Screw-in vs. fixed chokes


April 25, 2007, 07:47 PM
Most new shotguns now have the screw-in chokes. I have heard various comments that the old fixed choke barrels give a better pattern while other say there is no real difference. Has anyone checked this out on a pattern board? Something like checking out a fixed choke barrel and then having it threaded for screw-in chokes and testing it again to see if there is an appreciable difference??

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April 25, 2007, 07:50 PM

April 25, 2007, 08:06 PM
C'mon Steve. Yep what?

April 25, 2007, 08:18 PM
I like the screw in better. I can mix and match for the game I hunt. We use buckshot for deer here and I bought and traded guns,trying to get a great pattern. Ended up sending a barrel off to get briley tubes installed. Got tubes that throw buckshot great, turkey shot, and something I can shoot duck over decoys. The only bad thing is I don't have a reason to get a new gun:)

Dave McCracken
April 25, 2007, 09:05 PM
On GP, do all shotguns choke tubes make some sense. Dedicated trap and skeet guns, some hunting guns, the right fixed choke has the advantages of simplicity and consistency.

Fixed chokes here range from None to Very Full. They each have a niche. Tubed barrels get a bit more use here, but that's a reflection of what shooting I do.

April 25, 2007, 09:14 PM

PM sent. :)

I prefer fixed.

I still have the '74 Win Super X Model 1 I had Nu-Line install external knurled steel shot proof chokes in in '75.

I personally put ~ 300,000 round through this gun, and it still runs like a top.
Currently retired, it earned it.

"Money Gun" is a 870 in 28 ga. It has fixed choked barrels.
Also extra trigger groups, as it was used mostly with the trigger group with the safety removed on purpose.
It too has ~ 300,000 rounds through it.

April 26, 2007, 05:02 PM
One thing to consider...

Once upon a time, Remington sold barrels instead of choke tubes.

Say you had an 1100, and you wanted a Modified choke for mid-range shooting. You bought a Modified barrel, which was 28" long. If you wanted IC, you got an IC barrel, which was 26" long. Full barrel was 30". When you changed your pattern size, you changed your swing along with it, by changing barrel length.

If you really need a Full choke to hit faraway moving targets, you won't be all that happy with a 26" barrel! On the other hand, a 30" barrel is not all that useful with an IC (speaking strictly about low-gun field use: high-gun trap/skeet with a smooth trajectory is a whole different ball of wax).

Now, you get a gun with one barrel and a bunch of tubes. Cheaper, yes (well, depends on what kind of tubes), but really, you don't get the same utility as with a gun that has a few barrels instead. Different lengths = different natural swing speed to match the distance to the target.

My first shotgun was an 870 Express. Came with a Modified tube only. I wasted my money on the other tubes I bought; Modified is the only one that is really appropriate to the gun. The 28" barrel is a bit sluggish to the shoulder, and the gun isn't much use on nearby flushing quail. The appropriate constriction for the gun is Modified. So now I have a gun that's harder to clean, and I have to check to make sure the tube is screwed in.

I'd rather have a fixed Modified barrel on it. It would be superior in every way. On my old 1100, that's what I DO have and it works great. The better patterns mean I can use Modified out farther, too, so there's less reason to even bother thinking about changing constriction with a fixed barrel.

April 26, 2007, 05:37 PM
For a fried pie I will share how to get Cylinder and IC patterns from a fixed Modified barrel.

Apple is my favorite, Cherry, Peach, Apricot , Lemon and Chocolate are fine too. :p

April 26, 2007, 08:00 PM
My 1100 I had a GS install choke tube and he did some interal work on the barrel.
Custom choke tube to shoot 00 buck WOW. 12" more or less pattern at 50 yards.
He made it where I could shoot any power loads with no malfuction.
Have bought many choke tubes for diffrent needs.

April 26, 2007, 08:34 PM
Well, I have just decided that I shoot better with fixed tubes. Currently looking for a full choked A5 sweet 16 barrel for ducks.

I have no scientfic data to back this up.... it's just me.

April 26, 2007, 08:45 PM
Get a variable choke device such as Polychoke. I have them on all my guns. Love them. Just dial in your choke setting. They do a pretty good job of patterning as dialed in.

