What is a Shotgun Choke?

Out of all the firearms, shotguns are considered as the most versatile weapons. One can use it in a variety of applications, ranging from hunting to simple home defense. While that may be so, shotguns mostly deliver a mediocre performance. However, one can improve this using a shotgun choke.

Shotgun chokes, also known as choke tubes, are metal threaded tubes that you attach to muzzle end of the barrel. Here, they try to constrict the shot pattern and alter the range as well as give the user more control over the shot.

There are several types and sizes of choke tubes available, all of which give different results. The tighter the choke, the longer the range and vice versa.

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Shotgun Choke Sizes

Shotgun Choke Sizes

Shotguns chokes are often distinguished by their various sizes.

The first type is the open choke cylinders. Having a .000 constriction, they are the loosest or most open shotgun choke out of all the kinds.

Because of this, cylinder chokes provide the shortest accuracy range as they tend to spread shots far and wide. At 40 yards, this choke only provides a 40% shot accuracy.

They are often used for simple home defense or for hunting game birds and shooting clay targets.

The second type is the improved cylinder choke which has a .010 constriction. Because of the slight constriction, it spreads shots quickly. They are ideal when hunting rabbits, quail and other upland game at close ranges.

The third type is the modified chokes which are identified by the 3 notches in the rim and have a .020 constriction. With its constriction, it’s a good choice for all-around hunting as it provides dense and tight shot patterns. In fact, many hunters use it for hunting doves and waterfowl.

The fourth type is the full chokes which have a serration in their rims. Having a .035 constriction, they provide tight and dense shot patterns and are ideal for long-range hunting and shooting. Many hunters often use full chokes when hunting squirrels, turkeys and other game shots.

The last type is the extra-full or super-full chokes which also go by gobbler getters. Having a .045 constriction, they give the tightest and densest shot pattern. With this, they provide accuracy even in long ranges. As such, they are often used when hunting turkey and other similar animals.

Shotgun Choke Patterns

Shotgun Choke Patterns

Choke patterns are indicated in percentages and are used to compare pattern density. For example, a 50% choke pattern means that half of the pellets can strike the inside of a 30-inched circle.

Pattern testing is usually done at a 40-yard distances except for cylinder, skeet and .410-bore chokes. To determine the percentage, first find out the number of hits inside the circle and then divide it by the total number of pellets in the shell. You can find out the total pellets of your shotgun’s load by reading the shotgun’s shell reloading book or by opening the shells and manually counting the pellets inside.

Knowing the percentages is important as it will help determine the type of choke you’ll need. A good rule of thumb is to look for a choke that has a large enough pattern without scattering the pellets so far apart.

Shotgun Choke Chart

Shotgun ChokeConstriction Percentage
Cylinder.00040 at 40 yards to 70 at 25 yards
Skeet 1.00545 at 40 yards to 75 at 25 yards
Improved Cylinder.01050 at 40 yards
Skeet 2.01555 at 40 yards
Modified.02060 at 40 yards
Improved modified.02565 at 40 yards
Full.03070 at 40 yards
Extra full.04073 at 40 yards
Turkey.045 plus75 plus at 40 yards

Types of Shotgun Chokes

Types of Shotgun Chokes

Shotgun chokes can be classified into three types.

First are the fixed chokes which are usually already integrated into the shotgun barrel. Because of this, they are difficult to replace as it requires the assistance of a gunsmith. Moreover, any changes can be quite permanent.

Next are the interchangeable chokes which are distinct for their “screw-on” design. With this, they are easy to replace if you wish.

Lastly, there are the adjustable chokes which are also known for their easy installation process. One just needs to turn the choke’s sleeve in order to alter the collet’s position.

The FAQ Shotgun Choke

Which Shotgun Choke is best for hunting a large, slow bird, such as a turkey?

Hunting large slow birds like turkey is a bit tricky for many hunters considering that you’ll have a small kill zone, regardless whether you are in close range or not. During these hunts, it’s important that the hunter knows his shotgun and shell well.

In this scenario, it’s ideal to find a shotgun choke that provide a dense and tight pattern. As such, you can see that most hunters are generally using “heavier than lead” pellets and super-full/full chokes as they give tighter shot patterns which are effective in turkey hunting.

However, take note, that this does vary depending on the shotgun’s bore diameter. To determine if the choke is the best fit for your shotgun, it’s always recommended to test the pattern first.

Which Shotgun Choke is the most open?

The most open shotgun choke is the cylinder choke as they literally have no constriction at all. As such, it doesn’t tighten the shot pattern.

Because of this, the shots are spread fast and wide which gives it the shortest accuracy range out of all the choke sizes. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as cylinder shotgun chokes are useful when hitting fast and close-range targets.

Cylinder shotgun chokes are also useful in simple home defense. One wouldn’t really need a tight shot spread since targets are often close.

Which shotgun choke has the tightest shot pattern?

Super-full or extra-full shotgun chokes, also known as “gobbler getters” have the tightest and densest shot patterns. At a range of 40 yards, extra-full chokes have a 73% accuracy. Because of this, they are popular among turkey hunters and the like as they can provide an extra accurate shot.

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