Let’s get this out of the way: You don’t have to have a specially made shotgun designed for turkey hunting in order to go hunt turkeys. Your home defense gun or waterfowl gun will do the job just fine, but the more turkey hunting you do, the more you’ll realize that some specific features sure would be nice—a matte or camo finish, a shorter barrel, a comfortable grip, more choke options, a bigger chamber if you want to shoot 3 ½-inch shells, maybe a smaller gauge if you want to hop on the sub-gauge trend that’s all the rage right now.
Considering most turkey hunters will only shoot one or two birds a year, you might not be interested in shelling out a thousand bucks or more on a gun dedicated to one species, and who could blame you? If you’re looking for a dedicated turkey gun that won’t break the bank, try these options, listed in order from least to most expensive—but none over a street price of around $600.
Stevens 320 Turkey Thumbhole
Savage has been making shotguns under the Stevens name for some time, and they’re designed as a budget line. The 320 Turkey is a pump-action gun in 12- or 20-gauge with a simple OD green synthetic stock and forend and a black matte barrel. Barrel length is 22 inches, which is among the shortest on our list. Total weight is 7.6 pounds. It has a 3-inch chamber, so you won’t be shooting the longest 12-gauge shells out of it, if that’s important to you. The 320 Turkey Thumbhole comes with adjustable fiber-optic sights, which are all you’ll need for turkey hunting, but it’s also drilled and tapped in case you decide to add an optic. This gun has one of my favorite turkey-gun features: A thumbhole stock. It looks nontraditional and might seem unnecessary, but I find a thumbhole super comfortable when I have to hold the gun in my hand for hours at a time. An extended extra full choke is included. Interestingly, Stevens lists the length of pull at 13.75 inches, which is a bit shorter than most guns on this list and might be a benefit to smaller-framed shooters. MSRP on this gun is only $351, which means you should find it on dealer shelves for around $300 or so.
Escort FieldHunter Turkey
You might not have heard about Escort shotguns, but don’t sleep on this affordable brand. The pump-action FieldHunter Turkey comes in 12 or 20 gauge as well as the super-hot-right-now .410 bore, with a 3-inch chamber. The barrel is 24 inches in the 12 gauge, 22 in the 20, and 26 in the .410. It comes with three choke tubes, a rubber recoil pad and all-over camo, and it weighs just 6.9 lbs., which will make running and gunning a little easier. Adjustable fiber-optic front and rear sights are included, but it also has a cantilever Weaver rail for adding a low-power scope or a red-dot optic. Stock shims allow you to adjust the fit, and Escort says the barrel is oxidation-proof. Length of pull is listed at 14.2 inches. If you’re interested in trying the .410 for turkeys, this is a great budget-friendly choice. A current MSRP on the Escort FieldHunter Turkey is hard to nail down, but the last time the NRA reviewed this gun (in 2021), MSRP was listed at $399.
CZ 612 Magnum Turkey
If you’re picking up on a theme of pump-action guns, it’s because they’re generally more affordable than semi-autos. When you’re pinching pennies, a pump-action gun can get you into the woods for not a lot of money, and they’re dead-reliable. CZ’s 612 Magnum Turkey is no exception. It’s a 12-gauge with a 3 ½-inch chamber for those who like to shoot the big shells, with a 26-inch barrel and a camo hydro-dipped finish. Length of pull is listed at 14.5 inches and the weight is listed at a carry-friendly 6.8 lbs. Two chokes are included, extra full as well as modified. A red fiber-optic front sight comes on the gun. This is a relatively no-frills option as far as CZs go, but it’ll get the job done well, and that 3 ½-inch chamber is a big deal to some hunters. MSRP is $499.
Winchester SXP Longbeard Mossy Oak Break-Up Country
Winchester’s pump-action SXP has been around more than a decade now, with great success. The Longbeard line is specifically designed for, of course, turkey hunting, with 12- and 20-gauge options and a 3 ½-inch chamber available in the 12 gauge. The Mossy Oak Break-Up Country model has a synthetic pistol grip stock (my second favorite configuration after the thumbhole) and is completely camo-ed out. Interchangeable comb pieces and stock spacers let you customize the fit. Length of pull is listed at a shorter-than-average 13.25 inches and the weight is just under 7 lbs. The chamber and bore are chrome-plated to prevent rust, and the gun comes with an extended extra full choke tube, a high-tech recoil pad and a fiber-optic front sight, although it is also drilled and tapped if you’d like to add your own optics. If you’re looking for a 3 ½-inch chamber in a comfortable-to-hold gun you can customize for fit, this might be the one. MSRP is $589.
If you’re looking for an affordable semi-auto suited to turkey hunting, the Stoeger M300 could be the ticket. Look at the Mossy Oak Bottomland model; it’s fully camo-ed out for concealment. This 12-gauge semi-auto has a 26-inch barrel and a 3-inch chamber. Length of pull is listed at 14.375 inches and the weight is listed at 7.3 lbs. The inertia-driven action will give you considerable felt recoil reduction over a pump-action gun, and inertia guns are typically a bit more reliable and require less cleaning than gas-operated semis. A fiber-optic front sight is included, as are three choke tubes and a shim kit that lets you adjust the fit. At an MSRP of $619, this is one of the more affordable semi-autos on the market and should make a great turkey gun.
Mossberg 835 Ulti-Mag Combo
Mossberg’s 835 Ulti-Mag combo offers value two ways: First, it’s a 3 ½-inch 12-gauge pump for a street price of around $600, and it comes with a second barrel designed for deer hunting with slugs. If you’re looking for a double-duty shotgun, this is a great choice for the price. The whole thing is covered in Mossy Oak Break-Up Country camo, and the turkey barrel is 24 inches and overbored for tighter patterns and less pellet deformation. The weight is listed at 7.5 lbs.—perhaps a bit heavy if you’ll be hiking or running and gunning, but it’s a trade-off you might welcome: Heavier guns give you less felt recoil. Mossberg measures the length of pull at 13.87 inches. A fiber-optic front sight is included on the turkey barrel, and the slug barrel has a cantilever mount for adding a scope. An external full choke is included. MSRP is listed at $685, and there’s also a turkey/waterfowl combo if you’re not interested in the slug barrel.
P.S.: If every gun on this list is still a little more than you want to spend, look at the Mossberg Maverick 88 All-Purpose with an MSRP of just $262. It’s not a turkey-specific gun, so the barrel is a little longer and a little shinier than is ideal, but it’ll get you into the field for very little money.