Paul Harrell on Turkey Ammo for Home Defense


Paul Harrell on Turkey Ammo for Home Defense

Paul Harrell is back at it, this time looking at a specific sort of shotgun shell and how it might — or might not — be useful for home defense. He already took a look at birdshot in general for home defense, but this time he focuses on turkey loads, which, for those who may not know, are shotshells designed to kill turkeys, usually at fairly long range. And they’re typically loaded with more pellets than the average birdshot shell.

Fair warning: If you know Paul’s videos, you know he begins each with the caveat that he is working on a live range and he asks viewers to “bear with any gunfire” they may hear in the background. In other videos we’ve heard the occasional shot in the distance, but this time it sounds as if there’s someone just out of view who’s having one heck of a good time firing double-taps and whatnot. So brace yourself and don’t turn up the sound too high if you like your eardrums.

Paul goes right to his tried-and-true patented meat target, designed to more-or-less simulate a clothed person for the purposes of comparing effectiveness of ammo for defending against bad guys wearing clothes.

He begins with a typical bird shot load, so we can compare that with the turkey loads. At 7 yards it is extremely effective without overpenetrating.

Next up, he goes to the chronograph. Standard Remington bird shot loads with 1.25 ounces of shot averaged 1243 fps, while Remington 1.5-ounce turkey shells averaged 1162, Winchester 1.75-ounce loads averaged 1145, and Federal Premium with 2 ounces of shot averaged 1048.

We can see from this that turkey shells don’t necessarily move any faster, and this makes sense Heavier payloads quite often move slower than lighter ones when fired from the same gauge or caliber.

Then he tosses in a bit of a monkey wrench by deviating from the turkey ammo theme, bringing in some pheasant ammo. Unnecessary in my opinion, but Paul’s gonna do what Paul wants to do.

From there, we hit the meat target once again, and he finds some difference between turkey shells. He seems surprised by the Winchester ammo opening up its pattern quickly, but that’s what it’s designed to do… this is my turkey ammo of choice and it’s meant to produce turkey-killing patterns both near and far.

Beyond that, there’s a bit of digression as he adds more pheasant ammo and a 20-gauge shotgun to the mix. So is this a purely-turkey-ammo video? Nah. But it’s all Paul, and fans will tell you that’s what matters.


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Editor & Contributing Writer Russ Chastain is a lifelong hunter and shooter who has spent his life learning about hunting, shooting, guns, ammunition, gunsmithing, reloading, and bullet casting. He started toting his own gun in the woods at age nine and he's pursued deer with rifles since 1982, so his hunting knowledge has been growing for more than three and a half decades. His desire and ability to share this knowledge with others has also grown, and Russ has been professionally writing and editing original hunting & shooting content since 1998. Russ Chastain has a passion for sharing accurate, honest, interesting hunting & shooting knowledge and stories with people of all skill levels.

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