I’m left handed, so my choices for buying guns can be especially limited, especially when it comes to shotguns. But what about everyone else who wants to hunt Turkey, Pheasant, Small game, deer or anything else that can get them out into the great outdoors, do they need to own several shotguns or just be smart about only one? You are now about to learn about the wonderful world of Choke Tubes. But keep in mind that length of the barrel should also be taken into consideration.
It seems that each time I go into my favorite Outdoors store I begin to fondle and caress a variety of shotguns, saying to myself “oh this is a perfect Turkey Gun or no Goose stands a chance if I only had that one. I then begin to think about how much it would cost me to own a gun for every species and I get depressed. Well, not any longer, I was lucky enough to find a gun that I felt very comfortable with and had a barrel that allowed me to screw in a choke for several needs. The bottom line is that choke tubes take one gun and make it specialized enough to fit numerous types of hunting needs. The choke tube changes the pattern and range of the pellets so one gun can be used successfully for numerous types of game. Proper use of the choke tube can also extend your range so a Turkey gun can effectively be used wing shooting as well, merely by screwing in the proper tube.
My first Shotgun did not have a screw in choke and although I loved it, I missed many opportunities, as anything outside of 20 to 30 yards was a difficult shot for me as I used it both for Turkey and Geese. Many hunters were forced to by several barrels to be able to hunt using one gun. Today is merely a matter of screwing in the proper tube.
So what does a choke tube do? Basically a choke tube affects the pattern of the pellets by constricting them for a longer or shorter period of time as they leave the barrel before the pellets begin to spread out into a larger pattern. By doing this, a tube allows the shooter to have a more flexibility on the desired pattern depending on what you are hunting or shooting at. A similar example could be one of those multi-purpose nozzles on the end of a hose, turn it to a more open position and the water sprays out in a wide pattern but does not have the distance of when you have it closed a bit tighter and although the pattern is significantly tighter, it holds together for a much longer distance. The same holds true for a choke tube. It is important to know which type of choke tube to use when hunting different game.
Now that we understand that a choke tube affects your shotgun’s range we need to understand which one to use under what situations, so here goes just a bit of good info:
A Turkey Choke is an extra-full type of choke pattern that is perfect to keep a very tight pattern for a longer distance thus ideal for the head shots need when hunting Wild Turkey.
A normal Full Choke is also for tight patterns and used often for waterfowl hunting or when using buckshot and also Turkey hunting. It is designed to deliver about 70% of the shell’s pellet load in a 30-inch pattern at approximately 40 yds.
The Modified Choke is ideal for hunting waterfowl and upland game such as Pheasant. It is also many hunters’ choice for small game such as rabbit as it delivers about 60% of the total pellets in a 30-inch circle at 40 yds.
The Improved Cylinder is an excellent choice for hunting game that is a bit closer such as quail, grouse and Pheasants that are flushed by pointers up close to a rising bird. If you were hunting Waterfowl over decoys this would be your choice as well. The improved cylinder is more open than a modified and delivers about 50% of a shell’s pellets in a 30-inch circle at a distance of 40 yds. Many hunters use this tube when using rifled slugs.
These are the most common types of choke tubes used today however with changing regulations on which type of metals can be used for certain types of hunting, specialty tubes are now available that work well with the varying hardness and pattern traits of the different types of pellets available. You may decide to use a specific type of metal such as steel when waterfowl hunting or Hevi-Shot for Turkey hunting and may then consider a choke tube designed for that type of shot. Just as with skeet and trap shooters, the right tube can increase the effective range of your shotgun.
With interchangeable Choke Tubes you merely need to screw in a choke for Turkey Hunting in the morning and then in a matter of minutes change it out for Pheasant hunting in the afternoon. You need only have to decide what your hunting preferences are for your the shotgun of choice and have the choke available that gives you the best pattern for that particular hunt. Remember, the is knowing the shot pattern that will give you the best chance includes knowing the probable distance to target, so know the environment you will be hunting.
It is extremely important to properly pattern your shotgun prior to its use as different guns can and do pattern differently. Set out a paper target at the predicted distance you will be shooting at. I usually do 30 yards when Turkey hunting and take several shots with my favorite load. If I decide to try a different load I will then need to pattern that gun again with the new shot. You may also try different chokes until you find the one that you feel works best for you and that gun. I will either buy Turkey Stickers or draw the bird on my test paper and mark where the majority of my pellets go and the effective pattern. You should do this with all your chokes and shells so you know how each one will act when needed.
I have blown many a hunt by not having the proper choke in my shotgun and not patterning the gun properly. I have learned much since then and now have really increased not only my shotgun’s effectiveness, but also my own enjoyment by having the ability to change my effective range and pattern depending on the quarry. The Choke Tube definitely allows the hunter to turn one shotgun in many.