Guns for Gobblers: Stock Up on Purpose-Built Turkey Gear

Stock up on purpose-built gear to serve the growing legion of dedicated turkey hunters.

Guns for Gobblers: Stock Up on Purpose-Built Turkey Gear

Federal Premium Heavyweight TSS turkey ammunition is available for 12- and 20-gauge.

Three decades ago, most hunters had never heard of a turkey shotgun. When it was time to go turkey hunting, a typical hunter would pull out his waterfowl gun — or maybe that single-shot 12-gauge with the 36-inch full-choke barrel he inherited from his grandfather — and head to the woods.

Modern turkey shotguns are made specifically for the job at hand. Most sport a fairly short barrel so they are easy to maneuver when a gobbler approaches from an unexpected direction. Most also have interchangeable chokes, as turkey hunters are known for never being quite satisfied with their patterns and trying new chokes every season. Many are semi-automatics, although pump guns are still quite common. Turkey guns generally also have a camouflage or at least dull finish (certainly not shiny), some kind of specialized sights (at least on front) and are chambered for the 12-gauge, 3- and/or 3.5-inch shotshells favored by today’s hunters.

Turkey hunting ammunition has evolved right alongside the guns. In the olden days, a heavy load of No. 6s through a modified choke was good for killing a bird out to about 30 yards, which was considered the maximum range by many turkey hunters. Today’s high-quality, magnum ammunition, combined with new guns and technologically advanced chokes, will yield a pattern that will knock a gobbler stone-cold dead at 60 yards or more. And some have tweaked the gun/choke/load combination to be effective at even longer distances.

The evolution of turkey guns and ammo corresponded to a similar evolution of turkey hunters. While there were few really hardcore turkey hunters three decades ago, that has changed significantly. Many modern turkey hunters are high-tech, have access to more great turkey gear than ever — from turkey vests, to calls, to GPS units — and hunt gobblers with a passion you normally only see in deer hunters. And they’re not afraid to spend a pretty penny making sure they have exactly what they need when the showdown comes with a big strutting gobbler.

That’s where you come in. If you know what new guns and gear to make available to your turkey hunting customers, you can capitalize on this still-growing craze. Let’s take a close look at some new and notable guns and ammunition that can help you serve those customers better.

Turkey Guns

First are a handful of specialized pump-action shotguns made solely for turkey hunting. Note that these aren’t just waterfowl guns marketed to turkey hunters, but purpose-built turkey guns.

Over the years, there have probably been as many turkeys killed with the venerable Remington 870 as with any other shotgun. The recent 870 Express ShurShot Synthetic Turkey model is sure to carry on that legacy. Using the proven 870 action, this gun features a synthetic pistol grip stock and a 21-inch barrel for maneuverability. The stock and forearm feature a Mossy Oak Obsession camouflage finish, and the barrel and action have a matte finish. For hunters wanting to mount a red-dot or other aiming device, it has a drilled and tapped receiver. The 12-gauge shoots up to 3-inch shells, and with an MSRP of $536 should appeal to customers of many income levels.

The Browning BPS NWTF is another fine pump-action turkey gun. Like the previously mentioned Remington, it was introduced in 2019. With its full camouflage covering and cool appearance, it would make a nice addition to most gun counters. As most hunters know, the BPS, with its bottom-ejecting action, has been around for many years and has killed thousands upon thousands of turkeys, ducks and geese over those years. The 12-gauge NWTF version shoots up to 3.5-inch shells and is covered with a Mossy Oak Breakup Country camo dip. It has a 24-inch barrel topped with a HI-VIZ 4-in-1 fiber optic bead for getting on target quickly. Also available in a 10-gauge model, the BPS NWTF has an MSRP from $949 to $1,029.

The Mossberg Model 500 Turkey Thug is a lower-priced classic that is loved by many and worth some rack space in your store. The gun features a pistol grip and fully-adjustable synthetic stock covered in Mossy Oak Obsession camouflage. The gun is chambered for 3-inch shells and has a five-shot magazine tube with a 20-inch vent-rib barrel with a rifle-style adjustable fiber-optic sight for precise pattern placement even in low light. The Turkey Thug has an MSRP of $515.


Don’t overlook semi-auto shotguns for turkey hunters who prefer that platform. Like their pump-action brethren, these are dedicated turkey guns made for serious hunters.

