For the avid outdoorsmen, the smell of budding foliage and the bright green vibrance that come with the spring mean one thing: turkey season is upon us. The itch to break their favorite turkey hunting vest is relentless. The obsessive nature of arranging the most effective collection of turkey calls distracts them to the extent of inhibiting everyday obligations. Spring gobbler season presents a passion as much as it does a disease, as it has the ability to alter the way a hunter approaches his or her life for months.
However, with such a deep reach into our very souls, turkey hunting presents high stakes, as a typically short season can lack a surplus of opportunities, meaning you could have one shot, if any. The only way to make the most of small window is by preparing the best approach, and equipping yourself with the best gear. And, no piece of hunting gear tips the scales of success more than your shotgun. Fortunately, however, if you choose the right one and properly take care of it, it should serve you for many years to come.
If you haven't bought a firearm for turkey hunting before, you might be wondering what you should be looking for, the following suggestions--in a variety of gauge and action options--will help you put a big bird in your freezer this spring!
Don't worry, today we have some suggestions on the best shotgun choices for turkey in a variety of gauges and action styles that are sure to put that gobbler in your freezer this spring.
Remington 870 Express
This pump-action shotgun is a solid choice for newer turkey hunters. It's one of the most versatile shotguns on the market right now, and has been for decades. Affordability paired with an undeniable legacy across the hunting and firearms industries makes the 870 one of the safest choices for a first shotgun (or a first gun overall). Remington offers it with either a traditional hardwood or synthetic stock. They also sometimes sell combo packs with both deer and turkey barrels for year-round use. The simplest version comes with a vent rib barrel topped with a simple single-bead front sight. Remington includes a modified choke. This gun is available in either 12 or 20 gauge depending on your preference. This gun can chamber both 2 3/4- and 3-inch shells, which gives you a little more versatility when you're at the sporting goods store buying turkey loads. The Remington 870 retails at $329.
This is another solid budget shotgun for just about any hunter. Like the Remington, Mossberg offers a combo pack with a smoothbore barrel for deer and a vented barrel for everything else. The one I've linked here is the Mossberg 500 Bantam which is covered in either Mossy Oak Break-Up Country or Obsession camouflage patters to help keep you hidden from the prying eyes of longbeards. The Mossberg 500 has a 3-inch chamber length, and depending on the model, barrel length varies between 22 and 33 inches. I own both the Remington and the Mossberg and can confirm that you can't go wrong with either for safety, ease of maintenance and reliability. Like the 870, the Mossberg is a great first shotgun for any new hunter starting at $473.
Winchester SX4 Semi-Automatic
If you're looking for a gun that is at home in the turkey woods as it is out on the marshes pursuing waterfowl, the Winchester SX4 is a solid choice. Many waterfowl hunters won't hit the swamps without a semi-automatic, but it's just as helpful if you have more than one gobbler tag to fill on a busy morning. This 12-gauge shotgun includes an Invector-Plus choke tube system and three different tubes with this gun. You can get this gun with either a 3- or a 3.5-inch chamber, expanding your options for shells to just about everything you could ever want to try. The stock sight is a TRUGLO fiber-optic front sight. The SX4 is praised by users for grouping well and for cycling reliably, which is an invaluable nod to an affordable semi-automatic that retails at $749.
If you're looking for a little hand stability from a pistol grip, this is one of the most affordable semi-automatic options on the market for you. Stoeger has made its name in producing affordable firearms that can hold up year after year, and they stayed true to their name with the M3500. This shotgun features fiber-optic sights, but is also pre-drilled and tapped for a weaver scope base for hunters who want to attach a red dot sight or other optic. A Mossy Oak Obsession camouflage finish covers all of the firearm except for the pistol grip. The Stoeger M3500 has a 24-inch barrel and can cycle 2 3/4-, 3- and even 3 ½-inch turkey loads with no problem, which is a nice feature for a shotgun that only retails at $700.
Benelli Performance Shop M2 Turkey Edition
This is a higher-end option for the serious turkey hunter who will settle for nothing less. The Benelli Performance Shop M2 Turkey Edition is fitted with a red dot sight straight out of the box, and comes with a Mossy Oak Bottomlands camo finish, as well as five different choke tubes. This gun is an autoloader that uses Benelli's inertia-driven operating system to reliably cycle every time. Benelli test-fires all of these firearms before ever shipping them off from the factory to ensure they will pattern well on wild turkeys. There is some adjustability here, too, with a gel comb cheek insert and a gel recoil pad to make this one of the smoothest shooting guns on the market. It's not cheap, at a sticker price of $2,599, but this is a shotgun that will last a lifetime.
Savage 212/220 Turkey Bolt-Action
The Savage 212/220 Turkey Bolt-Action features a shorter barrel and lower capacity than some of the other guns on this list, but Savage based its design on their ultra-reliable Model 110 series of rifles, which instantly makes it a winner among seasoned hunters. It already has an accessory rail installed for mounting an optic, and includes an extra full choke to install in the free-floating barrel. If you're looking for a gun with an adjustable trigger, this one is fitted with Savage's AccuTrigger system. As an additional bonus, this gun features an ambidextrous safety. The retail price starts at $629.99.
Savage 301 Single Shot
If you're just looking to get out into the woods on an ultra-tight budget, look no further than the Savage 301 Single Shot. This gun features a 3-inch chamber, and the 26-inch barrel comes fitted with an extra-full choke. This might be a good option for younger hunters who are looking for a little less recoil, as it's chambered in .410. Plus it's extremely light, thanks to a synthetic stock and forend that are finished with Mossy Oak Bottomlands. The barrel and receiver have a flat matte finish, which helps hunters stay concealed when the birds start moving. It comes fitted with a TRUGLO sight, but you can also mount a small optic on the removable accessory rail. The best thing about this gun is the price point. It's only $200, which makes it cheap and easy to get into turkey hunting this year.
The Franchi Affinity 3 is another semi-auto you can utilize for a variety of bird hunting situations beyond just turkey season. This gun utilizes an inertia-driven operating system and can cycle shells from 2 3/4 to 3 inches. The 28-inch barrel is fully vented and is topped with a fiber-optic sight. If you want to attach an optic, it's already pre-drilled and tapped. The synthetic stock and forend help to drop the weight of this gun to just 6.8 pounds. Franchi includes three different choke tubes with this gun to fit a variety of different hunting situations. The Affinity 3 retails at $899.99.
READ MORE: THE ULTIMATE TURKEY HUNTING GEAR CHECKLIST
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