April 27, 2007, 10:13 AM
For a fried pie I will share how to get Cylinder and IC patterns from a fixed Modified barrel.

Apple is my favorite, Cherry, Peach, Apricot , Lemon and Chocolate are fine too.

Fried pies aren't good for you. Didn't your Mama tell you that? ;)

Give it up! Spreaders, soft shot, we want the secret! :D


April 27, 2007, 11:56 AM
Eat your dessert first - Sandy Ashcraft

Now that is a quote we can all put to good use. :D


Yes sir , you are correct. One simply adapts the loading.

All shooting is , is repetition of correct basic fundamentals.
Correct basic fundamentals encompasses a lot of things, the hardware (shotgun and barrel in this case) has no idea of what is supposed to do.
It does not matter what a fixed barrel or screw in choke is marked -
what does the Pattern Board Reveal?

Analogy: A handgun or rifle does not have a screw in choke. One chooses the caliber of loading, just as one chooses correct gauge for shotgun to be used.

It does not matter what a handgun/rifle barrel is "marked", it does not matter what a box of ammo "says", it does not matter what a hand-loading recipe "says", it does not matter what someone else "says".

One has to shoot their handgun/rifle with a load, for task and distance for the target to reveal what that load actually will do.
Chronograph, and math comes into play to verify if a handgun load for instance will make a Power Factor for IPSC.

You cannot screw a choke into a ISPC gun to get power factor, or get it to shoot POA/POI.

Often times too much time and energy is spent on the wrong end of a gun, often times it is the back end of a gun that needs the most attention, tweaking and messing with. ;)

Chilled shot is softer, pellets deform faster and therefore spread.
One used to could buy cubed ,flattened, and elliptical shot, made of softer lead. These spread.

Chilled shot, in a heavy canvas bag and run over in the driveway with a vehicle, the "roller" for sod installation , or claw hammer banging away with a heavy piece of metal atop will flatten shot.
I have even had the folks doing street work,with a steamroller go over a 25# bag of Chilled(soft) shot.

Fixed Mod barrel will throw, Cyl and IC patterns with this shot.

Now, take hard, (some call it 'magnum' )shot and patterns are tighter.
Extra hard shot, nickel or copperplated , will tighten up even more.
Add buffer and patterns tightened up.

But I don't reload and can't do all of this .

No problem, principle applies to store bought ammunition.

Get a box of promo dove and quail load, 1 1/8 oz in #8 shot, one that will feed and cycle your gun, one that is reliable.
It has soft pellets, not the best wad design.
Shoot a pattern board lets say at 21 yards to keep it simple for Skeet distances and flushing Quail.

Now shoot a Target loading of 1 1/8 oz of #8 shot from the same gun/barrel and 21 yard distance.

The difference in pattern and pattern density will be that obvious.

Step back to 30 yards, a typical, practical, ethical distance for 5 stand, Sporting clays and dove and quail and just take note of difference - only 9 yards difference, still note how the promo really opened up, and the hard shot of target load stayed tighter.

Oh, Shot strings are longer with soft pellets, and shorter with hard shot.
For the new folks, pellets do not arrive at the same time onto targets.
Hit the sprayer on your garden hose and note all the water does not arrive at the same time on the side of the house or garden, or vehicle being washed.

Quail hunting:

Fixed Modified 1100 12 gauge .

Blue Magic hulls have that flat shot your wife/gf/family became embarrassed to death the day you were hammering away on the driveway and neighbors thought you were nuts. Maybe not so bad driving the car back and forth over this shot - still the family drew the curtains,or left to go shopping put him paw over his face...
Green Store bought Promo loads for dove and quail.
Red Store bought/ Skeet range Target loads with hard shot.

Stacking Loads

Pay attention here, the order is important.

Insert Blue shell into gun and chamber it.
Red shell goes into magazine tube next
Green shell goes in next, this is the second shell that will be chambered after Blue one is fired.

Quail flushes, pick one bird and fire that Chambered Blue shell. Flat shot will spread out like Cyl at that close of a distance.
If you goofed up [totally surprised by flush]
Green shell is a bit more "tight" because quail is now a bit further out.

You should have felled it, and most bird hunters only take 2 shots.

