Back in January, at the 2017 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, I had a chance to test-shoot numerous new shotguns at the Industry Day at the Range event, held the day before the show floor exhibitions opened up.
One of them was Beretta’s A300 Outlander Turkey gun. Although the setting was a crowded gun range, I immediately appreciated its fit and comfort. Since I’d blown a couple of opportunities on birds during my first turkey hunt last year—due to some gun malfunctions and admittedly poor shooting—I thought I’d try the Outlander for this year’s hunt to see if it would make a difference.
I’ll admit that I’m not always keen on the overspecialization of shotguns for particular activities. Many hunters, myself included, aren’t likely to purchase a different gun for each of their disciplines—upland bird hunts, duck and goose hunts, sporting clays shoots, or whatever. Often, shooters will decide the activities they most like to do and buy the gun most suited for that, but is also adequate for other uses.
However, specialty guns are special for a reason. Gun designers look for the variables that make a particular pursuit challenging, and engineer changes that will ease those challenges just a bit. A turkey gun might seem like it’s not worth the extra expense, but after hunting with the Beretta A300 Outlander, I can confirm that what makes a turkey gun good for turkey hunting is definitely worth it. Priced at $900, this gun is a good buy as well.
The A300 Outlander Turkey is relatively lightweight and easy to shoulder, which is notable for a 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun. Chambered for 3-inch shells, this gun can pack a punch, but with Beretta’s high-quality gas-operated system, felt recoil is negligible. The stock has an adjustable drop and cast, and comes with spacers to adjust length of pull, making it easy to fit hunters of different sizes. The RealtreeXtra camo pattern makes you far less likely to spook these hyper-alter birds. Such a camo pattern is especially valuable when you’re set up in the open instead of in a blind and trying to blend in with the turkey woods during spring green-up.
The 24-inch barrel makes the gun very easy to maneuver in the tight confines of a turkey blind. With the included TruGlo fiber optic sights (and the receiver has been milled so it’s easy to add an optical sight, if you wish) you can immediately acquire your target point, which is crucial on a turkey hunt, when you’re aiming at a relatively small head atop a large black body. Based on my personal experience, these two factors provide a tremendous advantage over non-turkey shotguns. Last year, I was jostling around in the blind, trying to rearrange my body so I could line up a shot at a bird without sticking the barrel out the window. Trying to maneuver my own personal space took away from my ability to naturally shoulder the gun, acquire the target and get off a decent shot.
The Outlander was far easier to move around. I was able to quickly and easily pick up and place the TruGlo sights, and the gun was lightweight enough to hold in position until the perfect shot presented itself.
Beretta includes a turkey choke with this gun, so it is ready to go out of the box (though you should always pattern a turkey shotgun before using it on a hunt, to make sure the pattern is adequate and your sights are aligned). Turkey chokes provide tight shot patterns at the 20- to 40-yard distances you will most likely be shooting. Also, the choke is ported so it will reduce some of the felt recoil when shooting magnum turkey loads. Plus, when you consider that an aftermarket choke costs as much as $70, having one included adds value to the Outlander’s already bargain-priced package.
The bad weather the day before the hunt made for fast action our early morning in the turkey blind. Since the birds stayed quiet during the snowstorm, they were ready to go at first light, sounding off with gobbles shortly after we were situated in the blind. Within the hour, we had a group of birds behind us, with noisy hens pock-pocking away at our calls. Eventually two gobblers separated from the group and headed for our decoys across the ditch in front of us. As they worked their way in, I had my Outlander ready and holding steady while I was waiting for the right shot to present itself. Soon I had my first turkey, a big Rio Grande, in the Nebraska panhandle.