CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Sporting Shooter today CLICK HERE

Chokes – what they are and how to pick one!

PUBLISHED: 15:09 10 November 2016

dom holtam

dom holtam


Learn all you need to know about chokes and how to go about selecting the right one; including suggestions for choke choice at different ranges, on clays, and on game

will edwardswill edwards

What is a choke?

A choke is a form of constriction near the end of the barrels that squeezes the shot as it is launched out of the muzzle of the gun. It determines the spread of shot from the cartridge and can be hugely beneficial for both game and clay shooting.

Choke sizes explained

will edwardswill edwards

A gun with no choke is referred to as ‘cylinder’ and the measurement in inches is .000”. After ‘cylinder’ is ‘skeet’ with a measurement of .005”. After ‘skeet’ comes ‘¼’ at 0.10”, followed by ‘½’ at 0.20”, ‘¾’ at 0.25”, and ‘full’ at 0.35”. Most modern day shotguns will have, for example, ‘½’ embossed on the tube itself, to inform you of the amount of choke, thus allowing for easier selection.

Choosing the right choke

The type of shooting you will be doing plays a very important part in choke selection. Take, for example, a Trap gun that you are using to shoot Sporting clays. The Trap gun is set up for the sole purpose of cleanly breaking 60 yard edge-on clays. Sporting clays tend to be no further than 30 yards. If you were to use a ¾ or full choke with this type of gun for Sporting targets, you may as well be trying to shoot them with a rifle! The full choke would likely place 70-75% of your shot in a 30” circle at 40 yards, a very limited spread of shot, meaning you would have to be extremely precise to connect with your target – if you were even slightly off, you would miss.

If you shoot a variety of game, pigeon and Sporting clays, the best options are often relatively open chokes, such as ¼ or ½. This would give a fair margin of error if you were just off the target.

You can use a combination of chokes, a different choke for the top and bottom barrels (or the left and right, depending on whether you’re using a side-by-side or an over-and-under). If you were shooting Sporting clays, for example, this allows you to choose the wider choke for a bolting rabbit, and the tighter for a rangier crosser.

For driven game, it’s recommended to not use anything tighter than ½ even when shooting late season birds with 32g no.5 shot. For partridge, it is recommended to use Skeet or ¼ at the most, teamed with 30g no. 6 shot.

Test your decision

One thing to consider is that the majority of plastic wad cartridges will shoot a choke tighter than their fibre wad equivalents. Only by experimenting with different brands of cartridge and different sizes of choke on the pattern plate will you really see the results and benefits. You want to look for an even distribution of shot within a 30” circle. You can also take a midi-sized clay and hold it up to the pattern, to determine whether it would slip through unscathed. This is about the size of the vital kill area on a partridge too.

Suggestions for chokes at different ranges, allowing for 70% of the pattern within a 30” circle:

• 40-50 yards – full choke

• 35-40 yards – ½

• 30-35 yards – ¼

• 25-30 yards – skeet


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Sporting Shooter visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Sporting Shooter staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Sporting Shooter account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Most Read

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

SSA Membership

SSA Membership


Browse our galleries for our latest shooting images. We have posted photos from beating to wildfowling for everyone to enjoy…


Visit our online shop and get the best deals on magazine subscriptions, shooting DVDs and books…