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Six Sure-fire Tips for Patterning Your Turkey Gun

Patterning your shotgun at 30, 40 and 50 yards will give you confidence when you tackle a tom turkey at those ranges. (Photo: Gordy Krahn)

Patterned Your Gun Lately?

Whether it’s a new gun, a new shell or a new choke, several factors can affect your turkey gun’s performance.

1. Your gun’s point of impact can change from one choke tube to the next. In fact, it’s likely. Each time you install a new choke tube, shoot at 25 yards with a light trap load to check the point of impact. Until you know where your gun shoots, fire turkey loads at 3-square-foot or larger targets so you can see the whole pattern and find its core.

2. Guns pattern better on warm days with low humidity. They also pattern better at higher altitudes. Test your gun in conditions in which you expect to hunt, if possible.

3. The longer the barrel, the higher the velocity, and velocity as the charge leaves the barrel has an effect on the pattern. Generally, it’s easier to shoot good patterns with a longer barrel. If you’re shooting an ultra-short barrel and can’t shoot consistent, tight patterns, consider trying a 10/1,000-inch tighter choke.

4. For heavy loads of larger shot, such as Nos. 4 or 5, start with a bit less constriction. For a lighter load or smaller shot, such as No. 6, you might be able to go tighter. In choke tubes, 10/1,000th-inch change in constriction can be the difference between a great pattern and a mediocre one.

5. Some guns shoot better with a ported choke, which grabs the wad as it exits the barrel and keeps it from driving through the shot pattern. If you’re not satisfied with your choke/shell combinations, it might be time to try a ported choke.

6. Cleaner barrels shoot better and are more likely to produce more consistent patterns. Keep your barrel clean and dry.

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