South Texas Field Test: Mossberg 940 Pro Turkey Shotgun

A South Texas hunt for Rio Grande gobblers provides the perfect proving ground for the new Mossberg 940 Pro Turkey shotgun.

South Texas Field Test: Mossberg 940 Pro Turkey Shotgun

This was far from my first rodeo, and not even my first venture to the Lone Star State to hunt turkeys. But I could barely contain my excitement as we cruised a ribbon of asphalt that dumped us off at Yturria ranch headquarters — the launching pad for our three-day hunt for the Rio Grande subspecies. This historic site encompasses 14,000 areas of pristine South Texas ranch country and is a haven for both native and imported wildlife species. In addition to whitetail deer, coyotes, javelina and even ocelots, it’s common to see herds of nilgai, waterbucks and blackbucks while cruising the ranch’s two-track roads. And wild turkeys? The ranch is literally crawling with them.

I even found the 90-degree heat to be exhilarating, having survived a brutal northern Minnesota winter. If fact, more than a foot of snow still covered my yard when I left for Texas in early April. All indications pointed toward a late spring this year, and I was relieved that I wouldn’t be chasing turkeys in my home state till late May.  

During the 3-hour drive down from San Antonio my long-time hunting buddy Linda Powell and I had plenty of time to catch up. Linda is the director of media relations for Mossberg, and this hunt would serve as a proving ground for the company’s newest special-duty semiauto turkey gun, the 940 Pro Turkey

The windshield time was a reminder of how expansive and changeless South Texas is. It’s like the Creator etched its boundaries and then just kept hitting cut and paste, cut and paste, cut and paste. But hidden in the endless miles of seemingly mundane terrain are boundless honey-holes where all sorts of critters hang out — including the long-legged Rio Grande turkey.

One of the Texas toms Mossberg’s Linda Powel tagged with the company’s new 940 Pro Turkey shotgun.
One of the Texas toms Mossberg’s Linda Powel tagged with the company’s new 940 Pro Turkey shotgun.

Once at the ranch, we quickly sighted-in our new shotguns using equally new Apex Ammunitions TSS Turkey loads and then headed afield for a late afternoon tour of the ranch — seeing plenty enough turkeys to cause a listless night. Linda and I even set up on a small flock that ignored us on their way to the roost but provided a starting point for the next morning. 

Like avid turkey hunters everywhere, we had set our alarms for stupid early, so we could be on the way to our setup long before first light. Once there, we set out our decoys and settled into a scant finger of brush not far from where the turkeys were roosted. The first gobbles of the morning followed in short order.


Specialized Gobbler Gear

Gobbler getters are a dedicated lot, reflected in the turkey-centric gear they use. And this is particularly true when it comes to their shotguns. Long gone are the days when a single scattergun served all hunting needs — from upland birds to waterfowl to big game and even self-defense.

Modern-day scattergun enthusiasts prefer special-purpose shotguns tailor made for the task at hand, and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the spring turkey woods. Today’s turkey hunter is a specialist when it comes to firepower. If you were asked to describe the attributes that make up the perfect turkey shotgun, they’d most likely include a synthetic camo or flat-black stock and forend for durability and stealth; a short barrel for maneuverability; a reliable, smooth action for quick follow-up shots; sling swivel studs for easy transport and fiber-optic sights for rapid target acquisition.

The Mossberg 940 Pro Turkey shotgun we field tested on the Texas hunt provides an example of the components and design that make up a proficient turkey shotgun. And when it comes to building turkey-specific shotguns, Mossberg has been doing it longer than anyone.

“Mossberg had the 930 semiauto shotgun platform for years,” Powell said. “And one of the great perks of that is that we had competitive shooters Jerry and Lena Miculek, both world champions multiple times, shooting that platform in competition for a number of years. The 940 Pro was the result of 2 years of development alongside these world champion shooters — a shotgun designed to meet the needs of today’s competition shooters with the incorporation of an array of aftermarket modifications and accessories direct from the factory.”

