7 Different Types of Shotgun Chokes

If you are planning to go on a hunting trip this holiday season, you should be equipped with the right accessories.

Most hunters struggle with choosing the right shotgun chokes as they are not quite knowledgeable about the different types.

Choosing the right type of shotgun choke tubes is essential to get the best out of the sporting shotgun. A hunter can gain more accuracy and better range with the right pick.

Choke tube is perhaps the greatest invention in the history of the shotgun that has increased the efficiency of this weapon.

A shotgun is a versatile tool and it is even more useful with a choke. Hunters and sport shooters can increase firing distance and improve accuracy with choke tubes.

Ask from a seasoned hunter the value and contribution of this accessory in the success of a hunt.

Choosing the right type of choke has become something of an obsession for hunters who want to improve their results.

Choke tubes turn guns into specialized weapons as hunting of different birds requires the use of different choke types. Choke tubes make a huge difference, all you have to do is pick the right choke for your style of shotgun shooting.

Types of Shotgun Chokes

Most new hunters do not know what a choke is and what it does? It is a simple tool that alters the shotgun’s pattern and range.

A choke does not increase or decrease the power of a shotgun and only determines how tight or spread out the pellets will be at a specific range. 

According to wildlife department, Before the chokes appeared on the scene, all barrels were straight tubes with an effective killing distance of 25 to 30 yards.

Hits and kills beyond the said distance were just a matter of luck.

Well, there are multiple types of basic chokes for different hunting styles. Besides basics, some specialty chokes have made their way to the market as well.

Choke tubes constrict the shot by holding it before it spreads resulting in narrower or wider patterns depending on the choke type.


A cylinder choke is an unconstricted barrel that distributes about 40 percent of a shell’s total pellets in a 30″ circle at 40 yards.

It is suitable for short distances using buckshot, birdshot, and self-defense. The shot pattern is wider and more spread out, so, the chances of hitting the target are pretty high.

They are better for shooting targets at shorter distances and are often used by law enforcement for service shotguns. 

These chokes are recommended for shotguns used for self-defense purposes. When the trigger is pulled, it creates a widespread shot.Read our guide on The 7 Best Choke For Duck Hunting in recent.

When the target is nearby, you do not have to aim perfectly, and the cylinder choke will finish the task perfectly.

It is not ideal to shoot a target too far away with a cylinder choke shot as the pellets would spread too far apart by the time they reach the target.

A hunter can do a lot more damage when using cylinder chokes for short-distance shooting.

Improved Cylinder Choke

It confuses a lot of people as to whether to use a cylinder or an improved cylinder choke in the shotgun bore.

Hunters are often seen comparing the two choke shots, weighing their pros and cons to determine the efficiency.

While the Cylinder choke has no constriction, Improved Cylinder has a slight constriction.

Some hunters like a little bit of constriction but not enough to opt for modified or full choke tubes. 

A gun owner can go for an Improved Cylinder choke that has 0.01 inches of constriction.

It does not seem like a lot but it makes a huge difference in regards to the spread capabilities of a shot.

50% of the pellets will fall within a 30-inch circle after reaching 40 yards when shooting lead pellets using Improved Cylinder choke.

It is recommended for hunting waterfowl and close-quarters upland birds such as quail, grouse, and pheasants.

About 40% of the pellets remain at 40 yards when using a regular cylinder choke. On the other hand, there is a 10% increase in the number of pellets when shooting at greater distances with Improved Cylinder.

For a shorter killing range, both Cylinder and Improved Cylinder will be fine. To identify an Improved Cylinder choke, look at the number of notches on its rim. An Improved Cylinder choke should have four slim notches.


Modified Choke

It has less constriction than a full choke and more than the Cylinder and Improved Cylinder choke tubes.

It delivers 60 percent of a shell’s total pellets in a 30-inch circle at 40 yards. It has moderate constriction, so, suitable for medium distances of 30-40 yards.

It is ideal for gun owners who do not want the wide patterns of a cylinder choke and the heavy constriction of a full choke. 

