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Best Turkey Shotguns [2023]: The Ultimate Guide for Hunters preview image
Dec 08 2023
15 min read

Best Turkey Shotguns [2023]: The Ultimate Guide for Hunters

MOSSBERG 500 TURKEYBest Pump-Action Shotgun – Mossberg 500
MOSSBERG MAVERICK 88Best Budget-Friendly Pump Action Shotgun – Mossberg/ Maverick 88
BERETTA A400Best Semi-Automatic Shotgun – Beretta A400
Mossberg 930Budget-Friendly Semi-Automatic Shotgun – Mossberg 930
STOEGER M3000Budget-Friendly Semi-Automatic Shotgun – Stoeger M3000
Winchester SPX Field Youth/MicroBest Youth Turkey Shotgun – Winchester SPX Field Youth/Micro


Turkey hunting is a great way to spend a day. Spending time in nature and providing for your family with healthy and natural meat is something everyone can appreciate.

Selecting the right shotgun to harvest an animal is an integral part of the hunting process.

We will look into the various shotguns available and help you choose the best turkey shotgun to meet your needs and ensure a successful hunting experience.

Buyers Guide for Turkey Shotguns

Shotgun Gauges 101

A shotgun gauge refers to the diameter of the bore, or the interior of the barrel, of a shotgun.

The gauge measurement is determined by the number of lead balls that are the same size as the bore and weigh one pound.

For example, a 12-gauge shotgun has a bore diameter equal to the diameter of 12 lead balls that weigh one pound in total. It’s 1/12th pound per ball for a 12 gauge shotgun and 1/10th pound ball for a 10 gauge shotgun. The larger the gauge number, the smaller the bore diameter; the smaller the gauge number, the larger the bore diameter.

The most commonly used gauges for shotguns are 12 gauge, 20 gauge, 28 gauge, .410 bore, and 10 gauge.

The choice of gauge often depends on the intended use, such as hunting, sport shooting, or personal defense, as well as the size and experience of the shooter.

shotgun gauges display
Photo Credit: Widener’s

Most Common Shotgun Gauges for Turkey Hunting

12 Gauge: The 12 gauge is the most popular and versatile. 12 Gauge is used for hunting, sport shooting, and personal defense.

20 Gauge: The 20 gauge is a popular choice for smaller-statured hunters and youth hunters and for sport shooting. It provides a good balance between power and recoil.

.410 Bore: The .410 bore is the smallest shotgun gauge and is often used for small game hunting, as well as for youth hunters and sport shooting.

In years past, 20 gauge and .410 were seen as marginal at best for turkey hunting, but recent developments in shotgun ammo have changed this belief.

Tungsten Super Shot (TSS)

TSS stands for “Tungsten Super Shot.”

It is a type of shotgun ammunition made from a tungsten-alloy material denser than lead. This denser material allows for smaller shot sizes but with the same weight, providing increased energy and penetration.

federal  12 20 410 gauge ammo
Photo Credit: Project Upland

TSS ammo is often used for turkey hunting because the smaller shot size allows for tighter patterns and increased accuracy at longer distances.

The increased density and energy of the tungsten shot also provide more stopping power and deeper penetration, which is vital for taking down a tough bird like a turkey.

Semi-Automatic vs. Pump Action

The two most common action types for shotguns are pump action and semi-automatic.

Each type of action has benefits and drawbacks. A glance at a pro/con list can help determine which is right for you.

Semi-Automatic Shotguns

  • Faster follow-up shots: the shotgun automatically ejects spent shell and reloads
  • Reduced Recoil: semi-automatic mechanism absorbs some of the recoil
  • Potential for increased accuracy: semi-automatic mechanism may help maintain sight picture
  • Complex: the semi-automatic action is more complex than a pump action
  • Higher Cost: greater complexity tends to add to cost
  • Reliability: greater complexity adds to the things that can go wrong

Pump Action Shotguns

  • Durability: Pump actions are known for being durable and reliable. It is a more straightforward design
  • Cost: Less complexity leads to cheaper costs
  • Simplicity: the pump action mechanism is simple to use and maintain
  • Slower follow-up shots: Pump action requires the manual operation of the action
  • Increased recoil: The full force of the shot’s recoil is absorbed by the shooter. No mechanism uses the shot for cycling the action
  • Potential for reduced accuracy: the force of the recoil is not mitigated by a recoil mechanism. This can disrupt the sight picture.

Barrel Length

The barrel length on a shotgun can determine how practical the shotgun is to its user. A longer barrel can more effectively engage their targets past 40 yards.

