There has been a growing trend in the industry toward smaller-gauge shotguns for turkey hunting. There are good reasons for this.
Smaller-gauge shotguns damage less meat, and when calling-in birds, it’s much easier to keep a .410 or a 28-gauge up to your shoulder for an extended period as compared to heavier 12 or 10-gauges. While the larger gauges have longer effective reach, within its range limitations, a .410 is just as effective with big toms.
This idea has been borne out by firearm manufacturers that are offering special editions or entire shotguns purpose-built to get the .410 into the field and taking down turkeys. It makes perfect sense: If you’re carrying decoys, blinds, day pack, shotgun and ammo, anything you can do to trim weight and bulk is welcome.
Rossi Firearms is the most recent manufacturer to throw its hat in the ring with a .410 turkey shotgun based on their Tuffy shotgun line. The Rossi Tuffy Turkey Shotgun uses the same frame and synthetic stock as the basic Tuffy.
It’s a single-shot, break-open shotgun with an external hammer. The biggest difference from the original line is that this shotgun features a 26-inch barrel and two screw-in choke tubes, full and modified. Both chokes feature a knurled end that adds about an inch to the length of the barrel.
As usual, the modified choke provides a wider pattern and works best with non-lead shot when regulations call for such rounds. The full choke tightens the pattern as expected, but also adds a bit of extra reach when hunting the big toms. These choke options will also help when upland-bird hunting. When used for its intended purpose, the extra-full choke provides turkey lethality out past 25 yards with lead shot.
I took the Tuffy out to my local range and test drove it on turkey targets. I started at 10 yards and dropped the hammer on a couple of 3-inch, No. 7 1/2 shot shells provided by Fiocchi. Both rounds provided a most definitive kill pattern that would have accounted for a turkey in the oven.
I moved the target to the 25-yard mark. Two rounds later, I had a turkey target with solid head hits. They would have provided clean head shots with minimal meat damage.
At farther distances, with the full-choke tube and the right .410 turkey load, the Rossi should meet or exceed the manufacturer’s specs of 40-yard effectiveness.
While the potential is definitely there, the major appeal of the .410 platform is the combined challenges of calling the toms in close and using a round that requires a bit of patience on the part of the shooter. Another advantage of the .410 is the minimal damage to the meat and the lack of recoil.
The Rossi Tuffy Turkey Shotgun is a pleasure to shoot. The lightweight synthetic stock makes it quick to shoulder. The trigger is crisp, and there is no creep or gritty feel during the pull. It breaks clean.
The rubber butt pad absorbs the relatively small amount of recoil from the .410 cartridge, making it feel more like a .22 than a shotgun. The Tuffy features a cross-bolt safety that positively blocks the trigger when the hammer is cocked. The opening lever is located on the right side of the receiver, and although it is low profile, it operates smoothly. The synthetic stock features four .410 shell holders on each side. Back-up ammo is in easy reach.
The Tuffy features a brass bead front sight, but also has a Picatinny rail for mounting a red-dot sight or other optics. Built-in sling swivels fore and aft give the gun a wide variety of carry options.
All in all, the Tuffy Turkey Shotgun is an affordable addition to anyone’s hunting collection. Its light and tough stock will survive anything it’s likely to encounter in the field. The .410 chambering will test experienced shooters’ skills and help give youth and new shotgunners a solid platform to establish and sharpen their skills.
Randy Gibbs is associate editor of SAFARI Magazine.