Spring is coming up – hard to believe after the long, frigid, and torturous winter we’ve had – and for most of us, that means pulling out the turkey hunting gear and getting ready to go after some thunder chickens.
As with any other hunting season, the preparations for turkey hunting time include sorting through your gear and making a list of what needs replacing or replenishing and what is ready to go for another year or two. If you find yourself wanting or needing a new turkey gun this year, you certainly aren’t alone, and you certainly have no shortage of options to choose from.
In fact, there are so many turkey guns out there that picking out the right one can be one of the most daunting tasks you’ll have to face all year. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of eight of our favorite turkey guns. From old staples to new marketplace additions, from budget guns to luxury splurges, from well-known brands to up-and-coming companies, we hope our list will cover all the bases.
Arguably the most legendary turkey shotgun of all time, the Remington 870 has stood the test of time since its 1950 introduction and is still arguably the best and most venerable turkey hunting gun on the market. Most statistics indicate that approximately 10 million of these bad boys have been manufactured over time, and while it’s a certainty that not all of them have survived until now, it’s also a certainty that countless turkeys also failed to survive thanks to this weapon. There are a variety of different factory modifications to this gun, many of them designed specifically for turkey hunting, and some of which – such as the youth version of the weapon – cut back on the weight in a manner that will be interesting to virtually any hunter. The “Turkey Camo” version of the gun is especially suited to the interests of this list and only costs a completely affordable $400.
If you’re on a tight budget for this spring’s turkey hunt, why not try out this affordable pump action turkey shotgun that Weatherby unleashed upon the market last year? It’s a beautifully made weapon – as you would have to expect from Weatherby at this point – and it balances lightweight portability with accuracy and power. For under $400, you will be wondering how this gun is even a reality in today’s inflated $1,000-or-over gun market.
Bearing the same attractive $399 price-tag as the Weatherby PA-08 – and also coming from an extremely revered firearm company – the Winchester Super X Pump Black Shadow is a turkey gun boiled down to its most basic essentials. The 26-inch 12-gauge barrel is beautiful in black matte finish (minus any vestige of glare) and the bored and threaded barrel lives up to Winchester guns and their ability to shoot in tight and accurate shotgun shell groups. We like the Black Shadow, but virtually any version of the Super X is worth having. In 2012, American Hunter rated the $600 Super X Pump Turkey Hunter as the best turkey gun of the year, a title we’d certainly be willing to get onboard with.
In general, we’d much rather have a gun with a non-glare matte black finish – like the Winchester Super X listed on the previous page – than a shotgun bedecked in the most gaudy camouflage imaginable. With that said, we have to hand it to the Mossberg 500 – with its 24-inch barrel, its adjustable trigger, its comfortable and well-made sights, and its just over $400 price tag – for making even a full leafy camouflage print job look attractive. The gun’s nickname of “Turkey Thug” says it all: this is a weapon built for taking down gobblers.
Like the Remington 870, the Browning A5 is a legendary piece of the turkey hunting history, and even though it was never specifically designed to be a turkey gun (like many of the other weapons on this list were), it’s certainly proven itself as a eradicator of gobblers over its century-long history.
Reintroduced to the market in 2012, the Browning A5 autoloader has since seen a resurgence in popularity among hunters who are not daunted by its hefty $1,400 price tag. You can find versions of the gun chambered for both 3-inch and 3.5-inch shells, but the real defining quality of the A5 is its supposed 100,000-round lifecycle. With longevity like that, ponying up a bit of extra cash shouldn’t bother you so much.
A turkey gun manufactured by a company based in Turkey? What could be more appropriate? The Escort Turkey Extreme, built by the gun company Hatsan, is nowhere near as well known among American shooters as the rest of the guns on this list.
However, all reports point to this gun being an imported treasure, with a bit of flexibility when it comes to taking on different shell sizes and compositions, as well as an attractive camouflage finish, a comfortable pistol grip, an easy sight-mounting system, a turkey-geared choke tube, and a high-quality gas-powered semi-automatic shooting system.
We’re unreasonably fond of the Ithaca Turkey Slayer, from its audacious, we-mean-business name to its ability to shoot with superior accuracy at considerably longer ranges than other turkey guns (with the right shooter pulling the trigger, of course). It’s also just a beautiful shotgun, whether you get it in its original brown and black design or go for the camouflage finish.
A rugged, durable, and beautiful piece of stainless steel and “high-tech polymer” construction, the Benelli Nova Pump Field Shotgun is consistently recognized as one of the best turkey hunting guns ever made. It continues to live up to that lofty title to this day, whether you go with the 12 gauge version or the 20 gauge incarnation.