"Got a cripple coming your way! " fellow hunter shouts out.

Third shell, The Red one, with hard shot and better quality wad, will fell that cripple , at that longer distance.

Fixed Modified 1100 12 gauge shotgun has just performed as 3 different guns.

Nothing was done at the muzzle /choke end of the shotgun.
The key is, and always has been and will be what was/ is done behind the muzzle / choke end.

1. Shooter has correct basic fundamentals instilled, and continues to repeat correct basic fundamentals by quality practice.
Shooter was able to smoothly, and quickly mount gun to face , which went into pocket exactly as it always does, even under stress/pressure/ excitement of a quail flush, because of gun fit, and practice.

2. Pattern Board Revealed what/how that barrel/ choke REALLY does perform at a given distance /distances with various loadings.

3. You bribed the dog to flush for you by giving him/her donut holes before the hunt started.

4.Stick of Beef Jerky in ones pocket makes one a better shooter.

5. Dogs retrieves your birds because you bribe them with peppermint.

Granted numbers 3-5 are optional, still I prefer to do this, and it always works for me.



April 27, 2007, 12:06 PM
I have found it varys from choke to choke , or barrel to barrel . I dont pattern a lot , but have found that by swapping tubes , like swaping loads some things work and some dont , some shotguns like some things and not others . for utility most of my shotguns are fitted with tubes ( or retro fitted if necessary and cosmetically possible ) One of the most consistent tho is an old rem mod 11 sportsman choked to modified on a 30" tube , it just shoots too many shot sizes too well to even look at screwing with it .

April 27, 2007, 12:28 PM
As Brister shared.

There are some "things" that just seem to "be" more ...tends to occur more often than not.

#6 shot, work across the board in any 12 bore, no matter the choke.

Matter of bore - not choke - Brister

The reasoning is not hard, though it is uniquely complicated ;)

#6 shot resists deformation due to pellet size, including softer shot, and its ratio of # of pellets [payload] to bore diameter. :)

The Brits considered 11/16 oz payloads to be ideal for 12 bore for driven game birds.

1 1/8 oz a "heavy" load and the 1 1/4 oz loadings a "magnum" loading.

These loadings of the day with components of the day and barrels of the day - proved effective.
Of interest, this 11/16 oz loading is still a very very effective loading in 12 bore.

Think about it a second.
Pretty darn close to 7/8 oz now isn't it? :)

Charles S
April 27, 2007, 01:04 PM

Thanks for the information. Excellent post.

April 27, 2007, 01:12 PM
Number 7 1/2 shot is the best shot size to fell Ducks over decoys.

Back in the day before non-toxic shot [steel] was mandated for Migratory Birds.
This myth was shared far and wide, including out of state to those that would be coming in state to hunt ducks.

Now back then as well, fixed choked 26" barrels were Skeet or IC, 28" were Mod, and 30" were Full.

Most everybody bought and used a 30" Full choke shotgun for Duck Hunting.
Other myths as to why and all why 30" full choke guns were so popular as well, not the subject here.

Folks were not patterning guns, heck everyone knew load that full choke 12 bore with # 7 1/2 shot and ducks would fall.

All sorts of "Myths" from smaller pellets penetrate better, "just like a ice pick pokes a hole better than a railroad stake".

Q. Why were hunters felling ducks with # 7 1/2 shot size and NOT felling ducks with other shot sizes?
Including heavier payloads, , magnum payloads with hard shot and buffering?

A. They were Hitting the ducks . :)

Pellets simply deformed , therefore affording a better pattern and pellets actually hitting the duck.

Many of these folks never patterned a gun , many never shot a shotgun until dove season started, and would shoot 4 boxes to fell a limit of 15 dove - maybe, many ran out of shells, or just got tired of getting whacked by a gun that did not fit, and improper form and stopped shooting.

Duck season was the same way, they did not pick up a shotgun until duck season started.

You are plumb crazy!
I have been told that a lot in my lifetime, and continue to be, mostly will continue to be.

I was not the only one...I would show up with 28 gauge shotgun, many times a fixed choke Skeet barrel(s) Skeet gun. :D

I was the guy (we were the guys and gals) felling the cripples the guests shot at with 12 bore guns. :p

My/our 28 ga shells "looked" like 28 ga skeet loads, the shell "said" Target.
No mine had hard #5 shot , sometimes nickel or copper-plated shot.
I had a #6 loading as well.
Depended on flooded timber or over dekes.

