Outdoor Chenango: Going Small With Turkey Hunting Rounds
Published: April 10th, 2024
By: Eric Davis

Outdoor Chenango: Going small with turkey hunting rounds

One of the most talked about items for turkey hunting in the past few years is tungsten super shot, or TSS. It is denser than plain lead shot, which means that it has more kinetic energy that results in better penetration.

This allows hunters to use a smaller shot size, which means more pellets inside the shell, which results in dense patterns. Denser patterns with higher pellet counts allows for lethal shots at longer distances, with some TSS shot sizes having enough energy at 70 yards to still penetration the head/neck of a turkey!

Another option when using TSS is that it allows for a smaller gauge of firearm to be used since the high shot size (which means smaller diameter) makes the pellet count high for the shell. This opens up the use of 28 gauge and .410 bore shotguns for turkeys. When using plain lead, the smallest shot size used for turkeys is often #6. In a small shotgun like the .410, the total pellet count in a 3” shell would be roughly 111 pellets with a 1/2oz total weight for #6 shot. With TSS, there are roughly 290 pellets in a 13/16oz total weight with #9 shot for the same 3” shell.

The ability to shoot .410 bore firearms for turkey hunting opens up much more opportunity for young hunters and small-framed hunters that cannot handle the recoil created even by 20-gauge shotguns when shooting 3” magnum shells.

Last year I won a firearm at an NWTF event and was able to swap it for a TriStar Viper .410 semi-automatic shotgun turkey hunting model. It has a camouflage stock and forearm with Cerakote on the barrel and receiver. The receiver comes drilled and tapped to accept a scope base for using either a scope or red dot optic.

My plan for the gun was to make it my go-to firearm for taking a new hunter out turkey hunting. The event was in June, which meant all turkey hunting was over across the country. This allowed me to order some TSS rounds online that were marked down quite a bit and I had them shipped to a local FFL dealer for pickup. Then on Black Friday, Vortex Venom red dot sights were half-off, so I ordered one. Red dot sights can help keep a shooter from missing if they don’t have perfect shooting form when the moment of truth arrives.

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This past weekend I finally was able to test out my setup and to get the red dot sighted in. The first shot I took was at 20 yards with some #4 lead shot. This allowed me to see where the pattern hit the target compared to where my red dot was aimed. I made an adjustment both vertically and horizontally and fired another lead shot. The pattern was where I was aiming, so I shot one shot each of the three brands of TSS shells I bought at 20 yards.

I compared their results with two of the three looking almost identical and much better than the third. Then I shot one shell each at 30 yards to see their patterns at that distance. Again, the same two looked nearly identical and had a denser pattern than the third brand. The third brand had a pattern that would probably be lethal, but it was not as dense as the other two. With the gun patterned and red dot sighted in, I have three shells from each of the two better brands left to use. And if I can find either one on sale again, I’ll be sure to order some.