After years of getting bigger, now turkey guns keep shrinking as small-gauge options attract interest among hunters. While you can still find new 3½ inch 12-gauges decked out for the spring woods, they are now joined with more and more 20s and .410s, which just means extra options for you. You can credit TSS ammo and improved lead loads like 20-gauge Winchester Long Beard for the switch, and it might also be true that more hunters realize the real fun of turkey hunting is bringing birds in close. Small-gauge guns fit in perfectly with that hunting philosophy, and they’re easy to carry and handle, and a lot less of a chore to pattern, too. Below are the best new turkey guns from 2022, as well as the top models from last year, which are all still offered and remain great options with the latest features. Also, 2021 was the year of the sub-gauge turkey gun, including three models that come 20 and two in .410.
This year, Weatherby adds one more sub-gauge option in an affordable new intertia semiauto available in 12 or 20. Otherwise, 2022 leans back toward the big gun. So you want the extra punch and reach of a 12, there’s plenty to choose from, including an unexpected offering for Sauer.
Browning offers a limited run of its excellent and soft-shooting Maxus II gas gun with a 26-inch barrel, extended choke, Picatinny rail and Mossy Oak Bottomland camo. The synthetic stock features both rubber grip panels and a soft comb insert along with an Inflex buttpad, all of which will help you endure pre-season patterning sessions. At around 7 pounds, the Maxus is light enough to tote through the woods, but hefty enough for serious wingshooting, too. Remove the rail in the fall and you can hunt birds and ducks with this gun, too, which helps you rationalize the price tag.
Mossberg as it extends its 940 Pro series with a pair of dedicated 3-inch 12 gauge gobbler guns. The 940 improves on the 930 with upgraded gas system parts, corrosion-resistant internals and stainless steel return spring. Both guns feature cuts in the receiver for a RMR-footprint reflex sight and a cover should you choose not to mount one. The stocks adjust with spacers to as short as 13 inches. Both guns feature enlarged bolt handles and closer buttons, synthetic stocks and are covered in Mossy Oak Greenleaf camo. One has a 24 inch barrel, usually a length conducive to better patterns, while the other comes in at a compact 18 ½ inches, ideal for carrying and close quarters.
German gunmaker Sauer dates to the 18th century, but there is nothing old-fashioned or traditional about the SL5 turkey gun. Sauer partnered with Bruno Civolani, inventor of the inertia system, on a lineup of inertia semiauto shotguns that now includes a turkey model. The guns have barrels bobbed back to the 18 ½ inch legal minimum to make them easy to carry through the woods and handle in the brush. The barrels have a fiber-optic bead and the receivers come with Picatinny rail installed. The pistol-gripped synthetic stock comes in your choice of three different Mossy Oak patterns. The three choke tubes that come with the gun include an extended Carlson turkey choke.
Inertia semiautos are light, which makes them easy to carry through the spring woods. They kick more than heavier guns and gas guns, but who cares when you may only shoot once all spring? The Turkish-made Element comes dressed for the woods with a bobbed 22-inch barrel and a coat of original Mossy Oak Bottomland camo. It features sling swivel studs and rubber grip panels in the stock and forend. Weatherby has been sourcing guns from overseas makers since the 50s and they how to pick their partners: the Element is a good gun, and now it’s even better if you want a turkey gun.
Turkey hunting–done right–is a one-shot sport, and it’s good to see a single shot represented among this year’s guns. Break-action single-shots are both light and compact, which are good traits in a gobbler gun, and Henry’s new Single-Shot is woods-ready with a coat of Mossy Oak Obsession, iron sights, a barrel drilled and tapped for an optics, and a turkey choke. It has a 24-inch barrel and weighs just 6¾ pounds. You’ll feel this gun go off if you shoot it with a 3½-inch load, but you’ll hardly know it’s there when you’ve got it slung over your shoulder.
A well-made Turkish inertia gun that has come on strong in the short time it’s been available in the U.S., the Retay Masai Mara comes in a new 20-gauge turkey model available in several camo patterns. It has a 22-inch vent-ribbed barrel and a receiver drilled and tapped for the supplied Picatinny rail if you want to mount an optic. The Masai Mara features a bolt designed to do away with the out-of-battery misfire that occurs with inertia guns from time to time, and is especially frustrating when it happens in the spring woods.
Modeled after Winchester’s Model 1300/SXP, the Savage 320 is a Chinese-made pump that sells for a very low price that can put a dedicated 3-inch 12- or 20-gauge turkey gun in the hands of almost anyone. The 22-inch barrel comes with a turkey choke and adjustable fiber-optic sights clamped to a vent rib. The drab-green synthetic stock features a hybrid thumbhole design that is highly practical for turkey hunting.
The Franchi Affinity has become quite popular among upland hunters and waterfowlers who more or less want to shoot a Benelli without paying Benelli prices. Now, turkey hunters can buy a lightweight, reliable Franchi inertia gun made expressly for the spring woods. The Affinity Turkey and Turkey Elite shotguns feature a very comfortable pistol grip, camo finish, and a 24-inch barrel with a turkey choke and adjustable rear and hooded front sights. They are also drilled and tapped for an optic. The Turkey comes in 3-inch 12- and 20-gauge, as well as 3½-inch 12 with a, choice of camo patterns. The Turkey Elite comes in 3-inch 12- or 20-gauge with camo and Cerakote.
Mossberg’s imported .410 gas gun makes up into a neat turkey version for those wanting to try shooting big birds with small bores. An inexpensive gun about which you hardly ever hear a discouraging word, the SA-410 Turkey was a mid-year introduction in 2020, so it missed its first turn in the turkey woods, not now it’s ready for its closeup. Dipped in old-school original Bottomland, it features a rib-mounted ghost ring sight, a Picatinny rail, and a 26-inch barrel with an extended turkey choke.
The Tri Star Viper G2 Turkey comes in 12, 20, and .410 versions for hunters who want to shoot a lightweight semiauto. The 12 weighs just 6.8 pounds, the 20 6.3, and the .410 6 pounds even. The tactical-style pistol grip is extremely comfortable to hang on to when you’re seated against a tree, and the gun has a Picatinny rail for mounting an optic. The 24-inch barrels are the right length to shoot good patterns with high dollar TSS loads through the gun’s XX Full turkey choke.
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