There is no best turkey hunting shotgun out there, but there is a best or an ideal one for you. In fact, there are probably many. But to choose a good one, you need to know what elements make a good turkey gun and how your personal hunting style and preferences impact the features that would help you most. On this episode I talk through several big points to help you select the right turkey hunting shotgun for you. Tetra Hearing protection – Get 10% off with the code: NHG2410

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There are several factors to consider in order to find the best turkey hunting shotgun, including:

Size – A shorter barrel is often desirable for turkey hunting, but this is not an automatic characteristic, how you hunt will determine the best barrel length for you. If you hunt short range birds in very thick woods, then an 18″ barrel may be best for you. If you hunt wide fields from the edge of cover then you may prefer a longer 28″ barrel to slightly velocity, sighting, and pattern.

Weight – For those hunting in a blind, shotgun weight may not matter at all, but if you are running and gunning, you may want a lighter gun. Likewise, your body size plays an important role in determining how heavy of a gun you can comfortably carry.  To get a lighter gun, you will need to consider a 20 gauge or smaller shotgun. However, sub gauges come with other various tradeoffs.

Recoil – For some, recoil is no object. For most, recoil matters, and to those who are recoil sensitive, it matters a lot. I recommend against getting a sub gauge shotgun to reduce recoil. The lighter the gun the more pronounced the felt recoil is to the shooter. I have shot magnum .410s that hurt my shoulder more than 12-gauge loads.  The best way to reduce recoil for those who are recoil sensitive is to maintain gun weight while reducing the shotgun shell’s potency. A 12-gauge loaded with 1 oz of TSS at 1150 FPS will have less recoil than a target load and much less recoil than a 28 gauge with the same load because of the weight. 

Action – For turkey hunting, action matters perhaps least of all because it is generally a one-shot sport. A single shot, pump action, semi auto, over under, or even bolt action shotgun will all work fine. What is best for you depends on your preferences and style, and perhaps budget. A semi-auto will reduce felt recoil a little which may make it more desirable to some but ultimately there is no best action, just what serves you best.

Gauge – It is very popular to hunt with sub gauges today, and that is fine, if it is the right option for you. Modern TSS ammo makes sub gauges very viable. There are 20 gauge loads today that are better than the 12 gauge loads of yesterday. Those two can be used almost interchangeably. Going smaller than that will likely begin to limit your range which may or may not matter depending on how you hunt. A .410 turkey gun is viable with TSS but you have more range potential with a 12 or 20 gauge.

Listen to the whole episode to hear more about how to choose the best turkey hunting shotgun for you.