Longer barrel shotguns are preferable for hunting waterfowl. This comes at the price of being less maneuverable and handy for the shooter. Barrels 28 inches and longer are typical when talking about longer barrels.

different barrel sizes for turkey hunting shotgun
Photo Credit: Cheaper Than Dirt

A shorter barrel, on the other hand, is better when quickly acquiring and engaging your target. Many turkey hunters prefer barrel lengths of 26 inches and below. Barrel lengths of the 20-26 inch range provide a good balance of maneuverability and accuracy.

Ultimately, the best barrel length for turkey hunting will depend on the hunter’s individual preferences, hunting conditions, and shooting style.

Shotgun Chokes

Shotgun chokes are devices attached to the end of a barrel and alter the spread of the shot as it exits the muzzle.

The purpose of a choke is to control the pattern of the shot, making it tighter or looser, depending on the shooting situation.

muzzle brakes turkey shotguns
Photo Credit: Savage Arms

Best Pump-Action Shotgun – Mossberg 500

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Gauge.410, 12 & 20 gauge available
Weight7 pounds
Length40.25 inches with 20” barrel

Pros & Cons

  • Proven track record
  • Versatile
  • Affordability
  • Light weight
  • Rugged
  • Lightweight nature leads to increased felt recoil

The Mossberg 500 is the best pump-action turkey shotgun. It’s a classic pump-action shotgun that has been around for over 50 years and is one of the world’s most popular and widely used shotguns.

It is well-known for its rugged construction, versatility, and affordability, making it a popular choice among hunters and shooters.

mossberg 500 kid hunting in camo
Photo Credit: Mossberg

One of the standout features of the Mossberg 500 the ability of the gun to serve multiple purposes. The Mossberg 500 is available with barrels as short as 18.5 inches and as long as 28 inches. This allows you to pick the gun that best suits your needs.

Another feature of the Mossberg 500 is the ability to buy a combo package with a short and long barrel.

The Mossberg 500 is also available in several finishes. Traditional blued steel and wood is available. Black polymer is available. Camo is available. All of these options make it easy to find a Mossberg 500 that suits you.

The Mossberg 500 is a reliable shotgun. The 500 has been taking turkey and other game since the 1960s. The Mossberg 500 has been in military use since the 1980s. Looking at its history demonstrates that the Mossberg 500 has a proven track record of reliability that few shotguns can match.

The Mossberg 500 has a tight shot pattern to at least 40 yards. The pump action on the Mossberg 500 is smooth. A smooth action is a fast action. A smooth action also makes it easy to maintain accuracy, even during rapid fire.

Compared to other high-end shotguns, the Mossberg 500 is relatively affordable, making it a good choice for hunters on a tight budget. Despite its low cost, the shotgun still delivers the same level of performance and reliability as more expensive models.

In conclusion, the Mossberg 500 has the characteristics that make for an excellent shotgun. It is reliable, versatile, and affordable. The pump action is rock solid.

The Mossberg 500 is well-suited to turkey hunting. Whether you’re a seasoned hunter or just starting, the Mossberg 500 is a shotgun you can rely on to get the job done. The Mossberg 500 is our best pump-action turkey shotgun.

Best Budget-Friendly Pump Action Shotgun – Mossberg/ Maverick 88

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Gauge12 & 20 gauge available
Weight7 pounds
Length47.75 inches with 28” barrel

Pros & Cons

  • Excellent price
  • Versatility
  • Good performance
  • Compatibility with Mossberg 500
  • Lack of high-end features
  • Finish may wear faster than some other guns

The Mossberg Maverick 88 is a budget-friendly shotgun that is well-suited to turkey hunting. Like its more expensive cousin and our top overall choice, the Mossberg 500, The Maverick 88 is able to fill multiple roles in your collection.

The Maverick 88 is available with barrel lengths from 18.5 to 28 inches. Allowing hunters to pick a length of their barrel to suit their needs is an option. Mossberg makes sure that the Maverick 88 can fill many niches, and a quick perusal of the Mossberg website shows the wide array of Maverick 88s available.

The Maverick 88 shares a lot of compatibility with the Mossberg 500. The stocks, barrels, and Accu-choke tubes for the Mossberg 500, all work on the Maverick 88, giving it strong aftermarket support.

In terms of performance, the Maverick 88 is a reliable shotgun that performs above its affordable price. The Maverick 88 is capable of tight shot patterns out to forty yards.

For many in the firearms community, they want to participate but lack the financial resources to spend $1,000 on a shotgun.

