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Powerstroke

Which choke sizes should a guy own?

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I bought a new Remington 870 Express and it only comes with one choke tube. There are 5 different factory sizes but I'm not sure the average Joe would use all of them. That also doesn't count turkey, coyotes, deer etc use for the gun.

It took me until 30yrs old to buy my first 12ga so I'd like this gun to be as multipurpose as possible. I hunt deer, turkeys, pheasants, grouse, small game, coyotes and I'd like to get into goose hunting. I do have an over-under 20ga that has served me so far so I can carry that for the grouse and small game.

So, which size chokes would you recommend for the average all-around hunter? I do plan on buying a specialty choke for coyotes/turkeys or maybe one for each.

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I use Imp Cyl, Mod, Full, and Turkey Chokes. I've killed everything you've listed with that combo beside the yote. 9/10 I'm using modified for anything that has wings unless it's ducks on a decoy set than i'll roll with a imp cyl. Different situations call for different chokes. All depends on the distance of shooting you'll be doing or how many shells you feel like using on a 30 bird flock of teal :P

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Understanding Shotgun Chokes

A brief explanation by Briley

If you are new to shooting and do not understand shotgun chokes, do not be surprised. Seventy five percent of shotgun shooters that have shot for many years do not understand shotgun chokes either. Let us start at the beginning. Shotgun chokes were designed to control pattern diameters at different yards. What is a pattern? It is just the grouping of the pellets at a given yardage. This grouping is called a pattern and is measured by a circle diameter. This particular circle must have certain efficiency. In other words, it has to have a certain number of pellets in a given area (called distribution) for it to be labeled an efficient pattern. It is that easy! However the confusion starts when we label them and you try to figure out what to use and when.

Here is a quick reference chart:

Shotgun Choke - -Yardage - Shotgun Choke Restriction

Cylinder < 20 0

Skeet 22.5 .005 of an inch

Improved Cylinder 25 .010

Light Modified 30 .015

Modified 32.5 .020

Improved Modified 35 .025

Light Full 37.5 .030

Full 40 or More .035

Extra Full 40 or More .040

What is all that suppose to mean? It is confusing to most people. Before we answer this let us examine how a shotgun barrel is constructed. A shotgun is basically a big pipe, the hole in it we call the bore ( purple ); see figure below. At one end, where the shell goes in, we call this the chamber (yellow), the hole of the chamber is bigger than the bore and the transition area between the chamber and the bore is called the forcing cone (brown). The choke of the barrel, colored red, is located at the other end of the barrel. The transition area between the choke and the bore is called the tapered or the conical part (teal) of the choke; this area provides us with the transition geometry between the shotgun choke and the bore of the shotgun. Now you can visualize what it all looks like, so “within limits” the tighter or smaller you make the choke hole, the tighter the pattern at yardage.

Good Shotgun Chokes, Bad Shotgun Chokes. Why are some shotgun chokes so much better than other ones. There is undoubtedly a great deal of science in making the perfect shotgun choke and none of the knowledge keepers are too eager to share it. While the diameter difference between the bore and choke may be one of the shotgun chokes ingredients the science is in the macro details and factors such as material, length of barrel, shotgun choke geometry, and finishes as well ammunition are where the secrets are hidden. Simply put, “God did not create all chokes equal!”

Ok, so how does a shotgun choke actually work? Let us begin first with an easy metaphor, a child in out in the back yard playing with a garden hose. He discovers that if he puts his thumb on the end of the hose it goes further. That, kind of, is similar to what happens with a shotgun. Now for the scientific explanation by a nuclear engineer named Robert Hedrick. In a nutshell, his computer model and 35 years of research explains it in this way. There are two forces that tell the story; the mechanical properties while the shot column is in the barrel and the dynamic forces of nature that affect the shot column after it exits the barrel. When the shot column meets up with the choke it forces the column to squeeze tighter together; these forces are called radial forces. Once it is out of the barrel, wind resistance and gravity act on it. When the wind comes into contact with the outside pellets of the shot column it induces spinning and they start to flare off like a ping pong ball with english on it. The tighter the choke the heavier the radial forces, the tighter the pellets are squeezed together so the pattern holds tighter over a longer distance. Conversely, the less restriction you have in the shotgun choke the more loosely the pellets are held together and the faster the pattern opens up.

