Turkey Takedown Technology

Redefining the .410 — And More!

Stevens Model 301 plus Federal’s .410 TSS No. 9s equal turkey trophies.

There’s no field sport better than turkey hunting to introduce new hunters to the skills needed to pursue big game. Keen of sight and omnivorous in his food habits, old Tom Turkey ranks right up there with the devious whitetail in terms of challenge. To hunt him is to respect him. You can spend a lifetime pursuing turkey and still be outfoxed on a regular basis, so let’s get those first-timers out there chasing him. Fortunately, equipping a novice hunter has never been easier.

Several developments recently caught my eye — Stevens’ introduction of a turkey-tuned, single-shot .410 and Savage announcing a dedicated 12- and 20-gauge turkey bolt gun. Moreover, Federal Cartridge shared the eye-opening news they had developed a .410 turkey load based on 13/16 oz. of No. 9 Tungsten Super Shot (TSS) as well as blended TSS turkey loads of No. 7/9 and No. 8/10 shot for the 12 and 20 gauges.

Small-bore smash! At 30 yards, Federal’s new .410 TSS No. 9 loads proved lethal.

Small Pellet Power

Frankly, traditional turkey hunters will probably be shaking their heads about the use of No. 8 or 10 shot of any make, but the latest specialized turkey loads are so superior to any ammunition we’ve ever had, it’d be foolish to settle for anything less. Cost is meaningless. Premium ammunition is the cheapest part of the hunt.

By way of explaining the lethality of their high-tech tungsten turkey-shot, Federal engineers claim “No. 9 Heavyweight TSS pellets have more penetration energy at 60 yards than No. 5 lead shot at 40 yards, with nearly the same velocity — all with a drastically higher pellet count.”

Just think about this statement for a moment. If you’ve been around the track a few times, the use of No. 9 shot on turkeys is totally counterintuitive. Fortunately, I was able to get my hands on the TSS blended loads for the 20 gauge and the No. 9 TSS loading for the .410, but first I needed some new guns to test them.

Stevens’ new turkey-tuned Model 301 is a bantamweight any novice can manage.

Dedicated Gobbler Getters

Stevens’ Model 301 single-shot .410 turkey gun, with its 26″ barrel capped off with an extra-full choke tube, sporting a Picatinny rail for optics and a synthetic stock with sling swivels, is a 5-lb. fast-handling flea-weight any novice would find manageable. Clothed in Mossy Oak Obsession or Bottomland, it’s a classic, break-open hammer gun and very safe with the addition of a side-mounted manual safety and a hammer block. With a suggested retail price of $199, it’s also affordable.

Savage’s release of a 20-gauge (Model 220) and a 12-gauge (Model 212) bolt-action turkey gun surprised me since there is already a Model 320 dedicated turkey pump gun in the Stevens line. Based on the Model 110 rifle action, both models debuted years ago as super accurate slug guns, enhanced with Savage’s fully adjustable (2.5-6 lb.)

AccuTrigger, AccuFit synthetic stock system and AccuStock internal chassis bedding system. In fact, a scoped, rifled 12-gauge Model 212 is my go-to gun for slug shooting and it leaves nothing on the bench when it comes to sheer accuracy.

Now offered as 22″ barrel smoothbores with extra-tight turkey choke, both models sport a Picatinny rail, Mossy Oak camouflage, 2-round magazine and a weight of approximately 7.5 lbs. The 212 and 220, retailing for $779 and $695 respectively, are super-accurate, super-adjustable, utterly stable platforms for picking off Mr. Tom or winning a big money card shoot.

Especially when you consider the revolutionary things Federal, their sister company, has done with turkey loads.

Savage’s Model 212 and 220 bolt guns are precise platforms for turkeys or card matches.

Once your bird’s down, measure his spurs using the handy ruler on the side of the 20-gauge TSS shotshells.

Mild But Wild Payload

While the cigarillo-sized shell and little .410 bore is controversial as an effective upland combination, this mild-mannered little shell has been the introduction for millions of novices to the shotgun sports. Federal’s development of an honest-to-God .410 turkey load just confirms the caliber’s versatility. Let’s look at the numbers.

If I were forced to select a standard load for turkeys in a .410, it would be the typical 3″ shell loaded with 11/16 oz. of No. 6 lead shot. This would translate into 155 pellets flying downrange toward your bird. Federal’s new loading with 13/16 oz. of No. 9 Tungsten Super Shot sends 294 pellets downrange, virtually smothering Mr. Turkey’s vitals with a swarm of high-energy pellets. Federal’s TSS loads in the .410, 20- and 12-gauge represent a quantum shift in the way we understand the external ballistics of shotgun payloads.

My test targets reflect what Federal has accomplished. Mounting the turkey guns with a Bushnell Trophy 1x28mm red/green dot optic, I fired both at 30 and 40 yards using Champion’s VisiColor turkey targets which depict lethal brain and spinal column pellet strikes in pink.

I had no doubts about the performance of the 20-gauge TSS No.7/9 load and the single target I shot at 40 yards confirms it. But my real interest was in the .410 TSS No. 9 loading.

With only 10 shells available, I expended five of those getting the Bushnell optic zeroed and the pattern centered at 30 yards. After shooting one pattern at 30 yards and two patterns at 40, I’m saving the last two shells for a “rabbit hunt” test. However, of the patterns shot, the results were dead paper Toms at 30 and 40 yards. At 40, the pattern was pretty thin, but still packing enough penetrating punch where it counts.

Great new turkey guns, great new turkey ammunition — time to take a novice turkey hunting.




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