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Shotgun chokes explained….

take with a large pinch of salt!Yawn

Most modern sporting shotguns have some amount of choke in the end of their barrels.. Choke? Yep choke, the barrels have a bit of a squeeze built into the barrels to “help” your shooting The shot coming out of the barrels is squeezed ever so slightly to help it stay together as it fly’s through the air rather than fanning out. Most guns have chokes that you can change to vary this effect.

Whilst choke manufacture is a very exact science the effects of using a choke with a particular cartridge and gun combination is .. well, a bit of black magic! In fact it’s almost impossible to quantify exactly what effect you, your gun and your choice of cartridge will achieve in practice. My advice is, as a beginner “ just don’t get involved in chokes”.. learning to shoot at the right bit of sky is the most important thing to do and worrying about chokes the least! However, if it makes you feel better to fiddle about with the pointy end of your gun at each and every stand then just do so…BUT please don’t hold the rest of us up behind you while you do it OK!

shotgun chokes

Right….so you now want to know sufficient about chokes not to be overawed when you stray into a gun shop..correct?

Choke Tube Selection...  always confusing for most shooters but one quite easy to explain.. Pick a choke that give you the equivalent of a Full choke pattern [70% of the shot in a 75cm circle at 40 mtrs] BUT.. at the distance that you expect to shoot your target…simples eh!

But why Full Choke pattern you ask?  well, having 70% of the shot in a 30” circle results in a dense enough pattern that your target cannot escape from and the pellets have sufficient energy to break your target.

Choke selection then.. selecting a choke is nothing more than moving that pattern to alternative distances. So if you want to shoot a target at 20mtrs use a choke that gives you 70% of the pattern inside that 75cm circle at that range. smile

Simplistically, the table below illustrates the most common choke sizes and effective ranges..

  • Cylinder                     or     Open                  25mtrs

  • Improved Cylinder     or      ¼ choke             30mtrs

  • Modified                    or      ½ choke             35mtrs

  • Full                                                               40mtrs

There are additional chokes for every constriction you can imagine…in US, UK, and Continental standards. This is a ploy to cater for your low scores and sell you yet more expensive chokes.

There is lots of reading online to clarify, so best you do so if it interests you.

Well, what a relief, we now know all about chokes! BUT it still means you have to point your gun at the right bit of sky to get your 75cm circle to coincide with the target!  Good luck....


The following Teague choke chart cross-references some of the different types you may find.

teague shotgun choke chart

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