Yes, my brothers and sisters in camo, I know we’re not going into spring gobbler season, but we’re looking down on something called fall turkey season. Hopefully some of you will be participating in this ancient traditional season (a much longer tradition than the spring season, I must tell you). So, since we’re going to be in turkey season soon, I thought we could talk about some turkey shotguns and the phenomenon of using .410 caliber (not a caliber, remember) for America’s largest game bird, the wild turkey
Not long ago, the .410 was perhaps considered a young hunter’s shotgun for small game at close range, the squirrel hunter’s first shotgun. Times are changing, and now the .410 is being used by turkey hunters big and small, thanks to a little thing called TSS: Tungsten Super Shot.
The trend for smaller or lower caliber shotguns for turkeys has become, as they say, a “thing”. All of this happened very quickly. A few years ago, turkey shotgun fans were more likely to discuss the merits of 3 ½” vs. 3″ Magnums rather than which is the best load for a delicate .410. This transformation was basically caused by one thing, a mysterious metal called tungsten or tungsten. A secret, almost cult-like group of turkey killers hand-loaded tungsten shot for years and reported unbelievable and often unbelievable results. Someone in this movement coined TSS for Tungsten Super Shot, and the rest is history. Fiocchi, Federal, Apex, Browning, Hevi Shot, and Kent Cartridge offer TSS shotgun loads commercially.
Because it is so much heavier and harder, tungsten shot has performance capabilities far superior to lead. This allows for the loading of much smaller shot, and TSS fans will tell you that a #9 tungsten shot has the same performance as a #5 lead shot. Loading #9s versus #5s means about twice as many shots can be loaded into the shell. Secondary calibers, primarily the .410, are now in demand by turkey hunters. Here are some to consider.
Rossi Tuffy Turkey .410 shotgun. Rossi is expanding its line of single shot action shotguns with the introduction of the new Tuffy Turkey .410. At 26 inches, it is the longest barrel among Tuffy’s .410 caliber shotguns. This 3-inch barrel-bore chambered shotgun includes an “extra full” choke tube installed in the barrel to provide a higher density of shot in this .410 platform. This combination can be combined with .410 turkey-specific loads such as Fiocchi or Federal TSS, giving you a ready-to-go turkey hunting platform. The gun also comes with a “modified” choke in the box, allowing this gun to be used for other duties and not just during turkey season.
The unique buttstock includes a thumbhole-style pistol grip and a buttstock well that holds a built-in 2 x five-round cartridge holder for quick reloading. A thick rubber butt pad helps reduce recoil. The new Tuffy stock comes with a removable extended piece that allows it to be used as an adult or youth stock. Up front, the forefoot is contoured and textured, and includes recessed finger grooves for optimal grip even when wearing gloves. Although the Tuffy Turkey comes with a front sight, an aluminum Picatinny rail mounts to the receiver to accept a red dot optic. Additional features include a thumb break action, hammer with spurs, and a cross-bolt safety system. Polymer cabinet is Olive Drab with matte black body and sink finish. The sling studs are pre-installed from the factory. This is a great deal of single barrel shotguns for the kid’s first pistol and to keep you in fashion .410 TSS for an MSRP of $243. (www.rossiusa.com)
CZ-USA Drake. CZ-USA offers this little over and under setting in 12, 20 and 28 gauge as well as .410 caliber. The Turkish walnut stocks and forearms are cut with laser engraving which provides a good grip on the shotgun. The Drake has a single selective trigger (which I like) and heavy-duty extractors to pick up spent shells. The Drake has 28-inch barrels, 5 interchangeable chokes with 12, 20 and 28 gauges, modified and improved fixed cylinder chokes on the .410 model and ships in a hard plastic case. The Duck weighs in at six pounds and is a great shotgun for an MSRP of $765. (www.cz-usa.com)
TriStar Viper G2 .410 Camouflage. If you’re in the running for a .410 turkey hunter with all your friends and want a semi-auto, TriStar’s Viper G2 may be for you. The stock and forearm are injection molded and finished with TriStar’s “Soft Touch” finish for a firm grip on the gun, and the camo pattern is Realtree Max-4HD. The .410 Viper G2 is chambered in 3 inches and will fire heavy waterfowl loads and light target ammunition. Three chokes are included, IC, M and Full. The choke system is Benelli/Beretta Mobil threads for those looking for an aftermarket choke. This shotgun has a five-year mechanical warranty. (MSRP $790. www.tristararms.com)
Browning BPS field. Browning BPS has been around for a while and has its own following. The BPS Field model has a classic look with a matte blued body, ventilation ribs and a satin finished stock. Many like the BPS for its unique bottom ejection and loading port which, along with the top tang safety, makes it truly ambidextrous. The BPS Field has a 28” barrel threaded for the Invector Plus choke system, chrome-plated chamber and is available in 12, 16, 20 and 28 calibers as well as .410. (MSRP $799, www.browning.com)
Mossberg 500 Turkey .410. Answering the call for .410 turkey pistols, Mossberg has likely hit a home run with the 500 Turkey at Mossy Oak Bottomland. The action of a Mossberg 500 shotgun has stood the test of time and is as tough as a pine knot. This Model 500 Turkey features a 26-inch barrel with full fixed choke, adjustable fiber optic sight, vent rib, and convenient top pin safety. The length of pull is just under 14 inches and the shotgun has a 5+1 ammo capacity. This is the Mossberg 500 many of you started out with and grew up with chambered in .410 and encased in perhaps the coolest camouflage pattern great of all time. (MSRP $529, www.mossberg.com)