Guns > Shotguns

2011’s Five Best Turkey Guns

Looking to put the hammer on a longbeard this turkey season? Check out these top performers.

2/25/2011

Thirty years ago, just about the only specially configured scatterguns you could find were the overpriced over/unders designed for wealthy hunters to knock a daily limit of quail from the sky. My first effort at modifying my shiny blued Remington 1100 into a turkey killer was taking a roll of camo tape and wrapping the gun more times than I could count.

In fact, it was Remington who first recognized the unique features a turkey hunter really needed in a shotgun and began incorporating camouflage finishes, shorter barrels and tighter choke constrictions. Other manufacturers were quick to follow with turkey hunter numbers growing by leaps and bounds in the 1990s. Today, nearly every major gunmaker has a specialized turkey shotgun or two, and features have expanded to include a variety of stock configurations, sighting and optic options, recoil dampening pads, operating systems and weatherized finishes for harsh elements.

Turkey hunter numbers have leveled off, but it’s good to know that gun manufacturers still recognize the value of creating even more refined gobbler getters, as this year’s crop of top models reveals.

Benelli Super Vinci
When Benelli introduced its In-Line Inertia Driven system and unique modular design in the Vinci two years ago, it delivered a radical departure from the way other shotguns cycled and were even assembled and disassembled. The Inertia Driven action, combined with strategically incorporated dampening pads atop and along the stock and butt of the gun, made the Vinci one of the softest kicking, if not the softest kicking, 12-gauge on the market. I was fortunate enough to get a first look at the shotgun during a hunt with Benelli, and later that year, in Florida, may have become the first person to ever shoot a turkey with one. When stories were compared, another hunter on the same trip said he pulled his trigger at approximately the same time I dropped my limbhanger. Besides the performance, the modularity of the Vinci amazed everyone on the hunt with the promise for some cool configurations in years to come. Benelli has delivered.

Benelli

Last year they rolled out their Vinci with the SteadyGrip pistol grip stock, and for 2011, they’ve gone back to the original configuration, but made it extremely capable of cycling turkey crushing 3 ½-inch loads. Now the softest kicking gun around also handles some of the most brutal loads to shoot, and the recoil sensitive hunter is the winner. Capable of handling everything from 3 ½ down to 2 ¾ loads, the Vinci is available with a 26- or a 28-inch barrel, boasts a stepped vent rib with a metal mid-bead and red bar front sight and tips the scales right at 7 pounds. Finishes include black synthetic, Realtree Max-4 and Realtree APG. Overall shotgun length is 48 ½ and 50 ½ depending on barrel length. ($1,649-$1,759)

Remington Versa Max
An innovator from its earliest days, Remington introduced its own top recoil managing model with the creation of the Versa Max, a gas-operated 12-gauge reported to reduce the felt recoil down to that of a 20. This classicly styled shotgun boasts beautiful lines and a narrow configuration, but with all the features a turkey hunter could ask for. Capable of handling everything from 3 ½- to 2 ¾-inch loads, the synthetic stock and fore-end boast overmolded grips for sure handling, and the oversized trigger guard and larger safety make it easier to use when wearing gloves.

Remington

The barrel and other operating components are nickel- and nickel Teflon-plated, respectively, for maximum corrosion resistance, and for the sportsman prone to not wiping down his firearm as he should, the action is virtually self-cleaning, tested to continuously cycle thousands of rounds without jamming. Available in Realtree HD Camo, the Versa Max comes with four chokes including an extended extra full choke for tightening up most of today’s top turkey loads. ($1,599)

Mossberg Turkey THUG Series
Known for delivering workhorse shotguns at a price a working man can still swing, Mossberg continues the tradition with its Turkey THUG Series of shotguns. Our favorite at first glance is the Turkey THUG Model 535 with the full-length synthetic pistol grip stock. Pistol grip stock designs came into vogue some years back courtesy of Benelli and Mossberg, and for the turkey hunter looking to ensure a solid aim and extended lockdown as a slow-to-come longbeard dances hesitantly into range, nothing works better. The pump-action offers ultra-reliable performance in a game where more often than not, one shot is all it takes, but occasionally more are required.

