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View Full Version : Barrel length for Turkey Hunting


AdamGrier_atc
March 29, 2005, 07:59 PM
Hello everyone. I am fairly new to turkey hunting, and am looking for a shotgun. I am very intrested in the Remington 870, but I noticed the barrel is a short 21 inches. I have been told by some people that a longer barrel is better, and I should look at a 26-28 inch barrel. What's the deal?

Thanks in advance...

mete
March 29, 2005, 09:00 PM
Shotgun powder is fast burning so there is no benefit as far as velocity in a longer barrel. What is important for turkey is a good set of sights or even low power scope. Also a proper choke which is usually an extra full or turkey choke. Always pattern your ammo using a drawing of a turkey and pick the ammo that gives you the best pattern.

kudu
March 29, 2005, 09:09 PM
Barrel length should make no difference in how a load patterns out of a particular gun. The choke and load determines how well it will or will not shoot. Turkey guns are not used as a traditional shotgun, they are usually in a static position and aimed like a rifle at the turkey, no wing shooting involved.

quack fiend
March 29, 2005, 11:50 PM
if you're going to use the gun for anything other than turkeys i strongly suggest getting at least a 26" barrel--less noise, more balanced--much easier to wingshoot with--besides, what ADVANTAGE does the shorter barrel have? a few less tangles with underbrush and a few ounces doesn't counteract the drawbacks to such a short tube, imho

Mannlicher
March 30, 2005, 08:55 PM
Currently I hunt turkey with a Browning A5 3 inch mag. The barrel is a Hastings WadLock II, 26". Using the same 3 inch shells as I did in my Mossberg pump with 30 inch barrel, I get better patterns, at longer ranges with the Browning. I think its more about the choke than the barrel.

Lokmdwn
March 31, 2005, 08:57 AM
AdamGrier,

The only 21" barrel that I can think of for an 870 would be a rifled slug barrel. Although it would be possible to kill a turkey with this barrel, it isn't practical (your effective range would not be very far). If you want to buy a good all around shotgun and you don't want to have to take out a loan, I recommend a Rem 870 or a Mossberg, 26" or 28" barrel with screw in chokes, chambered for 3" or 3.5" shells. Whichever brand you choose, the screw in chokes will offer you more versatility and allow you to be able to do more than just hunt turkeys. Pattern your gun with different brands of ammo and know your maximum effective killing range and you'll be fine. I shoot a Rem 870, 3", Hastings Barrel with an Extra full Turkey choke, Remington Golden Premier copper plated #4's and my effective range is 50 yards. I am planning on trying “Hevi-Shot” this year but I will have to drop back to a full choke. Most of the older "Extra full Turkey chokes" are made for lead shot only.

Good Luck and Happy Hunting

Dave McC
March 31, 2005, 03:06 PM
Turkey shotguns tend towards shorter barrels because the muzzle movement through the arc when bringing it to bear is less noticeable. Wave a 30" barrelled scattergun and then one with an 18" barrel if you doubt this.

For wingshooting, most folks shoot most shots better with longer barrels. Still, a 21" barrel has utility if we remember to keep the swing going.

For the record, the critical elements in turkey chasing are locating, calling, setup, etc. The shot's usually not that hard if we do the rest correctly.,

1BadF350
March 31, 2005, 03:15 PM
I disagree with Dave McC about the shorter barrel. Most modern turkey guns are fully camo'd now anyway so I don;t think barrel movement is much an issue. You want to try to position yourself in a way to minimize any unnecessary movements. I honestly think the longer barrel helps keep the pattern a bit tighter at longer distances. Mutliplied by the use of full or extra full chokes, this should give you a nice tight pattern which is critical considering you try to aim at the turkeys head.
Short barrels will open the pattern up way too soon.
This is all IMO.

AdamGrier_atc
March 31, 2005, 09:36 PM
Thanks alot for all the info! The 870 I saw in the 21' barrel was the "Express Turkey". Hearing all the input here, it makes sense to me that a longer barrel would help keep the pattern tighter at distance. I think that I will lean towards the longer barrel.

Does anyone here have experience with the Remington 870 "Express Super Magnum"? If so I would love to have your opinion.

Thanks again

Adam

Dave McC
April 1, 2005, 08:23 AM
350, have you done any tests that support your position? Choke, velocity and load determine pattern. Shorter barrels mean slightly less velocity, but in most tests it's proved to be less variation than one gets from shell to shell.

