Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

Why Register?
Signing up could earn you gear (click here to learn how)! It also keeps offensive content off our site.

Convert a Youth Shotgun into a Great Turkey Gun for Adults

MOMENTOUS DISCOVERIES often come about by accident. James Goodyear left rubber on a hot stove overnight and invented vulcanization. Louis Pasteur tried to kill some chickens with cholera bacteria and vaccinated them instead. I tried to turn my son's 870 Express Jr. into a slug gun for him and wound up making a great turkey gun for myself. The gun formerly known as "John's" is short, light, handy, and deadly.

There are a ton of Remington 870, Mossberg 500, Browning BPS, and Winchester 1300 youth-model guns gathering dust in the closets of owners who have outgrown them. The good news is that you can turn any of them into an excellent turkey gun for less than $60.

After John outgrew the Express Jr., I thought it might still make a good deer gun. I tried to convert it on the cheap by using a scope mount and a rifled choke tube. Unfortunately, the gun sprayed slugs like a garden hose. I dropped that idea and instead added sling swivels and a turkey choke, which cost a total of $55. You can make more modifications (see below) but they're not absolutely necessary.

While patterning the gun, I found I loved the short stock and the way the 20-gauge saturated turkey targets with pellets out to 35-plus yards without undue recoil. In the field, the Express Jr. is a delightful turkey gun for several reasons: It weighs 6 pounds and change, so toting it is a cinch. The short (18¾-inch) barrel never hangs up on brush. A kid-size stock makes it effortless to handle. I can switch the gun easily from my left shoulder to my right if need be. When I'm slouched against a tree trunk, I can ease my head onto the comb without having to lean forward and "crawl" the stock.

I've since talked to other experienced hunters who have switched to the little models for the same reasons I fell so hard for John's gun. So long as the birds come within 40 yards, it's the best turkey gun I've owned.

Stock
The biggest plus of a youth gun for turkeys is the short stock. Most turkey guns have stocks designed for wingshooting, yet we shoot them like rifles. A 12- or 13-inch stock is easier to handle in the woods, especially if you mount a scope.

Barrel
Most youth guns have barrels in the 20- to 21-inch range, perfect for maneuvering in the brush. The Express Jr. has an 18¾-inch barrel, which is even better.

Sling Swivels
Every turkey gun needs a sling. I installed swivels from Uncle Mike's ($35; 800-423-3537; uncle-mikes.com) and borrowed a sling from a deer gun.

Optical Sight
For $100, you can upgrade to a red-dot sight. I had a gunsmith drill and tap the receiver for a Weaver-style base at a cost of $42. The bases run $7 to $10. I went top-of-the-line and put a Zeiss Z-point ($510; 800-441-3005; www.zeiss.com) on this one, but you can also opt for Cabela's Pine Ridge red-dot sight (800-237-4444; cabelas. com), which sells for $50.

Bead
You can keep your costs under $60 by aiming with the existing bead sight. But a front and middle bead arrangement is simple, durable, and more effective. The last time I had a middle bead put on a gun, it cost me $11.

Choke Tube
The Hunter's Specialties Undertaker turkey choke is a deal at $20 (800-728-0321; hunterspec.com). It shoots excellent patterns with Winchester Supreme 1¼-ounce lead 6s.

Comments (1)

Top Rated
All Comments
from stewmagoo wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Phil,

I have been following your articles based on this 870 Express Jr. concept. (March 2007). I have recently noticed you have written another article in this month's F&S, about the 20's ammo. Man, I have been looking everywhere for the same 870 Express Jr. 20 with the 18.75 in. barrel, with no luck. I believe you articles get read more than you believe. I have located a bunch of the 20's with the 20 and 21 inch barrels, but not the 18.75. Do you think the same results will be achieved? I have searched dealers, online auctions, etc. I went and shot my 835 UltraMag, with 3" shells and my shoulder is tired, then went to my friends Encore 12 ga. 3 inch shells, oof even worse. Do you know where I can find one of those 870's at? Thanks and great articles.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from stewmagoo wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Phil,

I have been following your articles based on this 870 Express Jr. concept. (March 2007). I have recently noticed you have written another article in this month's F&S, about the 20's ammo. Man, I have been looking everywhere for the same 870 Express Jr. 20 with the 18.75 in. barrel, with no luck. I believe you articles get read more than you believe. I have located a bunch of the 20's with the 20 and 21 inch barrels, but not the 18.75. Do you think the same results will be achieved? I have searched dealers, online auctions, etc. I went and shot my 835 UltraMag, with 3" shells and my shoulder is tired, then went to my friends Encore 12 ga. 3 inch shells, oof even worse. Do you know where I can find one of those 870's at? Thanks and great articles.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

bmxbiz-fs