Quick guide to chokes

Top lady shooter Becky Mckenzie pro­vides a five-minute over­view of what chokes are for, and which ones you should use

Clay Shooting - - Contents -

Becky Mckenzie pro­vides a fiveminute over­view of chokes and which ones you should use

In sim­ple terms, choke is a con­stric­tion near the muz­zle end of a shot­gun bar­rel, which af­fects how the shot spreads out as it flies to­wards the tar­get. The more open the choke, the larger the di­am­e­ter of the shot cloud or pat­tern; and the tighter the choke, the smaller the pat­tern at a given dis­tance.

You need to re­mem­ber that as the shot cloud leaves the bar­rel it spreads out, re­duc­ing in den­sity the far­ther it goes from the muz­zle. As a gen­eral rule, you’d want less choke for a close range tar­get, and a tighter choke for a fur­ther away tar­get – although there are other fac­tors to con­sider too.

Most mod­ern clay shot­guns use in­ter­change­able ‘mul­ti­chokes’ which screw into the end of the bar­rel, like the tubes shown in the pic­ture here. This al­lows you to change your chokes to suit the tar­get – and you’ll of­ten see shoot­ers weigh up a stand and then change their choke tubes depend­ing on the type of tar­get pre­sented. Screw-in or multi chokes can be ei­ther ‘flush fit­ting’ or ‘ex­tended’ – like it sounds, this means they ei­ther fit flush with the end of the bar­rel, or pro­trude. Fixed chokes are al­ready engi­neered into the muz­zles and so are not ad­justable.

Chokes are mea­sured by the con­stric­tion of the bore, which is usu­ally ex­pressed in thou­sandths of an inch. Typ­i­cally they come in steps of five thousands of an inch be­tween choke sizes. Dif­fer­ent coun­tries have their own way of de­scrib­ing the var­i­ous chokes, but in the UK they are usu­ally ex­pressed as: True Cylin­der, Im­proved Cylin­der, Quar­ter, Half, Three Quar­ters and Full.

Which choke to use?

Some be­lieve that the big­ger the pat­tern the more chance they have of hit­ting the tar­get, so they can vaguely point in the gen­eral di­rec­tion of the tar­get to get a good re­sult. Sadly for them, that couldn’t be fur­ther from re­al­ity!

Shoot­ing clays at av­er­age dis­tances I tend to use what I would con­sider an ‘av­er­age’ choke, ie Half Choke which is, of course, in the mid­dle of the choke spec­trum – not too open and not too tight. Some tar­gets may be longer and some closer, but on bal­ance I find this to be the best com­pro­mise.

I gen­er­ally use Half and Three Quar­ters choke. I have Half in the lower bar­rel for the first shot, as you get less muz­zle flip. Then I have the tighter Three Quar­ters choke in my top bar­rel, for the emer­gency sec­ond shot. Ar­guably I should use Quar­ter and Half Choke, but Half and Three Quar­ters are my Happy chokes!

And what should you use? My ad­vice would be Im­proved Cylin­der and Quar­ter Choke while you are learn­ing. Then when you move up to slightly harder tar­gets, you can switch to the slightly tighter com­bi­na­tion of Quar­ter and Half Choke.

These ex­tended chokes by Bri­ley are colour coded so you can see at a glance what’s in your gun

Dif­fer­ent coun­tries have their own names for chokes; Mod­i­fied or ‘M’ is equiv­a­lent to our Half Choke

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