The Mossberg 930 line has been a proven turkey killer since its inception, and the new-in-2019 935 Magnum Turkey continues the platform’s legacy. The gun’s dual gas vent system cycles 3.5-inch magnum shells without a problem. Finished in Mossy Oak Bottomland camo, this shotgun is a looker and comes with adjustable front and rear fiber-optic sights. It also features the company’s proprietary Stock Drop System so hunters can customize it to fit them perfectly. MSRP is $756.

High-end retailers who cater to more affluent customers might want to look at stocking the Benelli Performance Shop SBE3 Turkey shotgun. With an MSRP of $3,399, it will be out of the price range of many turkey hunters, but those who really appreciate a fine shotgun might just find a way to scrape up the cash. The SBE3 Turkey is a 12-gauge with a synthetic pistol-grip stock covered in Mossy Oak Bottomland camo. The receiver and barrel are Cerakoted a midnight bronze color, and the 24-inch barrel has been tuned by Benelli’s performance shop for accuracy and consistent patterning. It even comes pre-fitted with a Burris red-dot sight.

Not as new as the Mossberg and Benelli, the Winchester SX4 NWTF Cantilever Turkey shotgun is certainly worth a look by those hoping to cater to turkey hunters. With an oversized bolt handle, bolt release button and safety, the gun is easy for hunters to operate without having to remove their gloves, and the Inflex recoil pad helps reduce felt recoil. The gun’s Weaver-style cantilever rail also makes it very easy to mount an optic. The gun’s 24-inch barrel with hard-chrome-plated bore is fitted with TRUGLO fiber-optic front and adjustable rear sights. MSRP is $1,069.


Whether they’re buying a gun or not, turkey hunters need ammunition. And since many seem to have dedicated their lives to finding the perfect shotgun/ammo/choke combination, there’s money to be made in selling specialized shotgun shells manufactured just for turkey hunters. Most are 3- or 3.5-inch magnums, and many are moving away from lead to shot made from other materials that pattern well and deliver plenty of knock-down power.  

First, let’s take a look at a few new turkey ammo offerings. Federal’s Premium Heavyweight TSS load was introduced at the 2019 SHOT Show to quite a bit of fanfare. Federal says the shells, featuring tungsten-alloy shot pellets, have more than double the shot count of many lead shells since the new shot has a density 22 percent higher than standard tungsten and more than 50 percent higher than lead. The shells also feature blended-size pellets and Federal’s Flitecontrol Flex wad for tight, consistent patterns. Available in 12- and 20-gauge, the five-round boxes have an MSRP ranging from $39.95 to $63.95.

Another new tungsten load, this one from Browning, was also introduced last year. Touted as the “densest shot on the market,” Browning’s TSS Tungsten Turkey loads have 5 percent more pellets and two times the energy of most other shells at 60 yards — a distance at which past generations of hunters wouldn’t have even considered shooting a turkey. Offered in 12- and 20-gauge No. 7 shot or 7/9 blend, the shells are a little less expensive than the previous Federal offering. MSRP for five-round boxes of the Browning shells ranges from $28 to $48.

Of course, there are still plenty of hunters who have shot lead at turkeys for decades and understand its effectiveness. And many of them don’t want to pay $8 to $12 per shell for turkey ammunition. Fortunately, they’re in luck, as several manufacturers still make shells for them.

Winchester’s Long Beard XR has been a top turkey killer for years and is still a favorite of many. Winchester says the lead loads offer the longest shot capability of any traditional turkey load and place twice the number of pellets in a 10-inch circle at 60 yards as other common loadings. Retail price is about $20 for a box of 10.

Remington’s Premier Magnum Turkey loads have also gotten the job done for years and have an almost cult-like following among turkey hunters. The 3-inch shells deliver 2 ounces of 4, 5 or 6 lead shot on the target with precision. And at a just little more than $1 a shell, they’re way less expensive than the new nonlead loads.

While not as many hunters chase turkeys as white-tailed deer (about 2.5 million Americans hunt turkeys compared to 8.1 million deer hunters), turkey hunters are avid in their pursuit and flock to new specialized gear. Stock up with products they’ll need for the upcoming season and take advantage of this growing segment of the hunting market.


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