Mossberg

The Turkey THUG 535 features a 20-inch barrel, the option of adjustable fiber optic sights or a factory-mounted TRUGLO red-dot sight, a receiver-mounted Picatinny rail and the company’s Lightning Pump Action (LPA) user-adjustable, creep-free trigger system. It is available in Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity, a nod to the partnership Mossberg forged with the camo creator. Other guns in the series include a semi-auto Model 835 version and a pump-action Model 500. ($612/$671 with red-dot sight)

Winchester Super X3 NWTF
Somewhere along the line Winchester shotguns adopted a more high-end market position and migrated from the ranks of a bargain buy, but as a result of that transition, they are producing some darn fine performing shotguns. In fact, I was so impressed by a Super X3 that I had the opportunity to shoot for a story I was working on that I decided to buy it. Winchester introduced a new X3 configuration for 2011 called the Super X3 NWTF Extreme Turkey shotgun. A portion of the purchase price of each gun will go to support the NWTF’s wild turkey conservation efforts.

Winchester

The 12-gauge X3 is chambered to accommodate 3 ½-inch shells and features a 24-inch back-bored barrel and an Invector Plus extra-full extended turkey choke tube. The finish is in Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity, and for withstanding the elements, the stock and fore-end are coated in Dura-Touch Armor. An adjustable rear sight and TRUGLO fiber-optic front sight help in the rifle-like delivery of tight patterns at close range. The Super X3 NWTF Extreme Turkey is also available in a 3-inch, 20-gauge model as well, for $150 less than the bigger bore. ($1,559)

Browning NWTF Silver
Browning aficionados will love the NWTF Silver shotgun made specifically with the turkey hunter in mind. The gas-operated autoloader is available in 3-inch and 3 ½-inch chambered models, which are equally capable of cycling 2 ¾-inch shells. The aluminum alloy receiver boasts Browning’s semi-humpback design and the composite stock and forearm are Dura-Touch Armor coated. The entire gun is dipped in Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity.

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31 Responses to 2011’s Five Best Turkey Guns

Mike wrote:
March 03, 2014

Mossberg 835 Ulti-Mag factory choke 3' or 3 1/2' federal mag shok #6. I have a very consistant 150 pellets in a 12' circle. I have taken birds at ranged yardages of 60 and 64 yards. Many people talk up remingtons. I have found none that stack up if they have a factory turkey choke. I can buy a rhino choke and then I can start killing longbeards at 70 plus yards. This is the best shotgun that I have ever owned period. Use whatever works for you. Stop talking down on mossbergs though. I'm not saying it's happening here but, I hear it all the time. Good luck this season and God Bless!!!

Chris brown wrote:
April 20, 2013

Just bought the new browning A5 chambered in 3' and have no problems bagging beards. You don't need 3 1/2' if you can call them in closer. A good 3' magnum will drop them every time. Imo

George wrote:
January 25, 2013

I shoot a model1300 Winchester NWTF shotgun I bought when I was 14 I'm now 35. The shotguns these days are high dollar guns, however so is the price of everything else I have been reading the comments and haven't read any on the Winchester 1300. Wanted to know your opinion on this particular gun.

trey wrote:
October 23, 2012

I have a mossberg 500 youth and a mossberg 835 ultimag. The 500 was $250 and the 835 was $300. 835 will hold a tight group at 50 yds so why do you need a gun that is $1200 to do the same thing with just less recoil and a better look. I will always have mossbergs because of the 2 bb sights I absolutely love them, everybody should have one

jake wrote:
September 13, 2012

I bought the browning silver NWTF 3 years ago and I am far from a rich man. It is by far the best shotgun I have ever owned and the only new gun that I have ever purchased. The factory choke patterned great with the first load I shot through it.It is pricey , but in my opinion you get what you pay for and it is worth every cent.

Hunter wrote:
July 10, 2012

just bought a remington 870 with a 26" barrel.best shotgun i ever owned even though im only 16.but i have hunted since i was 8.shot many weapons.i have killed 2 bucks 6 doe and 4 gobblers.really great gun.hope it dont let me down.

