Mini Shotgun Setup for Turkey

Show Notes

In this episode of the DIY Sportsman podcast, Garrett discusses what has become his favorite shotgun setup for specifically hunting turkeys. This is a gun he originally purchased for his wife, but after setting it up and making a couple of customizations, Garrett has been using it for all of his hunts as well. In the episode, Garrett breaks down the actual make and model of the gun, the choke setup, after market stock, pistol grips versus standard sporter style grips, sling mounts, and red dots compared to the standard bead sight. He also mentions a couple drawbacks of the concept that could be noteworthy depending on your preference. 

Show Transcript

[00:00:00] In today's episode of the podcast, I'm gonna touch on Turkey hunting shotgun setups, and something that I've stumbled upon that I think is probably pretty close to ideal, as close to ideal as you can get from a running gutting perspective for just overall ease of carry, not getting caught up on.

Ease of handling, comfort of handling when you're set up on a bird, and ease of being able to acquire a good site picture and get a shot off. Now, I've used my old Mossberg 512 gauge for plenty of years Turkey hunting and haven't really had any issues with it. It's killed. Birds just fine. But in comparison, if you have both of 'em side by side, there's definitely one that you'd much rather be carrying around in the woods.

And how this all came to be was. I think at one point I was talking to Shane Simpson because he had bought one of these shotguns for his daughter and I was thinking about getting a shotgun for my [00:01:00] wife. And with the advent of TSS and the popularity that is soared there and the ability to be able to shoot smaller gauge shotguns and still have very lethal results.

I was looking at a 20 or a four 10 as opposed to a 12 gauge cuz you, you just didn't really need. The quantity of shot that A 12 Gauger give you is a lot more expensive to shoot, especially now. The price of TSS is just astronomical it seems compared to even a couple of years ago. So I was looking primarily at the Mossberg five 10 Mini in a 20 gauge.

The 20 gauge seemed to strike that nice balance and the five 10 mini. It's probably the smallest shotgun that I think I've found, at least from an adjustable standpoint. There are some four 10 single shots that are probably a little bit smaller and maybe even easier to carry but they also seem to have a little bit longer barrels.

This one comes stock with an 18 and a half inch barrel, which is about as short as you can go. and still be considered legal. And for Turkey hunting, you don't really need a long barrel, in my opinion. Most of the [00:02:00] research that I've done on the velocity shows that the difference between an 18 versus a 22 or 24 inch barrel isn't quite as extreme as you might think.

It's not like comparing, say, a 26 inch versus an 18 inch magnum rifle cartridge in terms of the velocity loss. You certainly still have plenty for turkeys. And the other thing with the short barrel is just a little bit more muzzle blast. It's definitely a loud gun. I don't like that it's a loud gun and I don't like the fact that even though it's just one shot or maybe a few shots throughout the course of a season that you're taking without hearing protection, I still not huge fan of that.

So I've been trying to go back and forth on what I might do to help combat that. And this year I did pick up some ear protection that. Also offers electronic hearing boost, and I've played around with them a little bit. The brand that I got was the Axle Gs Extreme two point ohs. And from what I can tell, they definitely do muffle the sound.

You can still hear even when you have a little bit of wind. I wouldn't [00:03:00] necessarily consider it a massive hearing boost. I almost. If I was just listening and I want to hear the woods around me, I'd rather not have anything in my ears at all. I trust my ears to pick up sounds better than some kind of electronic amplification.

So I don't feel like I can hear better with those in than I could when, by just unaided ears. But certainly the hearing protection aspect is much welcome. So I think I'm gonna try hunting with that this year, just for that added layer of extra safety. So I guess that is something to keep in mind if the the loud noise.

Of that shorter barrel is a big concern then maybe this isn't gonna be the build for you. Any bird that I've shot at, I've not really noticed the noise. Just like you never really noticed the recoil when you're shooting at a Turkey or a deer or what have you. The more research that I do on just the long term hearing ramifications of shooting a gun without hearing protection is Maybe reconsider and go with the hearing protection route and still be able to take advantage of this smaller, more compact gun.

So with that said, what else does this [00:04:00] gun offer? It's got the shorter barrel, like I mentioned. It's also just compact and light in general. The stock that comes on this gun is I think a 12 or a 13 inch length of. It's pretty small and it's got a spacer system. I ended up just taking the whole stock off and I put on an aftermarket stock.

