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Up to date Feb 16, 2023 9:41 AM

Turkey hunters are fanatical about discovering the proper turkey hundreds. Whereas shotguns haven’t modified an excessive amount of in the previous couple of many years, hundreds have advanced dramatically. The arrival of highly-effective non-toxic shot similar to tungsten and bismuth together with updates to conventional lead shells have pushed the bounds of what we will anticipate from our scatterguns. Right this moment’s turkey hunters are getting away with greater gauges, lighter hundreds, and farther shot distances. 

When you’ve spent any time searching turkeys, you realize that not all shot alternatives are the identical. Choosing one of the best turkey load for the job is about greater than merely throwing the tightest sample the farthest—you should take into account the particular scenario and the way a load will sample and carry out. Wherever you chase birds, and no matter you like to chase them with, there are a ton of superior hundreds out there. Listed below are the 12 months’s finest turkey hundreds and steering on tips on how to choose the proper one in your wants. 

How We Selected The Greatest Turkey Hundreds

For this roundup, I drew on many years of non-public turkey searching expertise and the suggestions of a few of the deadliest turkey hunters I do know with the intention to choose a handful of one of the best hundreds yow will discover. Hundreds needed to be broadly out there and have a monitor file of efficiency behind them. 

The Greatest Turkey Hundreds: Opinions & Suggestions

Greatest TSS: Federal Premium Heavyweight TSS Turkey Shotshells

Greatest TSS

Why It Made the Lower: Tungsten mixed with the FliteControl Flex wad offers Federal TSS an enormous benefit at delivering extra hits on track at ranges that have been beforehand questionable.

Key Options

  • Extraordinarily dense tungsten shot
  • FliteControl Flex wad (not featured in .410 gauge hundreds)
  • Excessive pellet rely


  • Mild recoil
  • Tight patterns
  • Onerous-hitting


Tungsten and bismuth shot have taken the turkey searching and waterfowling world by storm, and Federal TSS hundreds are among the many finest. Non-toxic hundreds started as a substitute for metal for waterfowl hunters however have been rapidly acknowledged for his or her lethality and long-range efficiency within the turkey woods. Tungsten is significantly denser than lead, which means it not solely maintains its form when fired, but in addition carries extra vitality farther. 

Federal makes use of an 18 gm/cc density tungsten that’s 22% denser than normal tungsten and 56% denser than lead. This extraordinarily dense shot flies farther and hits even tougher than normal tungsten, offering lethal accuracy and energy at vary. Heavyweight tungsten helps you to match extra, smaller, harder-hitting pellets into every shell.

The FliteControl Flex wad is a full-length wad that not solely ensures correct flight by way of ported and normal turkey chokes, but in addition protects your barrel from being broken by the extraordinarily exhausting tungsten shot. The dense shot and proprietary wad principally eradicate shot deformation, dramatically lowering flyers and tightening up the sample so you’ll be able to put extra hits on track at longer ranges. This additionally lets you get way more efficiency out of upper gauges if you happen to want to hunt with a lighter-weighing and recoiling shotgun. I personally know a number of individuals who have been experimenting with TSS in .410 with lethal outcomes. 

The one draw back of Federal TSS, and non-lead hundreds generally, is worth. A field of 5 tungsten shells can go for wherever between $50 and $100 making them considerably costlier than their lead counterparts. Turkey hunters don’t normally undergo a ton of shells, so when you’re sighted in and patterned, the price of operating TSS is way more manageable. When you demand the best possible and most deadly turkey load and are keen to pay for it, Federal TSS is in a tier of its personal.      

Greatest for 12 Gauge: Winchester Lengthy Beard XR Turkey Shotshells

Greatest for 12 Gauge

Winchester Long Beard XR Turkey Shotshells is the best turkey load for 12 gauge.

Why It Made the Lower: Winchester’s Lengthy-Beard XR is well known as a turkey killer, offering long-range accuracy and delivering extra pellets on track than simply about anybody.  

Key Options

  • Elevated penetration
  • Excessive hit share at vary
  • Shot-Lok expertise 


  • Inexpensive in comparison with non-toxic
  • Lengthy vary
  • Knockdown energy


Ask one of the best turkey hunters you realize what load has bagged them essentially the most birds and Winchester’s Lengthy-Beard XR is certain to be talked about various instances. Empirically and anecdotally, the Lengthy-Beard XR is among the finest lead turkey hundreds (and finest hundreds, interval) in the marketplace. 

