In the latest ‘Lady’s Wood Guide to…’ we’re introducing you to shotgun chokes: what are they and how do I choose the right chokes for me?
What are shotgun chokes?
Shotgun choking refers to the constriction (tapering) of the shotgun barrels, funnelling the shot as it leaves the barrel. Why is this important? Shotgun choking helps to form the pattern of the shot as travels through the air. The tighter the choke, the tighter the pattern. This can help at greater distances.
Fixed and multi shotgun chokes
All shotguns have choking. However, some guns are fixed choke and others are multi choked. On a fixed choke gun, the barrels seamlessly taper into the choke and can not be changed. On a multi choked gun, you can change the choke by screwing it into the end of the barrel.
Historically, game guns were fixed choke, complete with 1/2 and 1/4 chokes, though this does vary. However, more and more modern game guns are multi choked to help the shooter optimise themselves for the chosen target, distance and quarry.
Clay shooters almost always use multi choked guns because they can change the chokes between stands to best optimise themselves for the target presented. Most modern multi choked guns will come with the five most common chokes. These are:
- 3/4 or Improved Modified
- 1/2 or Modified
- 1/4 or Improved Cylinder
Slightly less common chokes include:
Each shotgun barrel is usually choked differently. A ‘choked 1/4 and 1/2’ shotgun, for example, refers to the shotgun chokes of each individual barrel.
Fixed choke guns can often (but not always) be made multi choked. The constriction can also be opened up further, whilst remaining fixed. One of the most popular and reputable companies to do this is Teague Chokes.
Chokes and steel shot
With the possible impending lead ban and move to steel shot it is worth bearing in mind that one cannot shoot steel through a gun that is choked more than 1/2, unless the gun specifically states otherwise.
Which shotgun chokes are right for me?
Choosing the correct chokes is often determined by the distance a shooter expects to see/shoot a target. As a general rule, the closer the target the more open the choke should be. This is is because it gives the shooter most chance to hit the target as the pattern can spread further. For example, if shooting at distances of 50 yards or more, 3/4 and full choke may be preferable. However, this does mean the shooter needs to be more accurate, as the spread of the pattern is less.
It is important to note that every shooter should pattern their gun and chokes with a variety of cartridges. Not all chokes and cartridges are equal and will provide different results depending on the combination.
Lady’s Wood is home to a pattern plate. This can be used to deepen your understanding of how chokes can affect shot pattern. Please note, cartridge noise restrictions will apply. Stay tuned for future articles for more information on patterning.