Legacy’s Escort 12-gauge self-loading gun smooths out heavy-duty shotshells.
Legacy Sports International, which imports the lines of Howa, Puma, Citadel, ISSC, Nikko Stirling and Buffalo River, has been continuously improving and expanding their “Escort” line of Hatsan, Turkish-made, semi-automatic shotguns. I’ve handled a number of Escort models and have been consistently impressed with their features, workmanship and competitive pricing.
This past fall I had an opportunity to work with one of Legacy’s latest offerings, the stylish Escort Extreme Magnum Turkey model, cloaked entirely in Realtree camouflage. The dedicated Magnum Turkey proved to be a classic turkey and varmint shotgun, digesting every 2-3/4- and 3-inch load without a hiccup.
In my hunting lifetime, no game species has generated more enthusiasm than the wild turkey. The turkey is simply North America’s greatest game bird, and its recovery from a population low of 30,000 in the 1930s to more than 7 million today is one of the hunting community’s greatest success stories.
Keen of sight, omnivorous in his food habits, the turkey in my mind ranks right up there with the whitetail deer when the conversation turns to the most challenging hunts of a lifetime. To hunt him is to respect him. You can spend a lifetime pursuing him and still be outfoxed on a regular basis.
Many states, like Arizona, give the turkey almost big game status with limited draws for specific management units. Currently, there are populations of turkeys in every state except Alaska. He is a big bird and he’s fast—capable of doing 25 mph on his feet and 55 mph in the air.
We hunt him in the spring when he’s love sick and most vulnerable, and in the fall, when he and she are just out there somewhere. The latest figures indicate that almost 3 million hunters pursue the big bird each year, and to do so, you do need some turkey-specific gear.
The majority of states require the use of a shotgun for turkey hunting, partially because it’s traditional and more recently because it’s considered safer by our game and fish departments. The trend in shotguns has been toward camouflaged autoloaders and pumps with 24- to 26-inch barrels fitted with very tight “turkey chokes” and an optical or day-glo-type sight.
In turkey hunting, the object is to lure the turkey as close as possible, hopefully within 30 yards or less, and place a carefully aimed load of No. 4, 5 or 6 shot into the head and neck area. That is what kills turkeys instantaneously. Turkeys on the ground are somewhat protected from small-size shot by their heavy wing feathers and well muscled breasts. Body shots, except when the bird is flying or wounded, are to be avoided.
Turkey hunting is one of those rare occasions when you actually aim a shotgun like a rifle so there is an emphasis on fitting turkey guns with pistol grip stocks and rifle-type open or optical sights. Personally, I favor high-visibility, open sights should I have to take a quick shot at a flying or wounded bird. As offered, Legacy’s Escort has all the features a dedicated turkey gun should have and more.
The typical setup when turkey hunting is to be in full camo with your back up against a tree to eliminate your silhouette and with your gun resting across a bent knee. The gun has to blend in, and the application of Realtree’s AP camouflage on the Escort Turkey gun is ideal. It’s one of those camo patterns general enough in color tone and design to match any woodland or brushy environment.
Another consideration when you have your back against a tree is recoil. Nothing is more painful than touching off a magnum shell with your shoulder backed up against a 100 year old oak. That’s why I prefer a gas driven, semi-automatic when turkey or varmint hunting. The gas system simply smooths out the recoil impulse.
The rubberized pistol grip found on the Escort serves two vital functions. It enhances your stability and trigger control when taking a carefully aimed shot, and it places your hand in a position to soak up just a bit of recoil as well. The Escort is fitted with a 1-inch-thick rubber recoil pad, but it’s unforgiving. I would recommend replacing it with one of the newer high-tech pads.
I would also recommend the use of a ported turkey tube to further tame felt recoil and muzzle flip. The Escort’s 24-inch barrel comes fitted with an extended turkey tube with a restriction of 0.665 inch, which is almost universal in the world of extra-full turkey chokes. As you can see from the killer patterns delivered at 40 yards with Winchester XX turkey loads, the factory choke gets the job done in spades. In addition to the turkey tube, the Escort comes with C, IC, M, IM and F tubes as well.
The buttstock of the Escort is adjustable for drop with the use of two supplied spacers with thicknesses of 2mm and 2.5mm. They can be used singly or in combination. I find when asking around that few shotgunners actually experiment with their adjustable buttstocks to alter drop or cast-off/cast-on. It’s a shame. Minor stock adjustments can improve your “shooting flying” performance overnight.
Also incorporated in the buttstock are speed-feed clips holding two extra shells. I carried 4-buck in those clips in hopes of ambushing a coyote. Used in conjunction with the magazine cut-off button of the Escort, the readily available shells in the speed feed clips can be a game changer in the field.
You are going to be doing a lot of walking and hopefully, walking out with a Tom over your shoulder. A sling on your shotgun is an invaluable accessory, and the Escort is factory equipped with sling swivels.
The Escort’s suit of Realtree camo blends well into most hunting environments.
The rubberized pistol grip enhances stability, trigger control and cushions felt recoil.
Having a rib under the forearm for mounting night lights is a plus for varmint hunting.
Successful turkey hunting usually requires full camouflage of hunter and gun.
Legacy’s Escort is fitted with HiViz front and rear open sights. It’s a 3-dot system with two green dots on the rear blade and a bright, red dot at the muzzle. The rear sight is fully adjustable for elevation and windage, which is essential for adjusting the center of the pattern to the point-of-aim in a turkey gun. Patterning at distances from 20 to 40 yards will prove without question that the choke tube/ammunition combination delivers a tight, killing pattern. Fortunately, there are some great turkey head and neck targets available like the Champion brand VisiColor targets pictured here that clearly illuminate hits in the red, lethal zone.
Adding the option of an optical sight is a cinch on the Escort since the receiver sports a full-length Picatinny rail. For varmint shooting, there’s also a rail on the bottom of the forearm just begging for a big, red, night-light.
All in all, Legacy’s dedicated Escort Turkey gun is a great package for the turkey hunter. It’s a well thought out, well-executed and affordable design.
Did I bag my fall Merriam’s turkey? No, I did not, but spring is just around the corner. Hope springs eternal in a wild turkey hunter!
By Holt Bodinson
At 40 yards, the Escort delivered excellent killing patterns in the red zone.
The Picatinny rib gives the hunter an option of installing optical sights on the Escort. The oversize operating handle proved handy when shooting with gloves on.
Having some extra shells or different shells at hand can be a game changer in the field.
Champion Traps & Targets
1 ATK Way, Anoka, MN 55303
Escort Magnum Turkey
MAKER: Hatsan, Turkey
IMPORTER: Legacy Sports International
4750 Longley Ln., Ste. 208
Reno, NV 89502
Caliber: 12 gauge, 2-3/4″, 3″
Barrel Length: 24″
Choke: Turkey, F, IM, M, IC, C
Overall Length: 44″
Weight: 7.4 pounds
Finish: Realtree AP