Patterning A Turkey Gun for More Success
by Tracy Breen
For most turkey hunters, getting a gun ready for opening day consists of putting the gun in a case and putting it in the back seat of the truck. According to George Trulock from Trulock Chokes, that’s a mistake.
“Many turkey hunters fail to pattern their turkey guns,” said Trulock. “The problem with that is not every turkey load patterns well out of every gun and every choke. For instance, one load may provide a great pattern at 40 yards, and the next load might shoot high and left. The only way to know if a certain load is patterning well is to shoot it.”
YOUR GUN MAY HAVE A PROBLEM
Shotgun shells pattern different out of each gun they are fired from because most guns are mass produced, and the tolerances aren’t always super tight. “Point of aim and point of impact can be very different,” said Trulock. “In some cases, point of impact can be several inches off from point of aim. The point of impact can be different enough to cause a hunter to miss the turkey they’re aiming at.”
NOT EVERY GUN IS CREATED EQUAL
Two guns made at the same factory at the same time using the same choke and shotgun shell can pattern differently, which is why shooting a gun with a few different loads is so important.
“Some guns shoot better with one load verses another or one choke verses another. It is important that hunters experiment a little to ensure they find the load and choke combo that works well with their gun,” Trulock explained.
SHOTGUN SHELL TECHNOLOGY
Over the last few years, turkey loads have changed significantly. It’s safe to say most turkey hunters are using Tungsten Super Shot, which is great, but few hunters actually pattern their gun with this load. “TSS is a game changer, and hunters should pattern this load in their gun before hunting with it,” Trulock said
WHAT DOES A GOOD PATTERN LOOK LIKE?
At 40 yards, the goal is to have at least 50% density inside a 10-inch circle. This means if a shell has 500 pellets in it, 250 pellets should be inside the 10-inch circle. The good news is a 3-inch TSS 12-gauge load that is loaded with #9 shot has over 700 pellets in it. In addition, many of today’s custom turkey chokes offer more than 50% density at 40 yards. When a custom choke is used, many hunters are seeing as many as 400 pellets in a 10-inch circle at 40 yards.
THE CUSTOM CHOKE ADVANTAGE
Bobby Sears from Jebs Choke Tubes believes every turkey hunter should use a custom choke tube to further increase the shot density at 40 yards.
“The manufacturing specs are tighter on a custom choke, often resulting in more pellets in a turkey’s head. “We have seen as many as 100 more pellets in a target at 40 yards verses a factory choke,” Sears said. “The difference can be significant.”
According to Sears, hunters are always looking for ways to increase their odds of success in the field. One way to do that is with a custom choke. “The tolerances on a custom choke are tighter and offer other advantages over factory chokes.” For instance, a Jebs choke is tapered, so it slowly constricts the shot as it leaves the choke, which is said to provide more shot density down range.
Custom chokes, shotgun shell advancements and even state-of-the-art shotgun sights can turn any factory gun into a custom turkey killing machine. But hunters must first pattern their guns, so they can make the tweaks necessary to turn their gun into a long-range weapon that can shoot 50 yards and beyond.
WHEN A SHOTGUN WON’T PATTERN
According to Trulock, the best way to fix a shotgun that isn’t patterning well is to put a shotgun scope of some type on it.
“We have some customers whose gun, regardless of what shell or choke they use, still shoots high, low, high and left, etc. In that case, we tell them to put a scope on their gun, so they can sight the gun, which eliminates the problem. I believe one reason so many hunters now use a scope on their turkey gun is because out of the factory, their gun doesn’t shoot well.”
Other Articles You May Like