Chokes and Patterns

Common Chokes

Common chokes

Chokes slightly narrow the muzzle of the barrel to influence the shot stream and deliver a desired pattern. Chokes don't make the shot go farther. Their purpose is to deliver an effective density of shot at a particular distance. For game such as quail, where shots are usually at relatively short range, you may choose a choke like an improved cylinder. For turkey, where you anticipate that shots may be at a larger range, you might choose a full choke.

Choke Inserts

Many shotguns have interchangeable choke tubes so shooters can adjust the choke to the situation.

Patterning the shotgun Comparing Shot Patterns

You should “pattern” your shotgun to find out how it performs with various loads and chokes at specific distances. This entails shooting single shots at individual targets at the distance you anticipate you will be shooting at game. Write on the target the load of the shells, the type of choke and the distance that you fired. By comparing the targets and counting the average number of pellets that will cover a lethal area on the target, you will find out what combination of shotshell and type of choke will deliver the best results. It is a lot of work but you will gain a better understanding of how your shotgun performs. You will discover that most shots must not be taken beyond 40 yards, because by the time the shot arrives, it has spread too far and “holes” will occur in the pattern.