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Shotgun Chokes Explained (Cylinder, Improved Cylinder, Modified, Full)

06 May 20124 comments Accessories, Advice, Best, Upgrades

Choke is a constriction

Many shooters are puzzled with Remington shotgun chokes. Choke is a tapered constriction of the gun barrel’s bore at the muzzle end. Some of the shotguns has fixed chokes, some of them can be equipped with a choke. The exit end of the choke is smaller by some dimension than the actual bore of the barrel. Chokes tighten the pattern and enable you to shoot on further distances which is useful for trap or hunting. It is recommended to use Cylinder or Imroved Cylinder for home defense. Shotgun chokes used for slugs are usually Cylinder or Imroved Cylinder too.

Following illustration shows the difference between chokes and how they control the pattern:

Shotgun Choke Types

Shotgun Choke Types

Remember, choke is located on the end of the barrel, so if you had a Modified choke, for example, and cut the barrel, you have the Cylinder choke now because choke was cut out.

The purpose is to decrease the spread of the shot in order to gain better range and accuracy. Shotgun choke patterns are different and you need to test them.

Generally, there are several choke types available: Cylinder, Skeet 1, Improved Cylinder, Skeet 2 (light Mod.), Modified, Improved Modified, Full, Extra Full and Turkey.

Most widely used choke types are: Cylinder, Imp Cylinder, Modified and Full.

Choke Constriction Percent Identification (Notches)
Cylinder .000 40 at 40 yd
70 at 25 yd
IIIII notches
Skeet 1 .005 45 at 40 yd
75 at 25 yd
Improved  Cylinder .010 50 IIII notches
Skeet 2 (light Mod.) .015 55
Modified .020 60 III notches
Improved Modified .025 65 II notches
Full .030 70 I notch
Extra Full .040 73
Turkey .045 plus 75 plus

Cylinder and Improved Cylinder

Cylinder bore doesn’t have a restriction. Improved Cylinder has a minimal restriction.  Recommended for short distances using birdshot and buckshot (20-30 yards) and self-defense. The shot pattern is much more spread out and your chances of hitting a target are better.
It is recommended to use slugs with Cyl or Imp Cyl for better accuracy.

Modified Choke

Modified Choke with moderate constriction. Good for medium distances of 30-40 yards.

Full Choke

Full Choke has the tightest constriction. For distances beyond 40 yards.

Chokes and Slugs

Cylinder and Improved Cylinder are recommended for use with a slugs for better accuracy.

Purpose of chokes

A choke is designed to alter the distribution of the shot as it leaves the firearm. For shooting most game birds and clay pigeons, a desirable pattern is one that is as large as possible while being dense enough to ensure multiple hits on the target. Shotguns intended for defensive use often have cylinder or improved cylinder chokes for the widest shot pattern at typically short defensive range.

Shotgun Chokes

Shotgun Chokes

Interchangable chokes

Shooter is able to change chokes on some of the shotguns. Remember to check chokes often because they can get loose.

Vang Comp System

This choke system is designed specially for combat and home defense shotguns.

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  1. Braddah Jay June 5, 2012

    Very good informative info for us newbies!

  2. Michael Caldarola December 29, 2013

    I have a Remington 870 express super magnum with a 26 inch vent rib barrel with a modified choke. Can I shoot slugs out of it through the modified choke or do i have to get a Cylinder or Improved Cylinder choke to shoot slugs out of?

    • Ryan C January 27, 2015

      You can shoot slugs thru modified choke tubes but gun companies needed to sell barrels and tubes so it’s not suggested. My cousins shoot slugs thru the full with no problems. It’s the only gun hee can afford. Hunts deer, birds, and rabbit with his 12 gauge full choke vent rib.


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