Using the Mossberg 930 as a baseline, the Miculeks worked with Mossberg engineers to identify and help re-design major areas of improvement that included the gas system, loading port, point-of-aim/point-of-impact, overall product fit and functionality, sight system and choke system. “And that’s what really drove Mossberg’s engineering team,” Powell said. “They worked to make it more reliable and more durable. And that’s key for a competition gun . . . or a hunting gun.”

Building the Mossberg 940 Pro Platform

At the core of the 940 Pro platform is a durable gas system that can run up to 1,500 rounds before cleaning and is compatible with factory-manufactured 2.75- or 3-inch shells. A stepped and vented-spacer component has also been incorporated that keeps the gas system running fast by shedding moisture and carbon build-up every time it cycles.

“So, we developed a new self-cleaning gas system, and all the internal operating parts have special finishes,” Powell said. “This means less wear and tear, and less maintenance required — so with the new platform we’re saying [the gun is capable of cycling] up to 1,500 rounds without cleaning. That was the first part of developing an autoloader that was more reliable. It’s also softer shooting and fast cycling. Those are things that go into building a premium competition gun — so we had that new platform to start with.”

Powell says that in addition to making changes to the operating system, Mossberg changed the design of the gun itself. “We went to an adjustable length-of-pull stock with spacer inserts to go from a 13- to 14.25-inch length of pull. Shims are also provided so you can adjust for drop and cast,” she said. “The beauty of that is you can truly fit this gun to the individual, which is important when shooting shotguns. Better comfort. Better eye alignment.”

Developing a new shotgun platform is the difficult part. What comes next is the fun part — adding a battery of special-purpose versions built on that foundation. So far, Mossberg has introduced the 940 Pro Tactical, 940 Pro Field, 940 Pro Waterfowl and, most recently, the 940 Pro Turkey.

The 940 Pro Turkey is an optics-ready shotgun featuring a choice of 24- or 18.5-inch barrel lengths, HIVIZ CompSight fiber-optic sight, Mossberg X-Factor ported choke tube and full camo coverage in Mossy Oak Greenleaf. Performance-driven features include an oversized, beveled loading port with redesigned elevator and shell catch to allow for efficient and pinch-free loading into the magazine tube. Other features include a slim-profile forend and user-configurable stock and oversized charging handle and bolt release button for ease of operation. 

When turkey hunting, maneuverability is a big issue, which means it’s imperative that shooters have a proper fit. I prefer a shorter barrel and the 940 Pro delivers with its 18.5-inch version. Powell agrees. “With the development of today’s turkey loads and chokes it doesn’t require a longer barrel length to get the ultimate performance out of that shotshell,” she said. “So, you’re seeing shorter and shorter barrels on turkey guns.” And then there’s maneuverability — whether you’re hunting out of blind or navigating heavy cover. “In my case, I’m shorter and I don’t want that barrel towering over me when I’m stalking and trying to be quiet,” Powell said.

And nearly every firearms company has joined the parade — producing turkey-specific shotguns. Prominent models include Remington’s Versa Max Sportsman Turkey Camo, Savage Renegauge Turkey, Winchester SX4 NWTF Cantilever Turkey, Browning’s Cynergy Ultimate Turkey and the Impala Plus Field Synthetic to name a few. 

The 940 Pro Turkeys we used were topped with Holosun’s open reflex HS507K X2 optical sight. Red-dot and reflex sights are uber-popular with modern-day turkey hunters. They offer nearly instantaneous target acquisition and the ability to track moving targets without losing peripheral vision, allowing quick follow-up shots. Available in low- and no-magnification models, they provide positive alignment from awkward angles and can be adjusted for various light conditions.

The HS507K X2 features a Lock Mode that, when activated, locks the sight’s buttons to prevent inadvertent setting changes, and its buttons have been redesigned to compliment Lock Mode by placing them lower and out of the way. My favorite feature is the circle-dot reticle — a 2 MOA dot encompassed in 32 MOA circle. This provides a positive and accurate aiming point (2 MOA dot) as well as a great visual of your shot pattern (32 MOA circle).

“More turkey hunters than ever are using optics [on their guns] and there are a number of reasons for that,” Powell said. “A lot of us are getting older with aging eyes and need more than a bead or even fiber-optic sight. Red-dot sights are also a big help in low-light conditions. But I think it goes back to shotshell technology. Patterns are so much tighter, and it’s more like shooing a rifle than a shotgun. So being able to precisely aim becomes really critical.”

