Shotguns have gone through drastic changes over the last several decades, but some older models are as good today as they were many years ago.
Ask anybody that has hunted for multiple decades and they will tell you that both turkey hunting and firearms have come a long way. Today, turkey hunting popularity is at an all time high and the debates over gear and techniques are numerous.
If you wanted to cycle through a new gun-choke-shell combination every time you traveled to a new state, you would probably make several road trips through all 50 of them before exhausting them all.
There are some awesome new turkey guns on the market today and they all serve their purpose wonderfully, but some hunters like a gun that is tried and true. They prefer a gun that killed turkeys before the production of special turkey hunting chokes and optimized turkey hunting loads. I'm talking about the kind of gun that has stood the test of time and will kill just as many turkeys today as it did then.
More than likely, your grandpa didn't have a different shotgun for every type of hunting. Bird, squirrel, and turkey hunting were all performed with just one gun. And one gun was all that was needed.
Take a look at this list of classic turkey hunting shotguns that are still good today.
Arguably the epitome of quality, do-it-all pump shotguns, the Remington 870 deserves to be on this list. It was actually responsible for the decline of other models mentioned later in this list. The gun has been in production for over 50 years and is still being produced today. Known for its adaptability and reliability, the Remington 870 has been a top choice of older generation turkey hunters and new generation turkey hunters alike. I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of turkey hunters had an 870 in their gun safe.
Remington Model 1100
Remington is known for producing good quality, versatile shotguns. While the Remington 870 might hail as the most popular shotgun of all time, the Remington Model 1100 is a popular choice for the automatic shotgun hunter. In production for over 40 years and counting, this model has definitely been responsible for the death of many gobblers. When using automatic shotguns for turkey hunting became popular, you better believe the Model 1100 was leading the pack.
Very few shotguns can match the beauty or mystique of the Browning A5. Designed over 100 years ago, the Browning A5 was the first mass produced automatic shotgun. While becoming popular as an upland bird hunting gun, the A5 also made a good turkey gun for the hunters of the '70s and '80s. It is hard to imagine a prettier gun strapped to the back of old school turkey hunters. The Browning A5 has been reintroduced to the Browning shotgun lineup in recent years and is still available for purchase.
Winchester Model 12
Rounding out the list is the Winchester Model 12. Introduced over 100 years ago, the Model 12 gained popularity in the first half of the century by outdoorsmen pursuing all types of game. This gun was known for its hardiness, and when you turkey hunt rough terrain, your gun can definitely take a beating. The gun was discontinued in the latter half of the century but was still a common sight in hunters' gun cabinets. Now Model 12s are in the hands of collectors or guys whose grandfather passed it down to them.
As good now as they ever were
Just like your grandpa would have carried it through the woods, many of the previously mentioned shotguns still sling on the shoulders of turkey hunters today.
Yes, production and innovation has changed some of the models over the years, but they still hold the same reliability and shootability as their original counterparts. If you ever get your hands on the model that your grandpa would have carried, take it to the turkey woods with you. Odds are you will realize that it's as good a tool today as it was then.
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