We also had areas, one was limited to shotguns being .410 or 28ga, nothing larger than 28 gauge to hunt ducks at these special places.

If I have gone one shell per duck , once , I have done so hundreds of times with just a 28 gauge gun.

Limits up to 12 ducks and 12 shells for 12 ducks.
Showing off and the ducks working with me, I have taken two ducks with one shell lots and lots of times.
We often had a friendly wager as to who could fell the most ducks with fewest shells.
Dove hunting the same wagers.

This MYTH about # 7 1/2 shot, still prevails. Folks reload Bismuth, or find Steel Shot in # 7 1/2 shot and screw in a Full choke tube.

Folks do not want check out from behind the muzzle end, or pattern board end - they are fixated on the muzzle and the "choke area" be it a fixed barrel or screw in choked gun.

$50. I snagged a $50 bill some years ago. This fellow still believes in Myths, even though he saw with his own eyes and lost a $50 bill.

12 ga, 3 1/2 " chamber, with THE Waterfowl load of the day, and a Reload, 3 1/2 " hull of number 7 1/2 shot.
I mean this is THE Gun and THE load as they "say".

28 ga shotgun with fixed choke beat him on the pattern boards.

20 ga 2 3/4 " shell beat him.

12 ga 2 3/4" shell beat him too.

He threw out the "penetration bit".
I asked him to toss out a $20 bill, you gotta pay to play , gotta pay to see the cards.

Scientific Mud/Dirt test First then using Picnic hams that were ruined.

My 2 3/4 " 12 gauge AND 28 gauge loads penetrated deeper too.

No. Somethings I need to keep to myself. I will not reveal these simple, old , proven loadings.

I will say the 12 gauge shotgun was only $85 used and was bone stock, with a fixed choked plain barrel. :D

He paid a "wee bit" more $85 for his gun. ;)

April 27, 2007, 09:54 PM

Great post, as usual. Only one nit to pick . . .

Pellets simply deformed , therefore affording a better pattern and pellets actually hitting the duck.

My experience is that deformed pellets (whatever they are caused by, be it high pressure, no shot cup wad, or mallet) widen the pattern, but I would never call it better. Too many holes. The thing that 7 1/2's provide is pattern density. Something that is sorely missing in many loads of heavier shot.


April 27, 2007, 10:08 PM
Of interest, this 11/16 oz loading is still a very very effective loading in 12 bore.

Think about it a second.
Pretty darn close to 7/8 oz now isn't it?

Actually, more like 3/4 oz. ;)

I didn't think there was a wad that would allow 3/4 oz in a 2 3/4" shell, and that it was just for 2" or 2 1/2" guns. However, i just checked the Hodgdon website, and they have a load using the Federal 12SO wad, at 6200 psi. What a great load for my E. Harrison double!


April 27, 2007, 11:06 PM
Scott, ( may I call you Scott?)

Yes, pattern density for sure assisted with "ducks flying into the pattern" :D

Hey, some folks cannot shoot and unknowingly perpetuate another myth.
"You can't miss with all them pellets" :p

I am not bad - just consistent - me

3/4 ounce is reserved for the Respected 28 gauge, 12 bore get the 11/16s label.
I mean anyone that appreciates fine Scotch can understand this. ;)

Back in the day, and I do not have the catalogs. 11/16 oz loading were indeed listed.

One was in a Reloading book of which the name escapes me.
This book had color pictures along with physical description of various hulls.
For instance if one wanted to know what all <such-and-such> was? Look it up and see Montgomery Ward's , Sears Roebuck and Whomever used this hull , just it was stamped with their name , and had their name on the box.

Find a MW hull, and wanted to reload it, good to go with recipe information.

Now this book being older, also listed the loadings by gauge, shell length, hull, payload (ounce) from least to greatest, powder (different mfgs) primer, wad, fps, and the like.

11/16 oz I forget what the wad was. Basically Win, Fed, Rem I recall, it listed some others, but this was before the components we have today.

