What You Should Know About Patterning Buckshot

boar blaster choke
Trulock Chokes
The Boar Blaster, from Trulock Chokes, did a good job of patterning cheap buckshot loads.Trulock Chokes

Ask for advice on chokes for buckshot and you’ll get every answer from IC to Turkey Full. Big pellets don’t always follow the same rules that apply to smaller shot. Last time I patterned a bunch of buckshot, an extended Modified choke worked best for me. And by “best” here, I am talking about 40 yard patterns for deer, not across-the-bedroom patterns for home defense.

At SHOT Show, George and Scott Trulock of Trulock Chokes showed me their new "Boar Blaster" buckshot choke tube. It's an extended Full choke, and inside you can see five rings indicating steps down from bore diameter to Full. Scott said they experimented with different numbers of steps and five proved to be the best for 00 and 000 buck although he didn't know the reason why. I have never seen a choke quite like it.

I tried it with the basic cheap, unbuffered, unplated 9-pellet load of Winchester 00 buck (George said it worked on all buckshot from cheap to premium) and it definitely outshot my Modified choke at 40 yards, putting 4-6 pellets of a 9-pellet load into the vitals of a deer. The Trulocks claim a 20% tighter pattern with the Boar Blaster, which is about what I saw. Incidentally, as often happens with buckshot, one of the nine pellets seemed to miss the big piece of cardboard I was shooting at entirely. What often happens with buckshot, strangely, is that two pellets will fly through the same hole. I’ve watched it happen in super slow motion at the Federal test lab, where engineer Erik Carlson told me had witnessed the same phenomenon many times and concluded that pellets fall into line because of a drafting effect. He also said these “missing” pellets drive LE range officers nuts when they have to account for every projectile fired in training.

But, I digress. The Boar Blaster seemed to corral enough of the pellets and put them into the vitals to be a worthwhile buckshot choke option. It would no doubt perform even better with high quality buffered loads. In my experience patterning buckshot, premium loads pattern better and, not surprisingly, 12 and 15 pellet loads of 00 buck put more hits on the target than does a 9-pellet load. One of my favorite buckshot loads, Remington’s 3-inch Premier 00 with 15 pellets is, of course, no longer made. But, it was a dandy. That leaves Federal’s Vital-Shok buck, which uses Federal’s FliteControl wad, as the tightest-patterning buckshot load I’m aware of, and it performs in almost any choke so long as it’s not of the ported or wad-stripping variety.