The Maverick 88 is a lower-priced alternative to other popular models, like our top pump action shotgun choice, the Mossberg 500. The Maverick 88’s price point makes it an attractive option for hunters and shooters on a tight budget. The turkey doesn’t care if the shotgun you use costs $1,000 or $250. If it gets the job done, then it gets the job done.

The Mossberg Maverick’s affordable price, good performance, compatibility with the Mossberg 500, and versatility make it the best budget-friendly pump action shotgun.

Best Semi-Automatic Shotgun – Beretta A400

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Gauge12, 20, & 28 gauge available
Weight7.4 pounds
Length46.5 inches with 26” barrel

Pros & Cons

  • Reliability
  • Quality Beretta Manufacturing
  • Kick-Off Recoil Reduction System
  • Accurate
  • Price

The Beretta A400 is our choice for the best semi-automatic shotgun for turkey hunting.

Beretta is a major name in the world of firearms. Beretta handguns, rifles, and shotguns are used by the military, police, and civilian shooters around the world. Beretta has taken this knowledge and experience to make an outstanding shotgun in the A400.

Reinforcing Beretta’s reputation, the A400 is a reliable shotgun. It will function as required every time.

The Beretta A400 is also an accurate shotgun. The A400 will put your shot on the target to at least 40 yards, and with the appropriate ammunition, it will reach out even further. If you miss on a trophy turkey, it won’t be the A400’s fault.

Like many of the other shotguns on our list, the A400 is a very versatile shotgun. Beretta has worked to make sure you can get the A400 in a variety of configurations and barrel lengths. Beretta knows that not all hunters are made the same; therefore, neither should all shotguns.

Buy once, cry once. This motto is entirely true with the Beretta A400. This shotgun does not come cheap, but you do get what you pay for. The Beretta A400 offers top-end quality and features.

The Beretta A400 has advanced features that are unavailable on budget-friendly shotguns. The Kick-Off recoil reduction system is the most advanced feature of the A400. It helps to reduce felt recoil and improve your coming when spending the day shooting.

All firearms require proper maintenance. The Beretta A400 is no exception. Following the regular maintenance required to keep a semi-automatic shotgun running, this shotgun will go bang every time and help ensure your turkey hunt is successful.

The Beretta A400 is a high-performance shotgun. Features in the A400, like the Kick-Off recoil reduction system, combine with Beretta’s high standards for manufacturing firearms to make a fantastic shotgun. Anyone looking for a semi-automatic shotgun should consider the Beretta A400.

The Beretta A400 is our choice for the best semi-automatic shotgun for turkey hunting.

We liked it so much, we decided to review the Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus!

Budget-Friendly Semi-Automatic Shotgun – Mossberg 930

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Gauge12 gauge available
Weight7.5 pounds
Length44.5 inches with 24” barrel

Pros & Cons

  • Affordable
  • Reliable
  • Versatility
  • Recoil compared to premium semi-automatics

The Mossberg 930 is a budget-friendly semi-automatic shotgun that is a popular choice for turkey hunting. This shotgun offers reliable performance, versatile features, and an affordable price point, making it an excellent choice for hunters on a budget.

mossberg 930 being aimed in while shooting
Photo Credit: NRA American Hunter

A no-frills semi-automatic shotgun, the Mossberg 930 is a good choice for turkey hunting because it isn’t a gun you are afraid of taking out of the safe.

The affordable price of the gun makes it easy to treat it like a tool without worrying about if you are permanently damaging your shotgun’s value. Paired with the known quality of Mossberg shotguns, you can buy a Mossberg 930 confidently.

It should be pointed out, and this is true for all firearms, that proper maintenance of the shotgun is essential for failure-free function. The Mossberg 930 is no exception to this rule.

The Mossberg 930 comes in a variety of configurations. There is a turkey model, both with and without a pistol grip. There are also non-turkey versions of the Mossberg 930, allowing you to select the model that best suits your needs.

The Mossberg 930 offers reliable performance, versatile features, and an affordable price point, making it an excellent choice for hunters on a budget.

Budget-Friendly Semi-Automatic Shotgun – Stoeger M3000

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Gauge12 gauge available
Weight7.3 pounds
Length47.75 inches with 26” barrel

Pros & Cons

  • Affordable
  • Versatility
  • Easy to clean
  • Quality Control
  • Lacks fit and finish of more expensive shotguns

The Stoeger M3000 is an affordable semi-automatic shotgun that provides excellent value and is a good choice for turkey hunting.

Stoeger is owned by Beretta, as are Benelli and Franchi. A comparison to care might be Stoeger is to Honda as Benelli is to Acura. Stoeger isn’t a luxury brand. It is a brand for people who want a good functioning shotgun and value their dollars.