Jake wrote:
June 09, 2012

I could never understand a 3.5" shoulder thumper 12 gauge when my Remington SP 10 has shot the same loads (or better) with it's gas system (little recoil)for years with truely impressive results. Long live the big 10!

RJE wrote:
April 20, 2012

I've had a Benelli Super Black Eagle for 7 years. Chambered for 31/2" and I've started feeling sorry for turkeys that are within 60 yds.

ROD wrote:
April 12, 2012

YOU CAN'T BEAT A REMINGTON AMERICAN MADE AND BEST PRICE GUN IS GREAT AS WELL I HAVE 6 OF THEM

sierra wrote:
April 08, 2012

I'm new at turkey hunting this is my first year and I am not sure what gun to get. I want a gun that will last and i'm not afraid of recoil if any one has any suggestions please comment thanks!

Jboyedmonds wrote:
April 02, 2012

Black matte 870 super mag, replaced the stock to a Remington Camo thumbhole, fiber optic sights, and a jellyhead... $425.00 birds down!!!!!

Kevin wrote:
March 29, 2012

Mossberg 835 ulti-mag 12 gauge with 3 _1/2 inch magnums does a nice job on the longbeards!

curspur wrote:
March 20, 2012

Bought an 835 mossberg used last year and, put an undertaker choke in it. Dropped one tom at 63 steps and, another at 45 steps. Total investment is 280 dollars! Kicks the crap out of you though!

tuck wrote:
February 28, 2012

Got so tired of killing birds with an out of the box 1993 Remington 870, that I just bought the Remington 870 SPS Synthetic Turkey Gun, simply because it's a little shorter...and prettier! Simply cannot beat that gun.

John Lancione wrote:
February 22, 2012

I have been looking for a steady grip pistol grip stock for my super vinci for about 6 months now and can not find one. does any one on here know where i could find one?

jking850 wrote:
February 13, 2012

I own an 870 Express. With the exception of 2 birds, its killed every gobbler I've shot at it with. I just wanna upgrade to a 3 1/2 as my Turkey gun is the ONLY reason I'm shopping for a new pump. If my current gun was 3 1/2 I'd buy a shorter barrel & call it a day. I hate Remington discontinued the Mossy Oak thumbhole #5189.

thebreeze wrote:
January 30, 2012

like a good friend use to say, if your'e worried bout the price, maybe you oughta be workin instead of huntin!

fv stern wrote:
January 29, 2012

rem 870 wingmaster hasting turkeybarrel with wad lock barrel rifle sights comp n choke 660 extra full a killing machine out to 60 yards comp n choke Charlie Boswell 888-875-7906 tell him what barrel you have he will make recommendion if it doesnt work out you can send back he send another one who does that today

Bradley long wrote:
January 22, 2012

I agree with all the other commits these guns are no where near affordable my best luck with a Turkey hunting shotgun is a 870 pump gun I've had it For 19 years and I recently got and new kicks choke for it I bought the gun new for 220 bucks payed 38.50$ for the choke at a pawn shop and I've killed 41 birds with that gun in the past 19 years now that's cheep Turkey gun guys

Tommy Mullins wrote:
October 21, 2011

I just purchased a new super vinci and wondering what choke tube works best with this gun for turkey hunting

kuffs wrote:
August 28, 2011

I ended up with the versamax! It was $1200! Not cheap but for me, worth it. I also use an 1187 cantilever for deer. Both of them cost me the same as what a binelli super Vinci would've cost. By the time you spend $400 on rifled barrel, it makes more sense to just buy another dedicated gun! Most of us have spent money on stupid things...does an extra few hundred dollars really matter when it comes to a hobby you love?

Roberts Defense wrote:
July 27, 2011

Have to understand they need to highlight the latest and greatest when they look at a catagory comparison. Just remember, there have been a lot of big toms taken with the standard Mossberg 535! Good value for their "no frills" synthetic at $450 (or under). If price is a concern.... get a reliable gun (even used), a good turkey choke and spend the extra couple of bucks on a the best turkey load you can afford. Good luck and shoot straight!

