Did you ever go turkey hunting with 20 gauge shotgun? Well, after 12 gauge, 20 gauge shotgun is widely used as upland and small game shotgun because of its excellent performance.
It has a much denser shot pattern which explains its popularity among game bird hunters. Whether you are a weekend hunter or a regular season hunter, carry this lightweight tool along with heavy gear and hit a perfect shot. Turkey shotguns also follow a generation of advancement. All these updates are designed to help you shoot more accurately at longer ranges. We are also going to have a look at shotgun basics in the following sections. Moreover, the fun factor about hunting with a 20 is that it is lighter and gives soft kick with its light barrel. The hunting becomes more effective and fun with brand new shell available for a 20 gauge shotgun.
Why Go Turkey Hunting With 20 Gauge?
Swap over and try out a 20 gauge shotgun this turkey season after seeing the following valid reasons.
For longbeards, ‘run and gun’ approach is a win-win solution. To have that, you need a shotgun that you can carry all day without feeling a pinch of burden. Many lighter versions of 20 gauge shotguns are there to use to hunt turkeys moving around. If you ask me a question that what to wear turkey hunting, then along with suggesting best suits, one of my answers will be like ‘you must also carry a lightweight shotgun, especially if you are not using blinds’. When not using blinds, you will undoubtedly come to know about the importance of lighter shotguns.
Debunk the stigma that only 12 gauge can put a turkey down. Yes, it can. But a 20 gauge can also kill a gobbler even out of 50 to 60 yards. Yes, the 20 gauge is enough for turkeys.
The large bird is capable of absorbing a lot of lead and still be able to escape from the hunter. This is the reason most of the hunters concentrate on the vitals of turkeys. To hit these spots, you need a shotgun that delivers enough pellets with enough force and takes out the turkeys. And fortunately, all this stuff included in 20 gauge.
So, take a chance and see a big tom killed on the ground just as hard as any 12 gauge kill.
If you think that less recoil means less weight, it’s not true. 20 gauge has less recoil than 10, 12 or 16 gauge on an average which is considered desirable for those who want to experience prolonged shooting. If you put 20 gauge at a similar setup like a 12 gauge, they will always kick less. And, this will enable better accuracy.
Less recoil means you are confident with the weapon and can handle better than 12 gauge in a hurry-up situation.
Adequate Stopping Power
Despite the fact that it has less stopping power than 12 ga., the 20s stopping power is still more satisfactory to get the job done. A 20 gauge is suitable for taking the big game with its reduced stopping power.
The main reason behind its portability is the lighter ammunition. The lighter ammo allows you more comfortable carrying in the field, as well as more ammo to be brought along.
So, it is like extra insurance that if something unexpected happens and you need to let a couple of rounds fly.
Every type of shotgun has its advantages and disadvantages. The thing is to look over them and choose what’s right for you.
The above points will definitely help you consider 20 gauge as an option.
Before you go shooting, you should know about these basics.
The shotgun is a truly flexible firearm. You can take out a wide range of targets from hunting to competition to personal defence. Well, it also depends upon the ammunition used, barrel configuration and chokes selection.
A shotgun is a long barrel typically used to shoot moving targets in the air. It has a smooth bore to reduce friction, and its bore is made for only one specific gauge of ammo.
A rifle is also a long barrel typically used to fire at stationary targets. It has thick walls with rifling that puts a spin on the bullet fired from a rifle. The bore of a rifle barrel is made only of one specific calibre of ammunition.
A handgun is a short barrel with rifling and thick walls and used to shoot at stationary targets. It is almost like a rifle in all of its features except that it has a short barrel.
So, these differences will help you properly understand about below listed shotgun basics.
A shotgun is measured in gauges. Common gauges are 10, 12, 16, 20, 28 and .410 gauge. Each shotgun gauge shoots shells only of similar gauge. 10, 12 and 20 gauge are widely used shotgun gauges.
If we look at the cutway of a shell, instead of a single bullet, we see many little round pellets or shots. These shots are usually made of lead or steel. When you fire the shotgun, the pellets begin to spread leaving the barrel. This spread is called the shot string. Here comes the importance of choke in a shotgun because it enables you to direct the shot string.