There you have it! You now know more about shotgun chokes than 98 percent of the shooters in the world.

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Cyl, SK1, SK2, IC, LM, M, IM, F. All of these except Full is useful for me. IMHO a true full choke is too much choke for all but the best shooters.

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I hunt ducks, geese, pheasants and grouse with an improved cylinder. Turkeys with a turkey choke.

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I hunt ducks, geese, pheasants and grouse with an improved cylinder. Turkeys with a turkey choke.
Same for me. Might make a difference if you were using lead vs. steel. Whatever you chose to do consider taking it out and patterning the gun so you know what the end result looks like at some common distances. You can do the Google and get info on how to pattern a shotgun. Best time you can spend working with a shotgun. Second best is then over to the trap range for some action.

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Before I jump the gun sort of speak and mention proper stance, arm, & head placement.

First find out where your new shotgun it hitting and at the same time testing patterns.

Before you do that, close your eyes and shoulder the shotgun. Now open your eyes.

Are you seeing rib or are you looking at just the bead? It does matter and depending on what you find you'll be adjusting to it.

Get yourself a bunch of paper and something to mount it to.

Lets go with the 30" and 10"circle put a dot in the center 25 yards away.

Use game loads in 7.5 or 8 shot for now since your probably going to get after grouse first off.

Take your time level the rib put the bead on that dot and squeeze off a shot.

Go look at your paper. Hopefully the mass is uniform and centered on the paper.

Whatever the case that is where your shotguns POI is. Now note the pattern density in both circles.

Compare that with your shot size, distance, and that chokes restriction.

I like to know my patterns at 25 and 40 yards with different chokes according to shot and load weights.

New paper, 25 yards, shoulder the shotgun but this time don't take your time to level the barrel on the target. Get it up fast and as soon as the bead is on the target let the lead fly.

Go see where you hit. Unless you have bad posture that is where your shot will be when hunting grouse.

This goes back to the test where you closed your eyes and shouldered the gun

When you know this and shoot according to that you won't be fighting those times when you have a lot of time to take aim. Do you know anyone that can proficiently shoot grouse on the wing but for the life of them can't knock down a duck.

Turkey hunting you'll level the barrel and aim according to where you POI is.

All my test patterns are at 40 yards but will increase that to 50 yards to see what the pattern is.

Start with a full choke and compare that to an xtra full and or one a many "turkey" chokes.

If you know someone you can borrow a choke from that helps as that way your not stuck with a choke your not happy with. In a nutshell, you want a tight pattern without over choking your shot string.

I reload all my hunting loads so altering and testing different loads isn't going to break the bank.

Luckily I use the same load for pheasants as I do turkeys.

Practice and repetition. An instructor to watch and make corrections if need be.

Good luck.

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I have what seems like an endless assortment of chokes for most guns.

I kill 50 - 100 plus birds a year (ducks, geese, pheasants) with IC choke. Never change it. Most birds shot 15 - 45 yards. Steel patterns tighter than lead. Large diameter BBs tend to pattern tighter than small diameter shot. No problem killing geese out to 60.

Do use a turkey choke in the spring.

Hunt grouse with a double 20. Choked skeet and IC.

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All this talk and it really comes down to taking some rounds out and patterning them so YOU now what YOU are shooting, I'm betting you will be suprised by the results and knowledge you gain, just remember to document what each one does so you can remember later.

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So that we understand it, I do have a O/U 20ga that I like and use a lot. I've got a couple chokes for it including my turkey chokes so I completely understand that idea of patterning and knowing alot of that.

However, my new gun only has one barrel and one choke so I'm working towards getting all of the right items for my new gun. Each one of the factory chokes is $20 so I don't really want to spend $100 on a set of factory chokes if I'm only gonna use one or two, especially since I'll probably buy a specialty choke for turks and coyotes.

This is meant as somewhat of a survey. I used to hunt with "what I have". Now I have the ability to purchase "the right thing" for the situation rather than making due with what I've got.

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You already have a good understanding of chokes and how they work. I primarily shoot a double gun. But if I were to own a single tube gun I would have the following chokes.

