Choke Tubes 101

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shotgun choke tubes
A high quality shotgun choke can increase a shotguns' effective range by ten or more yards, depending on the type of choke being used.

Choke tubes are simple effective devices that tighten the pattern of the BB's as they leave a shotgun. The tighter the pattern is as it leaves the shotgun barrel, the better long range accuracy it will have. Wider pattern choke tubes have a large hole while choke tubes designed for long range shooting have a very small restricted hole to constrict the BB's as they leave the gun, thus creating a tighter pattern.

Choke tubes have been around for decades, but recently they have become more specialized. When a shotgun is purchased it comes with a variety of choke tubes. The guns often come with an improved cylinder, modified, and a full choke. For the casual hunter or sporting clay enthusiast, these three choke tubes may be all you need.

modified choke tube
There are a wide variety of choke tubes on the market. There is one for every style of hunting and shooting.

Improved Cylinder Choke Tube

An improved cylinder choke tube was designed to restrict the pattern ever so slightly as it leaves the gun. An improved cylinder choke tube doesn't hold a very tight pattern after the shot leaves the gun so most people who use an improved cylinder choke tube use it when hunting in thick cover for upland hunting game like grouse. Many hunters who don't have a lot of experience use an improved cylinder choke tube because they aren't very accurate and want to shoot a wide pattern that is very forgiving. Many sportsmen who don't want to spend a lot of money on high dollar skeet choke tubes use an improved cylinder choke tube when shooting trap or skeet.

Modified Choke Tube

A modified choke tube holds a denser pattern at longer ranges than an improved cylinder choke tube will. This is probably one of the best all-around choke tubes on the market for hunters who are a decent shot with a gun that want somewhat of a forgiving pattern. The modified choke tube is very popular with waterfowl hunters and upland hunters. Many hunters simply use a modified choke tube regardless of what they are hunting and can be quite successful when doing so.

waterfowl choke tubes
Waterfowl hunting requires a choke tube designed especially for steel shot.

Full Choke Tube

A full choke tube greatly restricts the BB's as they leave the gun and creates a very tight pattern. Waterfowl hunters who want to reach out and touch high-flying ducks and geese often use a full choke tube. Until the invention of choke tubes was designed especially for turkey hunting, many turkey hunters hunted with a full choke. In most cases, a full choke tube can be extremely accurate out to forty yards and beyond.

Many hunters may believe those three choke tubes that come right from the factory are all that they need to be accurate with a shotgun, but unfortunately, many choke tubes that come directly from the factory aren't always as good as aftermarket choke tubes. Many inexpensive shotguns come with inexpensive choke tubes that may be made with low cost steel or have rough edges and burrs on the inside of the tube that can rob the gun of accuracy. Plastic and debris can get hung up on the tube, ruining the effectiveness of the pattern as it leaves the gun. Aftermarket choke tubes may cost more money but it is often worth the extra expense.

Aftermarket Specialty Choke Tubes

Most aftermarket tubes are longer than factory choke tubes. In many cases, the parallel section of the aftermarket choke tube is so long that it sticks out beyond the tip of the barrel. Longer choke tubes create a tighter pattern. Aftermarket tubes essentially customize a gun. After taking a quick stroll down a choke tube aisle in any sporting goods store, you will notice hundreds of choke tubes available for several applications. Many of these choke tubes are great at performing for one specific style of shooting.

modified choke tube
When pheasant hunting, most hunters prefer a modified or improved cylinder choke tube that has a wide pattern that can bring down quick flying birds.

A high-dollar extra full turkey choke is built especially for turkey hunting and delivering an extremely tight pattern at long ranges - in the forty to fifty yard range. By unscrewing a full choke and screwing in an extra full turkey choke it is possible to take longer shots and often the number of BB's hitting the head and neck region of the turkey will be a dozen or more verses a small handful.

Specialty choke tubes are built for a certain type of shot. For example, steel shot (which is required when  waterfowl hunting) is harder on shotguns than lead shot and patterns differently than lead. Waterfowl choke tubes are made stronger than traditional choke tubes that are only for lead shot. They are built so that steel shot, which doesn't pattern as well as led shot, will hold a tight pattern.

A new shot was developed in the last few years especially for waterfowl hunting and turkey hunting. It is even heavier and denser than steel or copper-plated lead and flies better than steel, making it very popular for waterfowl hunting. The new materials used to build this shot are even harder on choke tubes, so now there are choke tubes designed especially for the new shot.

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