Resurrecting a Relic
A TRUGLO TRITON Tri-Color dot-style optic transforms an artifact into a turkey terrorizer.
By Aaron Carter
Call it fortuitous; several weeks ago I strode into a local sporting goods store and there, among the assorted vestiges of the past and abandoned modern-day arms, stood a gun that I had longed for. It wasn’t a prized Purdey or Parker, or even exquisite Holland & Holland; instead, it was an inexpensive and unimpressive, bolt-action, 16-ga. shotgun—a JC Higgins Model 583.14. Truth be told, it was downright homely. That mattered not at all to me, though; it would serve nicely to appease my aspirations to study the “sweet” sixteen.
With a TRUGLO TRU-SEE splatter turkey target posted at 30 yds., the firing of a single Remington Express Long Range 2¾”, 1 1/8-oz. No. 4 shell forever changed my perception about the capabilities of the 16 gauge. Despite impacting somewhat low, it nonetheless sowed a “what-if” seed. In this case, “What if I could center the core on the point of aim?” Naturally, this devolved into, “What is maximum effective (and ethical) distance of the 16 gauge for turkeys?” The gears of a true tinkerer were turning.
Immediate to mind was installing a dot-style optic to the JCH, which would then enable me to deliver pinpoint accuracy with the 16 gauge’s relatively small shot charge. This, the bead sight couldn’t do. As such, less than 24 hours later, the shotgun was returned to the shop where I purchased it. There the gunsmith installed a section of Weaver-style rail in Scout-rifle fashion to the front of the receiver, forward of the ejection port. This permitted the installation of a dot- or reflex-style sight with a single mounting screw. I selected the TRUGLO TRITON 20 mm.
Unlike a traditional, bead-type sight, which can cover the target at extended range and requires alterations or compensation if the point of aim and pattern’s core aren’t congruent, the dot-style optic allows precise pattern placement—every time. This is especially important in sub-12-gauge shotguns, as every pellet is important; there are too few shot in the payload for errant patterns. Moreover, the TRITON’s tri-color, 5-m.o.a. dot is rheostat controlled, enabling me to adjust the dot’s intensity as lighting changes. Not to mention that the sight makes aiming very easy.
With TRUGLO TRU-SEE turkey targets, the TRITON-topped JCH, and a box of the above mentioned ammunition (albeit in No. 6s this time) in hand, I headed back to the range. Patterning began at 25 yds. At that distance, 116 pellets engulfed the 10” circle surrounding the point of aim. Increasing the shot distance by 5 yds., 92 pellets fell within that same-size circle. At 35 yds., the pellet count dropped by nearly half to 47, while at 40 yds. it was only 29. Although at the latter range four pellets struck the outlined brain and vertebrae, light, uneven pellet distribution would disqualify its use at that distance. But, the TRITON made the Model 583.14 16 gauge a great option for turkey hunting out to 30 yds. and, in a pinch, it would prove capable at 35 yds., too. Not bad for 1 1/8 ozs. of un-plated, high-antimony lead No. 6s fired from a 26” barrel with a standard full choke. Talk about a perfect option for recoil-shy or youth hunters.
This begs the question, “Do you need a state-of-the-art shotgun clad in the newest, ‘game-changing’ camouflage and fitted with an extended, tightly constricted choke tube to hunt spring gobblers?” Nope. As you’ve seen here, you can easily use a resurrected relic with a dot-style optic. Turkeys take heed.