The Stoeger M3000 is another versatile shotgun. It is available in a variety of configurations. Chambered exclusively in 12 gauge, the M3000 is available in barrel lengths, different grip styles, and stock options to fit the individual shooter. For those wanting a gun in 20 gauge, there is the Stoeger M3020 series.

When appropriately cared for, the Stoeger M3000 is known for being a reliable shotgun. Like any firearm, the Stoeger M3000 requires proper maintenance to function to its peak abilities. There are some reports that, if not properly cleaned before use, some of the factory greases can end up causing long-term issues for the shotgun.

The Stoeger is an excellent choice for those looking for an affordable, versatile, and reliable turkey gun. It offers good performance and features for its price and will allow you to harvest a turkey.

Best Youth Turkey Shotgun – Winchester SPX Field Youth/Micro

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Gauge12 & 20 gauge available
Weight6.25 pounds
Length42.5 inches

Pros & Cons

  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Durable
  • 20 gauge version is a good balance of power and recoil
  • Short barrel length may limit long-range accuracy
  • Lightweight

Our choice for the best youth turkey shotgun is the Winchester SPX Field Youth/Micro. Specifically designed for younger or smaller hunters, the SPX Youth is excellent.

Winchester SPX Field Youth Micro aimed down
Photo Credit: NRA Shooting Illustrated.

The Winchester SPX Youth’s strengths include its compact design, which makes it easy to handle and maneuver. The SPX’s lightweight construction reduces fatigue during long hunting trips and means smaller hunters can carry it, but the quality of Winchester’s design means you don’t have to sacrifice durability.

The SPX Field Youth/Micro is available in both 12-gauge and 20-gauge models. The 20 gauge model is frequently marketed as a “youth shotgun” because of the SPX Field Youth’s twelve-inch length of pull and the lighter recoil of 20 gauge ammunition.

Some hunters will dislike the compact size and light weight of the Winchester SPX Youth. If this is a concern, then make sure you check one out in person before purchasing. For most of those looking for a more compact shotgun, the neat package that the Winchester SPX Youth provides is precisely what they are looking for.

Overall, the Winchester SPX Youth is a good option for hunters looking for a compact and lightweight shotgun. If you are shopping for a shotgun for younger or smaller-statured hunters, this shotgun should be at the top of your list.

The SPX Field Youth/Micro is well-suited for turkey hunting and provides a good balance between maneuverability and accuracy.

How We Chose our Top Picks

There were many high-quality contenders on our list for the best turkey-hunting shotgun. Ultimately, we chose these shotguns for our list because we wanted to provide the buyer with a curated list that selected the best options for the current market.

When selecting the shotguns, the most critical thing we considered was the overall value. We looked for shotguns where the price, features, versatility, and reliability combined to make a solid package.


Is 12-gauge or 20-gauge better for turkey hunting?

Generally, a 12-gauge is considered better for turkey hunting. It provides a larger shot pattern, contains more pellets, and is effective at further distances.

Modern hunting loads like TSS, Tungsten Super Shot, allow 20-gauge to be an effective cartridge in recent years. 20 gauge is better for recoil-sensitive shooters.

How far can you shoot a turkey with a 12 gauge?

A quality shotgun with quality ammunition can harvest a turkey at 40 yards. If using a shotgun with a longer barrel and a tight pattern, that range might be 50 or even 60 yards.

What is the best barrel length for turkey hunting?

The best barrel length for turkey hunting varies depending on the hunter’s shooting style and preference, but most hunters prefer a 20 to 24-inch barrel.

A 20 to 24-inch barrel provides a good balance between maneuverability and accuracy. The shorter length allows for quick target acquisition, making it easier to track a moving turkey, while the longer length provides stability needed for longer shots.


Deciding which shotgun to buy is a good problem to have.

There are lots of great options available, so it is imperative that you do your research and see what each shotgun has to offer. After looking over the vast array of available shotguns, two guns stand out for their combination of features, versatility, price, and reliability. The Mossberg 500 and the Beretta A400.

Featuring different actions and occupying very different places on the price spectrum, the Mossberg 500 and the Beretta A400 fulfill the same requirement of helping ensure you, the hunter, has a successful hunting experience.

Chris Fortenberry photo Chris is a firearms enthusiast and collector located in Texas. Chris’ passion for firearms started at a young age and was fueled by his passion for history. Chris used that passion to become a historian and feels that spreading the understanding of firearms functionally, socially, and politically is one of the paramount jobs of the 2nd Amendment community. He seeks to share his knowledge with those around him.


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