Essential Turkey Hunting Calibers For A Successful Hunt

Turkey hunting is quite popular in the United States, drawing both experienced hunters and newcomers each year.

Essential Turkey Hunting Calibers

If you're new to turkey hunting, figuring out the right shotgun shells to use can be confusing.

In this blog post, we're going to try and settle one of the hottest debates in turkey hunting" Which is the best shell to use"?

We are going to suggest some must-have shotshells for successful turkey hunting. We will also share some important tips for hunting turkey successfully.

Let's get started...

Turkey Hunting Calibers Sale & Rebate

Brief Overview Of Turkey Hunting In 2024

Turkey's hunting seasons typically coincide with the spring and fall months, offering hunters the chance to enjoy the great outdoors during these beautiful seasons.

The spring and fall wild turkey hunting seasons in 2024 are open to all hunters with valid firearms or archery licenses.

Spring Turkey Hunting Session 2024 Dates

Spring turkey hunting season varies depending on the state and specific regulations set by wildlife management agencies.

Typically, spring turkey hunting seasons start sometime in late March or early April and can extend into May or June, depending on the location.

For 2024, the NWTF Spring Hunt Guide provides a glimpse of each state's spring wild turkey season. Check here

What's The Best Shotgun Gauge For Turkey Hunting?

12 Gauge

12 Gauge When it comes to choosing the best turkey loads, 12 Gauge is the king always.

12 gauge simply because it kills more efficiently at longer distances than smaller gauges.

12-gauge shells come in 21/2-, 23/4-, 3- and 31/2-inch lengths.

And the difference in length matters when firing your shotguns. If your shotgun is marked "12-gauge 23/4-inch" you may safely fire 21/2- and 23/4-inch 12-gauge shotshells, but not the 3- or 31/2-inch. If, on the other hand, your shotgun is marked for 31/2-inch shells, you can safely fire any of the 12-gauge shells.

Why Choose 12 Gauges?

  • Turkeys are large birds with thick, heavy feathers that seriously dampen the impact of incoming shots. For that reason, most hunters aim at the neck and head where a 2–3/4 inch, 12 gauge shell loaded with 5 or 6 shots will inflict mortal injury.
  • The 12 gauge shotgun is popular for its stopping power, making it effective for hunting a wide range of game, including turkey.
  • There's a vast array of ammunition choices available for the 12 gauge, ranging from birdshot to buckshot to slugs, allowing for versatility in various hunting and shooting scenarios.
  • Compared to smaller gauge shotguns, the 12 gauge generally has a longer effective range, making it suitable for hunting large game or targets at greater distances.
  • The 12 gauge shotgun is incredibly popular and widely available, with numerous firearms manufacturers producing a wide range of models to suit different preferences and budgets.

Overall, the combination of power, versatility, specialized loads, and familiarity makes 12 gauge ammunition an excellent choice for turkey hunting.

Best 12 Gauge Turkey Loads (As per user Experience)

20 Gauge

20 Gauge After 12 Gauge, 20 Gauge is the second-most popular option on the market for turkey hunting. This 0.615-inch gauge offers faster handling because of its lighter weight as compared to 12 gauge.

Twenty-gauge shotguns are also more compact than 12s and usually have shorter barrels. For the hunter, this translates into moving through the woods more easily and quietly.

Why Choose 20 Gauges?

  • Reduced Recoil: The 20 gauge shotgun produces less recoil than larger gauge shotguns like the 12 gauge, making it more comfortable to shoot, especially for smaller or recoil-sensitive shooters.
  • Suitable for Youth and Beginners: The lighter recoil and manageable size of the 20 gauge make it an excellent choice for introducing youth or beginners to shotgun shooting and hunting.
  • Versatile: While slightly less powerful than the 12 gauge, the 20 gauge shotgun is still capable of effectively hunting a wide range of game, including upland birds, waterfowl, and even some species of deer.
  • Good Balance of Power and Maneuverability: The 20 gauge offers a good balance of power and maneuverability, making it well-suited for hunting in dense cover or carrying for extended periods in the field.

The combination of reduced recoil, manageability, versatility, and ammunition availability makes the 20 gauge shotgun a viable choice for turkey hunting.

Best 20 Gauge Turkey Loads:(As per User Experience)

410 Bore (TSS)

410 Bore (TSS) 410 TSS Turkey hunting ammo is perfect for youth hunters, women, or anyone who wants to carry a smaller/lighter round with the same takedown power as a larger lead load.

It's light and easy to carry which also makes a .410 an excellent choice for run-and-gun hunting.

Compared to shooting a 3-inch 12-gauge, felt recoil is much, much less, making it perfect for all of us, especially small-framed hunters, as well as youngsters and novice sportsmen.

Why Choose 410 Bore TSS?

  • Lightweight and Maneuverable: The .410-bore shotgun is typically lighter and more maneuverable than larger gauge shotguns, making it easier to carry and handle in dense turkey hunting terrain.
  • Improved Ammunition: Advances in ammunition technology, such as TSS loads, have improved the performance of smaller gauge shotguns like the .410 bore. TSS pellets are denser than lead or steel, allowing for increased pellet count and improved downrange energy, thereby extending the effective range of the .410 bore for turkey hunting.
  • Conservation: TSS ammunition is also known for its environmental benefits, as it provides superior penetration and lethality with fewer pellets, reducing the risk of non-target wildlife exposure to lead or steel shot.
Best 410 Bore TSS For Turkey

Some of the best .410 turkey loads of 2024 include:

So, Which Shotgun Gauge Is The Best?

Above we discussed the most popular caliber or gauge for turkey hunting.

We chose these calibers as per user reviews & experience.

Try these gauges to hunt turkey & let us know which one is your favorite.


The best turkey hunting caliber for you is one that you feel comfortable and confident using in the field.

When selecting a turkey hunting caliber, consider factors such as your shooting proficiency, hunting environment, and personal preferences.

Practice with your chosen caliber to become familiar with its performance and ensure accurate shot placement. Additionally, prioritize safety at all times by following firearm safety guidelines and respecting hunting regulations.


Q: What Is The Best Time Of The Day To Hunt Turkey?
Ans: Early & Mid-morning is the best time to get the success. Early morning because; Turkeys often roost in trees overnight, and they become more vocal and active as they wake up. This time is often characterized by gobbling and increased responsiveness to calls.

Mid-morning hunts can also be successful, especially during early and late season when gobblers may become separated from hens. Lonely gobblers may respond well to calls during this time, as they search for companionship.

Q: What is the best state to hunt turkey?
Ans: Turkey can be found and hunted in all U.S. states except Alaska. The top 7 best states are : California, Tennessee, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Maine & South Dakota.

Q: What month is best for spring turkey hunting?
Ans: April through May is prime turkey season for most states, with states like Florida starting turkey season as early as March.

Lisa Earnest

Lisa Earnest

Apr, 27, 2024

Lisa Earnest has been a part of the Bulk Cheap Ammo team since 2018 and serves as the editor of Bulk Cheap Ammo content.

With a flair for language and an unwavering dedication to shooting sports, Lisa's diverse expertise combines to create an unforgettable experience for our audience.

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