Red-dot and reflex sights provide quick target acquisition and the ability to track moving targets.
Red-dot and reflex sights provide quick target acquisition and the ability to track moving targets.

Ammo Up

All turkey hunters — whether they’re shooting a new Mossberg or Grandpa’s ancient Long Tom — need to stuff it with top-notch ammunition to get optimal results. And that leads us to another factor: It’s important that turkey hunters — like rifle hunters — experiment with various loads to find the one that performs best in their shotgun. 

We were shooting Apex Ammunition’s new Turkey TSS shotshells (below). Like most turkey shotshells on the market today, they are loaded for extreme velocity and punishing payloads and, quite frankly, hurt on both ends — a reason why sub-gauges have become popular with smaller-stature turkey hunters and those who are sensitive to recoil.

Apex’s handloaded ultra-high-density Tungsten Super Shot (TSS) shotshells are designed for maximum penetration at extended ranges. They are available in 10-, 12-, 16-, 20- and 28-gauge and .410 bore options in a variety of shot sizes and blends and shell lengths. Handloaded for the ultimate in consistency and quality control, the density of Apex TSS at 18.1 g/cc allows the use of smaller shot sizes and larger payloads, which means more pellets on target and maximum downrange energy.

And I was now about to unleash that TSS power as three toms and a cluster of hens slowly worked our way. They had pitched down from the roost only minutes after legal shooting light and after milling around for a few minutes were coming over to check out what all the sweet talk was about. I held off on the lead tom because for the life of me I couldn’t pick out a beard in the dim morning light. The other two toms were fanned out as they strutted into range, but I had to hold off on them as well because they were shielded by a mass of hen bodies. As the ladies finally cleared, I took a deep breath and thumbed the safety.

Both birds were well within range, so I planted the red dot on the farthest bird, figuring that would give me more time to make a follow-up shot on the second — yep, I had two Texas tags in my hip pocket, and this would provide a test of my ability to quickly get on a second target with the Holosun-enabled 940 Pro Turkey. I tugged the trigger and sent a swarm of angry tungsten at the first bird, and he hit the Texas turf with gusto. As they often are, the second tom was confused and spun around in tight circles. A split-second later he was lying next to his buddy. Linda gave me a high-five and a hug, and we walked over to check out my Texas twosome. The next day Linda filled both of her tags. You’ve gotta love Texas if you’re a turkey hunter.

The author’s Texas Twosome was the result of a quick follow-up shot facilitated by a smooth-cycling shotgun topped with an effective open-reflex sight. Most shotguns designated for the turkey woods sport a short barrel, which translates to better maneuverability in tight situations.
The author’s Texas Twosome was the result of a quick follow-up shot facilitated by a smooth-cycling shotgun topped with an effective open-reflex sight. Most shotguns designated for the turkey woods sport a short barrel, which translates to better maneuverability in tight situations.

Sidebar: Grab and Go Turkey Hunting

For turkey hunters who prefer letting the hunt come to them, or those who want a portable means of staying concealed while on the move, having a quick-to-deploy hunting blind is essential for success. Portable blinds are designed for a wide array of hunting styles and skills and personal preferences, but all have a common goal — to keep their occupants secure, quiet and hidden from the telescopic vision of wild turkeys. Pop-ups are the most popular and come in a variety of models and price points — with those specifically designed for on-the-go hunters gaining traction in the turkey hunting community.

The Nukem Grab & Go portable hunting blind (above) is a good example. It is stake-free and its adjustable height and easy folding design eliminate issues associated with quickly deploying many conventional ground blinds — giving hunters the ability to set up almost anywhere. Weighing only 3 pounds, it is highly portable and sets up in seconds — folding up to 32 inches, it fits inside the included carrying case with shoulder strap for easy transport. Made from 150 denier nylon, the Nukem Grab & Go blind is very durable and extends to over 7 feet wide and has an adjustable height of 45 to 53 inches, easily concealing two hunters. Nukem blinds are available in TrueTimber Strata and HTC Green camo patterns. MSRP is $109.99.


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