View Full Version : Turkey Shotgun Question

March 13, 2008, 07:55 PM
I am looking to buy a turkey gun. I want a shorter barrel, rifle sights, 3.5". I have two questions. First off, does anyone have experience with one they would recommend? Second what is the advantages and disadvantages to a 20" vs. 22" or 24" barrel? I feel like I want a 20" tube, for shooting in brushy areas, and ease of carrying, but will that hinder performance?

March 13, 2008, 08:07 PM
I've always been told that a longer barrel with a choke tube will give you a tighter pattern.

I have a 28 inch vented rib barrel with a .660" extended turkey choke. Puts the overall length at just shy of 30 inches.

I'll see how it patterns this weekend when I finally get a chacne to test it out.

I'll take some pics and post them up to show off the results.

March 14, 2008, 07:56 AM
The length of the barrel will do nothing to affect the pattern. It is all in the choke. Many of the dedicated turkey barrels are only 18 to 24 inches.

March 14, 2008, 01:18 PM
just bought a new 870 jr 20ga. with an 18 1/2" barrel but is only 3" but with my jellyhead choke tube is will do the job nicely out to 40yds. It also helps me because it only weights 6 lbs..

March 14, 2008, 07:13 PM
You lose something like 7 to 15 feet per second per inch. SO the difference of a 24 to a 20" is only 28 to 60 fps. Not much. But being able to swing past a close tree without unshouldering can be the difference in getting a bird and not. Also I like to set my blind close and a short barrel allows me this option without any interference. and then there is the carry aspect.
Four inchs is lighter and shorter but not much. You can get much shorter and lighter by going with a single shot (6 to 8 inches and several pounds).
Bore has more to due with pattern than length. 20 is better than 410.
16 is better than 20 and so on. 10 is the best.

12 Gauge has more shell choices.
My ideal is a 10 bore with a 12 chamber. Like the 835 or 935 Mossberg.
The NEF 10 gauge with a ChamberMate for 12 is also a good choice.

Length of shell adds shot amount 2.75, 3" and 3.5" each add more payload.

March 15, 2008, 07:16 AM
mentioning the 410- in Ga. can't use 410 for turkey just FYI
No doubt a 12ga will give the biggest variety of everything.

March 15, 2008, 11:16 AM
it sounds like you're interested in the 835 Mossberg. I'll be getting this exact gun but in the 500 since there are more accessories out there for the 500.

The only difference between the 500 and the 835 is 1/4lb and the 835 has the 3 1/2...


March 16, 2008, 07:07 AM
3 1/2 mag is a heavy pounder. Lot's of birds killed w/ a 20 ga every year. The photo is the 835 is cool, but remember, somtimes the bird comes in from the other side and you have to shoot lefty. That shell holder on the stock is now jammed into your cheek.
Good Hunting!

March 17, 2008, 10:23 AM
I just ordered a Mossberg 835 Grand Slam 20 inch. It is supposed to be here tomorrow. Thanks for the info, I felt like I wanted the short barrel all along, just wasn't real sure what the downside would be. I can't wait to go pattern it and try and call in some birds.

March 17, 2008, 11:56 AM
The only difference between the 500 and the 835 is 1/4lb and the 835 has the 3 1/2...

835 also has the overbored barrel.

March 17, 2008, 12:24 PM
I would recommend Beretta's Xtrema-2.

I think its very well made. Had I not bought tecknys Glod, already, I would have definately bought Xtrema-2.

March 17, 2008, 02:05 PM
I have a mossberg 835. Great gun & Reasonably priced. Im very happy with it. My bro n law bought a rem 870. he hates it and wish's he had bought the mossberg.

March 17, 2008, 05:22 PM
I got home last night from up north getting my shotgun set up for turkey season. I love my Mossberg 535!! At roughly 30 yards, the pattern was very nice. We were shooting at 16 inch cardboard circles we kept from some rims that got shipped to the shop I work at. I'd say 99% of the pellets from my Winchester Super X heavy game load #4 shot, was on the circle.

I then moved in to roughly 10 yards, and the pattern was within a roughly 10 inch circle on the cardboard.

I think I'll be just fine come turkey season with this gun.

I then removed my turkey tube, put in the improved cylinder choke and ran some slugs thru it. The 2 3/4 were great. Accurate and no nasty recoil issues to complain about. But, moving up to my Federal 3 inch magnum loads, those things were gnarly to shoot! I think the 2 3/4 will be just fine for me.

