How hunting a clunky, lumbering bird like the turkey can rival the hold-your-breath excitement of an elk hunt above timberline always amazes me. The most accomplished of big-game hunters is reduced to a quivering wreck when that tom shows up, strutting his stuff only yards away, just an errant finger flick away from gone.
And, I’m obviously not alone. This spring, millions like me will be hunkered down in the deep timber at first light, scratching a slate or rubbing a box call to open up a dialogue with the crafty devils.
Turkey hunting signals the official end of the long winter dry spell for hunters and these new goodies can make the 2010 season more successful.
Shotgun manufacturers continue to vanguard at least one turkey specific offering, usually a variant pulled from their top of the line options and set up for turkey.
But shotguns aren’t the only “new” thing for the turkey woods this spring. Here’s a look at the entire lineup of guns, loads and chokes for 2010.
BENELLI Take a state of the art shotgun like Benelli’s Super Black Eagle (SBE) and trick it out for turkey and you’ll have a stellar turkey option. The Benelli SBE II Turkey comes with a Steady Grip (pistol grip) buttstock, electronically (not drilled) ported 24-inch barrel with a Burris Fastfire II Red Dot scope.
Print outs supplied with each gun show point of impact and the number of pellets you can expect in a 10, 20 or 30 inch circle at different ranges. The Comfort Tech stock and recoil dampening inertia driven semi auto action make this one of the softest shooting rigs available.

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BROWNING Mossy Oak’s new “Infinity” camo pattern will change the look of Browning’s Silver semi auto, Gold lite-10-gauge, and BPS pump 10 and 12-gauge. Also new are Tru Glo front and rear sights on the Silver, Gold and BPS models. All will wear the non-slip Duro Touch finish. More cantilever scope mount choices would be welcomed by the red dot crowd – maybe next year.
ITHACA Shotgun accuracy is always enhanced when the barrel is fixed solidly to the receiver. Ithaca proved this with their revolutionary Deerslayer III slug gun, and has carried that concept further with the Turkeyslayer.
Matched with their Briley designed, ported extra full choke tube and finished in their proprietary “God’s Country” camo, the Turkeyslayer is setting new standards for long range, tight pattern performance.
We almost lost this great company, but they’re back and making waves in the shotgun world.
MOSSBERG The 500, 535 and 835 pump guns from Mossberg may be the most commonly found pump in the turkey timber, and their 930 auto loader is fast gaining ground on the other semi autos because of Mossberg’s proven value and reliability. But this year’s news from Mossberg is not about new guns–it’s about a new trigger found on all their proven pumps. Shotgun triggers are made to be slapped, a detriment to the slug and turkey shooter who needs crisp trigger accuracy. In a break from tradition, Mossberg has introduced the Lightning Pump Action, user adjustable trigger – a creep free, fully adjustable trigger that runs from three to seven pounds. You’ll find the new skeletonized blade trigger on the 500, 535 and 835 turkey and slug models along with cantilever optic mounts and tactical pistol grip stocks. The innovative trigger raises the accuracy bar for turkey guns.
REMINGTON Remington is betting on the fast rising popularity of predator hunting with their Model 870 SPS ShurShot Super Magnum Turkey & Predator gun in the pump arena and the 11-87 Sportsman’s Super Magnum turkey gun in the semi auto line. Both have the non-slip grip panels on the ShurShot stock and forend with the 870 in Mossy Oak “Obsession” and the 11-87 in Realtree “APG-HD”.
The 870’s receiver is drilled and tapped and comes with a Tru-Glo red dot scope, while the 11-87 sports fully adjustable Tru-Glo fiber optics. It’s worth noting that the 870 SPS has a short 20-inch barrel, sure to be welcomed by turkey and predator hunters alike.
WINCHESTER Winchester is highlighting their SX3 semi auto, upgraded for turkey in their NWTF Cantilever Xtreme Turkey model, chambered for 3 1/2-inch shells and finished in Mossy Oak’s new “Break Up’.
It comes with a TRUGLO Red Dot scope, and adjustable TRUGLO metallics. It has the Dura-Touch armor coating on the stock, and a trim 24-inch barrel making this a handy and lightweight choice.
A high brass load of lead #2s, #4s or even #6s has been putting turkey down for decades, and, under most conditions it still will. Conditions, however, have changed. More hunters than ever are out each spring and after the opening day’s action, birds get a bit warier, are less eager to come in, and tend to hang out a bit farther. Tungsten-based loads, first developed for waterfowl, have proven equally effective at anchoring turkey out to the 50-yard plus mark. They can be pricey, with a box of five selling for as much as a box of centerfire ammo, but in the one shot game of turkey hunting, cost is not a factor, especially if that load will anchor a 60-yard tom.
HEVI SHOT With heavier-density tungsten, smaller shot size delivers the energy and knockdown of larger lead, and smaller means more pellets in the pattern. Hevi Shot’s newest offering, Hevi 13 with 2 ounces of #7 shot in the 3-inch and 3 ½ ounces in the 3 ½-inch in 12-gauge, give hunters a full 33 percent pellet count increase over previous offerings. It’s available in both 12 and 20-gauge.