Modified chokes have 0.20 inches of constriction, so, the pellets stay together longer, making the shot string a bit denser and more useful at longer distances.

Modified chokes can be called “Medium chokes” as it is useful for shooting targets at short to mid ranges.

This choke shot tube is the most effective at 30 to 40 yards. It can be identified by three notches at its rim.

To better understand Modified Choke, analyze how much pellet there is at the end of the effective range.

Approximately 60% of the shell’s pellet reaches 40 yards within the 30″ radius. It is 20% more than the regular Cylinder bore, 10% more than Improved Cylinder, however, 10% less than the full choke.

Modified choke gives the hunter a bit more firepower when shooting within 30 to 40 yards.  

Full Choke

It has the tightest constriction and denser patterns for distances beyond 40 yards. It gives the user more accuracy than any of the choke tubes mentioned above.

Full Choke holds together the shot even longer, so, after the trigger is pulled, the pellets would not spread as wide as compared to less constrictive chokes like Cylinder or Improved Cylinder.

Pellets travel closely farther before spreading out. It may not pattern well at short distances and is primarily made for longer ranges.

To measure its accuracy, it will deliver 70 percent of a shell’s total pellets in a 30-inch circle at 40 yards.

Full choke’s accuracy is not limited to just 40 yards, it is just for comparison purposes. Full choke tubes can hit the target with great accuracy for up to 60 yards.

The Full Choke has 0.30 inches of constriction and is used for trap shooting, waterfowl pass shooting, turkey hunting, and buckshot loads. It only has one notch on its rim.

Extra Full/Super Full – If you want denser patterns and constriction than the Full, you should definitely try Extra Full choke.

It has a tighter constriction of 0.40 inches and approximately 73% of the shell’s total pellet will remain in a 30-inch radius at 40 yards.

These chokes are called gobbler getters because they are ideally suited for hunting turkeys for having the extra-tight constrictions and the densest patterns.

Skeet Chokes

These are specifically designed chokes for skeet shooting. Since clay targets move fast in the air at longer distances, a gun user would need a choke with little constriction.

Skeet chokes have 0.05 inches constriction, a little bit more than the cylinder chokes. Shots have a wide-open pattern that travels fast toward the clay targets.

About 50% of the pellet remains within a 30-inch radius at the range of 25 yards.

What Are Specialty Choke Tubes?

Specialty chokes are designed for different types of shots. The steel shot used for hunting waterfowl is harder on the shotgun than the lead shots.

So, waterfowl choke tubes are built stronger than conventional chokes meant for a lead shot only. These specialty chokes are solidly built, so, steel shots will hold a tighter pattern. 

Some of these chokes are made of Hevi-Shot, tungsten, and other materials. Many shooting enthusiasts use the highest quality specialty chokes to increase the effective range of a shotgun. 

Choosing the Right Choke For Your Hunting Trip

There is a multitude of choices available in the market, so, it is easy to go wrong. Each choke is built differently and has different patterns.

Before picking up a choke, visit the patterning range and figure out the range and pattern. The type of choke varies depending on the style of hunting. 

Most of the time, a shotgun user has to choose between chokes ideal for short distances and long distances shot.

For more accurate results at longer ranges, Full, Modified, and Extra Full will help a great deal. For short ranges, a hunter requires a choke with less constriction, so, opt for Cylinder, Skeet, and Improved Cylinder.

Modified choke comes somewhere in the middle, so, it can be used for mid ranges and different styles of hunting.

In Summary

Chokes have revolutionized shotgun hunting. Many choke-tube companies are making different types of chokes to facilitate different styles of hunting and increase the effective range of the shotgun.

After learning all about the choke types, select the right type of choke for your next excursion and increase the chances of success.

  • Hi, I am Talon Juper, a passionate farmer, and Livestock Expert. I have done my graduation in Agriculture and Animal breeding. Relevant to Farm Desire as a research writer and data recorder.

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