The one that I ended up getting was from at, I called the shot force. It's about 60 or 70 bucks, depending on where you get it from. Feels pretty plasticy. Pistol grip with an adjustable length of pole, and it has molded in little quick. Plugs for a sling, which I thought was pretty helpful. So I thought for the price, considering how expensive aftermarket stocks can be, it wasn't that bad.

But really the main thing I was getting it for was just the adjustable length of pull because. Obviously if it was something my wife was gonna use, it needed to be a short length of pole, and I thought, eh, I might wanna try using this gun. So I wanted to have the option at least to be able to run it out a little bit longer, and it's pretty quick and easy to be able to slide that stock back.

Now, one thing that I wasn't sure was gonna be. [00:05:00] Love it or hated it type of a thing was the pistol grip versus the normal more horizontal sporter style stock that comes with the shotgun. But man, I gotta tell you, for Turkey hunting specifically, I've really grown to that pistol grip stock and the reasoning.

Has to do with how you're actually using the gun when you're Turkey hunting, unlike, grouse hunting or duck hunting or pheasant hunting, where you need to be able to, be at the ready and quickly shoulder to the gun and take a shot and be able to follow a bird and track it through the air.

You're not really doing that Turkey hunting. You're just sitting there next to a tree holding the gun on your leg, or you're walking around maybe holding the gun at your side, or you got it slung and. in either of those scenarios, having that more horizontal grip doesn't really, I feel like, give you that much of a benefit.

But with a really light gun like that, a pistol grip, it just feels comfortable. It's really easy to move it around and just handle it in in tight quarters. I can go from left shoulder to right shoulder. It's really light and [00:06:00] easy and it doesn't fatigue your wrist at all. You're basically able to hold the gun and hold the weight.

On top of your hand, you don't even have to grip the gun really. And so when you're sitting there for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, when you got a bird that's on the roost and you're waiting for it to fly down or if you're trying to get that bird to come in, you don't know when exactly he's gonna finally break through through the foliage and be visible.

It just seems like I can sit there for a lot longer with that design of stock and also that lightweight of gun and that short. And it's just really comfortable. It doesn't, it's not nearly as fatiguing. So that aspect of it I really liked. So again, we got this Mossberg five 10 mini 18 and a half inch barrel, 20 gauge with this adjustable length of pole pistol grip stock.

And I spray painted the whole thing a camouflage just with some rattle cans, spray paint. And then lastly, I put on a sling and an optic the sling. I basically DIY it. [00:07:00] I ordered some quick release. Sling mounts from, I believe it was magpole. And then I took a piece of one inch nylon strap and just a plastic buckle that I had laying around from other DIY projects.

And I made this adjustable sling. And the nice thing about those little quick releases and the tactical style stock is I can plug it into the side of the stock as opposed to, the kind of bottom corner that your sling stud mount is typically at. And so when I have that gun, over my shoulder. I can tighten it and it lays nice and flat against my back and it almost feels like it's a part of me.

And if I'm climbing up a steep bluff or I need to use both hands, it just, it doesn't slide around at all. It doesn't wanna fall off your shoulder. It just works really well. And then if you did want to. Run it with a front carry, like a two point AR stylist sling. You could do that as well, which sometimes if you're carrying a decoy or something in your vest, that can be nice just to have the gun in [00:08:00] front of you so it's not banging against all the other stuff that you got carrying on your back.

And then lastly, the red dot. I tried two different red dots. I tried the venom from Vortex and I also tried the Spark solar. Msrp, they're only like $50 different. I think the Sparks Solar is $50 more, but in just about every category, I'd say it's superior. Compared to the Venom, it's got a smaller dot, so the DOT's finer.

It's a little bit nicer for aiming, I think, in my opinion, and I can make that dot much dimmer, and I can also make it brighter on the opposite end of the spectrum. In comparison, I feel like it was a much better aiming device for that style of use. Maybe on pistols, the venom might be a better choice but at least for the Turkey shock and I felt like the spark solar was definitely the way to go.

And with that little solar panel that's on top of the site, if it's receiving sunlight, it'll use that to power the site. It won't tap into the battery. It only does that in occasions where you aren't receiving full sunlight. I didn't have to [00:09:00] replace the battery at all last year. I don't know if I'll have to replace it all this year.

