Bargain, Big-Ticket Turkey Hunting Shotguns Reviewed
February 09, 2018
Both Browning and TriStar produce turkey hunting shotguns, designed especially for turkeys, each providing different features for diverse hunters.
By Paul Rackley & Heath Wood
When pursuing spring gobblers, hunters need at least some knowledge of the property, the ability to make some calls and a shotgun paired with a good choke and load combination.
There are many shotguns, ranging from a couple of hundred dollars up to a few thousand.
Of course, choosing a shotgun typically comes down to preference, features and money.
Here are two fairly new options to consider if you need a new gun.
TRISTAR VIPER G2 CAMO
By Heath Wood — Based in Kansas City, Mo., TriStar has built a reputation of making excellent but affordable firearms, with the trademarked slogan "The Value Experts."
Given that, I was excited to try out the company's Viper G2 semi-auto shotgun with a 26-inch barrel on spring turkeys. Just like TriStar claims, the Viper G2 handled a variety of loads from light target, all the way up to Hornady's Heavy Magnum Turkey, which was my choice on turkeys. Because of the ammo company's recommendation of pairing this load with either a modified or improved cylinder choke, instead of full or extra full, I patterned the Viper G2 with the included improved cylinder choke.
Patterning at 25 and 35 yards was excellent, with 80-plus pellets filling the target; however, at 45 yards the pattern spread to only have 45 to 50 pellets in the target.
The Soft Touch finish seemed to make the gun feel durable, while keeping it quiet during hunts. Lightweight and easy to carry, the Viper G2 action was smooth, never failing through testing or hunting on turkeys and coyotes.
Additionally, the vented rib and fiber-optic sight made aiming easy, even in low-light situations. It also comes with a chrome-lined chamber and barrel, swivel studs for a sling and a magazine cutoff for unloading the chamber while leaving rounds in the magazine.
While the Viper comes with three chokes, it accommodates all Beretta and Benelli threads, meaning that users can choose from a wide variety of chokes, including specialized turkey chokes, all without the much higher price of many semi-auto shotguns.
What I liked
The shotgun handled well on two turkeys, and the price is awesome.
What I'd change
I wish it would have patterned better at longer ranges, and that it would come with more recent camouflage options.
TRI STAR VIPER G2 CAMO SPECS
- Gauge 12 or 20
- Action Gas-operated semi-auto
- Finish Realtree Advanced Timber or Max4
- Barrel Length 24, 26, 28 and 30 inches
- Weight 6.8 lbs. (12 gauge)
- Magazine 4 plus 1
- Chokes IC, M, F, Beretta/Benelli
- MSRP $610
BROWNING CYNERGY ULTIMATE TURKEY
By Paul Rackley — Turkey hunters typically set up shotguns for tight patterns at 40 yards. As a result, they often miss closer shots inside 20 yards. But if you have a double-barrel shotgun, you can have two different chokes ready to go. If a bird comes in close, you can use the barrel with an open choke. A longer-distance bird would get a tighter restriction.
Brought out in 2017, the Browning Cynergy Ultimate Turkey is a specialized over-under backed by years of research into what some turkey hunters want in a shotgun. It features a steel ultra-low profile receiver with MonoLock Hinge and a Reverse Striker ignition system, a mechanical trigger design.
It also comes with Vector Pro forcing cones, five Invector-Plus choke tubes (from improved cylinder to Extended Ultimate Full Turkey), and a Marble Arms Bullseye rear sight and a fiber-optic front sight. It even has a short Picatinny rail for mounting optics and two camo options.
I tested the Cynergy in Nebraska and took a pair of hybrids, one with the Ultimate Spreader choke and one with the Ultimate Full Turkey choke. The full patterned well and downed a bird hard at 30 yards. The spreader choke was more difficult to figure out during patterning, but worked well at 20 yards in the field. The shotgun was light enough for easy carry through rolling hills. It has an excellent feel, as well as a quality fit and finish.
What I liked
The ability to have two different chokes set up for the many ranges of which turkeys can appear.
What I'd Change
The price is significant, and the spreader choke was hard to pattern consistently.
BROWNING CYNERGY ULTIMATE TURKEY SPECS
- Gauge 12; 3 1/2-inch chamber
- Action Break-action double barrel
- Finish Mossy Oak Break Up Country or A-TACS Foliage/Green
- Barrel Length 26 inches
- Weight 7.6 lbs
- Chokes IC, M, F, Ultimate Spreader and Ultimate Turkey
- MSRP $2,339