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Shotgun Actions for Turkeys


In the world of turkey hunters certain shotgun actions dominate the scene. Without question semi-auto’s and pump action are the norm. Most of the reason is for a faster second shot. The hope of course is that a second shot is not needed, but if it is, hunters want one that is fast.

When an unscientific poll was taken (by yours truly) of twenty five well known turkey hunters; thirteen used a semi-auto, six used a pump action, four opted for double barrels and two used a single shot. As you can see the semi-auto dominates the scene but that does not mean there is not a place for all other actions. The semi auto is the most efficient for many reasons. First and foremost as stated earlier it allows for a fast follow up shot, in addition with most being gas operated they help to reduce felt recoil. Whereas the other actions do nothing to reduce felt recoil without the aid of a muzzle brake which is incorporated on many extended choke tubes.

The semiauto twelve gauge chambered for 3 ½ inch shells offers the most variety due to its ability to chamber every size shell available in the gauge. From the diminutive 2 ¾ inch to the monstrous 3 ½ inch shells.  Many pump actions area also capable of chambering these variety of shells.

It really comes down to a preference for the hunter. While there is a place for all of the actions mentioned. The double gun is the traditional one found in most hands of the pioneers of turkey hunting. Owning a double gun was something of a necessity, for the fastest of follow up shots the second barrel pointed directly at the target is about as fast as it gets. Truth be told, so seldom is a third shot necessary there is a good argument for the double gun in the hands of a turkey hunter.

Those who choose a single shot are far better shots than I am and I have to tip my hat to them for choosing to hunt turkeys with a single shot. It is akin to trying to kill a turkey with a slingshot. The focus needed to ensure one shot is more than I am capable of when a long beard is inside twenty five yards.

Regardless of which action you choose, make sure you get used to your gun, get comfortable and know how it shoots. Too many hunters ‘assume’ they know where and how their gun shoots and never take the time to pattern the gun effectively. Taking the time to shoot different shells and getting used to your gun can make the difference in a hit or miss. Confidence is essential when aiming at a living creature. If you are confident in the shot, then everything works and your hard work to bring in a wary gobbler is rewarded with a flop.