Turkey season is right around the corner. Although you don’t have to have a shotgun that is dedicated to turkey hunting there are a few options that will help. When I am looking for a turkey gun I have a set of requirements. These are just my opinion on them and we know what they say about opinions! Here are the things I look for:
- 12 gauge 3” or 3.5”
- barrel length 24”or 26” for maneuverability
- Cammo or Matte finish
- Easy to mount an optic or rifle style sight
The 12 gauge should be self explanatory. Unless this is for a youth, a 12 is the way to go. I prefer a 3” shell to the 3.5”. I do not feel the longer shell and extra shot outweigh the cost of the ammo and the added recoil. Also, the shot tends to be moving a bit slower due to the added weight.
Turkeys have great eyesight, they see a lot better than we can. Cammo for the hunter is a must for hunting turkeys. I don’t think it is a must for your shotgun, but it can’t hurt. At the very least you want one that is not going to shine and sparkle in the sun like vampires in tween movies.
I prefer an optic or rifle sights on a turkey shotgun. These guns with the proper chokes are capable of taking a turkey out to 40 yards or a bit more. The head on a turkey is small and the bead found on typical shotguns really doesn’t cut it. We want a bit more precision here.
Here are 5 solid scatter guns that will do the job if you do your part. Some of the MSRPs will be over $500 but the street price is typically well under that.
This one even has Turkey in the name! Mossberg makes two models of this gun, one with an adjustable trigger and one without. They come with a 24” ribbed barrel and are finished in Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity. Mossberg outfits these with adjustable fiber optic rifle style sights and they come with an extra full choke already installed. You can get different stock options if you are a fan of the thumb hole stock or an adjustable one similar to an AR. The MSRP is $496 and $538 for the adjustable trigger model.
Winchester calls this “a shotgun that points like a rifle.” I shot one of these on range day at SHOT Show this year, and it does feel and point like a rifle. That is a good thing when talking about turkey guns. Winchester has these outfitted with adjustable fiber-optic sights and they are drilled and tapped for optics. The Turkey Hunter comes dressed in Mossy Oak Break-Up Country camo. The 12 gauge is chambered for 3.5” shells or shorter and has a 24” barrel. The MSRP is $519.
This is a turkey gun that is made in Turkey. With that logic you can’t go wrong! I reviewed a Tristar Raptor a couple of months ago and was rather impressed with the quality of shotgun you get for the price. This is the only semi-auto on this list to stay under our $500 limit. If the quality of the one I reviewed is the same across the Raptor line, this is a bargain. I will admit it is pretty damn ugly though. Hopefully not too ugly to scare away turkeys. Or maybe it will ugly them to death. The Raptor Turkey has a 24” barrel, 3” 12 gauge chamber and has a Mossy Oak Break-Up stock and forend. It also has a pistol grip, picatinny rail and adjustable sights. The MSRP is $489.
This is not a shotgun that is marketed by Benelli to be used as a turkey gun. But we can pick a Nova that will fit our needs for under the $500 mark. If you have not worked the action on a Nova you should give one a shuck the next time you are in a store that has one. These are nice, smooth pump actions that are known for being strong and reliable. All of the 12 gauge Novas are chambered for 3.5” shells. The MSRP on the black synthetic is $449 and Real Tree camo is available for about $100 more. These will need the addition of a rail to get us the optics for busting turkey heads. There are a number of aftermarket options for this that are well under $100 bucks.
It is hard to beat the reliability of a single shot break open shotgun and the H&R is no exception. And what if you want something bigger than 12 gauge? The Pardner is available in 10 gauge if your shoulder is up to the challenge. The stock on the Turkey Pardner has a wood stock that is covered in a camo pattern and comes with a sling. They come with a bead front sight but are drilled and taps for bases. The best part is the price. A new H&R Pardner Turkey Gun can be had for right around $300.
So there are 5 solid turkey guns that will not break the bank. Yes, I know I left some version of the venerable Remington 870 off the list. Maybe that was blasphemy. What are your thoughts?