Is This the Perfect Turkey Gun?

The CZ Reaper Magnum and Bushnell RXS-250 prove to be an effective, versatile combo — an ideal turkey-hunting rig.

Is This the Perfect Turkey Gun?

I’ll admit, I was skeptical. I had just rolled into turkey camp in Montana for a media hunt, and because the trip was sponsored by Bushnell and CZ-USA, I figured I knew what to expect gun-wise: Probably a semi-auto or pump-action 3 ½-inch 12-gauge with a red-dot sight on top. Easy.

So when they handed me a camouflaged over-and-under, I raised an eyebrow. An o/u for turkeys? Seems like that will just be awkward to handle in the field, considering the extra space it takes to break the gun for loading and unloading. But I’m willing to try anything (as a general life philosophy), so what the heck.

Still, I had to know why. Why is CZ making an o/u turkey gun and so few, if any, other manufacturers have tried it? What’s the point?

In a word: Chokes. “Sometimes birds hang up at 40 or 50 yards,” CZ-USA’s Daniel Holder told me. “But sometimes they run right at you, especially if you’re ‘reaping’ turkeys, which is where we got the name of this gun from. The range changes so fast. You know, at 20 yards, your extra-full choke is throwing a pattern the size of a softball, and you’re trying to hit a running bird with that? It’s so easy to miss in that situation.”

Two choke options let turkey hunters kill 'em at 50 or 15 yards as the situation requires.
Two choke options let turkey hunters kill 'em at 50 or 15 yards as the situation requires.

The idea made sense. An over-and-under like the CZ Reaper Magnum allows you to use two chokes — say, full in one barrel and IC or mod in the other, so you can kill a bird at 50 yards or 10 yards as the situation warrants. It wasn’t something I’d ever really thought about before, but I do have experience missing a bird at 15 yards with an extra-full-choked gun, so it was easy to see how handy it might be to have choke options.

Plus, the gun is pretty light — about 6 ½ pounds — and has 26-inch barrels, but because the action of an o/u takes up less than half the space of a semi- or pump action, the overall length of the gun is still short. In fact, it’s about the same length as my personal turkey gun with 20-inch barrels, but the CZ Reaper Magnum’s longer barrels allow for a longer forcing cone and better patterns without increasing the size of the gun as a whole. OK, I was sold.

The gun wore a Butler Creek Featherlight camo sling for carrying comfort (no slipping off the shoulder, thank you) and was topped with Bushnell’s new RXS-250 red-dot sight, which features a 4-MOA dot, robust construction for durability, and — my favorite part — 50,000 hours of battery life. I left my dot on the entire three days of the hunt so it would always be ready; one less thing to worry about doing at the moment of truth. The RXS-250 has a low profile and sits low on the gun, so I found it easy to use without having to lift my head for a proper sight picture. I love a good sight for turkey hunting — I just like them better than irons — and this filled the bill for me.

Complicating this whole situation was a shoulder injury I’d recently suffered, forcing me to shoot left-handed (I’m a right-handed, right-eye-dominant shooter). As it turns out, this is one of the big benefits of a red-dot sight, albeit one I’d never had reason to consider before. “If you’re behind the sight and you can see the dot, whether the gun is canted or upside down or anything else, then that dot is truly on aim,” Bushnell’s Matt Rice confirmed for me. The same can’t be said of traditional scopes, of course, and if you’re shooting on your off-side with your non-dominant eye, you’ll find it much easier to acquire a red dot than to line up perfectly with iron sights.

Bushnell's RXS-250 features a 4-MOA dot, durable construction and outstanding battery life.
Bushnell's RXS-250 features a 4-MOA dot, durable construction and outstanding battery life.

It all sounded good, but the real test would be how it actually worked afield.

The handling thing turned out to be no big deal, since I could safely load the gun before we started a stalk, so there was no need to break the gun open in the middle of the hunting action. On my second day of hunting, after a few close-but-not-quite-right encounters among the canyons and ridges of eastern Montana, outfitter Craig Hueter of Trophies West called an audible. We headed out of the hills and down to some farms with open fields, hoping to find some strutters.

A couple of failed setups later, we did — purely by accident, we ran right up on three strutters in a field just off the Yellowstone River. Afraid we’d already spooked them, we backed the truck up, crossed our fingers and started crawling, using a slight rise in terrain provided by an irrigation ditch as cover. By some miracle, the three of us (another writer, Matt, was tagging along) made it to the ditch, where I was able to lay prone and rest the shotgun on the bank as a nice shooting rest, as my injured right arm was mostly useless for reaching across my body to steady the gun.

