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Well, I picked up my new 28" SBEII barrel with 5 chokes yesterday after waiting almost 5 months for it. Seems my dealer had a $60,000.00 order placed with Benelli, accepted half of it to sell ... and my barrel was at the end of the second half. Benelli didn't want to send it out of sequence for some bazaar reason. Finally; when the dealer jokingly asked if they're suggesting canceling $30,000.00 worth of product to re-sequence a $400.00 barrel?, the salesman got them to send the barrel in three days. Capitalism???


Anyway, now that I have this baby I have a few questions for you more experienced guys. I'd like to use the barrel for both waterfowl and turkey. It's drilled and tapped for optics. While I've read about turkey hunting over the years, and some of the guys in our club are "into" it ... I've never really done it before.


1. My thought is to mount a Picatiny rail with some type of quick disconnect rings and a turkey optic which I can easily remove for waterfowling; leaving the rail attached to the barrel. I don't "think" the rail would be a problem because I never really see the barrel when I shoot and the ventilated rib appears as if it will be higher than the rail anyway. Any opinions or options???


2. Optics for hunting turkey? I'm kind of leaning towards some kind of illuminated reticle or red dot. Any magnification? Thoughts on that Bushnell Halo Sight? Rings?


3. Choke tubes: The full and improved modified choke tubes are engraved "not for steel shot." I've read of super tight Briley, Terror Chokes, Trulock, etc, etc, for turkey. Are those chokes only for use with lead or Hevi-shot? How extensive are "no lead" regulations these days?


Thanks ... I appreciate any impute ... Butch

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1. The rail will give you the flexibility to position the scope forwards or rearwards as needed, but I'd remove it for waterfowling. It's just once a year on and once a year off. Leupold or Warne QR rings are good either way.


2. I don't use optics for turkeys, so I'll pass on this section.


3. Most of the aftermarket extended turkey tubes are OK for lead, hevi-shot, etc.

Check your local laws regarding non-toxic shot for turkeys. It is not required in VA.

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Just curious, what barrel did you discard in favor of the 28"?


1) I look right down the receiver top when I shoot, so any rail, no matter how flat, would be in the way for me. I'd just use a Weaver and remove it for waterfowl.


2) Everyone I have ever known that tried optics for turks, has asked for an allen wrench while still in turkey camp. Sure, every once in a while it might be nice, but I'd prolly lose 1-2 birds a year with a scope, so I pass on any optics. I need to see what's going on all around the bird; maybe a hen is right behind him, maybe a better tom is nearby? I can see that some guns are so inaccurate that a scope might help, but my SBE's have all been dead on so far.


3) I only tried 7-8 aftermarket $60-$100 chokes in the SBE II, so I'm no expert, but the only one that even remotely performed the way I wanted was the 1.5" .660 from Rhino + Win Ext #6's. Terror was the worst of them all.


As for what shell goes with what tube, you will have to ask the manufacturer of the choke, not guys on the internet. Some companies like Comp-n-Choke make turkey tubes only for lead, but you would be far safer contacting each of them directly.


mudhen - CA

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Two votes against optics already. Seeing the whole field without an optic makes sense ... I didn't think of that. Probably makes sense to see what happens out in the field before I go through all the gyrations of research, buying and mounting optics ... and find out I'm digging for an allen wrench by 9:00am on the first hunt. September 2004, I bought an SBEII slug gun for hunting deer in NJ. As the season closed I ordered a shotgun barrel for the gun; figuring to use it for 2005 waterfowl ... which I haven't done in a few years. I have a 14 foot aluminum "V" hull "duck" boat w/25hp Mercury & a slew of decoys for our coastal marshes around here. Anyhow, the slug barrel with the 3-9x40mm attached is the one that comes off.


The boys in the NY Lodge were doing spring turkey ... seemed like a good excuse to play some more and buy some more gun stuff. The new 28" barrel seems a little long, not a big deal ... but I might have gone for the 26". I have a Browning B2000 that at one time was my do it all shotgun; with three barrels, 26"ic, 28"mod, 30" full ... before screw in chokes came into fashion. The Benelli 28" "feels" as long as the Browning 30".


I've heard of Rhino chokes pretty often. I'm surprised about the terror tubes ... I see them mentioned quite a bit. All good to know. 7-8 after market tubes sounds like a pretty dedicated shooter to me. I'll take the Benelli out in July; shoot some clay birds with it; pattern some of my various ammo I have around; and try the different chokes. See what happens at 40-50 yards. I'm sure I'll realize then that an aftermarket tube is necessary to do it proper for turkey.


Another question ... have you found much of a benefit from 3-1/2" shells? I'd assume that on turkey; trying for a rifle like density ... it would help. Even though I usually subscribe to the “if a little bit is good; a LOT is better theory” ... I found the 2-3/4" magnum shells performed about as well on waterfowl as the 3" stuff. (I'm not much of a "sky buster" though.)




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I remember now, the slug SBE II.


Yeah, the 28" may be a bit long, but I bet it will work fine on everything.


