Choke selection is a very important component of a successful hunt, dictating how long of shots you can take, as well the lethality of the shots once they are fired. Chokes are what control how wide or tight the spread of pellets will be once they leave your barrel, making them more or less accurate at various distances and dictating what percentage of pellets are landing within your target radius. This article will go through the four main types of chokes that are used by hunters in the field, what their uses are, and when they should be used.
The first type of choke to consider is the cylinder choke. These chokes have minimal bore restriction and produce very wide spreads. These cylinder chokes come in two varieties, the cylinder with virtually no bore restriction, and the improved cylinder that offers a very small amount of bore restriction. Due to how wide the spread of your pellets will be with this choke, it is not recommended that they are used for any shots over 30 yards. This wide pattern and low accuracy rating means that you have to get very close to your target, limiting its uses to bird hunting, target shooting, and self-defense
The second type of choke to consider is the modified choke. These chokes provide a moderate level of bore restriction and make the shot accurate at a bit longer distance than the cylinder chokes, typically accurate out to about 40 yards. These chokes are used by both hunters and target shooters, though bigger game hunters looking to shoot slugs will be much better off with the more open choke options, or even a rifled choke to improve accuracy.
For those looking for an even tighter spread, or perhaps a more accurate shot at a greater distance, full chokes will be your best bet. These chokes provide a tight spread that can be accurate at up to 60 yards. These are often used for hitting smaller objects, such as distant targets or turkey heads. Turkey hunters will often go a step further and use an extra full choke to ensure the maximum amount of pellets will hit the turkeys head and neck. These chokes help ensure that you hit only the area that you are targeting and can help avoid injuring the animal or wasting any meat.
The last choke that is commonly used for hunting is the rifled choke. These often come in the form of extension tubes, meaning they protrude out from the barrel of the gun. These chokes are ideal for hunters looking to shoot slugs, as they help to stabilize the slug as it leaves the barrel making your shot much more accurate. These are favorites among deer hunters in smaller counties that don’t allow a rifle season, as they can allow you to make ethical and lethal shots at reasonable distances from your blind or treestand.
Whichever choke you decide to use, it is important to pattern your shotgun before heading out in the woods when hunting any animal. This will ensure that you are using the right shells and choke for your style of hunting and will ensure the most accurate and ethical shots when in the field.