Introduced concurrently with Federal's 12 ga., 3 1/2-inch shotshell, the Mossberg Model 835 Ulti-Mag pump-action has been with us since 1988. Based on the proven Model 500 with necessary changes to reinforce and elongate the action and barrel for the longer, harder-hitting load, the 835 has proved to be an incredibly versatile and reliable Shooting System. Turkey shotguns have evolved from general-purpose guns into feature-specific designs, and a few years ago one of our staffers had lengthy conversations with Mossberg officials about improvements to the 835 as a turkey-specific gun. The Tactical Turkey was the result, and it surpassed our expectations.
The 835's basics remain the same. The receiver is of aluminum, and the blued-steel bolt has a top lug that engages a barrel extension. Dual steel action bars link the bolt to the slide, and there are dual extractors on either side of the bolt face. A fixed ejector is screwed into the left receiver wall. The action release is on the left rear behind the trigger guard, and the guard/trigger-mechanism housing is of molded polymer. The tubular magazine rides under the barrel, and has a five-round capacity for 2 3/4-inch shells. It holds three 3 1/2-inch shells.
Of course camouflage is preferred on a turkey gun these days, and the entire gun – save its bolt, slide bars, trigger and buttpad – is clad in film-dipped camouflage in either Realtree Hardwoods HD Green or Mossy Oak New Break Up.
Turkey guns balance ballistic performance and handling around barrels 19- to 22-inches long. The Tactical Turkey's 19 3/4-inch-long barrel is fitted for interchangeable choke tubes and is slightly overbored to 0.733 inches. The gun comes standard with a 1 1/4-inch-long ported X-Factor Accu-Choke tube marked "XX FULL .670". It measured 0.672 inches, which gives more constriction than a standard 0.693-inch full choke. The tube has 10 ports, measuring 0.15 inches in diameter, around its circumference. It is slotted for a choke tube wrench on its front and has knurling on its sides to allow removal without a wrench.
On top of the barrel is a steel full-length ventilated rib, and Mossberg supplies rib-mounted fiber-optic front and rear sights standard. The two-dot red rear is screw-adjustable for elevation, and it has three slots to allow windage adjustments. The front is a yellow pipe set in a non-adjustable, stamped-steel base. The receiver's top is drilled and tapped for scope bases.
Pistol grips, usually found on tactical guns, have become all the rage on turkey guns, and for good reason, as they enhance control. The Mossberg employs one made by ATI that replicates the lines and features of the adjustable stock designed for the U.S. M4 Carbine. There are three main assemblies in the molded polymer unit: the pistol grip; the cylindrical stock itself; and the sliding butt and cheekpiece. Depressing the rear of a lever on the front underside of the cheekpiece/butt pulls the stop pin up and out of engagement with recesses in a rail on the underside of the tube. The resulting six positions alter length of pull from 10 3/4 to 14 5/8 inches, allowing users to suit their size and hunting conditions.
Another feature is a black web strap with the "Mossberg" name embroidered on it attached to the underside of the synthetic fore-end by four screws. Quick-detachable sling swivel studs and swivels are on the front of the magazine cap and on the bottom rear of the butt. A padded sling is also part of the package.
There are two minor downsides to the Tactical Turkey. The ambidextrous polymer safety slide is mounted on the top tang, but it cannot be reached to push it forward and off without breaking the strong-hand grip. Usually turkeys allow enough time to perform this operation, and we did not find it to be a serious issue. Also, the buttstock must be removed in order to remove the trigger guard for full disassembly.
The Tactical Turkey was patterned at 40 yards with 12-ga., 3 1/2-inch, 1 3/4-oz. No. 4 Hevi-Shot and function fired with 12-ga. shells ranging from 2 3/4-inch 7 1/2s, to 3-inch 00 buck to 3 1/2-inch, 1 3/4-oz. turkey loads. Using a Weaver rail, we mounted a Sightron ESD and an Aimpoint 9000SC. There were no failures of any kind in more than 200 rounds fired. Two different staffers used the Tactical Turkey afield, one on Rios in Texas and another on Easterns in Kentucky. After a total of 10 days afield, neither editor connected, which was not the gun's fault; nevertheless, we spent some quality time in the woods with the gun and liked what we experienced.
We were very pleased with the Tactical Turkey's design, features and performance. It is an excellent, well-thought-out rig ready for the turkey woods right out of the box. It also makes for an impressive tactical gun when fitted with a tactical sling and a red-dot sight. It, indeed, lives up to the billing of both words in its name.