O.F. Mossberg and Sons may be America’s oldest family-owned firearms manufacturer, but its products are never out of date. This year Mossberg continued its tradition of producing innovative and versatile firearms at affordable prices when it introduced the Model 835 Turkey Thug (835 TT) at the Shot Show. This lightweight pump action is designed to be a reasonably priced state-of-the-art shotgun for turkey hunting.
Yet the minute I picked it up, I realized the 835 TT is more than just a turkey gun. It can be readily adapted for deer hunting and home defense in less than a minute by simply installing a modified choke tube.
Gun World editor Steve Quinlan and I talked about the Turkey Thug with Mossberg’s Linda Powell at the SHOT Show. The 835TT she brought to the Media Direct Writer’s Luncheon was light and pointed very well. We were both impressed with its Mossy Oak Break-Up camouflage, and I made arrangements to have one with the optional TRUGLO red dot sight shipped to Florida for review.
The gun arrived at the Florida Gun Exchange in Port Orange about three weeks after the show. I did my usual safety and preliminary function check at the store and found everything to be in good working order. So I took the gun home and placed it on my workbench for a more thorough examination.
When looking at the 835 TT, several of its features immediately caught my eye. The first was the Mossy Oak Break-Up pattern on the gun’s exterior. This camouflage was evenly applied and it did an excellent job of disrupting the gun’s silhouette. Taken together, the Mossy Oak patterns and black color of the choke, butt pad, trigger and sling made for a very classy-looking gun.
In addition to its great looks, the 835 TT had a number of other useful features. I liked the gun’s Lightning Pump Action (LPA) trigger. It is user-adjustable and creep-free. As it came from the factory, the trigger broke consistently at just under 4 pounds. That’s good enough for me, so I left it just where it was.
Then there’s the extended and ported extra-full turkey choke that is designed only to be used with lead shot. The choke restricts the bore to at tight .670-inch. The gun’s 20-inch barrel is backbored, which makes for a significant degree of constriction at the muzzle. Given this, the use of slugs is definitely not recommended.
SHORT AND TO THE POINT
The relatively short length of the barrel was especially interesting. In the past, long-barreled shotguns with tight chokes were preferred for turkey hunting. The idea behind the long barrel was to get the most velocity from the shot load and deliver maximum energy to wary birds that always seemed to hang out just beyond the effective range of the shooter’s equipment.
Nowadays, however, long barrels are no longer necessary due to improvements in turkey ammunition, camouflage, shotgun sights and chokes, which have extended the range at which turkeys can be taken while simultaneously making the hunter more difficult to spot.
A second reason behind the 835 TT’s short barrel is that modern shotgun loads achieve most of their velocity in the first 15 inches of barrel length. The only reason to have a long shotgun barrel anymore is for establishing the proper lead on long-range passing shots at waterfowl. The 20-inch barrel of the 835 TT gives up very little in the way of velocity over a 28- to 30-inch barrel and is much easier to swing in tight quarters, such as an impromptu blind in dense brush.
SIGHTS TO BEHOLD
The sights on the 835 TT are excellent for turkey hunting. The Truglo’s red dot centers nicely on the neck of a turkey target at 40 yards. The backup fiber-optic red rear and green front sights show up well in the woods on overcast days, and the fiber-optics co-witness with the optical sight so it’s not necessary to remove the Truglo to use the backups.
When using the optical sight, it’s necessary to lift your cheek off the stock. This is really not a problem for aiming, considering the red dot is parallax free. In addition, turkeys called into a blind are not shot on the wing, so the shooter does not need a firm cheek weld on the stock to shoot turkeys. When the fiber-optic sights are used, their height allows a firm cheek weld, which is necessary to properly line them up.
I took the 835 TT to the Flagler Gun and Archery Club to pattern with various loads. I also shot a couple of rounds of skeet just to see how effective the gun was on moving targets. Patterning was conducted with the XX full choke when using turkey loads and the Accu-Mag modified choke when using buckshot.
Winchester and Federal were kind enough to provide turkey loads for testing, and I also had some buckshot loads that Federal provided me several years ago. In addition, I had several other buckshot loads that I’d picked up in various places. I used turkey, deer and tactical targets from Law Enforcement Targets, so I was well-equipped to give the 835 TT a good test.
To read this article in its entirety, pick up the July issue of Gun World magazine, available on newsstands now.