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Shotgun Review: Mossberg 535 Turkey Thug 12-GA Pump Action

Hear what contributor Brian Belko had to say in his shotgun review of the Mossberg 535 Turkey Thug.

The Mossberg name is usually associated with well-built, functional, and reliable shotguns, and that association holds true with the Turkey Thug line of pump-action shotguns.

Designed specifically with the turkey hunter in mind, this impressive line of shotguns provide the user with a light-weight, high-performance gun that is sure to become a spring woods favorite for years to come.

Weighing in at a very manageable 6.75 pounds, the 535 version of the Turkey Thug shotgun line is finished in Mossy Oak Break-up Infinity camouflage. It also features Mossberg’s Lightning Pump Action (LPA) trigger. This trigger, similarly to the Accu-Trigger from Savage Arms, is user adjustable while also being creep free. This feature gives the Turkey Thug a very rifle-like trigger which will be appreciated by many hunters in the field.

Mossberg 535 Turkey Thug- Pistol Grip

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In the now common tradition of integrating tactical features into hunting guns, this offering by Mossberg also features a pistol grip and a top-mounted Picatinny rail. The pistol grip allows the user to maintain more control over the gun while firing the hard kicking loads usually associated with turkey ammunition.

In another boon to turkey hunters, the pistol grip also allows for one hand to work a call while the other easily supports the shotgun in the ready to fire position.

I found the included adjustable, fiber-optic sights to be more than adequate for accurate shooting. However, the included rail for mounting optics would easily allow the addition of a low power scope or red-dot sight. That decision really comes down to personal preference and does not impact the versatility of the gun at all.

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The Mossberg 535 Turkey Thug is an admirable performer in the field. Designed to fire factory loaded shells ranging from 2-3/4” to 3-1/2” and even rifled slugs, this gun will take turkeys out from up to 40 yards reliably without breaking a sweat. In my test firings of this gun, I ran both 3-1/2” Federal Ammunition Strut-Shok Turkey Loads and 3” Federal Premium Mag-Shok Lead Turkey Loads with the Flitecontrol Wad.

Both loads threw excellent patterns out to my test firing ranges of 15, 30 and 40 yards. The included Accu-Choke tube is great for turkey hunting at several ranges. Thrown patterns were a little tight at the shorter ranges with the Flitecontrol ammunition, but certainly still capable of taking a bird with proper shot placement. As with any gun, you should try out several types of ammunition before deciding on what works best for you. It is also important to ensure you are comfortable firing the weapon before taking it afield.

Recoil on the 535 Turkey Thug is stout, but made to be manageable through the high-quality recoil pad as well as the ported 20” barrel and the pistol grip. The lack of weight is not a huge issue in this area.

Mossberg 535 Turkey Thug- Butt Stock

If I had one major complaint about this weapon, it would be the safety. Located at the rear of the gun behind the rail, it requires substantial movement to reach. It is also a little louder than I would have liked with an audible click when activated. Both of those things could blow the perfect stalk on a turkey. While this is a small complaint, I would have preferred the safety to be quieter and located on the side of the weapon, especially on a gun built with turkey hunting in mind.

All in all, the Mossberg 535 Turkey Thug 12-GA Pump-Action shotgun is a very high quality weapon for turkey hunting. It has most of the features that turkey hunters would want in their new gun and is also very versatile. This gun would have no problem transitioning into a very good coyote hunting weapon during predator season. That is especially true for those coyote hunters who hunt in the thicker brush common in the more northern states where shorter shots are normal.

Mossberg 535 Turkey Thug

With an MSRP of $656.00, this shotgun is also affordable. So if you are in the market for a new turkey gun for the upcoming spring season, you would be very well served to check out the Mossberg 535 Turkey Thug shotgun.

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Shotgun Review: Mossberg 535 Turkey Thug 12-GA Pump Action