Optics for Your Turkey Gun

turkey target

Optics for Your Turkey Gun

Having a hard time bagging the big Tom you called off the roast? Chances are your problem boils down to one of two main problems: (1) seeing your sights and (2) using the sights properly. Don’t worry, you are not alone. Luckily, this is a common problem and easily fixed with an optics upgrade.

Many entry level shotguns come equipped with a simple front bead sight system. This is the most basic of sights and not all that accurate – it’s more a reference point than a true sight. Firearms manufacturers understand this and often include better options on higher end model, but due to cost forgo such luxuries on basic scatterguns. But upgrading is not that difficult , the hardest part is deciding which option is best for you.

Fiber Optic Bead

– replacing the standard steel bead with a fiber optic model is the simplest of upgrades, of course it also offers the least amount of improved performance. Pros- it’s cheap, easily seen , allows the shooter to acquire the sight quickly and can often be a DIY project. Cons- does not improve accuracy or range and will not help correct or compensate for poor form.

Open Rifle Sights

– by adding rifle style sights to your shotgun you are gaining all of the advantages of shooting a long gun – including increased accuracy, at a fraction of the price of a scope. If you are only an occasional turkey hunter or use the shotgun for multiple purposes this may be the way to go. Pros- cheaper than scopes, more accurate than bead, available in a variety of designs including fiber optic, adjustable for better shot placement. Cons- still naked eye, slower on acquiring target, may require gunsmith to install.


– this is a big step up and truly takes your shotgun to the next level. Adding a scope will not only increase accuracy but will allow for precise matching of point of aim to point of impact – often a problem on shotguns with open sights. Pros- maximum performance, precise aiming , can quickly acquire targets. Cons- cost, usually requires gunsmith to install, higher magnification can cause problems with moving or close in targets, may not work well in low light conditions.

Red Dot

– if you’ve never shot with a red dot sight you owe it to yourself to give it a try. Honestly, once you have tried it you will want one on every gun you own. You get all the benefits of a scope (except magnification, most red dots do not use this feature) plus low light visibility in an easy to use package. Pros- extremely accurate, easy to use, easy to install (if you already have a rail system), light weight, excellent for moving or close in targets.Cons- cost, lack of magnification, requires batteries ( something else to go wrong in the field), may require installation of mounting system by gunsmith.

Regardless of which system you select upgrading from the basic front bead will improve performance and put more birds on the ground. Choosing a system generally comes down to what features you need and how much you are willing to spend.

Good luck, good hunting!

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