• Mossberg Owners is in the process of upgrading the software. Please bear with us while we transition to the new look and new upgraded software.

How to Pattern Your Shotgun with Turkey Loads

ripjack13

Resident Sawdust Maker
Staff member
Administrator
Supporter
"Philanthropist"
So, you want to go hunting for Turkeys, do you? First you need to pattern your Turkey loads, that way you know what your maximum distance is for maximum lethality. Now the rule of thumb is patterns are measured at 40 yards for all gauges, except .410 bore, however we won't be hunting Turkey with .410 loads now will we? NO, we won't. ;)

The ideal pattern for turkey hunting is 100 pellets in a 10-inch circle at 40 yards.

It only takes about 2.5 foot lbs. of energy to penetrate a turkey's head. A Number 6 shot has 2.5 foot lbs. of energy at 40 yards, After that, it drops of to 1.7 foot pounds at 60 yards. However, A Number 5 shot, with the same velocity of 1315 fps has 3.5 foot pounds of energy at 40 yards, and still has the 2.5 foot lbs. of energy at 60 yards.

Patterning is a simple process, yet time consuming. you should repeat this process at least 10 times then figure out the average's of the results. To do this you will need to cut open an unused shotshell of the shell you plan on patterning with and count how many pellets are inside it.
BE CAREFUL WHEN CUTTING IT OPEN PLEASE!!
Ok now that you have a count of the number of pellets, let's get to shooting!

Things you will need...
At least 10 pieces of butchers paper 4'x4' wide.
At least 11 shotgun shells.
(However, you should repeat the process with different loads as well.)
A Pencil/pen and some paper to multiply your results on. :eek: (what?! we're doing math?!)
A shotgun. :roll: :lol:



1. Get yourself some butchers paper to shoot at, at least a 4' square. draw a + on the center
2. Set it up at 40 yards away from you.
3. Assuming your sights are dead on, aim at the +, and shoot it.
4. Draw a 30" circle in the center of the resulting pattern mass, so that it encloses the greatest number of holes.
5. Count the number of pellets in the circle.

Now once you have done this you divide the number of pellet holes by the number of pellets in the shell you cut open earlier. Do this for every shot you take at the butchers paper. Every shot is different so that's why we want multiple shots at the target. Then you average the results. And that's it. It's easy, and fun. :D Of course you can also try shooting at different distances to find your sweet spot. Do 5 yards time... You essentially want at least 20 pellets in the Turkey's head and neck area. That way you have a high percentage of kill shots. There should be a good pattern around his/her head.

Remember, It only takes one pellet to kill a Turkey, so why not give yourself an advantage?


All done? Happy with your pattern?
Great job...now you are ready to Turkey hunting with a properly patterned shotty. :cool:
 

MikeD

I'm Your Huckleberry
Staff member
Administrator
Global Moderator
"Philanthropist"
Good information. I have a new barrel ordered for my 930 and I'm in process of rebuilding my 835. Once these two projects are complete I'll be hitting the range to re-pattern both guns.

I tend to repeat the process with different loads as well. The same load/choke combination out of my 870 is not at all the same as it is out of my 930.

A lot of people groan when it comes to patterning their guns. I rather enjoy it ( my shoulder doesn't' though) because it really lets you know what your gun is doing at different ranges.
 

BigFatGuy

.270 WIN
Two questions, if you don't mind...

What is the significance of the 30" circle with regard to the turkey?

Why divide by the total number of pellets? This will give you a number from 0 to 1, basically a % of pellets in the 30" circle. Wouldn't a raw count be more useful? After all, if you shot a load with only 4 pellets in it, and they stuck more or less together, you'd have a "score" of 1, but still a poor coverage of the 30" circle.
 

ripjack13

Resident Sawdust Maker
Staff member
Administrator
Supporter
"Philanthropist"
Courtesy of the National Wild Turkey Federation
http://www.gamebirdhunts.com/Resources/ ... fault.aspx

"4. What’s in a pattern?
The ideal pattern for turkey hunting is 100 pellets in a 10-inch circle at 40 yards. This density means that there should be plenty of pellets in the small vital area of the turkey’s head and neck to kill it ethically.

If you prefer No. 6 turkey loads (approx. 222 pellets/oz.), then a two-ounce load of No. 6s should pattern about 25 percent of its shot in the 10-inch circle. Two ounces of No. 5s (approx. 171 pellets/oz.) should give you a pattern of about 30 percent. Two ounces of No. 4s (approx. 135 pellets/oz.) should result in a 37 percent pattern. These numbers are based on lead pellets, so heavier-than-lead alloy pellets will have fewer pellets per ounce and the percentage will differ slightly.

5. What’s so magical about 40 yards?
Turkey guns are often patterned at 40 yards because that is the maximum distance promoted by the Turkey Hunting Safety Task Force as the proper range to ethically and cleanly kill a turkey with a shotgun. However, knowing how your shotgun patterns at distances less than 40 yards is also very important.

6. Dial it in
Initial pattern tests should be on a 30-inch target. Sheets of butcher paper or craft paper work great. Draw a small two-inch circle in the middle and color it in with a marker, then draw a 10-inch circle centered on that. Pace off 40 yards or use a laser range finder to mark your distance. Use a shooting brace/bench to reduce human error and shoot a single round at each target. Shoot a few different types of ammo through different choke tubes, record the information and then compare the results. Pick the round that gives you the densest pattern."
========================================================

30" is the mass of the selected shot, "the ball pattern". You really want a 100 pellets in a 10" circle according the NWTF. I forgot to add that in my post. :oops:
Also, as to the counting of the pellets, you want to do that for for your own records really. it gives you a pellet count as to how many hit inside the designated spot, so that you can tell which shotshell brand, size and weight is best for your particular shotty to hunt Turkey with (or any other game, the technique for patterning is the same)...you want to find what shell gives you the best and the most shot inside of the 30" target.
 

Rossignol

The Original Sheriff
Global Moderator
Sponsor
Moderator
Good piece of info RipJack! Nice posting!

The 30" circle is used often for patterning alot of loads. Folks use it to pattern for bird, like wing shooting, as well as competitors to test loads and choke tubes. Choke tube manufactures use it as well and is typically whats used when you see a manufacturer saying their choke tube increases pattern density to 70%... or whatever.

What youre lookin for is even coverage and the highest percentage of pellets possible in that space. Besides, its fun doin the shooting to find the right combination! :D
 

ripjack13

Resident Sawdust Maker
Staff member
Administrator
Supporter
"Philanthropist"
Well said sir. Thanx for the feedback.....
 

ripjack13

Resident Sawdust Maker
Staff member
Administrator
Supporter
"Philanthropist"
Thanx ncsu08ms3..

And coming from you Shooter, makes me feel good. thank you.
 

RussMo

.22LR
ripjack13, thanks for the info!!! I have been thinking about going down to TX for Turkey and Hog. Never hunted Turkey, so very valuable info. Can't find a magazine that is mostly about Turkey hunting up here.
 

mingaa

Raconteur
My favorite outdoor range has a dedicated pattern range. For $3 an hour the paper is free and they have a well constructed shooting table on locking wheels that rolls on a 75yd concrete strip marked at 10 yd increments. It makes pattern and choke work a piece of cake. A round of skeet - $3, sporting clays - $3. An hour in a booth at the 100 yd range, you guessed it $3! The range is run by the Dept. of Conservation. Shoot 10 times and the next one is free. Last visit I came away with my brass AND 60 45 cases and almost 100 223s. Spot a guy near you and ask if he's keeping his brass. Works for me!
 
Top