Some Random Thoughts on Choke, Part II

Time for more random thoughts on choke. In part one, I mentioned that the factory Modified in my 3901 patterned as well or better than a couple of aftermarket chokes. That could be the case for you, or it may not be.

On the other hand, I have yet to see a factory turkey choke that will shoot with aftermarket chokes. Even the inexpensive aftermarket chokes like the Primos Jellyhead and HS Undertaker have done better than factory turkey chokes in my guns. Currently I shoot a Rob Roberts custom choke that outdoes everything else I have tried in my gun.

Ported chokes and/or wad stripping chokes like Patternmasters and Flitecontrol-type or Winchester’s Diamond Cut Blindside wads don’t mix. The chokes are designed to strip the wad from the pellets while the wads are designed to contain the shot charge several feet out of the muzzle.

However, you can shoot Flitecontrol wads out of very tight turkey chokes. My 20 gauge 870 with an Undertaker turkey choke shoots turkey killing patterns at 50 yards with Federal Heavyweight in a Flitecontrol wad.

The best way to buy aftermarket chokes to send your barrel to the chokemaker or to measure it inside and have a set of chokes made for it. Barrels vary in internal diameter and if you have chokes matched to your barrel you will know that, for instance, .005” constriction really is .005”. When you pattern your gun, what you want to see from your choke is about a 70-75% pattern in a 30-inch circle at the range you think you’ll shoot your birds. That kind of pattern tends to give you the best distribution of pellets in the fringe of the pattern and a dense pattern core. Any tighter than that and the core gets over-dense at the expense of the pattern fringe. Overly dense cores tear up birds, and thin pattern fringes take away your margin for error.

In general, I shoot Improved Cylinder or IC/Modified for upland birds and doves, Modified for waterfowl, and a .665 XX Full choke for turkeys. My skeet gun is Skeet/Skeet, my sporting gun usually has IC/Light Modified tubes, my trap gun is Full choked. That scheme is lacking in originality, I know, but it’s time-tested.

Grease the threads of your choke tubes and, if you leave the same one in a gun all season, take it out at the end of the year and scrub its threads and the threads in the barrel. You might need to soak it in solvent to get the plastic wad buildup off the inside. Chokes only have to be finger-tight but you want to check them from time to time to make sure they’re still snugly screwed in. Otherwise you may launch a choke tube, a rare (I’ve only seen it done once) and memorable occurrence.