For the long range shooter, their Hevi 13 Magnum Blend is a mix of #5, #6 and #7 size pellets. The theory is the lighter pellets will pattern better at close range while the larger will carry best down range. Hevi Shot pioneered the tungsten shotshell, so it’s not surprising to see them break new ground with this “triplex” approach.
For the long range shooter, their Hevi 13 Magnum Blend is a mix of #5, #6 and #7 size pellets. The theory is the lighter pellets will pattern better at close range while the larger will carry best down range. Hevi Shot pioneered the tungsten shotshell, so it’s not surprising to see them break new ground with this “triplex” approach.
FEDERAL MAG SHOK Federal has taken the revolutionary rear opening “Flitecontrol” wad technology, first developed for waterfowl loads in 12-gauge and expanded the line to include two new turkey specific loads in 10 and 12-gauge.
These Mag Shock loads match the Flitecontrol wad with the ultra dense heavyweight tungsten #6 shot reaching speeds of 1,375 fps in the 10-gauge and 1100 fps in the 20-gauge, but be aware, these wads won’t work with ported chokes.
Flightcontrol wad in super slo-mo.
REMINGTON WINCHESTER HD Remington Winchester HD continues to be available in a full line of 10 and 12-gauge options but new for this year are two 20-gauge loads, a 2 ¾-inch packing 1 ounce of #4s at 1,300 fps and a 3-inch loaded with 1 ¼ ounces at 1,185 fps.
WINCHESTER XTENDED RANGE HI DENSITY This year’s Hi Density entries from Winchester will include three new 12-gauge loads in 2 3/4, 3 and 3 1/2 -inch.
All will deliver a load of #5 or #6 shot at 1,225 fps. Payloads are 1 ½ ounces for 2 ¾, 1 ¾ ounces for the 3 inch, and a whopping 2 ounces in the 3 ½ inch.
In the non-tungsten arena, Winchester has brought life to the 2 ¾-inch chamber with their new Supreme Elite High Velocity turkey loads offering 1 ½-ounce of #4 shot at 1,300 fps and a 20-gauge 3-inch load with 1 5/16 ounces of #4 at 1,200 fps.
Turkey hunters have been blessed by the introduction of heavier than lead, high performance shotshells, but you will be missing maximum performance if you don’t pair them with the correct choke.
Federal’s new tungsten Mag Shok loads are extremely effective out to 50 yards and beyond, but choking this new Flitecontrol wad technology requires unique thinking. Ported chokes, those with recoil reducing slots, will not work with the Flitecontrol rear opening wads. For the tungsten Mag Shok or the Ultra Steel Black Cloud, several new chokes from Carlson Choke are the best bet for maximizing performance. Carlson 12-gauge Titanium coated Black Cloud/Mag Shok chokes come in two restrictions: the Long Range at .030 and the Mid-Range at .020.
HEVI SHOT The introduction of tungsten based turkey loads sent us back to the drawing board to rethink much of what we thought we knew about shot size, shape, and choking. Hevi Shot, for example, defies the premise that shot must be uniform in size and shape to pattern well. It’s full of multiple sizes and misshapen pellets, yet it patterns beautifully. Choking tungsten loads also breaks from tradition. In my testing, patterns were at their best when not overly choked. Most guns and loads I tested did best with a modified, improved modified, or occasionally, full. Extra full chokes designed for lead or steel with constrictions of more than .030 would create big holes in the patterns. Additionally, many felt the harder than lead tungsten (or steel) loads would mar the insides of delicate barrels and chokes and cautioned against its use in “fine” shotguns. Having said all that, the new Hevi Shot choke tubes made by Carlson Choke Tubes both verify and dispute my findings. They have introduced three new choke tubes for use with their Hevi Shot, as well as lead and steel.
Hevi Turkey: This is a knurled, ported tube with a .030 constriction for long range. Hevi Waterfowl Jump and Pass: This model is a modified equivalent with a .020 constriction. It’s for working over decoys or jump and pass shooting. Hevi Xtreme: This last choke defies my finding, but is turning in impressive results. It’s an extra, extra full with a whopping .060 constriction, yet it will deliver over 90-percent pattern with Hevi Shot at 40 yards. That’s 380 out of 420 pellets into a 30-inch circle at 40 yards! That’s tight, but it won’t work with lead or steel.
The Undertaker High Density Choke Tubes from Hunters Spcialties are designed and manufactured for top quality performance while shooting high density loads, such as Hevi-Shot®, bismuth and tungsten. This product has been field tested for optimum diameter producing super full choke patterns. Features blued finish, 3-inch long tube manufactured in 41L42 chrome-moly, aircraft quality alloy and heat treated to handle these tough loads. It’s knurled for easy removal. Fits a variety of 2-3/4″, 3″ and 3-1/2″ shotguns.

Your guide to turkey guns, loads and chokes for spring 2010