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Steve Comus – GUN TALK

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018
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Dickinson Commando XX3T Turkey Shotgun
When companies like Dickinson come through with thoroughbred special purpose shotguns, there is no reason not to have one. That’s the way it is with their new Commando XX3T model, a 12-gauge pump shotgun with 3-inch chamber, 24-inch barrel Mossy Oak camo finish.

There is something special about hunting wild turkeys. It is about the only kind of bird hunting where the shotgun used is employed more like a rifle than a classic wingshooting wand.

dickinsonturkeyDICKINSON TURKEY PUMP shotgun has it all. Here, author gets familiar with it – and it was a hoot to shoot.

Success happens when a dense pattern is delivered at distance. But when the aiming point is in the middle of a skinny neck that moves without notice, and when the “kill” zone is the head above and the beginnings of vital organs below, shot placement is important. Most folks suggest that multiple hits in the head passes muster. I cannot argue about that.

Turkey-specific shotguns are not new, but I already had done more than one turkey slam before the industry started offering them. My original turkey-hunting shotgun was an L.C. Smith side-by-side 16-gauge with 30-inch barrels, both choked tighter than a bull’s bottom at fly time. Worked great.

Then I evolved to 12-gauge and used a standard Remington 870 with 30-inch full choke. Great gun and the shiny stock and metal finish didn’t cost me a single bird.

Typical for turkey-specific shotguns are camouflaged stock and 24-inch barrel (some have shorter barrels, like 20 inches or so). For me, 24 is fine. Shorter barrels are handier because they can be moved into position without bumping or moving any underbrush, and the camo finish makes it more difficult for the birds to see – and wild turkeys have superb eyesight.

PELLET CLOUD ALMOST obscures the outline of a turkey head and neck. This pattern was shot at 30 yards with the Dickinson turkey gun.

This new Dickinson model has all the right stuff – many features that put it ahead of the pack in a number of ways.

Although I spent decades shooting and hunting before the modern drop-down pistol grip became a factor, the truth is that such a design aids in offhand shooting, and when shooting from the normal sitting position when hunting turkeys.

The pistol grip gives a kind of control that is beyond the more traditional straight or semi-pistol grip designs. On the Dickinson, the pistol grip is big enough to grasp with authority, has finger grooves for stability and has a really effective non-slip finish on the outside. Totally correct.

Up-front, the slide handle is both robust and contoured just right for a firm, authoritative grasp. And, there is a Picatinny rail (more or less 2 3/4 inches long) on the bottom of the slide handle should the hunter want to attach something there. That “something” is limited only to the imagination. I didn’t do it, but there are situations where I would be tempted to attach a box call, or even the slate for a slate call there. Could be really handy.

Speaking of Picatinny rails, there also is a 6-inch, more or less, rail atop the receiver. That is really nice for those who want to use red dot or telescopic sights. The gun comes with open barrel sights (2 green dots rear and a single red dot near the muzzle). They work great, even with the Picatinny rail there. That’s nice because sometimes when a rail is added, barrel sights can’t be seen. And, the barrel sights were dead-on, right out of the box.

picatinneyrailPICATINNEY RAIL ATOP the receiver of the Dickinson turkey gun makes it easy to use red dot or telescopic sights. Or, the gun can be used as-is with the open barrel sights.

I have mentioned it with other Dickinson pumps, and will repeat it here. The bolt release button/lever on the right side of front of the trigger guard is both substantial enough and shaped right so that it can be used extremely easily, even with gloves on. That is a nice touch.

The recoil pad is vented in a way that contributes to taking some of the sting out of shooting heavy loads. That, in conjunction with the full pistol grip and robust slide handle, tames the gun noticeably.

Another thing that I consider to be mandatory on a turkey-specific shotgun is a set of sling swivel studs. A sling is necessary when going into and coming out of the woods, and it allows both hands to be free to do other things like carry other gear, stop and call, those sorts of things.

Trigger pull was a bit heavy on the specimen used, and it broke extremely crisply, which is good. Light trigger pulls are problems with turkey guns. The trigger pull on this one was squarely in the okay category – didn’t pull the gun off-target at the moment of truth.

Magazine capacity is 4 plus 1 (kind of academic since turkey hunting is a one shot, one bird proposition) and the slide operates on double action bars and comes standard with an extra-full screw-in choke – totally proper.

It is in the shooting of this turkey gun that things get fun. It’s a hoot to shoot. Just for kicks and giggles, I put one of those green-and-black targets showing the head of a turkey, neck and vital organs on the bottom of an empty clay target box, paced 30 yards off, turned and blasted. The cloud of pellet hits almost obscured the outline of the turkey. That would have been one dead bird.

I usually like to see how dense and where a pattern is for a turkey gun at about 30 yards. Doesn’t even hurt to do it at 25. The point is that the placement and density there shows quickly whether the gun/load are on-target and it is easy to determine pellet distribution.

It doesn’t hurt to follow-up with another pattern test a little farther out, but for me, 30 is just fine. For those who do have to shoot turkeys at longer distances (the longest shot I ever took at a turkey was under 40 yards – like 32 to 36 yards), it wouldn’t hurt to see what the distribution, etc. is at the maximum distance intended.

Given the tremendous amount of bang for the buck that Dickinson shotguns deliver, there is no reason not to have a shotgun designed specifically for the kind of hunt intended. Certainly this turkey gun has all the right stuff and delivers the goods both easily and smoothly. Great gun.

SLIDE HANDLE ON the Dickinson pump turkey gun is great to attach all manner of gear, including a call.

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