That includes Shot-Lok expertise, Winchester’s Lengthy Beard XR gives tight taking pictures patterns, long-range accuracy, and the next share of pellets on track at vary. Shot-Lok is principally a liquid resin that’s utilized to the shot. The resin dries, holding the shot collectively, however disintegrates upon firing. This protects the shot throughout in-bore acceleration so pellets keep their spherical form. Due to the Shot-Lok expertise, conventional lead shot positive aspects superior flight and lethality, permitting the Lengthy-Beard XR to strategy the efficiency of high-dollar tungsten and bismuth hundreds at a worth that, whereas not low-cost, remains to be a fraction of the price of non-toxic choices. You’ll be able to choose up a field of ten shells for round $25, which is wherever from half to 1 / 4 the price of one thing like Federal TSS.

For a 12 gauge, it’s exhausting to beat the three” #5, 1 ¾ oz load spitting at 1200 fps. I’ve personally killed extra turkeys with this explicit load than some other of the nice long-range turkey hundreds. I’ve seen it drop turkeys at almost 50 yards with a bead sight out of a inventory Mossberg 500. An optic and an aftermarket choke can stretch this load even farther. With the proper setup, moral photographs at 60-plus yards are completely achievable. 

Greatest Lead: Remington Nitro Turkey Shotshells

Greatest Lead

Remington Nitro Turkey Shotshells is the best lead turkey load.

Why It Made the Lower: This basic lead load has been hammering birds for years and contains a specifically designed wad and buffered shot for improved flight, patterning, and efficiency. 

Key Options

  • Polymer buffering
  • Energy Piston wad
  • Additional exhausting lead shot


  • Tight sample
  • Inexpensive
  • Extensively out there


The Remington Nitro Turkey is among the finest and most prolific lead turkey hundreds in the marketplace. Whereas it won’t have the hype of contemporary tungsten and bismuth hundreds, Nitro Turkey has killed a LOT of birds through the years. I hunted with Nitro Turkey in a 20 gauge 3” #5, 1-1/4 oz load for many of my childhood and adolescence and have the beards to attest to its effectiveness. 

One of many most important options of the Nitro Turkey is the patented Energy Piston one-piece wad. The Energy Piston wad holds the shot and creates an air buffer between the propellant and the shot, defending it from the explosive forces launched when the gun is fired. That is complemented by polymer buffering blended into the shot that fills in empty area between pellets so the shot comes out of the gun in a particularly tight package deal with out bouncing round throughout flight. The lead shot Remington makes use of for the Nitro Turkey can also be manufactured to be tougher and extra constantly spherical than many conventional lead hundreds. 

The Nitro Turkey’s exhausting lead shot, wad development, and polymer buffering ensures longer vary, tighter patterns, and better lethality by lowering shot deformation, so extra shot makes it to the goal with most energy. All the Nitro Turkey hundreds in each 12 and 20 gauge common between 1185 and 1300 fps. 

Whereas there could also be area of interest lead hundreds on the market which might be “higher,” selecting a funds turkey load will be cheaper—and it’s exhausting to beat the value and efficiency of the Nitro Turkey for a load yow will discover at any Walmart or sporting items retailer. At roughly $14 for a field of 10 shells, Remington Nitro Turkey is extraordinarily inexpensive and broadly out there throughout the nation. When you’re on the lookout for an important lead turkey load that yow will discover nearly wherever and that received’t break the financial institution, the Remington Nitro Turkey is a wonderful selection. 

Greatest Non Poisonous: Boss Tom Tungsten Shotshells

Greatest Non Poisonous

Boss Tom Tungsten Shotshells is the best non-toxic turkey load.

Why It Made the Lower: All the pieces from the high-quality powder, to the trivialities of how the shell is crimped, has been painstakingly hand-crafted, examined, and refined.

Key Options

  • Dense tungsten shot
  • Fiber buffering
  • Direct to client


  • Inexpensive
  • Consideration to element


Boss is a comparatively new child on the block, however its non-toxic waterfowl and turkey hundreds have rapidly gained traction as a few of the finest in the marketplace. Guided by a conservation ethos, Boss strives to make non-toxic hundreds which might be each environmentally pleasant and intensely lethal with the intention to scale back the variety of wounded and crippled birds. Whereas finest recognized for its waterfowling hundreds, Boss has an equally spectacular line of Boss Tom turkey hundreds as properly.  

What makes Boss completely different is its consideration to element and its direct-to-consumer enterprise mannequin. Boss Tom hundreds characteristic a particularly dense 18g/cc Tungsten and can be found in 12, 20, 28, and .410 gauge. The 12 gauge 3” 2 oz, #7 (370 pellets per shell), or #9 (724 pellets per shell) are the proper hundreds for many turkey searching conditions. Boss Tom shells characteristic a full-length wad and fiber buffering, conserving your barrel secure from put on and tear, eliminating shot deformation, and maximizing sample density and terminal efficiency. 

