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Try the 20 for Late-Season Toms or Next Year’s Gobbler by Melissa Bachman

When it comes to dealing with recoil, I think many would agree turkey loads take the cake. I have always loved shooting 3.5 inch 5 shot because of the incredible pattern, but there is no question that punch comes with a bit of a kick.

If you’re looking to get someone new into hunting or just prefer to tone that recoil down a bit, a 20-gauge is a perfect solution. Earlier this spring Winchester announced the addition of LongBeard XR in 20-gauge so everybody can experience the Shot-Lok technology regardless if they’re shooting a 12 or 20 gauge.

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I’m the type of person that likes to test the limits on both myself and my equipment so I know exactly what to expect in the field. This removes any guess work and also allows me to confidently take shots where I know the odds are in my favor. So, with the new 20-gauge loads I had to take a day and put them to the test at my parents range back in central Minnesota. I started at 20-yards and shot all the way out to 50-yards using the LongBeard XR in a 20-gauge 2/4 inch 5 shot. Using the Winchester NWTF Turkey SX3 I was also using the inventor plus super full turkey choke that comes standard with this gun. Even though the 20-gauge doesn’t pack much punch, I still like putting it in a Lead Sled just to ensure I remove any human error and see how the loads perform at various distances.


Earlier in the spring I had done this same exact test with my 12-gauge and the results were truly stunning. With my 20-gauge in hand and all setup on a bench, I fired one shot at each distance. From 20-50 yards I would be 100% confident on taking a turkey as the number of pellets in the head and neck were incredible. Many people out there say a 50-yard shot with a 20-gauge is not something they’ll never need. Maybe that’s true, but it never hurts to know it’s possible just in case! The other thing I love about the Shot-Lok technology is that it keeps the patterns so nice and tight so you get a lot fewer BBs in the breasts of your turkey. This is a nice bonus regardless of distance, and just another great aspect of the LongBeard XR.

Melissa Bachman
Melissa Bachman
With a degree in broadcast journalism, Melissa set sights on a career in the outdoors. Traveling over 300 days a year to shoot for Winchester Deadly Passion, Bachman considers this her “dream job.” With a love for children, industry trade shows and the great outdoors, she films around the world for her adrenaline-pumped series.