I might replace it just out of habit, just so that I have a fresh one in there. But certainly I haven't had any issues at that site. And also a comparison to some of the, either the Venom or there was another one that was similar and designed to the Venom that I had tried off of Amazon and end up returning.

But the Spark Solar has nice big buttons on the side, and it's really obvious for me to tell which one is the one I want. , he uses like the minus button or the plus button to make that optic brighter or dimmer. Whereas on some of those smaller, more flat mount style sites, the buttons were a lot smaller and closer together, and it was harder for me to determine which was the right button to be pressing without actually looking at it.

So for all those reasons, I definitely liked the spark solar the best. And now I basically have this whole gun that is with the sling, with the site, with the aftermarket stock. still under six pounds. It's very compact, easy to carry. The sling works [00:10:00] awesome with that tactical style stock, and it's just not only comfortable to carry, but once you're actually set up, it's very comfortable to hold for long periods of time without moving.

And I think that's probably equally as important. It's very lethal. All the turkeys that I've shot have been stoned dead right away. And I guess that brings up one additional topic, which is what kind of choke tube I'm using the shotgun, and actually I'm just using the factory full choke. I am not using any sort of aftermarket Turkey choke on it.

And the reason being is I decided to try the factory full first just to see what I had before I went and bought a whole bunch of other stuff to test, and that factory full choke gave me a pattern that I was very happy with at 20 yard. 40 yards. It's still adequate. In terms of just the number of pallets on target after 40 yards, it's probably a little bit too big.

I'd wanna go with a more restrictive choke, if that was my attempt. But for the most part, Turkey [00:11:00] hunting, I'm trying to get within 40 anyway, and most of the birds that I've killed have been inside a 20. And that's my bigger fear with having a tighter restricting Turkey joke, is that if I got a. 10, 11 yards and is bopping its head around.

I don't wanna miss. And so this factory full, even at 10 yards, gives me a slightly more forgiving pattern than maybe a more restrictive Turkey style choke would. So I have it more optimized, for short range, and therefore the factory full choke has given me a pattern that I deem, totally.

Overall the gun is not super expensive. I think those things can run three 50 or so for just the shotgun. The aftermarket stock was about 70. The sling components I think I paid maybe 25 bucks for, and then the site obviously is the other big expensive portion of it. I think that one's closer to 300 for that spark solar.

and that's a nice to have, not necessarily a need to have. Certainly the bead has killed many birds over the years, and I've done all right with the bead [00:12:00] as well. But one thing I did notice when shooting birds with the bead on the front of the barrel as opposed to the red dot number one, when I was using a bead, I was using a full length bird barrel, so I had a little bit longer sight radius there.

The other thing is that I tended to shoot birds a little bit lower when I was using the bead, and I think that was because my brain struggled. Putting the bead on the base of the neck, I needed to be able to see what I was hitting. So subconsciously, I think I would drop that bead down a little bit lower so that I could see the thing that I wanted to hit, and then I would pull the trigger and ended up usually shooting him about.

Two, three inches lower than maybe ideal, which is still a very dead Turkey. But with the red dot, it's just a lot easier to let that dot sit exactly where you want to hit and have a nice big wide open site picture. So I like using the Red dot personally, I think I'll continue to use that. And I would say if cost is a concern, then certainly you don't need it.

But they're definitely very nice to. And then one other thing to keep in mind if you're thinking [00:13:00] about doing a similar type of a build is that the five 10 Mini is pretty much in a class of its own. I don't think you can use many of the other Mossberg 500 compatible accessories. The stock obviously fit, but in terms of barrels, the length of the magazine's a little bit different than the normal 500.

I was thinking about getting, say, a slug barrel to be able to put on that gun a rifle barrel, and. It's not gonna fit. So if I were going to do this with the intent of being able to have it both become a Turkey shotgun as well as say a deer shotgun, then I'm fairly certain you'd have to step up to the normal 500.

But like the Bantam size, which I'm not sure how much heavier that one actually is, I'm sure it's much lighter than my 12 gauges. I towed around for deer hunting right now. I want to have to use that in particular colonies or particular areas of the state. But, I guess going into it, make sure you're making that distinction.

If you're just going for a Turkey specific gun, man, that five 10 mania is pretty hard to beat especially the way that I have it set up now. So [00:14:00] if you guys have any questions, please feel free to reach out. That'll do it for this week's episode. As always, make sure to follow the sports and empire on Instagram and Facebook.

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