Overall, a very good weekend. We even got the raccoon that was terrorizing the property. He'd eat the food out of the bird feeders on the property, then he'd **** on the front porch of the house. So, with snow still on the ground, me and my co-worker Alex followed tracks from the bird feeders, to a broken tree on the back edge of the property. Alex got there first, then called me over. The raccoon was sitting there, just staring at us. So, I told Alex to take care of him. He shot once, that only seemed to piss the raccoon off, so he gave him another shot, he was still moving, so he gave him one more to finally finish him off.

Now Alex just has to collect on the $10 bounty our boss put out on the raccoon.

April 17, 2008, 06:51 PM
I got a Mossberg Tactical Turkey last year, took a bird with it, about $430... it's light, which is good and bad, good for carrying to the woods, bad for felt recoil. The 3 1/2's kick like a mule. I like it alot and would recommend it. My brother has the steady grip benelli, it cost about $100 more and is another GREAT turkey gun. My brother and I bought our dad a benelli Super Black Eagle II last year, and it's the best of all of them. The Felt recoil is reduced by the action and the absorbers in the stock. The one thing I don't get is all the stories I hear about guys taking birds at 50+ yards. I wanna know what these guys are shooting. I have patterned all of these guns with several different brands/loads and can't get anything to shoot a pattern I would trust past about 35 yards.

April 17, 2008, 07:49 PM
My Mossberg 535 that I bought for $310 will serve me just fine. It shoots a very nice, tight pattern out to about 30 yards, which is, honestly, about as far out as I'd try to take a turkey at. I don't plan on having to even shoot that 30 yard shot though. I wanna get em in close, and drop em with a load of #4 shot to the head. I think taking the long shots takes some of the challenge out of turkey hunting. I have no problem working a turkey to get him in close so I can take the bird down.

April 18, 2008, 11:18 AM
I bought a Benelli Nova in 24 and I took two birds this week with it. I was using the Full Choke and 3.5 inch #4's. Sighted in for 50 yards, but my birds were both shot at 30 steps. My dad uses a M1 Super 90 with 24 inch barrel and he shot a bird at 48 steps using 3 inch #6's. I have used a Browning BPS in the past with 28 inch barrel and it seemed to catch on branches when in the woods.

April 23, 2008, 12:00 PM
I have hunted with my recently new 835 grand slam and it has done a wonderful job. The first outing resulted in a pretty decent Rio Grande, one shot drop like a rock at about 25 to 30 yards. The second outing was a disaster, not due to the gun, but rather due to the fact that I took a buddy out for the first time, and he decided to alert the whole of west Texas to our position. Yet even then I was happy to have the portability of the 20" barrel. All in all, I am very pleased with the performance using Federal #4 3.5" NWTF shells. Would suggest both the gun and the load to any one. Note: recoil is of no concern while hunting, but I would shoot those loads only enough to sight in an make sure you are throwing a good pattern, cause it is stiff.

Brad Clodfelter
April 24, 2008, 02:44 PM
I'll try and make this easy and short.

Mossberg 835 28" barrel(you pick the style camo pattern or no camo)
Hunter Specialties Undertaker .695 choke tube
Winchester 2 and 1/4oz #4 turkey loads

You will be good for any turkey out to at least 55yds from my experience. With this set-up I have killed a jake at 59yds and a gobbler at 53yds. Both went straight down. My other buddy who has a 835 has taken a gobbler at 65yds using #4 turkey loads. I believe him.

Brad Clodfelter
April 24, 2008, 04:44 PM

Join Date: 02-23-2006
Location: Missouri
Posts: 15 Mossberg


I got a Mossberg Tactical Turkey last year, took a bird with it, about $430... it's light, which is good and bad, good for carrying to the woods, bad for felt recoil. The 3 1/2's kick like a mule. I like it alot and would recommend it. My brother has the steady grip benelli, it cost about $100 more and is another GREAT turkey gun. My brother and I bought our dad a benelli Super Black Eagle II last year, and it's the best of all of them. The Felt recoil is reduced by the action and the absorbers in the stock. The one thing I don't get is all the stories I hear about guys taking birds at 50+ yards. I wanna know what these guys are shooting. I have patterned all of these guns with several different brands/loads and can't get anything to shoot a pattern I would trust past about 35 yards.