For 45 minutes, three toms strutted for three hens, staying about 150 yards out, with no way for us to get closer. Matt, to my left, ran a GoPro and worked a Primos box call, while Craig, to my right, waved a Merriam’s fan and yelped and purred on one of Primos’ new Hen House diaphragms (cleverly named after the women in the Primos office, although I didn’t ask Craig whether he had chosen the Deb, the Karen, the Veronica or one of the others). We were beginning to lose hope, as the toms — one in particular — would glance our way but repeatedly turn their attention back to the hens. Our hearts sank when the hens finally turned and started leaving the field, walking farther and farther from our position.

Two toms started to follow, but one did not. He took a step in our direction, then another. There was still a lot of ground to cover, and he was slow and casual, but at least he was moving toward us and not away from us. Step. Step. This was taking forever. Bushnell had provided us with new Bone Collector 850 rangefinders to use on the hunt: “He’s at 100 yards,” Craig whispered. “75.” He waved the fan slightly and the seconds tipped by, agonizingly slow. “60 yards.”

I knew my bottom barrel had a modified choke and my top barrel was full-choked, and the selector was set to fire the top barrel first. Perfect. I planned to fire as soon as Craig called out “40 yards.”

Then, as so often happens in turkey hunting, everything went haywire. The tom started running, running, toward our position, and as soon as he did, one of the other toms, who’d been ambling toward us from the back of the field with mild disinterest, put on the afterburners and charged our position as well. The distance was closing fast, and I was about to have two birds in my face, converging on each other so closely that I couldn’t safely shoot just one of them.

And this is where the CZ Reaper Magnum proved the concept of a two-barreled turkey gun for me. I snicked the safety back and over to swap barrels, then forward again to fire. At about 20 yards out, the two birds diverged paths just enough that when the original tom stuck his head out to the left, I had a safe line of fire. Scrunched up on my off-shoulder with my dominant eye closed, I found the red dot with my left eye and squeezed off the shot. It was over before any of us had time to process what had happened.

Back at the lodge that evening, when I had time to reflect on how the hunt had unfolded, it occurred to me how much easier it had been to shoot off my left side than I’d expected. Prone, injured and twisted to one side to get the right shot angle, I’d had no trouble finding the red dot in my sight and making an accurate shot. And I’d had no trouble switching barrels when the shot opportunity very quickly changed from 40+ yards to 20 or less. It was enough to convince me that an over-and-under topped with a reliable red dot sight — and specifically the CZ Reaper Magnum topped with the Bushnell RXS-250 — just might be the ideal turkey gun.

The author's CZ Reaper Magnum topped with the Bushnell RXS-250 red-dot sight.
The author's CZ Reaper Magnum topped with the Bushnell RXS-250 red-dot sight.

That’s not by accident. The Reaper Magnum, of course, is built as a dedicated turkey gun, although Daniel pointed out that it’s equally at home in the duck blind, in the upland fields or on the sporting clays course. “Yeah, it’s a $1,000 turkey gun,” he said, “but you can use it for other things as well. It has some higher-end features like the selector switch and ejectors. It’s made on a similar frame as CZ’s All-American target guns, which are in the $2,500 range. Same internals, same hammer, same sears, so you’re getting the quality of a higher-end target gun, but you’re gonna hunt with it.” With a rail and six chokes included, and an overall weight of about 6 ½ pounds for easy carrying, it’s built to handle anything a turkey hunter can throw at it.

Durability is a key component of the Bushnell RXS-250 design as well. With a cast forged aluminum housing and some slight angles on the sides, the whole sight is robust and impact-resistant. “When you’re turkey hunting, you’re not exactly worried about your gear,” Matt Rice said. “You’re belly-crawling, you’re going through thick cover, and that optic is going to get hit on stuff at all angles. It’s going to get beat up a little bit.” Though this red dot, with a 4-MOA dot that’s just the right size to find easily but not so big it obscures a turkey’s head, is ideal for a turkey gun, realistically, you’re only going to use it for that purpose a couple months out of the year. Fortunately, it’s equally at home on a pistol or any other firearm with a rail. (Using the DeltaPoint Pro plate, it’s pretty simple to mount on a pistol), offering you a lot of versatility for an MSRP of $250. Plus, with a battery life of 50,000 hours (that’s five years on the medium brightness setting), you can leave the battery on all turkey season or even leave it on in your bedside handgun safe for years without worrying that you’ll forget to turn it on at a crucial moment.

So, is the CZ Reaper Magnum with a Bushnell RXS-250 red-dot sight the perfect turkey gun? With as versatile as the combination is, there’s a strong argument to be made that it just might be in contention for the title.




As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


Discussion

Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.