High-power loads lethal to turkeys and maybe gun

A fairly new ammo was trending and adored by hunters last year, and I didn’t want to seem as if I were attacking it. After hearing more and more stories of similar situations not just by one ammunition company or round, it is no longer time to sit on my words.

This past spring, I planned to conduct a study of which shotgun scopes and sights performed the best. As any outdoors enthusiast will know, there are about as many options for various hunting products as their are brands of breakfast cereal on the shelf at the grocery store. The scopes and sights had all been donated from various sporting goods stores and companies and then later donated to a veterans or a disabled hunters program to be gifted to participants.

The test itself was designed to be simple: Three shots through the same gun, after a zero had been reached at 30 yards. One shot each at 20, 30 and 40 yards and would check a variety of criteria.

Unfortunately, I never made it that far.

My gun of choice was my old trusty — A 1300 Winchester that has been with me since some of my first hunts in the woods. My round of choice? The fairly new Winchester Longbeard XR.

What were my end results, you may ask? definitely not what I had intended.

I had everything perfect because I had been setting this up for weeks. Plenty of ammo, all the tools I may need, extra targets, my turkey lounger chair. I had everything, and it was all in order. Should have been smooth sailing.

I stapled my first target up, walked back 30 yards and made my first shot. I made an adjustment or two and fired another round. Then, on the third shot something happened that I did not expect — my gun was done for.

The third shot completely sheared off both arms connecting the pump of my shotgun to the action. Like any gun owner saddened by such an event would do, I took my weapon to the local gunsmith and asked him to take a look at it. What came out of his mouth next wasn’t shocking but was somewhat surprising — he’d been seeing a lot of this.

“The new high powered loads are taking a toll on these old shotguns,” he said. “The rounds that were normally used years ago when these guns were designed were not nearly as powerful as what we see today.”

This article is not to create panic or fear, but rather intended as a fair warning to folks who may use older shotguns when in pursuit of turkeys this fall or this spring with a new ammo of choice. I also have a few suggestions for you.

The fix on my gun wasn’t super expensive, so that was a plus. Now, aside from my usual cleaning, I could have probably saved the headache by doing a basic tear down of my gun and checking for weak spots, especially on the welds. If you don’t have the knowledge or feel comfortable enough to do this on your own, your local firearms shop will probably do so for a nominal fee.

I had used this gun for a hair under 20 years with no issues, so I am not totally blaming the ammunition at all. I think two decades of wear and tear along with the new high charged loads were the perfect storm.

So be safe this fall or spring and check your older guns over well to ensure safety and endure the extra shock these loads may put on your gun.