What Size Shot For Turkey?

Turkey shotguns come equipped with various amenities that may help increase accuracy and power; many hunters choose a 20-gauge gun with TSS for this reason.

These powerful tungsten super shot loads offer excellent pattern density and lethality at both short and long ranges, though these powerful shots carry a higher price tag.


At its heart, nothing beats having a shotgun that consistently patterns well when it comes to turkey hunting. All the bells and whistles offered by turkey-specific models (such as optics or choke) will go to waste if your shotgun doesn’t shoot accurately out of the box. To ensure optimal patterns when shooting new loads before heading into the woods is to practice with them prior to doing any hunting; this will allow you to get familiar with how the load performs while providing you with opportunities to fine-tune as necessary.

Step one in creating an ideal turkey load is selecting your pellet sizes: #4 and #5 are both excellent choices when targeting gobblers at longer ranges, however if you need to hit longer-distance gobblers you might consider switching up with something like #7 or #9.

Once you’ve selected the pellet size that suits you best, the next step should be finding an appropriate load. There are a variety of turkey-specific loads on the market; not all are created equal. Some have higher pellet counts or greater power than others; other come equipped with long shells loaded with specially tailored turkey chokes that may cause recoil in your bird. These high-energy loads may potentially blow it off-target and create recoil as a result.

Finding the ideal load depends on personal preference, but Federal Tungsten Super Shot (TSS) should always be at the top of your list. TSS is more dense than lead and travels further for increased range – perfect for turkey hunting! Unfortunately, TSS tends to be more costly than its lead-based counterparts.

Kent’s Ultimate Turkey load is an economical solution that’s ideal for short range shooting. In our patterning tests, this load averaged an impressive 109 hits with the Mossberg 500 rifle. While not the strongest load available, Kent’s Ultimate Turkey will work for most hunters looking for short distance shooting solutions.


Turkey hunters don’t require high-powered shotguns; instead they require one that can reliably penetrate a gobbler’s head and neck to bring him out of strut. Failure to achieve lethal hits quickly ruins any hunt and spoils any meat caught during it, so it is crucial that hunters test out their shotgun prior to heading into the woods.

Patterning helps hunters ensure that their gun shoots where it is pointed and determine which load or choke combination works best for turkey hunting. A turkey hunter should experiment with various shot sizes, shell types, choke sizes and choke styles until he or she finds one which produces a consistent, deadly pattern with every shot taken.

To accomplish this task, the hunter should set up a target and shoot various distances with their gun, counting how many pellets strike within a 10-inch circle surrounding its center. An ideal turkey hunting gun should produce at least 100 hits from 40 yards, providing enough pellets to reach the kill zone and kill off their prey.

Consideration must also be given to the power of a shotgun, which will depend on how much shot has been loaded into its chamber – typically 4 or 6 shot for 20 gauge shotguns – since more shots equals more power.

Youth hunters may prefer pump action shotguns as they can be easier to operate and reduce recoil, allowing for multiple shots per round. However, semi-automatic shotsguns can still provide reliable and accurate hunting experiences for adult hunters.

Young turkey hunters looking to improve their skills should practice as often as possible, shooting anatomically correct turkey targets with particular focus on where skin and feathers meet (known as the wattle). A good turkey target will offer multiple aiming points that a youth hunter can aim at.


Tradition dictated that hunters use turkey loads that discharge large payloads of lead shot at high muzzle velocities to kill turkeys at close range; this method proved less than ideal past 50 yards. Nowadays, however, modern shotgun manufacturers offer lighter 20-gauge turkey loads capable of killing gobblers at any distance; particularly effective if used with tungsten loads.

Tungsten is denser than lead, and therefore delivers more pellets with equal energy to target. Federal Ammunition offers its HEVI-13 turkey load to create an even-handed cone of lethality at all distances; with muzzle velocity between 1,150-1,200 fps it offers plenty of punch for most turkey hunting scenarios. onX Hunt Elite Members save 15% off Federal Ammunition loads such as this HEVI-13 load!

Hevi-Shot and Kent’s Xtreme Tungsten shells are other popular tungsten options available to hunters. Hevi-Shot features a mix of tungsten and iron that yields a density of 12 grams/cc, higher than lead, with an integrated polymer buffer to reduce shot deformation and enhance lethality. Kent’s Xtreme Tungsten employs similar designs with its 2-ounce payload shooting at 1,300 fps.

If high-friction hard pellet material isn’t your cup of tea, there are also soft-pellet alternatives with high energy that won’t harm the bird or environment – such as Kent’s BR5 turkey load made out of bismuth instead of steel that provides excellent punch through tough feathers to get birds out of range quickly.

Finding the ideal load for your turkey gun depends on a number of factors, including its type, shooting style and how you intend to hunt. Many variables will also impact recoil; if recoil is an issue for you or someone hunting with you, consider selecting a low-recoil load from MidwayUSA’s selection – there will certainly be one available that fits perfectly with your hunting plans!


When shooting turkeys, staying focused and alert are two of the most crucial components. Loss of concentration could make shooting difficult – practice with various shot loads and sizes before hunting to develop proper techniques for turkey hunting.

The 20-gauge has become an increasingly popular choice for turkey hunting. Being lighter and having less recoil than its 12 gauge counterpart makes it easier for hunters with smaller frames or younger hunters to handle and use; moreover, its versatility enables it to be used against rabbits, squirrels, quail, dove and turkeys alike.

Reputable shotgun manufacturers ensure their turkey hunting ammunition creates a dense pattern at all ranges. This increases your chance of a clean kill and also ensures compliance with state regulations.

There is an assortment of shot materials to select from, each offering its own distinct properties. As different types of shot are more suited to specific uses than others, it is crucial that you identify which will provide optimal performance in your application – among the more common options are lead, steel and tungsten shot.

Tungsten provides several advantages over lead for turkey hunting, such as its high density and tighter patterns. Tungsten comes in an assortment of shot sizes to meet your specific hunting requirements.

Federal’s 3rd Degree turkey load is an ideal solution for shooting turkeys at all ranges. Utilizing Flitecontrol flex wads and heavyweight TSS extra-density shot, this load delivers lethal results from close-range shots to further distances in independent testing.

The ideal 20-gauge turkey loads should produce dense patterns with enough power to penetrate gobblers at long ranges, while being reliable and cost-effective. They should also match your type of shotgun’s capabilities while offering consistent trajectory and performance.

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