Winchester Long Beard XR
What’s new for 2014
With advanced technology wads, improved buffers/fillers and heavier-than-lead shot, we now have some of the best turkey loads ever. By the time you read this there will be two new loads, one from Winchester and the other from Hornady, available to turkey hunters.
Winchester recently introduced the 12-gauge Long Beard XR in 3- and 3½-inch shells with shot sizes in No. 4, 5 and 6. With a muzzle velocity of 1,200 fps pushing 1¾ and 2 ounces of pellets, it is promoted as a long-range gobbler load using traditional lead shot. One of the reasons for the denser pattern at longer distances is the new SHOT-LOK filler. During manufacturing, the SHOT-LOK is injected as a liquid state into the shot cup before the shot is added, it then cures to a solid that encapsulates the shot, completely filling all air spaces between the pellets. As the shot column accelerates through the barrel and choke, the filler is pulverized and becomes a buffer to prevent shot deformation. According to Winchester, this produces twice the number of pellets in a 10-inch circle out to 60 yards with 10 percent greater penetration beyond 50 yards.
Hornady Heavy Magnum Turkey
For 20 gauge fans, Hornady now has a Heavy Magnum Turkey load that features the Versatite wad. The wad produces improved patterns by stripping cleanly from the pellets in flight without disturbing the shot, resulting in a shorter shot string that delivers more energy on impact. The 3-inch, 20-gauge shell is loaded with 13⁄8 ounces of No. 5 nickel-plated lead shot that exits the barrel at 1,200 fps.
There also is a 3-inch, 12-gauge option of the Heavy Magnum Turkey featuring 1½ ounces of No. 4, 5 or 6 nickel-plated shot that leaves the barrel at 1,300 fps.
Stoeger’s new M3020 semiautomatic shotgun is a 3-inch, 20 gauge that handles 2¾- to 3-inch loads without adjustment. The heart of the M3020 is the inertia-driven operating system with only three moving parts. It comes in black, Realtree Max-5 and Realtree APG. The barrel length is 26 or 28 inches and the length of pull is 143⁄8 inches.
Mossberg has expanded the 12-gauge Model 500 Flex System, introduced in 2012, to include two new 20-gauge hunting versions. At the core of the Flex System is the TLS (Tool-less Locking System), a series of three connectors that allow stocks, fore-ends and recoil pads to be switched for a variety of hunting situations or to re-configure the gun to fit an individual. Both new 20-gauge, pump-action shotguns accept 2¾- or 3-inch shotshells and have a capacity of six rounds. One is available with an olive drab metal finish, Mossy Oak Infinity stock and fore-end and a 24-inch barrel. The other comes with a matte blue finish with black stock/fore-end and a 26-inch, vent-rib barrel.
TriStar now has a version of their Raptor ATAC Tactical designed for turkey hunters. The Raptor ATAC Turkey is a 12-gauge, 3-inch, gas-operated semiautomatic with a 20-inch barrel, pistol-grip straight stock, Picatinni rail with ghost-ring sight, five-round capacity and extended turkey choke tube. It is available in digital camo, Kryptec Typhon, Mossy Oak Break Up or black finishes.
Franchi has two new semiautomatic 12-gauge models of interest to turkey hunters. The first is the 3½-inch Intensity, built on the proven inertia-driven operating system that lets the gun digest a variety of 12-gauge loads without adjustments. The length-of-pull is quickly adjustable from 143⁄8 inches to 15 inches just by changing recoil pads. The Intensity comes with either a 26- or 28-inch barrel and in black, Realtree Max5, Realtree XTRA or Mossy Oak Bottomlands.
Franchi’s new Affinity Compact is an ideal 12- or 20-gauge for youngsters just starting turkey hunting. Its key feature is an adjustable butt stock that offers a 123⁄8-inch length-of-pull to which spacers can be added in ¼-inch increments, increasing it to 13-inches. It comes with a 26-inch barrel, is available in black or Realtree Max5 camo and weighs just 5½ pounds.
Winchester’s new offering in the SXP pump shotgun is the Field Compact. It has a 13-inch length-of-pull that is scaled down to fit younger shooters and those of smaller stature. The SXP 12-gauge Field Compact, chambered for 3-inch shells, has a satin finished stock and fore-end with traditional checkering to maintain a sure grip. Other features include black-chrome protection on the bolt and other components — it lasts longer than traditional bluing — and hard-chrome chamber and bore. It also uses the Invector-Plus choke tube system, features .742-inch Back-Bored barrel technology, drop-out trigger group and InFlex recoil pad. It is available with a 24-, 26- or 28-inch barrel.
Turkey shotgun scope
Weaver’s impressive new turkey scope was introduced last year but did not make it out until late in the year. The KASPA 1-4x24mm Turkey Scope features the revolutionary Vertical Zone Turkey reticle. The VZT reticle’s straight-sided, slot shape is designed to naturally settle the center crosshair on the critical point in the middle of a turkey’s neck. The two oval rings provide range references for 20 and 40 yards at maximum magnification. At close range, the top of the turkey’s head and base of its neck will fit inside the larger outer slot. At longer distances, the top of the turkey’s head and base of its neck will fit inside the smaller, inner slot. In either case, the center crosshair will sit on the center of the neck for precise shot placement.
The scope features a 30mm tube, Mossy Oak Obsession camouflage, multi-coated lenses and a compact design that suits low shotgun lines. — J. Wayne Fears
Belt gun accessories
In the July-August 2013 issue of Turkey Country the Shooting Savvy column was about belt guns and matching holsters for the off-season shooting. It was well received and I heard from many readers wanting to know about belt gun accessories. Here are three new products that will answer many of the questions.
Wright Predator holster
The Predator holster is made from high quality thin leather. It is stiff and molded to the exact model it is designed to carry. Since it carries the gun close to the body for ultimate concealment, the upper rear of the holster is high enough to keep the rear of the pistol slide from rubbing the body. The stitching is very sturdy and the slots of the holster can be worn at the 3 to 5 o’clock position. The gun stays in place in the holster even when held upside down, yet it is easy to draw. When compared to many of the $100-plus holsters on the market today I consider the Predator a real bargain at $74.99.
The Stinger leather belt holster was designed to carry a small semi-automatic pistol or double-acton revolver behind the strong side hip, the Stinger’s open top and forward can’t allow a fast, easy draw stroke. Safety, security and stealth are all addressed with a covered trigger guard, deep molding and a tunnel-style belt loop that takes up little belt space compared to a pancake-type holster. The Stinger is constructed of premium saddle leather, fits belts up to 1½ inches wide. Available in right or left hand designs, in black finish. $59 www.galcogunleather.com
The Trigger Trainer is a unique, compact and non-threatening training device. It is designed to enhance firearm proficiency and speed by isolating and training the index finger for the development of smooth trigger control. Continuous and repetitious practice with the Trigger Trainer helps the shooter build the required finger dexterity and muscle memory essential to marksmanship. $ 55 www.thetriggertrainer.net — J.W.F.