Rhino was the only company I found that had actually tested their choke on the SBE II, not just repacking the Beretta Optima Plus as a Crio Choke. Merely fitting the gun and producing acceptable patterns are two different subjects.


Call Jeff H. at Terror if you want - he is a great guy - I use his mag spring kit on all my guns. He can't get the SBE II to pattern for crap on turkeys yet, but he is working on a new choke design system to change that.


Oh yeah, the 3.5" in the Win Ext far outperforms the 3" version for turk loads, especially in #6's which gives about 50 more pellets.


For ducks loads, nah, I only shoot fast 3.5" big pellets in the wind on geese or big ducks.


mudhen - CA

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I saw your reply to the guy with the 24" barrel ... I found this article on barrels that matches your findings almost exactly. Since I don't know how to copy/past links in this box ... here it is:



Short Barrel or Long Barrel? by Clark Bush




Short Barrel – Long Barrel?





When I started hunting turkeys in the late 1970’s there really wasn’t much debate about barrel length for shotguns. You just used whatever you had, maybe put a little tape on it and called it a turkey gun. An old “long tom” goose gun worked just fine. Camouflage was usually some old army fatigues, maybe some that new “tiger stripe” stuff or just a pair of pretty much worn out hunting pants. Then, largely due to that new start-up organization called the NWTF, turkey hunting started to get the attention of gun makers, clothing makers and a lot more hunters.


It was about this time that most of us found out about the ability of the local gunsmith to install after-market choke tubes. He could cut the barrel of our old shotgun to a more “modern” length, thread it for choke tubes and we could use “that one gun for everything we could possibly hunt.” At least that’s what I told my wife to justify the expense of that particular operation. Gun magazines of the time extolled the virtues of short-barreled shotguns for turkey hunting. They were easy to carry, didn’t hit limbs or saplings when you “got on target” and generally just looked special. Now I could put some tape on my “new” short-barreled gun, screw in a turkey choke tube and attach a sling and be ready for old tom.



It didn’t take long for the big gun makers to jump on that wagon. Soon we had short-barreled shotguns galore. You could get straight stocked or pistol gripped guns with 21”, 22” or 23” barrels and “wonder of wonders” with 3” chambers. Those little guns kicked like mules, bruised your cheekbones, bellowed like bulls but they killed a lot of turkeys.



A lot of paint kits were sold to amateur artists who gathered leaves, sticks and anything else they thought looked neat to form patterns to camouflage their guns. We just kept getting beaten up by those short-barreled, fire belching, hard kicking, painted-up turkey killers. Then someone introduced us to barrel porting. Yeah!



Now we could shoot that same gun and have less “perceived” recoil. For just a few dollars, you could send your barrel off, have it ported and have it back in just a few days. Now, that same fire belching, hard kicking, painted up turkey killer could also wake the dead every time you shot it.



In the early 1990’s I purchased a Benelli Super Black Eagle with a 26” barrel. I wanted a shorter one but it wasn’t available and “I just had to have it right now”, you know the feeling. I’d just started patterning guns at that time and with an after-market choke tube, I could place 94% of my shot in a 30” circle at 30 yards. Hot Dog! I had a long barreled, fire breathing, 3 ½”, 2 ¼ oz. of shot throwing turkey slaying shotgun. It wasn’t much fun to shoot and second shots, if necessary, were hard to come by but by George, it was quite a gun.



A year or two into that mission, a rascal, you know your name, talked me into having that barrel ported. That really helped! Now my long barreled, fire breathing, 3 ½”, 2 ¼ oz. of shot throwing turkey slaying shotgun was also LOUD. VERY LOUD! My pattern opened up but it would still kill turkeys, if I could remember that it shot about 6” low at 30 yards.



One thing I can say for that gun, it doesn’t bruise my cheek like its shorter barreled cousins. It bruises everything else but not my cheek.



Okay, so what’s the point of this long story? What does it have to do with how a long barreled gun does versus a short-barreled gun? Well, after about 30 years of patterning shotguns, I had the answer. Short-barreled guns just didn’t pattern as well as longer barrels. It appeared that if you went much shorter than 26”, you lost a good bit of density in your pattern. Short guns were much easier to carry to and through the woods. They looked cool and you could kill turkeys with them but they just didn’t pattern as well. When you only get one or maybe two shots each year and that trophy bird may just be waiting for you next time, you want your gun to pattern as well as possible, right?



I finally figured out that 3 ½’ shells didn’t pattern as well as 3” shells. I learned to deal with my 26” barrel and I put a telescopic sight on that SBE so that I didn’t shoot the turkey’s legs off. I had it all figured out and was content to let others go with their short-barreled guns with factory camo.



Then what happened? Well, in 2000 some guy has to go and shoot something called Hevi-Shot in the NWTF National Still Target Shoot championship and get something like 42 pellets in a 3” circle at 40 yards. He wasn’t shooting a 32” barrel either!



