Which Shotgun Choke Has The Tightest Shot Pattern?

Did you know that shotgun choke plays a pivotal role when it comes to firing a rifle? The choke’s purpose in a shotgun is to help shape how the shot spreads on pulling the trigger.

It facilitates the effortless fine-tuning of a shotgun depending on the type of game, and allows for pin-point accuracy and better range with every shot.

In this post, we are seeking to answer the question: which shotgun choke has the tightest shot pattern? But before we answer it, let’s first define a few terms.

What is a shot pattern?

Every hunter out there aims to gain accuracy with their firearm. However, no matter how hard you try, the level of precision will always vary.

Shotgun pellets tend to spread outwards, recording an increase with increasing length of the shot. Now, the term “pattern” is used to describe how these pellets spread out.

The choke (also called the choke tube) you use will greatly affect how the patterning will look like. To answer our quiz above, we need to understand what a shotgun choke is.

What is a shotgun choke?

The choke in a shotgun is a tubular constriction at the muzzle end of the shotgun barrel, whose role is to control how the pellets arrange themselves when you release them from the barrel.

There are two ways in which a choke may be installed into a shotgun. There are built-in or fixed chokes that are integrated into the shotgun barrel. A fixed option cannot be replaced and is a part of the bore.

Then there are screw-in chokes or attached chokes that are mounted on the muzzle end of the barrel. A screw-in option is easily replaceable. It is acceptable to use either option.

A shotgun choke helps in controlling the shot string and tightening the pattern of pellets. Note that the choke in a shotgun does not curtail the power of the shot, but only creates a tighter pattern for improved accuracy.

What is a shotgun choke

Creating the perfect choke for a shotgun requires a great deal of science and arithmetic. The following factors count in making good chokes:

  • Length of the shotgun barrel
  • Material of the choke
  • Finish of the choke
  • Geometry of the choke

To this far, you now understand the meaning of shotgun choke and shot pattern. We can go ahead and answer the question: Which shotgun choke has the tightest shot pattern?

We can answer this query by looking at the different types of chokes and their shotgun chokes chart.

Types of shotgun chokes

There are 4 main types of chokes. The following are the existing chokes ranked from most open to tightest:

  • Cylinder (unchoked)
  • Improved Cylinder
  • Modified
  • Full

1. Cylinder choke

The cylinder choke is the original barrel which has no restrictions. In essence, this open choke lets your pellets spread out more widely at a longer range.  

This particular choke can eject pellets up to 30 yards away, and is ideal for situations involving hunting with buckshot or birdshot and short-distance shooting for self-defense purposes.

This choke creates a widespread shot upon pulling the trigger. As a result, it increases the chances of hitting the target at a short range. You won’t even need to aim because the target is near you. Using the cylinder choke is advisable if someone breaks into your property.

2. Improved cylinder choke

This choke has a slight constriction to the barrel that aids to enhance the shooting accuracy. The pellets in this type of choke are still rather scattered.

You can distinguish between a cylinder choke and an improved cylinder choke by checking on the percentage of pellets available within a 30-inch range at a 40-yard distance.

If you use an improved cylinder choke to shoot lead pellets from a shotgun, you will find 50% of the pellets falling within a 30-inch circle once they get passed 40 yards.

That means by the time the pellets reach 40 yards, the other 50% of the pellets will have spread beyond the 30-inch circle. In a regular cylinder choke, you can expect 40% of the pellets to remain at 40 yards.

Therefore, the improved cylinder choke gives you a 10% increase in the number of pellets you shoot out at greater distances. It provides more pellets due to the added constriction. This choke is great for hunting quails and rabbits.

3. Modified choke

The modified choke offers a moderate constriction, which faintly reduces the scattering of pellets. This choke is useful when it comes to hunting geese or ducks using the steel pellets. The choke also makes your weapon ideal for target shooting and self defense.

The modified choke has a constriction size of 0.02 inches, which is 0.01 and 0.02 inches higher than the improved cylinder choke and the cylinder choke respectively.

This type of choke allows 60% of the pellets to reach a 40-yard distance within a 30-inch radius of each other. This represents a 10% increase against the improved cylinder choke and 20% increase against the regular cylinder choke.

Ideally, the modified choke provides more firepower when firing within 30-40 yards away.  Ideal for shooting at medium distances, this choke is ideal when shooting within 30 to 40 yards.

The modified choke can destroy your target in a moment’s notice. Whether you use it for hunting, self-defense, or target shooting, this choke will leave a trail of ruin.

4. Full choke

This is where we find the answer to our question: Which shotgun choke has the tightest shot pattern? Full choke delivers the tightest constriction and the highest possible accuracy for distances beyond 40 yards away.

A full choke gives you the most accuracy as it has the tightest constriction of any other choke out there. It is also the best when it comes to the shotgun shot size chart.

This choke constricts the pellets very tightly when they are discharged from the barrel. As a result, lead pellets won’t scatter as much as they would if a cylinder choke or improved cylinder choke is used.

The choke’s tight constriction makes it possible for the shots to stay closer together at greater distances. Often, a full choke allows 70% of the lead pellets to stay within a 30-inch radius at 40 yards.

A full choke is the wise choice for shooting game like turkey or squirrels. It is more accurate than all the other chokes we’ve just discussed right here. Other specialized “extra full chokes” such as turkey chokes are designed to provide even higher accuracy at longer ranges.

5. Skeet choke

The skeet choke is another type of choke intended for skeet or target shooting. This choke may have the characteristics of either a modified choke or a full choke based on the target range.

A skeet choke typically has little constriction and provides a wide-open pattern that travels toward the target at high speed.

This choke largely befits situations like recreational and competitive shooting. These are highly competitive activities where contesters use their shotgun to aim and shoot at clay targets projected into the air at top speeds by a machine.

The competition is tough since these clay targets are flung into varying directions to make it even harder for the contesters to aim and break them.

Competitors who manage to aim accurately and break the most targets are eligible to score the most points in the game. This might call for regular practice.

Final Thought

Hopefully, you are now in a position to correctly answer the question: Which shotgun choke has the tightest shot pattern?

If someone asks you this question, simply tell them that the full choke provides the tightest shot pattern. Its tight constriction facilitates a high level of accuracy at greater distances.

With the full choke, you can aim and shoot your target from 40-60 yards away. It is, however, important to note that your accuracy will depend on the number of pellets you have in your shell!

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