Remington 870 With 10,000,000 made since 1950 there can’t be much argument that more turkeys have fallen to the 870 than to any other shotgun, or perhaps even than to all other shotguns put together. America’s shotgun and America’s big game bird go together: 870s come in several turkey specific versions in both standard and 3 ½ magnum like the Shurshot shown here. A growing number of hunters, myself included, carry light 20 gauge youth versions powered up with premium tungsten-iron ammo.
People have been shooting turkeys with guns since the first Europeans arrived on this continent and found the birds to be plentiful, tasty and not particularly (at first anyway) wary. Turkeys were an important source of food and sport until overhunting and forest clearing in the 19th and early 20th century wiped them out of all but the most remote woods. Restoration efforts in the latter half of the century brought them back in the numbers we have today.
Nevertheless there was a gap of about 50-75 years of the 20th century during which turkey hunting and turkey guns were unknown to the majority of American hunters. That may explain why there is no one accepted “classic” turkey gun, or even a short list. To help redress that oversight, here are 25 great turkey guns from colonial times to the sporting guns of the present day.