What Shot to Use for Turkey


winchester ammo 1 What Shot to Use for TurkeyThe most common shot used for turkey is either No. 6 or No. 5.

Most turkey loads are available in No. 4, 5, and 6 but you will find hunters that prefer shot sizes on both sides of this spectrum.

When it comes down to it, there are a couple other factors that matter even more than the shot size you use.

The two most important are patterning your gun, and your ability to aim.

Why You Should Pattern Your Gun with Multiple Shot Sizes

Have you shot at a turkey, missed, and wondered what the heck happened? Don’t worry, we have some tips that will help.

The biggest mistake newer turkey hunters make is not patterning their gun with the ammo they intend to hunt with.

Patterning Your Turkey Gun

The basics of patterning your gun are pretty straight forward:

  1. Purchase a box of any ammo you may want to hunt turkeys with.
  2. Setup a target 30 yards away.
  3. Shoot the turkey target with one of the shot sizes you are considering.
  4. Evaluate the spread.
  5. Repeat with different shot size or distance.

Once you have a shot size and load that patterns well at your first distance, move the target to a couple other distances. Even as close as 15 yards.

The idea here is to become aware of how your ammo and gun combo vary the spread size as the distance changes. Unfortunately, the game you are hunting rarely shows up at the exact distance you have setup your gun for. This is similar to a rifle deer hunter becoming aware of his bullet drop at various distances.

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What is a good turkey pattern?

You want to make sure you are getting enough pellets that are close to the bullseye of your target so that it will result in a kill on a turkey.

Confirm the shot you use for turkey is a good choice and your gun is patterning well by a life size turkey paper target when patterning. After you shoot the target at a certain distance, you want to make sure there are around 10 pellet holes in the kill zone on the target.

Checkout this video below for more explanation.

Our Favorite Turkey Loads

Best Lead Free Shot for Turkey

This is a unique Magnum Blend of No 5, 6, and 7 shot in one shell made by HEVI-SHOT. The advantage of mixing shot sizes is increased range while still maintaining a large pattern at closer distances to increase you chances of a clean kill. They claim these average 294 pellets in a 10″ circle at 40 yards. These are hands down are top turkey load choice.

Runner Up

Winchester Long Beard XR Turkey shells are a solid choice if you want something that is a little less pricey. These are time tested and proven rounds that have a history of working well for turkey hunters. They are available in No 4 and No 5. Just be sure that you are allow to hunt turkey with lead ammo in your state before purchasing.

Additional Tips

  1. If you want to take longer shots, stick with No 4 or 5 shot.
  2. Don’t take shots beyond 50 yards. If you can’t draw them in closer than that, get yourself a good scratch box and work on your calling.
  3. Always make sure to pattern your gun when trying a new ammo.
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Related Questions

Is 5 or 6 shot better for turkey?

If you made us only pick one, we would lean towards 5 shot because we think it offers the best compromise between range and pattern density.

What is the best scope to hunt turkey?

Personally, I prefer to use a good red dot for turkey hunting. It will allow you to quickly and accurate place your shot and get clean kills.


In summary, No 4 – No 7 shot can all work well for turkey hunting. We think most hunters would do well sticking to either 5 or 6.

The important take away from this article is that you need to pattern you gun before hunting with a new load. Especially at the various ranges you plan to shoot turkey from. Doing so will give you much greater awareness of how your gun will perform when you finally get that gobbler in range.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>