Look at my above post.

I can tell you from my turkey hunting experience and from testing several different guns like the Mossberg 835, Rem 870's, Win 1300, Browning Gold 3.5" auto, Rem 11/87 on cardboard at 40 and 50yds, that the key to true turkey bustin killing power at 50yds and beyond is to have gun barrel that will shoot and pattern big heavy #4 turkey loads with 90% patterns at 40yds. Forget what those that may tell you that they can put so many #6 shot in a certain diameter circle at 40yds; it don't mean much at 50yds or beyond from what I have witnessed and seen. For one, 6 shot just don't consistantly have the power to take birds at the 50yd range or farther. I would much rather have a gun that shot the larger #4 shot vs shooting #6's, and I don't have to worry about just trying to pray for a miracle of hitting the small target area of a a turkey skull or vertebrae at these distances to kill. I have broken wingbones, leg bones, shot went into the actual heart of a gobbler at 53yds using #4 shot. My Mossberg shoots about 6" low. So when I aim at the neck area of a gobbler, all my shot will shoot in the vicinity of the lower neck and the whole body of the bird when his head is up and over the body. I like that for killing power. Half of my pattern isn't being wasted over the head of the bird like on the other guns that shoot perfectly centered patterns. My buddy who turned me on to the 835 and the 4 shot loads, Mossberg shoots the exact same way. A little low. But we have found that turkeys are a pretty dang big bird, and to kill one can be done easily with 6's or 5's out to say 47yds for the 6's and maybe just a hair pass 50yds with #5's. But you can effectively increase your true effective range of killing these birds by getting a gun that will pattern the heavy #4 loads very well. The Remington 870's that I have owned and seen shoot, would not pattern #4 shot well. That's including a 11/87 that my buddy owned as well. All of them will shoot 6's and 5's very well. Now there may be some that say there Rem shoots #4's well, but I'll bet you they haven't seen a Mossberg 835 shoot #4's yet if that is the case. I know of no shotgun on the market including the Browning Gold 3.5" auto that I used to own and sold that will compete with the 835. The Browning would come close, but close don't count. Now you know why I sold it. When I hunt turkeys, I want a gun that will allow me to shoot as far as I can and still kill a bird. Forget about looks and what weighs less, or don't kick as hard. I'm after what works and kills and increases my overall effective range on a bird that hangs up at what he thinks is a safe distance. I always said, why let a bird pass and live another day because he may be a little far for most guns including maybe yours which might be killed by someone else when all I have to do is switch guns and turkey loads to the heavier #4's.

I can add that my Browning Gold shot a 97 or 98% pattern at 40yds with the Hevi-Shot 1 and 3/4oz #6 3" turkey load with a .670 Comp-n-Choke choke tube. But at over $2 a pop, I can't justify using them. How far the Hevi-Shot #6 would effectively kill a turkey I can't say. But I can't see that combination set-up killing as effectively as the 835 and the Win #4 loads. I pay a little over $1 a pop for these. Nothing I have seen or wittnessed will kill a turkey any deader at the longer ranges.

The 835 may not be the most prettiest and best quality shotgun on the market. I'll be the very first to admit that. But I will put it up against any who think they got a better turkey buster when talking shooting turkeys at 50yds and farther and killing them dead consistantly. Thinking and knowing is two different things. My conclusions to what works by testing shotguns and various loads on cardboard and in the turkey woods has led me to saying what I have just said. That's not what I think to be true. I got 2 other buddies that have had the exact same results as me. Those other hunters who have the 835 and shoot #4's will tell you they more than likely have the same results. Those that say every barrel is different, that may be true to an extent in rifle barrels, but the shotgun barrels I have tested have pretty much all shot about the same from gun to gun. I have yet to see a 835 that wouldn't shoot 4 shot well. They also shoot 5's and 6's as good as any gun I have owned or tested.

Brad Clodfelter
April 24, 2008, 05:34 PM
And if you want me to go in to detail of why the 835's shoot larger size shot better than the other shotgun barrels on the market, it's because of the .775 backbore barrel that the 835's all have. Almost all of the other maunufactures of shotguns on the market with a few exceptions will have about a .730-.735 backbore. The Browning Gold I owned had a .747 backbore barrel and it would shoot #4 shot better than any of the 870's I owned. The 11/87 barrels will have the exact same backbore as 870 barrels. My other buddy tells me that the 835 will really shine shooting larger shot bigger than #4's. I'm not a duck hunter, but I would say that he knows what he is saying.

