Making the first shot count applies just as much to turkey hunting as it does when chasing any other quarry. Yet, many hunters turn their noses up at the thought of going after gobblers with a break-action single. There’s real satisfaction, and usually cost savings as well, in taking the challenge of bagging big birds with one shot. Here are the best of the best single-shot shotguns – some old and out of production, others brand new – but they’re all ready to punch your tag.
Henry Single Shot Turkey
Meet Henry’s first turkey-specific shotgun – the H015T-12, which joins the company’s existing family of singles. With a 24-inch barrel and 3.5-inch chamber, this single is both maneuverable and a thumper. In fact, it’s one of few magnum-chambered 12-gauges in Henry’s current catalog. Not only is it a natural in the woods, but it also wears the official pattern of the National Wild Turkey Federation. Though it looks synthetic, the stock is actually still American walnut covered in full Mossy Oak Obsession camouflage coverage.
To additionally specialize this gobbler getter, Henry ships the gun with an extended Turkey choke for tight patterns at distance. The guns boast standard Rem-style tubes, so extra tubes can also be purchased. The red and green fiber-optic sights acquire quickly and show up well on those gobbler necks. The barrel is drilled and tapped for additional optics mounting options and accepts a standard Weaver 82 base. Retail price is set at $687, with guns shipping immediately and ready to hit the woods for the Spring 2021 season.
The Savage Model 301, branded for a while as the Stevens 301, is a single-shot, break-action, purpose-driven turkey shotgun. The diminutive gun was built to excel with Federal Premium’s Heavyweight TSS turkey loads. Partner that ammunition with the tightly choked .410 specialty gun, and we have one hell-bent on putting out deadly patterns with minimal recoil. All that in one of the most inexpensive platforms on the market.
Synthetic stocks are finished in either Mossy Oak Bottomland or Obsession camouflage. The 301 Turkey can be had in 12 and 20 gauge or .410 bore. The 3-inch-chambered shotties wear a 26-inch carbon steel barrel regardless of bore. The 301 is then tipped with an extended, extra-full turkey choke, all optimized for the TSS payloads.
The first iteration 301 Turkey featured a removable one-piece rail, making it easy to mount an optic. The second variation, the 301 Turkey XP, actually includes the red dot optic. The latest 301 Turkey Thumbhole adds a thumbhole stock to the .410-bore model. No matter which you choose, prices are incredibly reasonable and start at only $209.
Thompson Center’s swappable barrel Encore platform is a well-loved gun in its many centerfire rifle configurations, but hunters often forget the single shots can be shotguns, too. Current Encore and Pro Hunter owners can customize their frame with either a T/C or aftermarket shotgun barrel in 12 or 20 gauge. The company offers a true turkey gun as well.
The purpose-built Encore Pro Hunter Turkey is available in either 12 or 20 gauge. The break-open single shot is chambered for 3-inch shells. Adjustable sights with fiber-optic inserts allow quick sighting on gobblers. There’s full Realtree AP HD camouflage coverage, along with T/C’s Flextech stock inserts that significantly help negate recoil. The included extra-full turkey choke ensures tight patterns. MSRP is set at $892 for this specialized single shot. The company’s lifetime warranty provides nice peace of mind as well.
Some guns exude class, and that’s certainly the case with Winchester’s Model 37. Those smooth lines and quality build seem destined for the turkey woods. While you can’t run out and buy a new 37, lovely specimens still grace the used racks of many gun shops. Winchester started building the 37 after WWI with an exposed, abbreviated hammer and ejector. The singles were built of steel and walnut and could be had in five bores—12, 16, 20, 28, and .410, with barrel lengths from 26 to 32 inches.
All were fixed chokes, with the majority being full, though modified and cylinder bores are also seen.
Many Model 37s, especially the “red letter” era guns, now have excellent collector value in high condition; however, because they were utilitarian guns, many were well used. But they are still perfectly shootable today. Production ended in the early 1960s, though we’d love to see a re-make of the 37. Grab a full-choked Model 37 for some legitimate throwback turkey hunting joy.
Over the years, these simple singles could be had in almost every shotgun bore, with the majority wearing fixed chokes. There were numerous models, including the Topper, Pardner, and 88. There were compact youth models, wood, synthetic, and even a Turkey-specific variant.
Ever wanted to pull the trigger on a 10-gauge single? This is the most inexpensive option. For turkeys, we prefer the 24-inch barrel options chambered in your choice with a fixed full choke, though many others will bag gobblers just as well. Although, these brands have been yet another casualty of the recent Remington-family dispersion. We can only hope for a future return of these utilitarian singles.