A choke is akin to a degree of narrowing present at the end of a shotgun barrel that will affect the shot pattern when the shot string hits the target.
Shot types also have a role to play in shotgun along with using best decoys for turkey hunting. There may be an overlap of what shot you can use but mostly for turkey or duck hunting #6 and #4 shots are used. While, on the other hand, #8.5, #7 shots are used for trap or clays. For geese, #2 and BB shots are mostly in use. And, for home defence, OO and OOO shots are typically used.
These numbers may need to modify sometimes depending upon the shooting range you are visiting and the hunting laws in your area.
Also, keep in mind that lead shots are not allowed to be used in some areas because of environmental reasons.
The needed choke is dependent on the distance from the target. It controls the short pattern by keeping it tight or spread out at a specific distance. Mainly, there are four types of chokes. There is cylinder choke, improved cylinder choke, modified choke, and full choke.
Cylinder choke allows the shot string to spreads rapidly.
Enhanced cylinder choke permits the shot string to spread quite quickly. This choke is an excellent choice for rabbits, quails and further upland game at relatively close ranges.
Modified choke made the shot string are denser and useful especially at long range. There is also an enhanced customized choke that is faintly tighter than modified ones.
Next, comes the full choke that makes the shot string longer than the usual size. So, this is great for turkeys, squirrels, and game shots that range at 40 or more than 40-yards.
So, choke selection one aspect of what to wear turkey hunting because that matters a lot in your shooting ranges.
The Steel shots are pretty lighter than lead shots of the same size. Also, it is rigid than lead shots.
Few hunters use steel shots which are one or two sizes bigger to adjust for the variation in weight from a shot made of lead. While in general hunters use the identical size steel shot or even smaller ones to accommodate more shot in the patterns.
However, full chokes usually construct poor patterns in accordance with steel shot.
Match Firearms And Ammunition Accurately
Wrong ammunition to your gun can cause an explosion, injury or possibly killing yourself and any bystanders.
With shotgun ammunition, always check both the gauge and the shell length. Also, ensure that whether it’s a magnum load, to ensure it matches the data on the barrel.
Read the specific gauge or calibre designations on the side of the barrel also and match it exactly.
Finally, match them before you shoot.
You should always purchase correct ammunition for your firearm. Buy the exact calibre or gauge and ammunition length for which your shotgun, rifle or handgun is designed for.
The date stamp on the shotgun barrel mentions the length of a shell that can be used. So, never use a shell that is longer than this length.
A common mistake is putting a 20 gauge shotshell into 12 gauge shotgun. It has a dangerous effect. The 20 gauge shell will slide the chamber bypassing it and lodge itself in the barrel, which can cause severe injury to the hunter or damage the gun. So, turkey hunting with 20 gauge needs to be carried out properly.
Know Your Firearm Range
Knowing your firearm’s maximum projectile range tells you at what distances your firearm’s projectile will cause injury to animals, persons or objects. The best killing range is always less than the maximum projectile range.
I must say at the end of this little boring but informative basics that along with using camouflaged best turkey hunting ghillie suits, you should own the perfect turkey camouflaged shotgun.
What’s The Best Turkey Hunting Gun?
Hey! All you turkey hunters must agree with this that best turkey shotgun is one that shoots straight. A shotgun that shoots true to POA (Point of Aim).
Sometimes, the shell is not the issue; the gun is not the issue. The problem could be your gun may not be shooting straight.
So, you need to know the performance of your gun before you go to turkey woods.
You probably have used best broadhead for turkey while turkey hunting with a bow. Now, it’s time to switch over to the features of the best shotgun.
No doubt, 12 gauge is popular. It offers the best options for ammo. But, 20 gauge could be an alternative, or you can say a good opportunity to hunt turkeys. As you have read above, 20 gauge shotgun has some of its best advantages that can be used while turkey hunting.
