12 gauge turkey loads

Is TSS Worth the Money?

If you’re on the fence about giving TSS a shot, we’re going to give you the scoop on what you need to know. And we’re not going to simply make claims about being the best ammo out there or turn your brain into mush with numbers and statistics about downrange energy. 

This is going to be a deeper dive into the big picture questions around shooting TSS…the stuff you need to realize. 

Let’s address the elephant in the room first - the arguments don’t debate if TSS is more effective, it’s simply a matter of cost.

Is it worth the extra money?

We spend all year dreaming about perfect spring mornings and gobbling turkeys. Sure, there might be a few weeks where we get distracted with deer, ducks, or other critters, but this is what we live for. 

Lawns don’t get mowed, work gets missed, and friends and family grow increasingly concerned about our attention to a bird. Others watch in confusion as we transform into sleep-deprived zombies whose sole mission is to hear the next gobbling turkey. 

Clearly, there’s more to this sport than dollars and cents. 

Isn’t it worth a few extra bucks to know you’re putting the most effective pattern out there? Depending on where you hunt, you might only have a couple of times each spring to pull the trigger…why wouldn’t you want to do what’s best for the bird and shoot the deadliest pattern? 

Few things are worse than working a longbeard into range and having it fall apart when you pull the trigger. You’ve spent considerable time scouting and hunting - sometimes many days just trying to fool a cagey old longbeard. 

You can’t put a price on the obsession and love of the game.

Let’s dive in to look at what you gain by shooting TSS…and not just the numbers.

For The Wild Turkey

We can’t go without mentioning the resource itself. 

We’ve brought up the pain of missing turkeys, but there’s only one thing worse - taking a shot at a bird and knowing you’ve wounded it. Many of these instances are due to misjudging yardage or having brush disrupt your shot pattern. 

This is where TSS is invaluable - and it’s not about dropping birds at excessively long range - it’s about making clean kills when human error becomes a factor. And with all the challenges the wild turkey faces today, we owe the bird our best effort to make an ethical shot when given the opportunity. 

Hunt these birds enough and you’ll no doubt encounter situations where 52 yards looks a lot like 40. Or you try to bust through brush and vegetation where a standard lead load loses most of its lethality. TSS gives you the downrange punch to ensure clean kills when traditional lead shot begins to drastically lose energy and pattern density. 


This isn’t talked about nearly enough - one of the biggest advantages of TSS is that it tends to shoot well through a variety of setups. We’ve found various guns and chokes to pattern more consistently with TSS vs. lead shot, especially when you shoot premium hand-loaded shells like what we offer here at Salt Creek Custom Ammunition. With lead loads, it usually takes a fair amount of experimenting with chokes and load combinations to find the optimum pattern. 

A Swarm of Pellets

Let’s make it simple - TSS gives you the ability to shoot a smaller shot size, which allows you to fit way more pellets into each shell. (For more details, check out our FAQs page)

You get a huge increase in the number of pellets you're sending down range. 

So, when you pull the trigger on a longbeard, there’s going to be virtually no gaps in the pattern. If the bead is on his head, he’s going down immediately. 

Even .410 shotguns can be loaded with #10 shot to deliver patterns so devastating you’ve got to see to believe. 

A Lighter, Easier Handling Gun

For decades, when hunters reached for a turkey gun it meant grabbing the biggest, baddest shotgun in the safe. And along with that came extra weight. 

But here’s the truth - once you run a lightweight gun you might never go back to that hefty old turkey gun. TSS is what gives you the ability to hunt turkeys with everything from a 10 gauge to a .410.

For those of us that cover miles and chase birds on public land, this is a huge advantage.

It would be a lie to say chasing birds with a .410 or 28 gauge isn’t a good time - it’s just plain fun to chase longbeards with a gun so nimble and light. The novelty is undeniable. And with the increasing number of hunters opting for these platforms, it seems we’re getting new options every day - from simple, affordable single-shot guns to souped-up semi-autos with pistol grips and red dots.

Or if you prefer the traditional 12 gauge, our TSS loads give you patterns so potent you’ll wonder why it took you so long to convert. 

But for those wanting to lighten the load - it’s never been easier to find a deadly turkey gun weighing less than 6.5 lbs. and so compact a ten-year-old can shoot it comfortably. Speaking of that - TSS could be the ticket to creating a lifelong hunting buddy…

For the Kids and Ladies

TSS could change what the future population of turkey hunters looks like.

Turkey hunting is bigger than something we do in the springtime. And passing on the heritage matters…but most new hunters aren’t going to be comfortable shooting magnum shells out of a 12 gauge. TSS finally gives us the ability to afford new shooters a gun they can handle and be confident with. 

Think about it…this is the ticket to possibly starting a new tradition with a friend, child, or spouse. It could be the difference between getting your kid into hunting or a lifetime of video games. 

You can’t put a price on that. 

Or maybe it gives you a reason to take your old small-bore shotgun out of the safe that hasn’t seen action in years because you ‘outgrew it”. Few things are more satisfying than reuniting with a gun that was part of your early hunting history. And as forgiving as TSS tends to be with patterning, you don’t have to spend a fortune finding the right load and choke combo. Chances are good you'll throw a phenomenal pattern with just a little bit of testing.

The Lifestyle

Most people don’t get it - but there’s a relatively small group of us that understands the thrill of the chess match and the addiction of early spring mornings. If turkey hunting flows through your veins and helps define your identity, shooting the deadliest ammo just makes sense. 

We drop hundreds of dollars on gas, spend money we don’t have on calls and camo, and even skip work to chase these birds. And if you hunt as a non-resident - those license fees alone are downright steep. 

Choosing to save a few bucks shooting inferior ammunition at a game bird that means so much to us makes no sense. Heck, you’re probably spending more than that on snacks at the gas station on your way to the woods. The unpredictability of the whole experience draws us in, but once the trigger is pulled, we want a definitive answer and no questions.

In the end, the shell is what’s going to finish the hunt and culminate the experience - it’s the final link between you and the bird. 

So, if the wild turkey itself, our hunting heritage, and all the practical advantages of TSS matter to you, it might be time to move on from lead ammunition and join the ranks of fellow turkey hunters devoted to the sport. Perhaps you’ll be able to take your first turkey with your old .410 or deliver perfect patterns from your 12 gauge. 

Either way, we’ve got everything you’ll need here at Salt Creek Custom Ammunition to get started - click the link below to start shooting a premium pattern.

Salt Creek Custom Ammunition (saltcreekammo.com)

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Wondering about sample back with 12 gauge #9 in 3 and 3.5 I been shooting and testing tss since first come out apex boss Tom verdict federal and etc like try yours if possible

Randy smith

Salt Creek makes the absolute best TSS turkey loads on the market today. The customer service is second to none, every single time I order by the end of the day I have a tracking number! The loads are custom made to your liking or hunting style. I hunt longbeards in as many states as possible every spring and would’nt trust anything else in my barrel. Those 10’s are just plain nasty!

Dean Kreuziger

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