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

06 May 20124 comments Accessories, Advice, Best, Upgrades

What is the purpose of a choke in a shotgun?

The choke in a shotgun is designed to shape how the shot spreads after you pull the trigger. That way you can gain more accuracy with your shots as well as better range. The choke is placed in the bore of the shogun barrel, which is at the muzzle end. There are a two ways a choke gets installed into a shogun. The screw-in chokes, which are easily replaceable and there are also fixed chokes that integrated into the shogun barrel so that it is a part of the bore without being replaceable. So which ones are the best to use? Both are acceptable.

You have to understand that a lot of science and mathematics are involved in creating the perfect choke for a shotgun. There are so many factors that go into making good chokes such as the length of the shotgun barrel, the material of the choke, the geometry of the choke, and the finish of the choke.

Now let’s look at different types of chokes. The four main chokes include cylinder, improved cylinder, modified, and full. The cylinder-type choke is basically another way of saying open choke, which allows your shots to spread more openly at a greater diameter. If you want your shots to be more precise with better accuracy then you’ll want a full choke to create a restrictive shot. Full chokes are desirable amongst those who like long distance shooting. But if you are only concerned about up close shooting then the cylinder choke will be fine. Some people like to be closer to their target when they destroy it. With a shotgun, you will definitely destroy your target completely at close range. You can use a full choke at close range as well, but you have to be more precise with your aim.

The choke you end up choosing depends on the specific needs you have for your shotgun. If you are a hunter who likes a challenge then you’ll want a full choke to shoot your prey from far away. On the other hand, if you are only using a shotgun for self defense purposes then an open choke will be fine.

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.

Remember that all chokes are different. You cannot install Remington choke on Mossberg shotgun or Ruger choke on Browning shotgun. Some of the Benelli and Beretta chokes are interchangeable but you need to check if it’s true for your particular shotgun.

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.

Chokes for Slugs

Rifled chokes are designed specially for slugs. In theory they should sping slugs for increased accuracy but this is no clear evidence that they really work. Some shooters believe that rifled choke really gives improved accuracy and better stability some don’t. So you will need to chck it yourself.

When used with birdshot rifled choke makes patter wider.

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.

Differences between chokes

Remember that all chokes are different. Each manufacturer has their own size and threads. Remington, Benelli, Browning, Beretta, Ruger, Mossberg, Stoeger chokes are all different and can be installed only on particula shotgun.

Shotgun choke patterns

Always check pattern of your shotgun with ammunition you plan to use. All shotguns are different and choke pattern depends on type of your shotgun, length of your barrel. Also, there are many types of ammunition which also influences choke pattern. So make sure that you check pattern of your choke with ammunition you plan to use. Test it on paper on different distances and remember or even make photos.

Where to buy chokes

It is easy to find chokes for sale. I recommend Brownelss because they have wide selection of chokes for different shotguns, good prices, ship orders fast.

Click here to visit Brownells for wide selection of chokes for many shotguns (Remington, Beretta, Benelli, Mossberg).

Shotgun Chokes for Remington, Benelli, Beretta, Mossberg, Ruger, Browning, Stoeger

Shotgun Chokes for Remington, Benelli, Beretta, Mossberg, Ruger, Browning, Stoeger

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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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