Should Your Next Turkey Gun be a .410 Bore?
Once thought of as too light-hitting to take larger game, the .410 is making a big-time comeback as a turkey gun thanks to new technology.
The .410 bore shotgun has come a long way in recent years. Advancements in shotshells transformed it from a squirrel and rabbit killer to a strut-stopping turkey gun out to 40 yards. Weighing in at just over five pounds and offered in packages topped with a picatinny rail for mounting your favorite red dot, the .410 has proven itself as a viable contender.
Whether you’re searching for your first turkey gun or further diversifying your repertoire, here’s a few reasons why the mighty .410 should be high on your list.
TSS Shot Shell Offerings
While admittedly pricey, Tungsten Super Shot (TSS) has made turkey hunters and wildlife agencies alike rethink the way we classify the .410 bore. According to Federal Premium, TSS is 56% denser than lead, which means a No. 9 TSS pellet provides comparable penetration to a No. 5 lead pellet shot from the same gun. Since No. 9 shot is significantly smaller than standard turkey loads filled with No. 4, 5, or 6, TSS loads pack more pellets into a shotshell than traditional offerings. A No. 9 TSS .410 shotshell packs 294 pellets into a 3-inch shell. Compare that to 236 pellets in a 12-gauge No. 4 Federal Grand Slam turkey load, and it’s easy to understand the lethality of the pint-sized .410. (For a deep dive into turkey shells, have a listen to this 10-minute talk.)
One of the biggest technologies that make the .410 a killer turkey round? Tungsten Super Shot, which is 56% denser than lead, allowing smaller Tungsten shot to hit as hard as larger lead shot. Pictured here, a 40 yard pattern on the left target, and a 20 yard pattern on the right.
Most turkey hunters grimace at the idea of patterning a 12-gauge shotgun. Simply put, they kick like a mule and aren’t enjoyable to shoot. The result is usually a flinch before pulling the trigger in anticipation of the wallop soon to be endured, which leads to missed turkeys and colorful language.
On the other hand, a .410 is an entirely different shooting experience. The relatively tame recoil helps the hunter stay on target and pack more pellets into the target, making it especially ideal for small-statured hunters or those sensitive to recoil.
Turkeys rarely walk right down the gun barrel and into the decoy spread, so hunters need to be ready to adjust on the fly for awkward shooting angles. A shotgun that produces lighter recoil will save your shoulder and help you be more effective, especially when shooting towards your weak side (extreme right for a right-handed shooter, or extreme left for a lefty).
Size and Weight
Take a look: You can feel this photo in your shoulder. Not only do the two .410 shotguns below carry way lighter than the 12 gauge on top, they kick lighter and hit harder on gobblers with the right loads.
Run-and-gun turkey hunters live and die by their ability to quickly and quietly cover ground. We do all we can to shave weight in our vests and sometimes even leave our precious decoys back at the truck because they’re too bulky, yet we’ll lug around an eight-plus pound broomstick that snags nearby branches. The .410 trumps all other turkey guns when it comes to maneuverability as it weighs just over five pounds and measures a mere 41.5 inches. Whether you’re belly-crawling over a ridgetop to anchor a hung-up gobbler or silently creeping through a swamp, you’ll be nimble and more effective with a less cumbersome shotgun.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to re-evaluate the role a .410 can play in your hunting arsenal. This diminutive shotgun is lethal medicine for loudmouth toms when paired with a red dot and fueled by modern ammunition.
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