IC, M, and a turkey/'yote choke, be it full, xfull whatever.

My SxS has C/IC in it most of the time. For late season birds and Doves I put IC/M.

But for hunting Grouse or shooting skeet, IC all day.

Pheasants and ducks with steel shot, IC?.?.?. Mabe M if they are jumpy or the shots are far.

Then you have your full and super full for busting 'yotes with #4 buck or shooting turkeys. Like you said. Chokes are spendy. Why buy them all when you only need a few.

Good luck.

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If I had to choose 1 it would be Improved Cylinder

And no complaining about $20 tubes. That's cheap! Drive 14 less miles with the F350 and it'll be paid for.

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I have three 12 gauge shotguns all take choke tubes.

Each shotgun has IC, Mod, and Full.

One shotgun of the three has an additional X-Full and a Extended X-Full. That is the shotgun I take Turkey hunting. Total that is 11 choke tubes.

Deciding which tube to put on is easier then deciding which shotgun I want to use. smile

If its early season grouse IC tube because of close birds. I might even pick up a Cylinder for that.

Pheasants Mod or Full just depends on how far out they're getting up that day.

Ducks IC or Mod. Depends on if I'm decoying or pass shooting.

Whatever the scenario I have that shotguns tubes in a leather pouch that goes into zipped pocket in my hunting vest.

I don't hunt yotes but I'd pattern my Full and X-Full in fast load of 2 3/4" 1300 fps 1 3/8ths load of lead shot with varying shot sizes till I found one that patterned well. That right there will set you back a few bucks.

Since I don't hunt yotes I'm don't know what max legal shot sizes you can use at night.

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The most popular chokes are full, improved cylinder, and modified, with that combo you should be fully functional. Just remember, for only $20 you can carry the equivilent of another gun or barrel in your pocket. The reason I preach patterning so much is you might just find that $20 tube will pattern your rounds in your gun as well as the big money tubes, which do have their place, but sometimes a budget wins. I will contradict myself a bit however and say a good turkey choke will be worth the money.

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I have a 870 also and I have used all three factory chokes and some after market chokes and I always end back at the factory mod choke. It just seems to work best for me.

Most of my hunting is waterfowl and with the steel loads these days they recomend amod choke as a great starting point.

As has been ststed patterning is the key to finding out what is the best for you.

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My 870 came with mod, imp and turkey X-Full. I use the impr. for deer hunting. mod. for pheasants and grouse and X-full for turkey. BY having these 3 chokes you'll be set.

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I shoot both a 12 and 20 ga. depending on the situation. The ONLY chokes I use (and I have pretty much all of them) are Improved Cylinder and Xtra Full Turkey.

Time and time again I dust birds with the IC, then later season comes and I tell myself I need to switch to modified. Every single time I might as well have just switched to a cap gun because I'm not going to hit anything. Switch back to IC and I'm shooting good again. Makes no difference if they are close or far shots, the IC is my best bet, hands down. Several of my hunting buddies have noticed the same thing with their guns.

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Honestly, I think the most important thing is buying a quality shell and practicing to be a good shot. I'm not saying I'm a great shot, but I have definately shot a lot and practice makes you better. I use a cylinder choke(most open you can get) in my 2 3/4 - 3 1/2 Beretta Extrema 2 and have great success for all doves, ducks, pheasants, and geese. I used to think cyl choke would be a problem for geese at 40-50 yds but in the last two weeks have gotten 6 big honkers at that range with that choke. The answer? I buy Black Cloud BBB and the shell features make up for the open choke. Also as stated in other posts, big shot and steel shot pattern tighter and this also makes up for the open choke. In summary, if you buy a quality shell, the proper shell for the game you are hunting, and practice shooting a lot, I think you will find the best success with a more open choke like cyl and imp cyl. It will allow a greater pattern for close range, small birds like doves at 15 yds, as well as those tough geese at 40 yds plus.

Finally, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If you think a cyl choke is best, use it. if you think a full choke is best, use it. You are the one shooting the gun and your opinion as to what works the most efficient is what matters.

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I have the standard 3 as many others have said. The modified one is in there unless I'm turkey hunting & then the full is. I tried the improved cylinder a time or two for ducks, but couldn't seem to knock anything down.

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