Now, it was back to the drawing board. In the last 4 years, I’ve shot various makes of shotguns, with various barrel lengths, most available shot shells and most commercially available turkey choke tubes. I’m convinced, from my personal experience, that you can have a barrel that’s too short to pattern reliably and to achieve what the proper ammo and choke tube combination is capable of achieving. How short is short and how long is long? My experience says that a couple of inches can make a big difference. My experience says that 26” is an optimum length. A much longer barrel, especially if you’re shooting a semi-auto shotgun that will chamber a 3 ½” shell, makes a gun that is just too unwieldy to take to the woods. A shotgun with a barrel much shorter than 24” just doesn’t shoot as well for me.



Now, before you tell me all about your 21” side by side that throws 100% patterns at 65 yards, I’ll concede that some guns do better than others and that some shooters can shoot better than others.



I’ll also add that the proper ammo makes all the difference. For example, I was not always a believer in Hevi-Shot. I bought a box and ran it through my SBE. I wasn’t impressed. It didn’t do any better than other brands, if it did as well. A lot of conversations later and a lot of competitive losses later, I thought I’d try it again. I learned that the proper constriction for a choke tube made all the difference. With the right length barrel, the right choke tube and the right ammo, I was shooting dense patterns, when I did my part.



Short barrel – long barrel? You’ll have to decide for yourself what’s most important to you. I try to optimize my chances. I shoot a 26” barrel (most of the time) and Hevi-Shot, all of the time.



Good luck and good hunting.





This article was published on Sunday 28 March, 2004.

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Make that three votes against optics. Turkey really isn't going to be far enough away to need a scope, or at least I don't think so. If you are shooting one at 50 yards that's a pretty good throw. 20-30 yards would be better just because of the number of pellets you'll put in the kill zone, and I would think that you probably don't need a scope for that range (even 50 yards for that matter).


Just think of the money you'll save on not buying the rails or scope. That's enough money to buy a new Turkey Vest! :D Allow me to suggest the Turkey Hunting Gobblers Lounge. Lots of space for all your calls, decoys, bird (if you knock one down), built in seat and backrest so you don't even need a tree to lean up against. Very handy unit.


If you enjoy calling animals in, you'll love turkey hunting. Reminded me of bugeling in elk - never a dull moment. smile.gif

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That's quite a "vest." I saved the website in case I start to get into turkey hunting. Right now I use one of three backpacs with a foam hotseat strapped on ... and boot blankets dangling if it's cold. Thanks for the advice ... I appreciate it all. I'm beginning to sift through the wheat and the chaff of information ... see that 50 yard shots are the thinking of a novice ... or a pro. (We know which I am)LOL The guys who sound self confident and experienced talk 35-40 yards as long. I'm reading between the lines and adjusting the information I'm reading posted by the guys who seem a little more taken with that extremely long 50-60yd shot they made. No disrespect to them. They might be THAT good. I find missing pretty uncomfortable for some reason; almost embarrassing ... so I try to practice a little more than the average Joe to know my limits and be confident within them ... and then keep things sane out in the field. I can see why the guys in the club had a gleam in their eyes when they were going out turkey hunting in the morning ... looks like you can really get into it.


Here's one for you ... just an abstract thought ... has anyone tried hunting turkey out of a climbing treestand? Too easy to get busted with all the movement? Doesn't seem like it would be any more dangerous.


Thanks again ... Butch

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I am by no means an expert on Turkey hunting, in fact I am -very- much a novice. I've been doing it for three seasons and I have yet to bag a bird. Two springs in South Dakota, and this spring here in Idaho. It is just such a blast that even though I've never filled a tag, I keep coming back.


A great place for turkey hunting advice / information is The Wild Turkey Zone, it's another forum like this one, but it's geared towards hunting turkeys mostly. It's a great bunch of folks there as well.


As for hunting turkey from a tree stand, yes, I've considered it, but I'm not sure how well it would work out. I can't think of a good reason why it wouldn't, but that would be a great question to post over in that other forum.



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Growing up in Missouri, many foks built tree stands or used tree stands for turkey. They got their birds.


I move around too much to have any interest in one.


Also, I am unsure of the effect calling from a treestand would have on an approaching tom. I think he would look up, and you would be busted...


mudhen - CA

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I've seen turkeys often enough out of permenent deer stands, but never noticed a pattern to their movements like deer. Not that I was paying attention. One thing I do remember now ... I'd see them coming through the winter woods a mile away ... heading straight for me ... and mysteriously ring right around me, out about 80 yards or so ... then be back on course again behind me. I didn't THINK I was moving at all. LOL I build pretty high up with walls & a roof, so I never went full blown camo. Perhaps they have eyes like a ... hawk??? They must know the range of a 1.5x.660 Rhino choke.

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Turkeys have predators that attack them from the air, not so much the truth for deer. Turkeys tend to look up a lot more often than deer because of this fact. That being said I did call a hen and her flock in out of a treestand in fall one year, but I wasn't hunting them, so moving to get in position wasn't an issue. I would also suggest not using a scope on your turkey gun. I, like mudhen, like to see what is happening around the bird that I'm working. I started hunting turkeys ten years ago, and it is my favorite species to go after.

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