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Why chokes matter

Discussion in 'Competition Shooting' started by John A., Nov 7, 2015.

  1. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

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    Well, there are many reasons why chokes matter.

    While it does matter what distance you're shooting, it also matters what shot size you're using.

    Here shows how changing the choke will affect performance.

    These patterns were each shot with the same barrel, shells from the same box of Remington STS, and everything else being as equal as possible. Each were aimed directly at the bullseye.

    Though while it's possible that once you know how your gun patterns, you can move your point of aim accordingly to get more pellets at the point of aim, but that was not my intention for this little test. All shots were aimed at the bullseye to show how a choke will change how a shotgun performs.

    Full choke (or extra full chokes) will usually hold the tightest patterns, and offering the longest ranges. Consequently, cylinder or "open" chokes will typically spread out farther/faster and are better for very short ranges.

    Here are the specific chokes that I used for this test.

    .682 full choke
    692 improved modified
    702 modified
    713 improved cylinder
    723 skeet/cylinder

    And here are the results.

    .682 Full choke--59 pellets- the overall pattern was the tightest, but note that the pattern was mostly a little left of aim
    choke 001.JPG


    .692 Improved Modified-- 12 pellets.
    *I'm certain I didn't pull the trigger on this one, but the pattern is very low on the paper. And this is why you pattern a gun and don't just expect that it's going to work just because you think it should.
    choke 2 001.JPG


    .702" Modified choke--60 pellets--note the pattern is evenly distributed over the entire target. For skeet or hunting, this is the choke I would feel most confident using because it gave a good pattern at the point of aim and a lot of pellets within the bullseye.
    [​IMG]

    .713 Improved Cylinder--18 pellets

    [​IMG]

    .723 Open/Cylinder choke--19 pellets
    choke 004.JPG

    Attached Files:

    Tomcat141, Pawpaw, ripjack13 and 2 others like this.
  2. Rossignol

    Rossignol The Original Sheriff Staff Member Global Moderator Sponsor Moderator

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    Good post, good points made.
  3. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 Guest

    Excellent post my friend...!!
  4. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

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    One of the reasons why I wanted to make the post was one of my younger cousins had recently bought his first shotgun, and said it was junk because he was missing a lot of stuff that he said he knew he should've had.

    So, I asked him if he has patterned the gun, and his eyes glazed over, so I knew he had no clue what I was talking about, so instead of trying to explain to him what I was talking about, it was easier (and more fun) to just show him.

    I think he was somewhat surprised to see how the various chokes changed things and now he knows more about how shotguns pattern.

    He was really surprised to see how some chokes were putting very few pellets inside the bullseye, and others were filling it up. And this was through the same barrel and using the same shells and at the same distance.

    So now he knows more how shotguns work and knows to experiment to find out what works for what he's wanting it to do, instead of just expecting everything to be what he thought it would be.

    For that matter, now he knows that with a little time behind the trigger learning about it, is not the same as even the same make and model gun and that they're all a little different.
    Rossignol and ripjack13 like this.
  5. dieselmudder

    dieselmudder .30-06 Elite Member "Philanthropist"

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    Always love seeing explanations on paper. Guess I know what I'll do some sunny afternoon
  6. Rossignol

    Rossignol The Original Sheriff Staff Member Global Moderator Sponsor Moderator

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    Something some choke manufacturers do is market chokes not by constriction or exit diameter, but by the range they're intended to be used. Some simply say short, medium, and long range while others say passing, or decoy and some list range in yards.

    I tie this in with the chokes you listed, from full to cylinder. The full would be in some case considered as a long range choke for sporting purposes and competition or wing shooting, but could be what a turkey hunter is looking for at closer ranges. On the opposite end, say for skeet or trap or wing shooting smaller birds that flush close, some may want the more open choke for closer targets because it allows the shot to disperse more quickly. In the same scenario, the full would make the load behave as a more precise projectile possibly missing the target entirely.

    I know Shooter13 has posted charts showing choke selection based on intended range with distances of effective patterns... I'd have to do some digging. But to your points, that full choke you pictured, would more closely resemble the cylinder at some distance. It extends the range of the shot. Though at some point, the effectiveness of the shot will be lost based on its size, limiting its ability to retain terminal velocity. It loses energy so as distance is increased, a larger shot size is required to maintain the ability to either break targets or kill targets. Sometimes a faster moving load, or a heavier load. And then if the shot is large enough or a different material is used, the choke selection begins again! :)
    John A. likes this.
  7. MikeD

    MikeD I'm Your Huckleberry Staff Member Global Moderator "Philanthropist"

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    Good post. Lots if good info here. I think a lot of people really dont even thnk about it, its a shotgun it'll cover anything within 20 yards with shot regardless...

    It wasnt until I got serious about turkey hunttng that I realized how the gun, choke and load were intertwined.

    Two identical guns with the same choke and load can pattern completely differently. Until people see that i guess its a difficult concept to grasp.
    Rossignol likes this.
  8. Tomcat141

    Tomcat141 .410

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    35
    Thanks for the work you did! I found it very interesting, tying in to what I was asking in another thread. I wondered if barrel length mattered much, but I also thought about the differences chokes made. You very clearly showed we should all pattern our guns with various chokes to see what actually is happening. I appreciate your information.
  9. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

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    It is my pleasure sir. No thanks are necessary. Glad that it helped someone.
  10. Rossignol

    Rossignol The Original Sheriff Staff Member Global Moderator Sponsor Moderator

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    I just received as of today, a 2016 Trulock catalogue.

    Anyone remotely considering purchasing a choke tube needs to get this catalogue, I've never seen anything like it and as far as I know, no other manufacturer has anything like this. I sincerely wish I had ordered or requested a bunch of catalogues prior to beginning my quest for chokes tubes.

    Trulock actually includes photos of patterns they have shot through various tubes for a number of gun models or at least the choke tube system.

    Additionally, so much is explained as to how they (Trulock) derived constrictions. Also talked about is patterning and mis aligned patterns and corrective action.

    After seeing this, I'd have to say the Trulocks have gone out of their way to explain and simplify choke tube selection.
  11. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

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    Gotta link? I'm always up for learning something.
  12. Rossignol

    Rossignol The Original Sheriff Staff Member Global Moderator Sponsor Moderator

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    Here's the link to the catalogue request page;

    http://trulockchokes.com/request_a_catalog.html

    I think for guys (or gals) like me who are fairly new to studying chokes, the catalogue is very helpful. I really want to invest in some Trulock tubes to test now.
  13. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

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    Thanks Rossi.

    I looked over a few of their web pages and was very down to earth and honest and straightforward.
  14. Rossignol

    Rossignol The Original Sheriff Staff Member Global Moderator Sponsor Moderator

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    @John A. Youll find the catalogue to be even more so and they do something I've not seen any other maker do; they show actual photos of the patterns they're getting. Who else does that?
  15. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

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    I can certainly appreciate that.

    That right there is putting your money where your mouth is.
  16. Wiley

    Wiley .22LR

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    11
    The 535 I have now is the first internal choke tube shotgun I've ever owned. Everything else has been fixed or Granddad's Ranger .410 with external chokes. If I ever take the rifled barrel off it I'll be curious to see how it patterns.

    One thing I can say with confidence being a handloader for several rifles: Individual firearms can be as picky as all get-out about loads. If you change your shells, be the change brand, load, or shot size, pattern the shotgun again. It's worth a shell to know what you're doing.
    meanstreak and John A. like this.

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