Best Shotgun Loads for Your Turkey Gun

by Tracy Breen

Spring turkey season is here!  There’s a strong possibility that you are using the same shotgun shells to kill a turkey this season that you have used for the past decade.  After all, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it…right?  I have made that statement plenty of times over the years. Most of us only shoot one or two birds a year, so a box or two of ammo can last a long time and turkey loads can be expensive. As a result, most of us don’t buy a new box of shells until the old is gone. However, shell technology has advanced a lot in recent years and it might be worth investing in some new shells this year. There is no question that the turkey loads on the market today can help increase the odds of filling a tag. Many of the loads on the market today hold tighter patterns at further distances than ever before. That can result in more fans on the wall and meat in the freezer. Am I telling you to take 60 or 70 yard shots?  No, I am not, but a good tight pattern usually results in more filled tags. Here’s a look at some of the best shotgun loads for your turkey gun.

Browning BXD Turkey ($13.99)

Browning is best known for manufacturing top notch guns but they also offer a great line of ammunition. Their turkey load BXD Turkey utilizes an aerodynamically stabilized wad that releases shot consistently for tight, uniform patterns. The nickel-plated lead shot ensures the pellets remain true in flight and hit hard upon impact. Turkeys hunters are looking for a load that will give them a few extra yards. BXD stands for Browning Extra Distance and that is what you will get. Between the one of a kind wad and the nickel-plated lead, this load will surely get the job done. (10 rounds per box)

best shotgun loads for your turkey gun-browning BXD_Turkey
Browning BXD Turkey

Apex Tungsten Super Shot ($47.99)

Apex Ammunition has a great new tungsten turkey load called Small Town Blend. The load has been gaining a lot of attention in the turkey hunting world. The load is a blend of  #7.5 Tungsten Super Shot and #9 Tungsten Super Shot. This load gives a large and small pellet that results in an amazing amount of knockdown power and extreme ranges. We had the chance to check this load out at the NWTF Convention and were impressed with what we saw. It’s a heavy-hitter that is sure to thump plenty of turkey heads this spring. The Apex ammo has been so popular these days that supplies are somewhat limited as the company works hard to keep up with inventory. (5 rounds per box)

Apex Small Town Blend
Apex Small Town Blend

Federal Heavyweight TSS ($39.99-49.99) 

The new Federal Heavyweight TSS shotgun loads are the perfect solution for extended shot opportunities as well as when you find yourself in the the thick stuff. The Tungsten Super Shot is said to be 56% denser than lead. As a result, a much smaller sized pellet can easily kill a turkey. Because the shot is so dense and small, there is up to twice the pellet count in one shell as there is in a shell loaded with #5’s. Besides having twice the pellet count, the FLITECONTROL FLEX wad provides extremely tight, consistent patterns through standard and ported turkey chokes. You may be wondering how many #9 TSS pellets can fit in a shell? Here is what Adam Moser, an engineer from Federal said: “A 13/16-ounce load of No. 9 TSS has about 295 pellets. A 1-1/8 ounce load carries about 408 pellets. For comparison, a 2-ounce load of No. 4 lead has about 270 pellets.” (5 rounds per box)

Federal Heavyweight TSS

Hornady Heavy Magnum ($12.99)

Another load worth looking at is the Hornady Heavy Magnum. At the heart of this load is nickel plated lead. The nickel-coating ensures that the pellets don’t become deformed in flight, reducing accuracy. Two things help increase accuracy in a shotgun shell: having pellets that remain true to form and the wad. The wad in the Heavy Magnum is called the Versatite wad because it helps keep the pattern tight at long ranges. Best of all, speciality chokes aren’t needed for this load. (10 rounds per box)

Hornady Heavy Magnum
Hornady Heavy Magnum

Remington Nitro Turkey ($7.99) 

Hunters on a budget will appreciate the Remington Nitro Turkey Load. This load holds a great pattern and provides plenty of downrange energy, thanks to the proprietary manufacturing process that results in a lead pellet that is as hard as copper plated shot. Remington Nitro Turkey loads contain their extra-hard lead shot. Their unique manufacturing process yields shot that is as hard and round as copper-plated shot. Nitro Turkey Magnums are said to pattern as well as other copper-plated, buffered loads without the higher cost. With Remington’s specially blended powder recipe, and advanced Power Piston one-piece wad, Nitro Turkey Loads deliver a full 1 7/8 oz. payload at 1210 fps and 80% pattern densities with incredible knockdown power at effective ranges.Best of all, though this load will break beaks, it won’t break your wallet. (10 rounds per box)

best loads for your turkey gun - Remington NitroTurkey_box
Remington Nitro Turkey

Winchester Xtended Range Bismuth ($35)

Another shotgun shell that is creating buzz this year is the new Winchester Xtended Range Bismuth turkey load. More public land hunting areas are not allowing hunters to use lead shot. The Xtended Range Bismuth load is the answer for those hunting areas. Bismuth is a nontoxic load that is denser than steel so it can be used for waterfowl hunting and turkey hunting. At the heart of this load is Winchester’s ShotLok Technology. What makes this technology so special? Before the shot goes into the shell, a 2-part resin is poured in and then the pellets are poured in. This resin bonds with the pellets and when the shell is fired it acts as a buffer, keeping the pellets from deforming.  It helps keep the load together, resulting in a tight pattern and better down range accuracy. For those hunting in places where lead can’t be used, this is a great option. (10 rounds per box)

Winchester Xtended Range

Hevi-Shot Magnum Blend ($23.99)

The folks at Hevi-Shot have established a reputation for creating some of the hardest hitting ammunition you’ll find anywhere for waterfowl, coyotes, and turkeys too. Their Magnum Blend features their award winning HEVI-13 moly-coated pellets, in a mix of shot sizes launched at higher speeds, creating a cone of lethality at any range. Magnum blend is ideal for open field hunting when shot opportunities can happen at a variety of distances. (5 rounds per box)

Best Loads for your turkey gung-Hevi-Shot Magnum Blend
Hevi-Shot Magnum Blend

Regardless if you use one of the loads listed above or something else, it is important to pattern your gun. Some loads require a certain type of choke; others don’t.  In either case, it is always best to test your gun with any new load so you know how it performs at 40 yards, 50 yards and beyond. When you purchase a new load, ignore the hype and do a test yourself.

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