Chokes tubes are required in shotguns to produce different patterns of pellets after they leave the barrel. So, they will also act as a major deciding factor in hitting the gobblers from different angles. Nowadays, special turkey chokes referred to as specialty chokes for a 20 gauge shotgun are made. They can shoot tighter patterns allowing the hunter to easily aim vitals of a turkey from a shooting range of 35 to 40 yards.
Next best alternative is a modified choke. Being a most handy choke for a 20 gauge shotgun, it can fulfill adequate necessities of a hunter like shooting from ranges 15-35 yards or target and trap hunting.[N1]
Turkey guns must have sights. The key to hitting a turkey every time is to use sights. Wild turkeys are one of the toughest creatures to hit. That is why before asking how to cook a wild turkey, you must have a strategy in hand to shoot them correctly.
There may be two big reasons that you are missing out on turkeys.
The first that we shoot too far. And, the other is to miss a turkey on ultra-close shots, where the pattern is very tight.
So, this is the reason you gun must have sights.
Using a turkey head and neck target while sighting in a turkey gun, your main goal should be to place as many pellets as possible on turkey’s head, which is about the size of man’s fist, rather than throwing a wide pattern to shoot a moving bird.
So, it’s essential to know the gun’s maximum range that you can shoot. At least six pellets in the brain or spinal column and much more in the neck and head area of the bird is likely to become your gun’s lethal range. And, you must be able to repeat this at least three times.
Be sure your batteries are fresh enough and that you carry spares if you go with a battery operated red-dot sight.
Particularly on the edge of the field, red-dot sights or crosshair scopes work well for a 20 gauge [N1] shotgun. Scopes also help in taking shots that are longer. Always remember to use scope caps to get prevention from the fog. For that, you can also use scope rings to see through it.
A better load that delivers a better pattern with great density and massive shot. If you want a deadly pattern, then field loads is not a good option as they are specifically designed for trap shooting or small game hunting.20 gauge uses lighter loads than that of a 12 gauge shotgun. No matter the weight of a load in 20 gauge, a good load must enough lead to wound the turkey.
So, you should choose loads according to gauge which better suits to hit the gobblers at longer ranges too.[N2]
Short barrels, especially those 20 inches or shorter, present a challenge when it comes to throwing a good pattern. For that, you must adopt the good practice of deep cleaning the barrel before taking it to the range, fields or woods.
Recoil management is easy as we never feel the recoil when hunting but developing a flinch at the range can be discouraging. For that, you must ensure best possible hearing protection at the range, especially when introducing a new shooter to a shotgun.
Overall Performance Of 20 Gauge Shotgun
In the early 2000s, the performance of the 20 gauge shotgun was terrible. The gun was good out to reach 15 to 20 yards with consistent patterning that could kill a turkey cleanly.
But, over a period of advancement, we finally have shells that can deliver consistent, reliable patterns even out to 40 yards.
So, we can easily say now that a good 20 gauge gun, properly choked with the right shotshell can do all that just like a 12 gauge gun.
The only difference is that there are fewer pellets in a 20 gauge shell as compared to 12 gauge shell. The same amount of energy takes place and all things being almost equal. However, there may be differences in the length and weight of guns and recoil in 20 gauge is also less than that of 12 gauge and these differences are pretty obvious and advantageous to some extent also.
So, if you also wish to go for 20 gauge, here is a quick tip. 20 gauge guns pattern better with bores that are clean and not fouled. This is because in a fouled bore patterns may degrade so greatly that consistent patterning is just impossible.
Hopefully, by now, you can better decide for turkey hunting with 20 gauge. Whether you go for any gauge, your aim should be persistent. Overall, the performance rating of 20 gauge is noticeable in these recent years when hunters are hitting these big critters with it. Comfort matters a lot as well which you are obviously, not compromising in choosing a 20 gauge.
The article had also provided an insight on shotgun basics that must be well known before going to shoot those massive gobblers. At last, my final opinion is that you should debunk the myth that only 12 gauge or others can do well. Explore the market and appreciate the advantages of each and every without putting them into a certain category.
And, certainly, with smart ergonomics, you will surely have better results.