One ferociously tight tube here works well in a 21" barrel with a cone job and some polishing. 3' velocities with load of choice run about 20 FPS less than the same load in a 30" barrel, similar choke.

1BadF350
April 1, 2005, 08:34 AM
Tests? I clearly wrote "This is all IMO." at the bottom of my post above. Based on my experiences in shooting, it makes me ponder the following.
Why do I not see any trap shooters with short barrels?
Never seen anyone using a short barrel at a turkey shoot?
I've been shooting trap since I was 13. I know I cannot hit as consistantly with a shorter barrel.
I'm sure the turkey won't complain about the 20FPS difference in velocity, so I won't argue that.

Lokmdwn
April 1, 2005, 12:54 PM
Adam,

The super mag is a great gun. I'll retract my statement about the 21" barrel probably being a slug barrel. If it was labeled an "Express Turkey" then it probably had screw in chokes. Most shotguns today come with 26" or 28" inch barrels with screw in chokes. The chokes make the difference. Take a look at the "Vang Comp" website. I haven't actually shot one but if you believe the website they have done wonders with an 18" barrel. You don't need a long barrel in order to achieve good patterns. You do need the right choke and shell combination. Take a look at Remington's website and look up "Hevi-shot" They have done the research for the best choke constriction for Hevi-shot. I plan on giving it a try this spring. You should also check out the NWTF website, lots of good info there.

Good luck and happy hunting

AdamGrier_atc
April 3, 2005, 04:31 PM
Well... Thanks to your advice, I purchaced a Remington 870 Express Super Magnum with a Synthetic Stock and a 26' barrel. I went to the local Bass Pro Shops this morning, and walked out with it for $300.61. I'm pretty sure I walked out with a good deal.

Thanks for all your help in my decision.

Adam

stormerF
August 29, 2011, 07:43 AM
If all the powder is burnt up in such short barrels how come the short barrel shotguns have more muzzle blast compared to longer barreled shotguns?

hogdogs
August 29, 2011, 07:50 AM
Barrel length
If all the powder is burnt up in such short barrels how come the short barrel shotguns have more muzzle blast compared to longer barreled shotguns?
It is pretty much perception... Your head (and thus ears too) are closer to the muzzle.

From 15-20 feet, blindfolded, I doubt many can consistently pick which muzzle report is from a shorter barrel.

There might be a little bit more noise if the sound waves die in the last few inches of barrel. But the stuff coming out of the end is already exploded... yer just hearing the end result.

Brent

AllenJ
August 29, 2011, 09:48 AM
Many people still hold to the thought that a longer barrel shoots farther, this is just not true. The only advantage to a longer barrel is the longer sight plain. I own an Express Turkey and that short barrel makes it a very quick gun. I used it for turkey and waterfowl and never had anything bad to say about it.

Old Grump
August 29, 2011, 11:28 AM
Many people still hold to the thought that a longer barrel shoots farther, this is just not true. The only advantage to a longer barrel is the longer sight plain. I own an Express Turkey and that short barrel makes it a very quick gun. I used it for turkey and waterfowl and never had anything bad to say about it. I agree, the choke determines size of the shot pattern not the length of the plumbing. My two turkey guns are 24" long with a scope and 18 1/2" long with rifle sights. At 35 yards I cannot see any difference in the size of the pattern on my turkey targets. I have never used the short one to hunt with but that is what I bought it for. I bought the short one because I thought it would be easier to handle in the blind and easier to carry through the woods I hunt. I practice a lot with both of them so either will feel right in my hands when it comes time.

natman
August 29, 2011, 12:09 PM
Lots of people say a longer barrel shoots tighter patterns, but until someone comes up with a reasonable explanation why and some hard data to back it up I'm not going to worry about it. The difference, if any, may be enough to matter to turkey shooters, but isn't enough to make any practical difference to turkey hunters.

There is a slight reduction in velocity, on the order of 50fps between a 20 and a 28" barrel. Not per inch, the entire difference.

Having hunted with both a 28" and a 20" barrel I know for sure that a 20" is a lot nicer to drag through the woods all day, for the same reasons a 20" barreled carbine is a lot nicer than a 28" barreled rifle.