As winter loosens its grip, hunters begin to have visions of red, white and blue heads, puffed up feathers and distant gobbles. In other words, hunters start dreaming about turkey season.
Shotguns are an integral part of turkey hunting, so when deciding what shotgun to use, turkey hunters must consider the gun’s weight, length, gauge, chamber, follow-up shot speed and cost.
Today’s shotguns come in multi-purpose configurations as well as specialty models designed for deer, upland game, waterfowl and wild turkeys. Pump-action shotguns are typically lighter and less expensive than semi-autos, but most hunters can fire faster follow-up shots with a semi-auto.
Wild turkey models often have pistol grips, shorter barrel lengths for manipulating through woods and fiber-optic sights for better aiming at a turkey’s head. Some are even drilled and tapped for mounting optics. Many turkey specific shotguns are built to reduce the felt recoil of heavy turkey loads, and come in camouflage or matte finishes to trick turkeys’ keen eyesight.
While every turkey hunter has different needs in a shotgun, over the years a few models have become tried-and-true turkey whackers. So if you’re just getting into turkey hunting, or if you’re looking for something new, here are a few models with which you just can’t go wrong.
Remington 870 Since its introduction in 1950, the Remington 870 has been one of the go-to guns for shotgunners. Its lightweight, affordability and reliability has made it one of the most popular shotguns on the market. Today, the 870 is available in both 12 and 20 gauges, with wood, synthetic or even camouflage stocks, with or without thumbhole grip and in a variety of barrel lengths with either 3- or 3 1/2-inch chambers.
Mossberg 935 The 935 is Mossberg’s 3 1/2-inch, 12-gauge semi-auto version of its rock solid pump-action 835. The Mossberg 935 comes with adjustable fiber-optic sights, an overbored barrel, ambidextrous safety, quick empty magazine button and a drilled and tapped receiver for mounting a scope. Its new self-regulating gas system reduces recoil allowing hunters to use hard-hitting 3- and 3 1/2-inch shells. It’s also available in a variety of high-definition camouflage patterns for staying hidden when it counts.
Benelli Nova Pump When Benelli introduced its Nova Pump, it improved on a great concept by incorporating a polymer stock and lightweight receiver for strength and weather resistance. However, it’s the little things that make this shotgun a pleasure to hold and shoot, such as grooves on the pistol grip and fore-end instead of checkering to improve purchase and handling, even in inclement weather. Also, the dual-action bars and rotary head locking lugs allow the Nova to handle all chamberings up to 3 1/2-inch Magnum loads for turkey and waterfowl. The Nova is available in 12 and 20 gauge with a variety of barrel lengths in black or Realtree camouflage.
Gauge – 12 Chamber – 3 1/2” Barrel length – 24” Overall length – 45.5” Weight – 7.8 lbs. MSRP - $499 Winchester Super X3 Winchester’s Super X3 provides reliability, reduced recoil and fast follow-up shots with its gas-operated Active Valve System. Its Dura-Touch Armor coating provides protection from cold and wet weather, and it comes with an adjustable length of pull and is back-bored to for consistent patterns. The Super X3 comes in a variety of barrel lengths and styles, including one designed especially for turkey hunting with a 24-inch barrel and camouflage stock.
H&R Pardner Pump Turkey Built as a reliable, affordable shotgun, the H&R Pardner Pump Turkey shotgun is a good entry firearm for budget-minded hunters. The Pardner Pump is available in specialty configurations such as the Field Gun, Cantilever Slug Gun and Turkey, which comes with a 22-inch ventilated-rib barrel, camouflage stock and forearm, Tru-Glo sights and screw-in chokes chambered in 3-inch Magnum 12 gauge.