Boss sells their shotgun shells direct to shoppers, making them slightly tougher to get your fingers on but in addition considerably extra inexpensive than loads of non-toxic hundreds. You received’t be capable of seize a field off the shop shelf in a pinch, however the worth saving will enable you refill when it’s time to resupply. At about $45 for a field of 5 shells, and providing free delivery on orders over $100, Boss Tom is fairly fairly priced in comparison with different non-toxic hundreds.

Issues to Contemplate Earlier than Shopping for The Greatest Turkey Hundreds

Earlier than the season begins—and earlier than you refill on shotshells—there are just a few key options to remember when selecting your hundreds.


Worth is a significant factor when contemplating turkey hundreds. When you’re most likely not going by way of a ton of shells in the middle of a season, between sighting in, patterning, and searching, the fee can add up. Lead hundreds are usually considerably inexpensive than tungsten and bismuth hundreds merely because of the price of the uncooked supplies and manufacturing course of. On common, you’ll be able to anticipate to spend between $1 to $3 {dollars} per shell for a lead turkey load, and wherever from $5 to just about $20 per shell for some high-end tungsten and different premium non-toxic choices.    


In case you are delicate to recoil, or hunt with somebody who’s, it’s possible you’ll need to issue that into your determination to choose a particular load. Many variables—similar to your physique sort and the gauge and chambering of the gun—go into the quantity of recoil and the way you’ll be able to deal with it. When you’re not a fan of getting mule-kicked by your turkey gun, selecting the next gauge or a smaller cost and payload could also be one thing to contemplate. Supplies like TSS shot have dramatically elevated the vary, sample density, and lethality of contemporary hundreds so you may get away with greater gauges and lighter kicking hundreds. 

Environmental and meals security

Lead is a particularly efficient projectile, however clearly not one thing you need to ingest. Hunters might need to take into account the meals security and environmental impacts of utilizing lead shot. Not solely can lead find yourself in your meals, however it could possibly additionally stay in wounded and misplaced animals, killing them and poisoning scavengers that feed on them. Lead shot from goal taking pictures or misses whereas searching may contaminate the soil and water. These considerations might push you in the direction of a non-toxic choice like tungsten, metal, or bismuth. 


On the finish of the day, efficiency is what issues in a turkey load. Sample density, efficient vary, and vitality on track are what kill birds. In an ideal world, you’d need to check a wide range of hundreds and see what works finest in your gun. There’s additionally a ton of information out there from the producers, out of doors media, and unbiased lovers that can assist you choose one of the best turkey load for you.    


Q: Is a 3” or 3.5” shell higher? 

In concept, a bigger shell can maintain extra shot and an even bigger powder cost for elevated energy and vary, however at the price of elevated recoil. In follow, shell size is essentially irrelevant, and the powder cost and payload are the numbers to concentrate to. There are many extra necessary elements than the chamber measurement on the subject of selecting one of the best turkey load (and never all weapons are chambered for magnum 3.5” shells). I’ve killed loads of birds with a 2-¾” load, however for me, a 3” shell is excellent. 

Q: What’s the finest shot measurement for turkey?

On the subject of shot measurement, the bigger the quantity, the smaller the shot. With lead, something from #4 to #6 is a superbly sensible choice for searching turkeys. I personally like a #5 shot measurement. Shot measurement will get slightly extra sophisticated with non-toxic shot because of the weight and density of the shot, however most individuals advocate a #7 or #9. 

Q: Find out how to sample your turkey hundreds?

Patterning a turkey load is fairly easy. Arrange paper targets at various ranges and see how the load performs at every vary. I personally wish to shoot at 10 to 20-yard increments out to roughly 60 yards. It’s finest to make use of targets with the silhouette of a turkey’s head and neck so you’ve gotten an thought of what number of pellets land within the kill zone. When you’re testing out a number of hundreds, use recent targets for every vary and rely what number of pellets are on paper, what number of are within the kill zone, and measure roughly how tight the sample is. Be aware flyers, unusual tears from deformed pellets, and if there are massive gaps within the sample. You might need to strive completely different choke tubes as properly to see how that impacts the sample at every vary. Then merely choose one of the best performing load and choke mixture in your wants. 

Ultimate Ideas on the Greatest Turkey Hundreds

We’re dwelling by way of the golden age of turkey hundreds. There’s by no means been a time with a better abundance of superior choices in the marketplace. Between specialised lead and new non-toxic hundreds, there’s a shell for each searching state of affairs and funds. When you want lead, or can’t justify a $75 field of TSS, you’ll be able to’t go flawed with time-tested hundreds just like the Winchester Lengthy-Beard XR or the Remington Nitro Turkey. When you demand the best possible efficiency and have the cash to spend, non-toxic hundreds like Federal TSS and Boss Tom tungsten are pushing the bounds of scattergun vary, accuracy, and lethality.  No matter shotgun you’re rocking, there’s a killer turkey load on the market to suit your wants.

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