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Turkey Loads...where to start?


Copper BB
I'm going turkey hunting for the first time this fall and I'm not sure where to start on loads. I have a Mossberg 500 with a 20" barrel and X-Factor xx-full choke tube.

I know I need to pattern a few different loads in my gun before I go out, but honestly I don't even know which ones to start with. I just went to my LGS and they have 40+ turkey loads on the shelf.

1 7/8 oz of 5, 6 or 7
2 oz of 5, 6, or 7

Most (all?) were magnum (3") or bigger shells I believe. There were a few different shot materials (lead, something else?)

So between the shot material, shot size, total load weight, etc... Do you guys have any suggestions on where to start when grabbing a few different loads to pattern?

Thanks for your help


Rest in Peace
In the first minute of this video, Mr. Smith tells you all you need for a Turkey load.



Resident Sawdust Maker
Staff member


I'm Your Huckleberry
Staff member
Global Moderator
A basic load of 6's or 5's is more than sufficient for most hunting. Any smaller and the shot becomes too light IMHO and any larger you give up too much in pattern density.

Magnums will gain you a bit in speed and number of pellets (assuming a longer shell)

Hevi-shot will gain a bit in effective range (depending on pattern)

My buddy has taken countless turkeys with a 20g 870 with a fixed modified choke shooting #6 field loads

All of mine were taken using a 12G 3" #5's out of an extra full turkey choke (Primos Tight Wad to be exact) Next year I'll be hitting the woods with a 835 and some Hevi Shot. Not that I need it, I just wanted to play with something different.

One thing I've learned over the years, knowing your pattern at different distances and finding a load that consistently delivers a consistent pattern is much more important than the load itself.

I've watched the vid LTB45 posted a few times. There's good info in there

Rips patterning thread is packed full of good stuff as well


The Original Sheriff
Global Moderator
Good advice and a good vid too!

I can't speak with much authority or experience other than to say just a couple things;

Your 500 will handle up to a 3" shell, the 3 1/2" shells will work in firearms like the 835.

As far as loads go, Federal makes a turkey load with the FliteControl wad. I haven't tried it yet but it would be among my first choices. I don't have a XXfull choke though which may work better with non flitecontrol loads.


Copper BB
Thanks for all the suggestions guys. That video was very helpful. I'm not going to worry too much about the load. I'll pick something simple and pattern it so I know what it's capable of.
Thats the way it's done best Bzink,
I use either 3" Federal #5 or 3" Remington Duplex #4x#6 shot'
Heading out in the morning myself :D