Gear Reviews, Hunting, Turkey

Gearing Up for Gobblers: Patterning Remington 870 Compact

This year I procrastinated. There, I admit it! I waited until the last minute to get shotgun shells, a choke for my shotgun, and to pattern my setup for turkey season. I do not recommend procrastinating but, I do understand that life can get in the way from time to time. That being said, if you have the opportunity, DO NOT PROCRASTINATE GETTING READY FOR ANY HUNTING SEASON!

This year I will be shooting a 20 Gauge, Remington 870 Compact, pump shotgun. I got this shotgun as a present for Christmas after shooting a 12 Gauge, Remington 870 Express, pump shotgun for the 2017 turkey season. During the 2017 season the Remington Express proved to be too big for me. It was crazy heavy to carry around the mountain, the stock was too long for me, and I felt uneasy shooting it. Luckily, in a way, I didn’t get an opportunity to bag a bird. The Compact is the perfect size for my 5’ 1” frame, is lighter weight, and I feel more confident shooting  it.

Last year I purchased Federal’s High Velocity Turkey Load. This copper-plated load offered dense patterns, as well as a Flitecontrol wad. At 2 ¾ inches, with 1 ½ oz of size 4 shot I was excited to shoot this turkey load. The copper-plating allows the lead shot to retain it’s form for longer which means that a copper-plated loads pattern will be closer together than a regular lead. As I mentioned above, I didn’t get to use this load in the 2017 season but, it helped guide me to my choices in turkey load this year.

This year, waiting until the last minute meant that I had to drive out of state to get shotgun shells that would even work for my gauge of shotgun, not to mention, be the ones I wanted to shoot. I ended up purchasing a box of Federal Premium Grand Slam copper-plated shot and a box of Remington Nitro Turkey Extra Hard lead shot.

Remington Nitro Turkey and Federal Premium Grand Slam turkey loads.

The Federal Premium Grand Slam is a 3 inch shell, with 1 5/16 oz of size 5 shot. The Federal has a rolled crip with a clear wad and there’s buffering in with the shot to prevent pellet deformation. The Remington Nitro Turkey is a 3 inch shell, with 1 ¼ oz of size 5 shot. The Remington has a polymer buffering with the shot to help keep them round and keep patterns tight. The Federal was about $13 dollars for 10 shotgun shells and the Remington was about $7 for the same amount of shells.

As for choke tubes, I found slim to no pickings for a choke tube that would fit my 20 Gauge gun. A choke tube is a piece of metal that is tapered and attaches at the muzzle end of the bore of a shotgun. The choke tube is what controls the spread or pattern of shot. Just like a garden hose may have attachments that controls the spray of water, the choke tube does this for shot that is being propelled through the shot gun. There lots of different kinds of choke tubes that people can buy to attach for hunting or sporting purposes. For turkey generally folks will look for a full or extra full choke tube because they want a dense pattern of shot to ethically kill the bird.

This year, I wanted to go with a choke tube like the Red Head Black Maxx so I could ensure a denser pattern of shot at a further distance. Instead my only option, in store, was a flush mount, sits just inside the muzzle, extra full choke. I bought it in part because I am impatient and waiting for a choke tube to ship right before turkey season didn’t seem like something I was willing to do if I could make an in-store purchase. I’m also down to the wire and needed the choke to pattern my shotgun. April is a busy month for me and I was afraid if I didn’t get it patterned now, I wouldn’t before turkey season, and then I would not be able to hunt because I would be uncertain of completing an ethical kill.

Once the necessities were purchased, it was off to the field to see what my shotgun was going to shoot like for turkey season. From what we’ve found online, a good pattern should have at least 15 – 20 pellets in the head and neck area as a minimum for an ethical kill.

Getting my shotgun loaded.

I started off by shooting the Remington Nitro first. I started at 20 yards and my first pattern wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t as dense as I would have liked but, it would have easily killed a turkey at 20 yards. I shot the Federal Premium Grand Slam next at 20 yards. The pattern was much denser than the Remington Nitro. The Federal also packed more of a punch on the recoil but, overall I was impressed with the Federal over the Remington.

Shooting my shotgun.

I then backed out to 30 yards with the Federal. The pattern was not as good at 30 yards as it was at 20 but, it would have still had been enough to kill a turkey. I didn’t want to shoot any farther past 30 at this point because I don’t feel confident enough in the set up with my choke tube to ensure an ethical kill. 30 yards is also a pretty good distance and should offer me plenty of options for turkey season.

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Just for kicks, I let my boyfriend shoot the Nitro at 30 yards. Just like the 20 yard shot, the pattern was not as dense as the Federal’s pattern and I wasn’t too impressed. It still would have killed a turkey but I’m going to keep the Nitro’s for now as a backup.

Letting my boyfriend shoot the Nitro at 30 yards.

I’m now semi ready for season, minus not having the choke I really wanted. I still feel confident that I can make a clean ethical kill if I get the opportunity this year. If I am able to get a different choke tube during season, I’ll pattern it as well with both shotgun shells that I purchased and most likely keep the flush choke as a backup.

I can’t wait to hit the fields and woods for turkey season this year! I feel like I’m prepared, and with the sounds of turkeys coming from our house consistently now it sounds like my boyfriend is ready too. If you’re hunting this turkey season, best of luck to you! I’ll be writing about turkey again soon so, if you’d like an update when a new post is live, subscribe to the right by entering in your email or clicking the WordPress “follow” button.

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