Case: Talking turkey shotguns, and what the .410 can do for you

  photo  AP file photo by Jon-Pierre Lasseigne / Although the spring gobbler season dominates the turkey hunting scene these days, the fall season is an old tradition, and one recommended by "Guns & Cornbread" columnist Larry Case. But before you head to the woods, Case advises looking into a new .410 shotgun to go after the birds.

Yes, my brothers and sisters in camo, I know we are not going into the spring gobbler season, but we are looking down the barrel at a thing called the fall turkey season. Hopefully some of you will be taking part in this old traditional season (a much older tradition in hunting than the spring season, I must tell you).

So, because we are soon to be in a turkey season, I thought we could talk about some turkey shotguns and the phenomenon of using the .410 bore (it’s not a gauge, remember) for America’s greatest game bird, the wild turkey. Not so long ago, the .410 was maybe thought of as a young hunter’s shotgun for small game at close range, the squirrel hunter’s first shotgun. Times change, and now the .410 is being used by turkey hunters big and small, thanks to a little thing called TSS, or tungsten super shot.

The trend of smaller or sub-gauge shotguns for turkeys has become, as they say, a “thing.”

All of this happened really fast. A few years ago, turkey shotgun geeks would be more likely to argue the merits of 3 1/2-inch Magnums versus 3-inch instead of what is the best load for a dainty .410. This transformation was brought on by basically one thing: the mysterious metal called wolfram, or tungsten.

A secretive, almost cultlike group of turkey slayers handloaded tungsten shot for years and reported incredible and often unbelievable results. Someone from this movement coined TSS for tungsten super shot, and the rest is history.

Apex, Browning, Hevi Shot, Federal, Fiocchi and Kent Cartridge offer TSS shotgun loads commercially. Because it is so much heavier and harder, tungsten has performance capabilities far above that of lead. This allows for the loading of much smaller shot, and TSS fans will tell you that a No. 9 tungsten shot is equal in performance to a No. 5 shot in lead. Going with No. 9 instead of No. 5 means about twice the number of shot can be loaded in the shell, and so the sub-gauges, mainly the .410, are now in demand for turkey hunters.

Here are a few to consider.

Rossi Tuffy Turkey .410

Rossi is expanding its line of single-shot, break-action shotguns with the introduction of the new Tuffy Turkey .410. At 26 inches, it is the longest barrel among the Tuffy .410 shotguns. This cylinder-bore, 3-inch chamber shotgun includes an “extra full” choke tube installed on the barrel to provide increased pellet density in this .410 platform. This combination can be matched with turkey .410-specific loads such as the Fiocchi or Federal TSS and brings you a turkey hunting platform that’s ready out of the box. The gun also comes with one modified choke in the box, allowing this gun to be used for other tasks and not just during turkey season.

The unique stock includes a thumbhole-style pistol grip and a recess in the stock that contains a built-in, 2-by-5 cartridge shell holder for fast reloading. A thick rubber butt pad assists in recoil reduction, and the new Tuffy buttstock comes with a removable extended piece, allowing it to be used by an adult or youth shooter. Up front, the forend is contoured and textured, and it includes recessed finger grooving for an optimal grip even when wearing gloves. Although the Tuffy Turkey comes with a front-bead sight, an aluminum Picatinny rail is mounted to the receiver to accept a red-dot optic.

Additional features include a thumb-break action, spurred hammer and cross-bolt safety system. The polymer furniture is olive drab with matte black barrel and receiver finish. Sling studs are installed at the factory. This is a lot of single-barrel shotgun for a kid’s first gun and to keep you in the .410 TSS craze for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $243.

CZ-USA Drake

CZ-USA offers this trim little over-and-under in 12, 20, and 28 gauge as well as the .410 bore. Turkish walnut stocks and forearms are cut with laser checkering that gives a good grip on the shotgun. The Drake has a single selective trigger (which I like) and heavy duty extractors to lift spent shells. The Drake has 28-inch barrels, five interchangeable chokes with the 12, 20 and 28 gauges, fixed modified and improved cylinder chokes on the .410 model, and it ships in a hard plastic case. This 6-pounder is also a lot of shotgun for an MSRP of $765.

TriStar Viper G2 .410 Camo

If you are in the race to get a .410 turkey slayer with all your buddies and want a semi-automatic, the Viper G2 may be for you. The stock and forearm are injection molded and finished with TriStar’s “soft touch” finish for a firm grip on the gun, and the camo pattern is Realtree Max-4HD. The Viper G2 .410 has a 3-inch chamber and will shoot heavy waterfowl loads and light target ammo. Three choke tubes are included: improved cylinder, modified and full. The choke system is Benelli/Beretta Mobil threads for those who will seek an aftermarket choke. This shotgun has a five-year mechanical warranty and an MSRP of $790.

Browning BPS Field

This gun has been around a while and has its own following. The BPS Field model has a classic look with matte blued barrel, vent rib and satin finish stock. Many like the BPS for its unique bottom loading and ejection port, which along with a top tang safety makes it truly ambidextrous. The BPS Field has a 28-inch barrel that is threaded for the “Invector-Plus” choke system, a chrome-plated chamber, and it’s available in 12, 16, 20, and 28 gauge as well as the .410. The MSRP is $799.

Mossberg 500 Turkey .410

Answering the call for .410 turkey guns, Mossberg has likely hit a home run with the 500 Turkey in Mossy Oak Bottomland. The action on a Mossberg 500 shotgun has stood the test of time and is as tough as a pine knot. This 500 Turkey model has a 26-inch barrel with a fixed full choke, adjustable fiber-optic sight, vent rib and handy top tang safety. The length of pull is just shy of 14 inches, and the shotgun has a 5-plus-1 ammo capacity. This is the Mossberg 500 that many of you started with and grew up on, chambered in .410 and coated with maybe the coolest camo pattern of all time. The MSRP is $529.

“Guns & Cornbread” is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at