Turkey hunting in the U.S.A. is rapidly becoming a national favorite past-time sport and of course the gun of choice is the shotgun. Shot, choke and patterning a shotgun is absolutely critical for turkey hunting and for tight patterns good optics or sights are a must. With that said lets get on to what makes a great shotgun for turkey hunting. Turkey Shotgun, Camouflage:
There is nothing that will put a turkey to flight faster than a flash of light from a bright polished shotgun. Camo is an absolute must for your turkey hunting shotgun, there are two ways of doing this, either buy a shotgun already factory camouflaged or you’ll have to do this yourself.
Buy camo paint and paint your shotgun, buy a camo sock for your shotgun or use camo tape. Any of the above will work fine.
Turkey Shotgun, Gauge:
The 20 gauge with a 3 inch chamber is the smallest gauge that should be used with a limit of 30 yards due to small shot pay-load of 1 1/4 ounce of shot which is plenty with high velocity #6 lead shot. The 12 gauge is like the gold standard for turkey shotguns with chamber lengths of 2 3/4 inch, 3 inch and 3 1/2 inch.
The gauge and chamber length are the regulating factors here for shot-load sizes up to 2 1/4 ounce of turkey pattern filling larger #4 lead shot.
The 16 gauge will work as well as the 10 gauge, they are just not as popular as the 12 gauge. Most turkey shotgun manufacturers favor 20 gauge and 12 gauge shotguns for their turkey shotgun manufacturing
Turkey Shotgun, Barrel Length:
The turkey hunters best chance of shotgun maneuverability comes with a much shorter barrel for the shotgun because of obstructions that may be in front of you when turkey hunting, from a ground blind natural or otherwise. Shorter barrels from 22 inches to 26 inches in length work best without sacrificing velocity loss of the shot.
Turkey Shotgun, Barrel Choke:
This is probably the most mis-understood part of a turkey shotgun and that is choke selection with a lot of focus placed on after-market super small, constricted choke tube diameters. Most good turkey hunters will call in birds close and the correct choke for short range turkey hunting is a modified choke.
The full choke shotgun for turkey hunting is probably the most popular as it has range out to about 35 yards. Shotguns that have a fixed choke or choke tube of modified or tighter are good choices for turkey hunting.
Turkey Shotgun, Action Type:
The pump action or slide action is the most popular action type for turkey hunting shotguns as it offers 2nd and 3rd fast follow up shots if and when needed. The Remington Model 870 pump action shotgun is by far the most popular of pump action shotguns.
Single shot shotguns, double barrel shotguns and semi-auto shotguns are all good choices for turkey shotguns. Action types are more of a personal preference for turkey hunters as all turkey hunters are looking for, is the one good head and neck shot.
Turkey Shotgun, Slings:
Because of where a turkey may be located sometimes a long trek through the woods is going to happen. In these situations one of the most desirable features on a turkey shotgun is a good sling by which to carry it to various locations when turkey hunting.
Turkey Shotgun, Safeties:
This is one of those little features on a turkey shotgun that gets little attention until that one shot presents itself and you have a hard time getting the safety of or a loud audible click happens and the next thing is; mister long-beard turkey is in flight.
Turkey Shotgun, Sights:
Fiber optic sights have just about made standard gold or white bead sights on turkey hunting shotguns obsolete. The TruGlo extreme light gathering fiber optic sighting system started the trend. Early morning low light or middle of the afternoon bright light, these sights work extremely well for turkey hunting.
Today many turkey hunters are topping their shotgun hunting rigs with high quality shotgun scopes. The reasons are simple, you don’t have to worry about blotting out a turkey’s head and or neck with a front sight or bead, you can quickly identify a big gobbler with a long beard and you have pin point accuracy for extremely tight shot patterns that are accomplished with modern turkey shotgun choke tubes.