For a glorious week, I hunted Rio Grande turkeys in the warmth of Texas spring with a Savage 220 Turkey, the company’s first bolt-action smoothbore shotgun. From the extended extra full turkey choke to the Mossy Oak Obsession camo pattern favored by the National Wild Turkey Federation, the 220 Turkey comes optimized for taking down gobblers.
While bolt-action shotguns aren’t new, they are somewhat rare. The ones that do exist are either missing components like a magazine or in various stages of disrepair. Savage aims to change that with the 220 – modeled off of the 220 rifled-slug bolt gun – and 212 smoothbore. The only difference between the two new shotguns is chambering: 220 in 20 gauge and 212 in 12 gauge.
Features: Accu Everything
Most notably, the new shotguns are equipped with Savage’s Accu systems. That includes AccuFit to customize the length-of-pull and comb as well as the AccuStock bedding rails and adjustable AccuTrigger. The AccuFit is probably one of the most remarkable features of the year. It allows users to essentially custom fit the gun.
With a 22-inch free-floated barrel, the shotguns are a turkey hunter’s dream. The barrel is short enough to remain maneuverable in gobbler country yet long enough to wring the maximum potential from the loads to put dandy patterns on target. Then, an oversized, almost tactical-style bolt handle makes it easy to quickly work the action in the field when gloved up. Sling studs come standard in a nice nod to the practical hunter who can use an extra method to tote more gear and dekes.
Bolt-action rifle hunters will feel right at home with these new shotguns built around the familiar 110 action. In fact, the free-floated barrel is secured to the receiver using a Model 110-style locking nut, with the end goal being repeatably accurate patterns. A shotgun has never been built quite like this.
The 220 has a Taste for Federal Premium TSS
The natural partnering with these new Savage bolt action hunting shotguns is, without a doubt, the Federal Premium Heavyweight TSS turkey loads. The company says both the 212 and 220 Turkey models are “optimized” for exceptional patterning when firing TSS through the included extra full choke.
The Heavyweight loads make use of a tungsten alloy with a density that is 22 percent higher than standard tungsten and 56 percent greater than lead. In other words, the payload increases but the weight does not.
I took down multiple trophy gobblers at distances from 16 to 53 yards using 20-gauge medicine in both #7/#9 and #8/#10 blends. Patterns at 40 yards were incredibly dense and no gobbler took a step. Though I cannot advocate swatting at birds at great distance, when the greatest pleasure is getting them thundering up close, TSS fired through the 220 still held impressive groups at 60 yards.
My first time hunting turkeys with a bolt action shotgun was a pleasurable venture indeed. The 220 Turkey is a basic design with upscale features. It may appear overkill to include an AccuTrigger on a shotgun, but it never hurts to have a decent bangswitch on any gun.
Speaking of safeties, the three-position, tang-mounted slider on the 220 is a win in several ways. First, it’s ambidextrous-friendly, even though the bolt is righty only at this time. But second, the three-position design allows the action to be operated without putting the gun into fire mode. Best of all, this is a fairly close-quarters hunting arm, and as is necessary in such situations, the safety moves silently.
The polymer dropbox magazine holds two rounds plus one in the chamber, ample firepower for gobbler-getting. The magazine can be a little tricky to load and then again to lock up quickly into the gun. But, once mastered, the process goes much more smoothly.
The oversized bolt handle is a welcome addition for turkey hunting where gloves are almost always the norm for hunters seeking full camo coverage. A matte black finish on all metalwork is also geared toward the stealthy hunter. The extended choke patterned beautifully, and because the guns make use of the Winchoke thread pattern, finding additional tubes will be a breeze.
A lengthy Picatinny rail atop the receiver means there’s ample room for mounting an optic, essentially a must as no iron sight provisions are included. I found great success using Aimpoint’s Micro H-2 red dot. That baby has an even dozen brightness settings and a 2MOA dot size and lit up nicely on gobbler necks at a wide range of distances. One of the hunters put down a true double—that is, two gobblers with one shot, at 43 yards with the same setup and ammunition.
To the Bolt-Action Shotgun, Welcome
If we polled a dozen hardcore turkey hunters, odds are good none would have expected to see a bolt action shotgun platform resurrected with such grandeur. It is indeed “gobbler’s beware” once the 212 and 220 hit full production.
While bolt action shotguns may not appeal to every hunter, both the simple and durable nature of the platform, partnered with the Accu-everything features Savage includes on the smoothbores, make the guns immediately relevant – and deadly – turkey companions.
MSRP on the 220 Turkey tips the scales at $695, a steep price given the history of bolt action shotguns, but it comes with a laundry list of features.