A shotgun is designed to shoot a column of round pellets and fans out into a pattern. This pattern widens as the pellets travel further from the muzzle. As the pattern continues to spread, there will be too much space between the pellets to effectively hit gun targets.

To help make shotguns more accurate, gun designers redesigned the “choke.” The choke allows the pellets to be shot in a constricted pattern, making them more effective. The gun’s choke is located within the last two inches of the barrel. As the pellets travel down the barrel, the choke compresses the pellets before exiting. Gun designers have developed different degrees of constriction, which helps in shooting competitions, covering different game animals and shotshell payloads.

Fixed and Interchangeable Chokes

A shotgun’s choke is one of two designs: a “fixed choke” or an “interchangeable choke.” Many older and side-by-side shotgun models have fixed chokes, which means it is built-in to the end of the barrel, closest to the muzzle end. Side-by-side barrels have two different types of constrictions. One barrel may be an Improved Cylinder while the second is a tighter Modified. Popular combinations include incorporating both Modified and Full. These types of barrels are ideal for game bird hunting. Shooters of this type of double-barrel gun would fire the most open barrel at the shooting targets first, which causes birds to flush and disperse from a covey. The second shot includes a tighter choked barrel at a second bird.

Modern shotguns feature interchangeable chokes. These designs feature short tubes of metal, which are tighter in diameter than the barrel of the shotgun. This is the most popular type of shotgun choke among shooters, as they can easily change chokes to fit whatever hunting situation they face.

Chokes range from a Cylinder (the most open) to different types of ultra-tight, extra-full. For example, a shotgun barrel that features a Cylinder choke has no constriction. The diameter is identical to the barrel’s internal dimension. This design will offer the widest pellet pattern. This type of choke is good for close shots of game birds and clay shooting targets. It is also popular for home defense.

The Improved Cylinder choke is considered the first level of constriction. It is 0.010-inch narrower in diameter when compared to the barrel diameter. This provides a small amount of constriction to the shot as the pellets exit the barrel. This is good for shooting a wide pattern at distances to approximately 30 yards. This is a popular type of choke for shooting clay targets that are thrown to 30 yards.The next tightest choke is the Modified choke. It provides a reduction of 0.020-inch. It is an excellent all-around choke. This works well for shooting clay targets from 30 to 45 yards.

The next tightest choke is the Modified choke. It provides a reduction of 0.020-inch. It is an excellent all-around choke. This works well for shooting clay targets from 30 to 45 yards.

The Full choke is a waterfowl hunter’s dream. With a bore reduction of 0.035-inch, this choke is excellent for hitting targets further than 40 yards. This type of choke will not work for targets closer than 25 yards.