Bagging trophy Fall turkeys can be a competitive and often expensive affair and it’s easy to get caught up in all the hoopla of modern guns with longer ranges and better products. That said, many a game animal has fallen to guns of yesteryear. As such, we present three classic shotguns from the used racks which will serve turkey hunters well for years to come.
Winchester Model 12
There’s something to be said for hunting with a nostalgic shotgun with military history. Though our test Model 12 has been refinished and its collectability is no longer at its peak, it remains a desirable and attractive shooter – having served in several branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. With walnut stocks that only get that attractive warmth with the patina of age and use, the Model harkens back to adventures from decades ago, yet is ready to bag Toms tomorrow.
The 28-inch plain barrel on our test Model 12 wears a fixed Modified choke. Though a Full choke would be preferable for a turkey-specific shotgun, the Mod makes a nice do-all option for clean patterns at all ranges. We kept our turkey targets in the 20 to 25-yard range and the patterns on turkey targets were fantastic with high brass 16-gauge loads. Those in the market for a used Model 12 will find several in the Guns.com Vault in both 12 and 16-gauges, with used prices from $249 to $531.
Remington Model 1100
Though most affordable shotguns are pump-action, the Model 1100 has been around the block long enough that these semi-automatic shotguns are often found on used racks with appealing price tags. Our loaner gun from the Vault has a 28-inch barrel and fixed full choke. The 28-inch barreled version with its fixed full choke is another nice do-all gun that will excel on clays and even upland bird hunting as well as bagging turkeys.
At 25-yards, it put a plenty deadly pattern on target even with its rather light loads and fixed Full choke. Of course, the limitation on this particular model is the 2.75-inch chamber, as most specialty turkey loads are packed into either 3-inch or 3.5-inch shells. Dedicated turkey hunters may want to look at the Model 1100 in its Magnum variant, for a gobbler-getter that can chamber the heavy rounds.
The benefit of buying a used shotgun with fixed chokes is the fact they’re often considerably cheaper than their interchangeable choke counterparts. Regardless of preference, the Vault is stocked with a healthy mix of 1100 models with prices from $499 to $700.
Sometimes hunters want a camo-styled, durable pump action that can handle the biggest, baddest hunting rounds — one they’re not afraid to take into the harshest conditions. When a gun meets those specifications and is affordable to boot, it’s most likely the Mossberg Model 835.
Our test model in 12-gauge from the Guns.com Vault is a certified specimen that ships as a combo, meaning it comes with both 24-inch and 28-inch barrels with interchangeable chokes. The shorter 24-inch barrel with extended turkey choke is ideal for gobbler hunting in small blinds and maneuvering in the brush. Meanwhile, the longer barrel offers a more one-size-fits-all approach whether hunting geese, ducks, or even shooting clays. For that matter, with the 24-inch barrel, this 835 can double as a bedside home-defense shotgun.
Full-coverage Realtree camouflage coverage on the synthetic stocks and metal work make this one weather-resistant and practical in the turkey woods. With its extended Full Turkey choke partnered with heavy loads, the 835 can reach out to tag some longer-range Toms, though nothing beats calling those big birds in close. Both new and used Mossberg 835 shotguns and combos are available in the Vault, with new prices starting at $394.
While I love working with the latest and greatest guns as much as the next hunter, there’s something equally charming about bagging game with classic guns. Because we’re talking classic guns, ones that often don’t have interchangeable chokes or the barrel composition to handle all the modern ultra-hard shot types, the importance of pre-hunt preparation comes even more into play. Responsible hunters should become familiar on the patterning board and know their ranges before harvesting game with these guns.