still bag a bird each spring with nothing more than a standard Remington 870 or Mossberg 500. Others rely on a turkey specific gun for spring gobbler season that is completely loaded with gun accessories to increase your advantage as that turkey makes his way into range. No matter which turkey hunter you are, you can take advantage of accessories for shotguns that can be added to your trusted all-season gun or go all in with a shotgun that is specifically designed to help you land more birds throughout the season.

Gun Accessories for Your All-Purpose Shotgun

Most turkey hunters cringe at the thought of buying a dedicated gun to hunt turkeys for a few days each year. If you are like most hunters that walk the woods each spring, you can’t afford a species specific gun when you already have a perfectly good shotgun capable of harvesting a bird with the right gun accessories.

All-purpose shotguns like the Remington 870s and Mossberg 500s have taken countless game from squirrels to ducks and yes, many turkeys throughout the years. These old pump turkey shotguns are deadly in their own right but by adding a few accessories for shotguns like these, they can easily turn into high preforming turkey guns. After the season ends, the added 12-gauge turkey shotgun accessories can simply be removed returning your gun back to its all-purpose glory.

Choke Tubes 

Choke tubes matter when it comes to accessories for shotguns, especially when trying to reach out and touch birds at a distance. A tight pattern will increase your ability to land the majority of your shot in the kill zone. Decide on how far you are comfortable shooting at a bird and choose a choke tube to reflect that distance. Chokes that are .600 and tighter controls your shot pattern out further than chokes that are .500 and less, which are designed for shorter distances. For the basic turkey hunter, a full or extra full choke will perform well out to 30 yards. Switch over to a turkey-specific choke tube for tighter patterns at longer distances. Test multiple chokes with different shells as much as possible until the shot pattern matches your planned shooting distance. Include the right turkey choke tube as one of your first shotgun accessories to your all-purpose shotgun.

Slings 

Whether you are hunting turkeys from a blind or on the ground, you have to get to your spot with your gun. Shotguns are heavy. A good sling is a required accessory for shotguns. Rubber based slings keep your gun shouldered no matter your movements or weather conditions. Quick detach slings are ideal gun accessories for shotguns because they allow you to quickly remove the sling while setting up. Turkeys can pick out even the slightest movement. Having your sling on your gun while trying to position for a shot risks getting it caught on nearby brush or swinging back and forth as you move to make the shot, ultimately getting you busted by the approaching gobbler.

Sights 

Turkey hunting or not, one of your gun accessories should be a set of fiber optic sights. Fiber optic front and back sights quickly align on a bird or anything else you may be hunting. Choose a more turkey specific sight if you are fine with switching it out after the season and re-sighting in your gun. Gun supplies and accessories like sights come in various styles and options so choose the one that is comfortable with your eyes shooting.

Camo 

Movement is your worse enemy while working a bird, but you don’t always have to move to be spotted by an incoming gobbler. More than likely your all-purpose turkey shotgun doesn’t feature factor standard camouflage as one of its gun accessories. Conceal your black synthetic or wood clad shotgun with a quick wrap of camo tape to blend your gun into the surrounding environment. Choose a tape that won’t leave any sticky residues that can lead to fouling on your barrel.

Go All in with a Fully Loaded Shotgun  

Modern turkey shotguns come fully loaded and are designed for one purpose and one purpose only ̶ to shoot turkeys. Accessories for shotguns that you would normally have to add to your all-purpose gun are standard on turkey guns. These shotguns are drilled and tapped for scope mounts, come with pre-installed fiber optic sights and are completely camouflaged for maximum concealment in the woods.

Full loaded turkey shotgun gun accessories | Whittaker Guns

Optics 

Unlike traditional beads or fiber optic sights, enhanced optics give you more field of view and better shot placement on a gobbler. The two choices for turkey gun accessories for shotguns like optics are red dot sights and a full shotgun scope. Red dot sights fall somewhere between the classic bead and a full shotgun scope. These optics increase your ability to speed target birds with fast sight recognition and are effective out to mid-ranges. Scopes allow for full field of view without blocking the lower portion of a bird as you line up to take a shot. The added magnification is distinctly brighter and clearer than sighting through a red dot lens. However, hybrid red dot optics are combining the benefits of a traditional red dot sight with the addition of magnification in a scope tube to give you the maximum optic advantage and is quickly becoming one of the more popular 12-gauge shotgun accessories.

Stocks 

Gun stocks in turkey shotguns vary from thumbhole, standard and pistol grip options. Make sure the stock choice works well when the gun is shouldered and is comfortable enough to hold shouldered for long periods of time. Pistol grip stocks are popular on new turkey guns because they provide a more natural hold position while waiting for a shot on a closing bird. Even if your chosen turkey gun comes with a standard stock, replacement shotgun stocks like thumbhole and pistol grip stocks are readily available and easy to change if so desired.

Turkey Loads 

You can’t kill one if you don’t shoot. Well you can’t shoot unless you have a shell. Turkey loads have evolved into high performance ammunition with technology that rivals most other gun supplies and accessories. Shells like the Winchester Long Beard XR and the Hevishot Magnum Blend offer high velocity and pattern technology that just can’t be achieved from standard shotgun loads. These innovative loads are designed specifically for turkey guns. The key is to pick a shotgun shell that shoots well out of your gun. Find a choke and shell combination that pattern at various distances from 10 to 50 yards. Pattern a few different brands and carry the ones that give you the best pattern.

Full loaded turkey shotgun gun accessories | Whittaker Guns

Just because you are not touting a new turkey shotgun doesn’t mean you can’t add gun accessories to improve your chances in spring gobbler season. Accessories for shotguns can take your all-purpose gun to turkey level performance or go all in with a fully loaded turkey shotgun that is specifically designed to help you put more gobblers on the ground.