Tony wrote:
June 13, 2011

Those guns look really nice and I would love to own one but they are really $$$. Does anyone know if you can change from a turkey barrel to a deer (rifled) barrel or is that even a designer issue now.

Kevin wrote:
April 23, 2011

Agree with the last comment... Even the Mossberg is out of reach for most people trying to make it by these days. The history of hunting is with those who hunt to eat. With food prices on the rise few working people can afford a good meal for their family however with hunting one can easy put savory bird or venison steaks and chops on the table.

Saturday Sportsman wrote:
April 08, 2011

Everything is becoming only for the rich man these days.

CMC wrote:
March 20, 2011

PJ Perea, I saw where you wrote that you had a mossberg maverick. Are you refering to the Maverick O/U they make. I have been thinking about purchasing the gun but cant find any reviews on it..If this is what you are refering to, please let me know any thoughts good or bad you have about the gun!

Doug wrote:
March 10, 2011

Excellent, excellent points by all of you. In writing a piece like this, the tendency is to write about the newer guns that haven't been covered. I have to agree, I even find myself shaking my head at the cost of modern shotguns. They are exorbitant, though on this list, the Mossberg is still reasonable and a darn good gun when compared to a lot of the top shelf semi-autos. You want affordable, here are three newer guns I would recommend and a couple of older ones. If you still want a gun tailored for the turkey woods, the Mossberg Model 500 Turkey THUG model, a tricked out 500 pump, is only $409. The classic Remington Model 870 (which has probably killed more critters than any other model shotgun in modern history)can be had tricked out as the MODEL 870 EXPRESS® TURKEY CAMO for only $471. Want to go even cheaper, stroll into your local Wal-Mart and grab you a matte and wood stocked standard issue 870 for around $250 or even less. You can't buy new any cheaper than that. Screw a turkey choke in it and go kill a bird. Lastly, Stoeger, which is owned by the much more expensive, yet excellent Benelli brand, benefits from its relationship with the high-end gunmaker. The new Stoeger M3500 3½-inch, 12-gauge, semi-automatic, semi-auto now, not pump, can be purchased new in a matte finish for $628. Kick in another $50 and you can have camo on it. You can also get a base model Stoeger semi-auto in matte for downward of $500. And again, these guns are built using a lot of the same technology and know-how that makes Benelli what it is. I know several Stoeger owners and they all love their guns. Hope that helps for you guys looking for something more in the average working man's (or outdoor writer's, eh P.J.) budget--and you get basically another story here in the comments without suffering through all the extra words!!! Thanks again for chiming in guys. It's really appreciated.

P.J. Perea wrote:
March 09, 2011

I still use a $175 Mossberg Maverick and $150 (used) 870 Remington and slay tons of birds. The premium guns help pay the bills, support conservation (a heartfelt thanks) and I will admit they are fun to shoot, but I can't afford them. My best shot at owning a nice gun is buying a chance at an NWTF banquet. For the ones that can afford to shoot them, great! How about an article on affordable, but excellent turkey guns?

Dwayne Linkous wrote:
March 06, 2011

I have been turkey hunting for 20+ years, none of these high dollar guns are needed. There are several turkey specific guns that are half the price as these. Why did the writer choose the most expensive guns made by each company.

Mike Mallory wrote:
February 28, 2011

Those are all quality choices. I would love to own anyone of them. But the price point of these choices can be a problem. Having said that, I would put my H&R pump (nicely camouflaged with fiber optic sights)and my after- market "undertaker" choke up against any one of them at 40 to 50 yards. All for around $300. Just ask the birds on my wall!

TJB wrote:
February 28, 2011

How can a working man afford a $1500+ shotgun for turkey hunting? That bird weighs 20 lbs on a good day. I didn't spend that much money on my elk and bear rifle, meant to save my life in a pinch. I'll go with the Mossberg and be a very happy man! Hunting is sadly becoming a rich man's sport.