Why use pump-actions for turkeys when you could choose a semi-auto and a quicker follow-up shot? Pumps have fewer moving parts than semis. They're not dependent on spent gas or recoil to fill the chamber.
They hold more shells than break-open actions, and they're usually the cheapest option on your gun store's racks. Plus, like a manual transmission, you're in the driver's seat when it comes to jacking the next shell.
There's something to be said for that control. It brings back many hunters to the excitement of their first gun. And the sound and fury of racking another round is right up there with the smell of gunpowder in the morning. — John Geiger, senior editor
Browning | NWTF BPS
Browning's venerable BPS stands out because of its weight, bottom ejection and reputation as a workhorse. New this year, the gun is dressed up in Mossy Oak Break-Up Country with a NWTF logo on the stock. At the range, it patterned well with the one choke that comes with it — Extra Full Turkey.
Despite the 24-inch barrel, the gun is still heavy. If you are doing a lot of running and gunning, it's a nearly 8-pound log. That's about a pound heavier than the other guns we tried out. But the extra weight isn't bad when you pull the trigger and that additional heft absorbs recoil.
At about $1,000, the BPS by far was the most expensive of the three guns.
It comes with a Hi VIZ 4-In-1 rear sight and fiber-optic front sight. I could not lower the rear sight enough to get the pattern centered. I ended up taking the sight off and using the rib and front sight only. I am a big fan of the bottom ejection: I like not seeing a shell flying, and there's less chance rain or snow will get in the receiver.
The trigger broke cleanly at 6 pounds. This gun is truly reliable and cycled all shells every time. — JG
WHAT WE LIKED: Bottom ejection makes sense, and it's ambidextrous. It's solid and reliable.
WHAT WE'D CHANGE: For $1,000, we expected better fit and finish: stock and receiver are not flush.
Barrel Length: 24 inches
Weight: 7 pounds, 14 ounces
Trigger Weight: 6 pounds
Sights: Fiber optic front and rear
CZ-USA | Model 612 Magnum
The new Magnum Turkey is a lot like the Magnum Waterfowl version that has been on the market for awhile. But this one is done up in Realtree Xtra Green and has a 26-inch barrel rather than the waterfowl version's 28-inch barrel. Both guns are chambered for 3 1/2-inch shells and sell for a pleasant $400.
The Turkey Magnum comes with two chokes, modified and extra full. It shoulders well and is a comfortable shooter. For the run-and-gunner, you'll like the fact that it's a light 6.8 pounds. It comes with a front fiber-optic bead and no rear sight, but it is drilled for scope mounts. The trigger was a light 4 pounds, but there is some take-up and a slightly gritty feel to it.
Patterns were consistent. I used the extra full that came with it. But cycling didn't impress: when simulating a follow-up shot, I could not get 3-inch shells to chamber unless I racked it slowly. The 3 1/2's and 2 3/4's were fine but not the 3-inchers. The bolt carrier tried to close before the shell was in battery.
Of course, this is a brand-new gun, and time might correct this, but after pushing a variety of shells through it, at the end of the day frustration remained. — JG
WHAT WE LIKED: Good option if you like a longer barrel in budget turkey shotgun.
WHAT WE'D CHANGE: Cycling issues need attention; with 3-inch shells, it's a single-shot.
Barrel Length: 26 inches
Weight: 6.8 pounds
Trigger Weight: 4 pounds
Sights: Front bead only
Winchester| Super X Pump
The Super X Pump Turkey Hunter is a well-balanced pump-action for turkey hunting. Our test gun cycled shells smoothly and threw notably consistent, dense patterns. I tested the gun on turkey targets at 30 yards, and if they had been turkeys instead of targets, they'd have been very dead turkeys no matter the brand of shotshell we tried.
The densest part of the pattern on some brands of shot shells was a bit to the right of target center, so my advice (which is generally true of any shotgun) is that you try a variety of shells and use the one that works best.
Winchester back-bores this barrel, which effectively widens the section of the barrel where the shot first emerges. This lets shot travel with less resistence, reducing recoil and shot deformation.
But the signature feature of the SXP is that the pump mechanism is inertia-aided — the gun is not an auto, but the inertia system is strong enough to slide the action back. The idea is that this assist makes follow-up shots much faster. As a side benefit, it might reduce kick a bit as well.
It takes some getting used to, but it's an interesting feature in the pump, and it works. — David Johnson, regional editor
WHAT WE LIKED: It's a practical gun in every way: the camo, balance, sights and tight patterns.
WHAT WE'D CHANGE: A light trigger isn't necessary for turkey hunting, but this one broke at 8 pounds.
Barrel Length: 24 inches
Weight: 6.10 pounds
Trigger Weight: 8.5 pounds
Sights: Front and rear TruGlo Fiber Optic
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