Show Notes:

So much has been said and written about the best turkey hunting guns and shells that it can dizzy the head of anyone who hasn’t spent dozens of hours researching and experimenting.  On today’s episode I simplify things and focus in on the best shotguns and loads for beginners. You shouldn’t need a degree in turkey hunting firearms to get started with the sport, it’s a lot easier than most people make it sound.

Take Aways:

  • The best shotgun for turkey hunting is the one you can shoot the best. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 410 or a 10 gauge, what you are the most comfortable and most consistent with is the gun you should use.
  • The best place to start is with the shotgun you already have. Get into the woods and get some experience, that experience will guide you towards the shotgun that fits you best. Research cannot beat experience.
  • If you need to buy something, the best shotgun is a the most cost effective used one you can find. Again, get started, and get experience. If you can find something for $100, get that and get started.
  • Tried and true, cost effective, and mass produced pump shotguns are the Mossberg 500 and the Remington 870. You cannot go wrong with either.
  • If you want a semi-automatic, I recommend the Mossberg 930. It’s cheap, easy to operate, rugged, and I’ve had 100% reliability. And no, Mossberg is not a sponsor of this podcast. 
  • If you have a choice between a wood stock and synthetic stock, get the synthetic. It takes less maintenance, it is more rugged, and you won’t feel bad about scratching it. If you want a show gun or a target gun get wood. If you are a new hunter, plastic makes your life easier.
  • You want a full choke for any shotgun you get. Extra full, or extra extra full can be helpful but you don’t need them to get started. They only provide incremental benefit over a regular full choke anyway.
  • Ideal turkey hunting distance is 25-35 yards. Practice for that, get gear for that.
  • It is very easy to underestimate range, if you practice for 50 yard shots you are likely to take 70 yard shots where there is almost no chance for success.
  • Get a 12 gauge shotgun, between target loads and magnum loads you will find shells that are a good fit for you, whether you need light recoil or want high power.
  • You want #6, #7, or #8 shot.  Bigger shot (smaller numbers) means there are fewer pellets in each shell, which means you have fewer chances to hit a turkey’s vitals.
  • Regular, cheap, #7.5 target loads of 2 3/4″ is all you need. Some of the most seasoned turkey hunters on the planet shoot that. And at 35 yards, it’s great.
  • If you want to go bigger, then #6 express loads that are 3″ are the biggest, most powerful that you need.
  • Do not pay more than $1 per shell, you do not need anything more expensive to get started.
  • More powerful shells create more recoil and more noise which means most hunters do not shoot them as accurately, consistently, or enjoyably. The benefits they provide are not worth trade off.
  • You want a shotgun that you can shoot effectively and enjoyably, with affordable shells that use small shot, while hunting at reasonable distances. 
  • Now get into the woods!