Back in the day and then into the not so long ago, my choice for a turkey gun was my grandfather’s 12 gauge. It had a full choke and I used it for dove, turkey and squirrels. I would still be using that ole 12 gauge had the forearm not cracked on me. I had to buy a shotgun to use for turkey season. This is when I learned about turkey chokes and how far chokes for turkey hunting had come.
The turkey gun I chose had a 3” chamber, I figured if I could kill so many turkeys with my grandfather’s 2 ¾ chamber then the 3-inch chamber was an upgrade. The shotgun I chose had a modified choke installed but I wanted a turkey choke for it. The choices were many as I searched for the right choke for my turkey gun. I wanted to know the difference between a turkey choke and a full choke.
What Is A Shotgun Choke
Every shotgun has a choke tube. Some choke tubes are fixed into the end of the barrel (called a “fixed choke”). These days however, they are usually interchangeable by way of threaded barrels. The constriction will be printed somewhere on the barrel of your firearm. If it has a fixed choke. Most of the time these days, this only applies to.410s. Rifled barrels are not found on shotguns that are made to fire pellet-filled shot shells. Their barrels have smooth interiors and historically had the same inner diameter all the way down their length. Although this design is nice and simple, it meant that the shot’s spread was hard to predict beyond 30 yards. Chokes were developed for numerous situations a hunter may encounter. The pellets that come out of your shotgun are restricted by a choke that is located inside the tip of the barrel.
Tightening the pellets allows them to be all the more firmly gathered at longer distances
The Difference Between A Turkey Choke And A Full Choke
A full choke restricts the shot at the end of the barrel to get a tighter group at a greater distance. Full choke has been around for a long time and is great for squirrel hunting and turkey hunting. I used a 2 ¾ inch chambered 12 gauge with a full choke for turkeys almost my entire life and never had any problems killing birds out to a reasonable yardage. We always loved calling the turkeys in close, so distance was never our thing. Then came the fancy turkey guns and extra full chokes. I only recently purchased a 3-inch chambered 20 gauge and now use a turkey choke with it. My friends however had to have the 3 ½ inch magnum turkey guns and guess what they started missing turkeys.
The problem was that we still liked calling our turkeys in close. The pattern created from the turkey shotgun and the fancy turkey choke tube made the pattern so dense at 25 yards that they started missing turkeys. We eventually figured it out and started putting the shot on the turkey before they got too close. That is unless they were calling a turkey in for me with my old school 2 ¾. Keep this in mind when purchasing a turkey choke for your turkey gun. Shoot and pattern your shotgun so that you are aware of the shot group from your gun and with a particular turkey choke.
Why Do You Miss With A Turkey Choke
I watched my hunting buddies rush to the gun shop as soon as the new turkey guns came on the market. You know the ones, 3 to 3.5 inch chamber for super high powered shotgun shells that extended the distance that they could shoot a turkey. This sounded great at the time but I wanted to keep hunting with my grandfathers old Winchester. Besides, I had hardly ever missed with his old shotgun so why did I need a new one.
A big part of turkey hunting is calling them in close and seeing them strut and display all their magnificent feathers. My buddies usually called for me and I was good with that. That old Winchester chambered for 2 3/4 shotgun shells has killed a lot of birds. My hunting buddies continued to get them in close for my shot and I continued to kill turkeys as usual. However, my buddies started missing turkeys with their fancy turkey gun and chokes. It didn’t take long for me to point out to them that they needed to shoot sooner than they used to.
You see, as I mentioned above, my buddies loved getting them turkeys in close. They loved their new turkey guns with the fancy turkey hunting choke tubes. But, with the turkey in so close it wasn’t much different than shooting a slug at the turkey. This left much room for error. Honestly, I’m not sure if the long distance shooting that a turkey hunting choke provides is as fun as getting them in closer. I will say though that I have hunted some public land where it did come in handy. Oh yea, I eventually buckled and bought my own turkey gun with the fancy turkey hunting choke too.
TSS Turkey Choke
TSS loads are the big new thing that has caught on like wildfire among turkey hunters everywhere. I have done a lot of research and asked many die-hard turkey hunters what they thought about TSS and what choke to use with TSS. I have got a wide range of responses and thoughts. Responses from TSS shotgun shells are too expensive to they are the best thing that’s happened to turkey hunting.
TSS is spendy for sure, but if you gain 20 to 30 yards, which I have heard from many, then maybe they are worth it, especially for public land hunters. Pressured turkeys seem to know the range of a turkey gun and will lock up just out of that range. I was looking for just a 10 yard gain with TSS but many turkey hunters that have been using TSS tell me they are getting kill shots extended out 20 to 30 yards. That seems crazy to me. Like I said if they claim as much as an extra 30 yards then I shouldn’t have a problem getting the 10 yards I would like.
One thing that seems to be a common theme is that TSS likes a more open choke. Here is a response I got from a friend that uses TSS but not a special choke for it.
The knockdown advantage of TSS is undeniable. I discovered that, at the same distances, TSS have a better pattern. I use TSS but prefer more open chokes than most (full and improved cyl). My setups are in hilly areas where the typical shots are 25-35 yards. Turkeys start getting nervous at around 30 yards. I’ve never needed to shoot 70 yards. He can walk if I can’t get him within 40 yards. My thoughts are if I can’t get him that close then I need to work on my calling. I value having a shot that is more consistent and powerful in a 20-inch circle more than having 90 percent in a 5-inch circle which is what people seem to be going for with TSS turkey chokes. Two of my $60 TSS turkey chokes are in a box. I prefer using my open chokes with TSS.
Here is another take from a turkey hunter that uses TSS for better knock down and pattern at normal ranges.
I shoot TSS through fairly more open chokes I look for uniformity and consistency. It’s not about 60 yards, I still like them in that 25-40 yard range. I shoot red dots and TSS, it’s all about being more lethal
I would love to hear your opinion on TSS and turkey chokes that work best with the load. Feel free to leave a comment on your observations.
According to a friend on Facebook TSS loads will do fine out of your factory choke. He also encouraged me to check out Shane Simpson on YouTube. Shane talks about using the factory choke in his Mossberg 500. He shoots a lot of turkey every year using a Mossberg 500 with factory choke and TSS.
“Personally, I like the pattern better from my factory choke with TSS loads at close range. The aftermarket chokes can push it further and tighter. However, within 40 yards the factory turkey hunting choke does fine.
Check out these turkey hunting chokes
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