My theory on all this and why this is so is this. Smaller size shot like 5's and 6's can constrict down more easily and not deform in a tighter smaller backbore barrel. That's why all the #5 and #6 shot loads shoot very well out of most any barrels regardless of the backbore dimensions. But when you get into the larger #4 shot, the reverse takes place. The 4 shot can't be constricted as tight because of their bigger size and deform when being pushed through a tighter backbore barrel like on a Remington barrel. When the shot deforms from a tighter backbore barrel, the shot won't fly as staight and keep as tight of a pattern as they should. The 835 with its bigger say .040 backbore barrel helps to eliminate the squishing and deforming of shot inside the wad effect that I mentioned above. That's why they shoot a lot better patterns out of the 835 barrels. Now that's my theory, and my buddy who is a lot smarter about guns than me says I'm dead on.

April 24, 2008, 05:45 PM
THe above statements must be true about more than just the Mossberg 835, because my Mossberg 535 throws a beautiful pattern with #4 shot. I use a Carlson's .660 Xtra Full turkey choke on the standard vented rib barrel.

This weekend will be the true test, when I get to go after some real gobblers with it instead of just throwing patterns at cardboard.

Brad Clodfelter
April 24, 2008, 09:25 PM
I'll give you an idea of how these Mossberg 835's can shoot the Win 2 and 1/4oz # 4 turkey loads at 40yds. There is approx 305 #4's in this load. I can typically put 90 to 120 shot in a 8 and 1/2" by 11" piece of of paper at 40yds. 90 will be the low and 120 will be the high. 100 to 105 or so will usually be the norm. That is approximately 33% or more of my pattern in this small of an area. Now I'm not one to worry about how dense of pattern I throw in a particular area vs how much shot I can put consistantly(that is the key word) in a 30" circle. With the setup I'm using I can consistantly shoot 90% patterns at 40yds in a 30" circle. Now there will be those that say I can shoot 90% patterns at 40yds using 5 or 6 shot. That's very good. But what I have found and said above in my posts if you care to read it will make sense to you if those will just take the time to listen and try what I have said. Shooting 90% patterns at 40yds with 5's and 6's won't be the same as effective killing power you will get on turkeys vs shooting 90% patterns with 4's. The size of one #4 shot is quite a bit bigger than a single # 6 shot. That's the secret of the killing power using the #4 loads. They shoot with more energy(ft/lbs) and farther than the smaller shot sizes thus increasing your effective killing range by close to 10yds.

Some of the Hastings choke tubes in the .685 to .700 choke constriction will work as well. So will the Carlson's .690 turkey tube. I have found that the difference in say .010 choke constriction isn't really much of a difference to the way a particular say brand of choke tube will shoot. But every little bit helps. I can also add that I had 3 different .695 HS choke tubes that I bought from Wally World to test. Each shot a little different. I kept the 1 that pattern the best. I took the other 2 back back when they would take anything back. The other 2 still shot very well though.

If you want to increase your maximum killing range on turkeys, try what I have said here. You will see what I mean. Seeing is believing. I'm a believer in my 835 setup I'm shooting. It will put birds down at longer ranges that other guns just won't be able to do. But you have to shoot the right loads to do it.

Don't take my word on what I have said here. I ask you to go and see for yourself. Find a buddy who has a 835 and put a .695 HS Undertaker choke tube in it. .695 seems to be the magic choke constriction for this load from my testing. Go compare the results on cardboard with the load I mentioned to that of say your 3.5" 870. Then you will see the light to what I have said here to be in fact very true. My hunch is you will by a 835 and switch to the Win #4 turkey loads.

Also it doesn't matter if you are shooting a ported or slotted choke vs a non-ported or non-slotted choke. The ports regardless of what the manufacturers will tell you don't make a choke pattern any better from my testing. That's all sales hype. Forget what they say about the ports or slots stopping the wad to improve pattern density. That's all BS. I've compared enough choke tubes and loads on cardboard to say this. Now there will be those that say differently, but I'm backing up that statement with results of comparing them side-by-side.