View Full Version : Caliber for turkey

February 27, 2001, 07:52 AM
Need some opinions here. What is the minimum rifle caliber for turkey (where rifle hunting is legal of course)? Is .22 WMR, 40 gr solid from a 24" barrel enough? If I need to use my .223, what bullet/velocity do you suggest?


Al Thompson
February 27, 2001, 08:07 AM
Where your hunting will dictate your answer. Where I am (SC) a shotgun is the legal firearm. Rifled arms will get you a nice ticket, suitable for framing, and a chance to contribute some money to the state of South Carolina.


February 27, 2001, 09:14 AM
I guess I should clarify my post. Not asking for legal firearms or hunting regulations, that varies by state, but is .22 WMR an adequate rifle caliber for turkey.

Thanks for the warning anyway Gizmo99, if I ever hunt turkey in SC I'll certainly use a smoothbore.

Al Thompson
February 27, 2001, 09:39 AM
As I've never killed a turkey with a rifled firearm, I'll pass on commenting.


February 27, 2001, 12:23 PM
I've never even hunted turkey, but I'd say it was plenty for head/neck shots, as far out as you can hit them there. People use .22 for fox and coyote out to 75-100yds..(not me:)) but a turkey skull has to be much thinner than on those. The only difference is the smaller target.

February 27, 2001, 06:30 PM
I killed a hen with a .22magnum. Head shot. I won't say where :) It will do the job, but rely on a .223 for a body shot.

Art Eatman
February 27, 2001, 08:16 PM
I don't see why a .22 Mag solid bullet won't work--stipulating a good accurate rifle and sufficient skill. Just don't shoot into the breast meat.

A hit high in the body can break the back, and there is always the head shot. If he's facing you, and close enough that you're very sure of your shot, center-punch high in the breast. Won't hurt the meat, but ruins everything behind it.

We're only talking a 15-pound critter here. The difficulty is the opportunity for the shot, not the power needed or some peculiar vital spot.

(My only gobbler was an 18-pounder with a 10-inch beard. Snapshot him at around 100 yards or so with my '06. Aimed and hit right behind his legs (broadside shot). Field-dressing was essentially completed before I walked up to him, with no meat hurt at all. :) )


February 27, 2001, 10:07 PM
My only Turkey was shot with a 4 inch S&W M29 .44 Mag.

300 Grain SWC in the body at about 50 Feet, put it down nicely.

Might try a FMJ in a .223 or better centerfire rifle.

Arizona Fusilier
February 27, 2001, 11:53 PM
We occasionally have a legal rifle season here in Arizona, usually the fall turkey hunt. .22 rimfire magnum is the smallest legal caliber.

I have never done this personally, I am just starting to get into Turkey hunting. Everything I've read says that .22 WMR is the way to go. Severing the spine where the wings meet the back seems to be the "school solution" target when using a rifle.

Keith J
February 28, 2001, 01:21 AM
Even a .22 RF will work, if you are close enough. The .223 is far too powerful, even with FMJ's. The perfect rifle is the .22 Hornet with non-expanding bullets (handload only).

It helps to know where to hit them too. Headshots aren't necessarily kill or miss. Above the legs is quite messy and breast shots waste the best part. The .22 RF Magnum is a fine choice with softpoint bullets. Just aim for the wingbutts and it will drop. A little .5" hole will be all the damage. Try that with a .223 and the hole will be 3".

February 28, 2001, 11:09 AM
I had a shooting buddy that shot a turkey dead in the head at 50 paces with an accurized Ruger 10/22. I have shot several of our Moscovy Drakes in the head with .22LR at 10-15 yds. The force of the pill breaks their neck and they flop around for a few minutes. Kinda like ringin a chickens neck and then it runs around the yard bumpin into things :)

February 28, 2001, 01:23 PM
Thanks all for your input, this place is a great source for information. Based on my experience with small game and .22 WMR I'll stick with the solid nose bullets, the hollowpoints destroy too much for edible critters.


March 1, 2001, 08:18 AM
i would think that a FMJ or solid in 25-06, 22-250 or 223 would kill clean w/ not much meat loss.
see my post on the ethics of long range turkey hunting.

Art Eatman
March 1, 2001, 09:15 AM
XXSUPO, only with handloads could you use a solid in .25-'06 or .22-250--and this would let you load down to a velocity where just shock effect wouldn't ruin meat. Lots of folks do this.

In the .223, factory full-patch bullets blow up quite happily, out to a hundred yards. Not much meat left, absent a head or rear-gut shot.

One beauty of handloading is that you can down-load stuff like the .30-'06 to kill turkey at longer ranges and not hurt/ruin the meat...


March 1, 2001, 09:29 AM
Good discussion here. Ethics aside, I'd agree that a .22LR would be perfectly adequate given an accurate firearm, although I'd lean to head/neck shots with a .223 loaded with frangible bullets to prevent over penetration.

Would like to see some more responses to XXSUPO's parallel thread on the ethics of long-range turkey hunting. I'm probably jaded by experience in the northeast. Maybe tactics are different elsewhere?


NRA Life Member
Hunter Safety Instructor
Cogito, ergo armo.

[Edited by Legionnaire on 03-03-2001 at 01:11 PM]