One book had the recipes for Activ shells. Remember these? All plastic, no base metal.

Recipes for 3/4 oz 20 ga, which was great for the really tight choked 20 bores and for a great light load for a smaller person, patterned great!

This in the day when 18.5 gr of 452AA, AA wad, Win 209 primer AA compression formed hull, [not the hull marked AA now] 1 1/8 oz of hard shot matched exactly the Factory Win 2 3/4 dr Target load used in Skeet.
IIRC bump up to 19.5 grs and one matched the 3 dr Target load Trap shooters used.

Blue Dot , Red Dot and other powders were also used in the day.

Then stuff started changing. Totally against all I, we of the day had researched, studied, messed with was :
Smaller payload going faster

humm....forever the standard was 1200 fps, one shot this in all 4 gauges, matching hold points, leads, whatever.
OK, we checked out this new fangled Win Super Light load, still 1 1/8 oz, less recoil due to powder and wad design, but it was "only" 1145 fps.

mumbles, grumbles, questions, theories, "now we gotta learn about this"...

This was new territory, would this mess up hold points, leads , patterns, density?

Then...Int'l skeet/trap loads - already something we were sort of not sure about running faster and in "metric" of all dad-burned things...
IIRC they were 32 grams @ 1300 fps. I cannot recall. I do recall 28 grams @ 1350 fps and we just knew these folks were nuts! It "had to" be blowing patterns, no wonder the game was difficult. :p

So ...I was volunteered [kidding, I wanted to] shot In'tl Skeet with these new fangled 28 gr loads. Thank Goodness I was raised learning to shoot from low gun.

I broke 21 /25 my first time and got addicted to this game. Faster and more challenging.

Back to the "la-bora- tory", reloading bench, and cutting apart these Int'l mandated shells, nosing around, measuring everything...light bulb came on!

I had the neatest little 3/4 oz 12 bore load that would burn rubber , and keep doing it while shifting gears and getting third Smoking @~ 1400- 1450 fps (forget) and talk about d-e-n-s-i-t- y - oh yeah!

I had to "engineer" my own wad...This load was, well, put it this way-

Doves would get word I was coming out to hunt, and 15 doves would just be waiting, standing in single file, get into the truck , and fixed themselves for dinner.
I did not have to get out of the truck, get out my gun, fire it or anything. :cool:

Art & Science as Brister so aptly stated . Mr. Brister told me one day, shared with me some thoughts, some "experiments" and some things he and Stan Baker had done, been doing.

This shotgunning is to continue to change, and it is a whole package.
The shooter is the most important part of this total package. It does not matter the gun, loading, or anything if the shooter does not have the correct basic fundamentals and learns correctly, and continues to practice.

"One gets to where they can fell 'em with a stick" - Brister

Art & Science and this total package means one is wise to pattern what they have.
Different ways to get the same pattern on a pattern board.

No need to get all detailed and wrapped around the axle, for me and others it was really a lot of fun, and beat watching TV, messing with all this.

Learn to shoot correctly, understand some basic principles, Have Fun. Have Fun, Have Fun, Be safe, and introduce new folks.


April 27, 2007, 11:32 PM
Scott, ( may I call you Scott?)

Of course!

3/4 ounce is reserved for the Respected 28 gauge, 12 bore get the 11/16s label.
I mean anyone that appreciates fine Scotch can understand this.

As a Bourbon drinking red neck, such subtle nuances are lost on me. ;)

Art & Science as Brister so aptly stated.

When I was getting into shotguns (pre internet), I hunted far and wide, every bookstore and gun shop around, for Brister's book. It was a day of rejoicing when I found it. Tempered with McIntosh's "Less is more" (less velocity, less choke, less shot, etc.) philosophy (or maybe it is McIntosh tempered by Brister . . .), I have pretty much all I need. For now.

I'm sure you probably have it, but if not, McIntosh's Shotguns and Shooting needs to be in every shotgunner's library.


April 28, 2007, 12:20 AM

I gave up the booze in '84, been sober ever since.
Just a Southern boy, raised right - Straight KY or TN Whiskey, Single Malt Scotch, with a splash of water or one itty bitty ice cube.
Oh, sometimes Mason Jars that were from Copperhead Road. ;)
Just in case of medicinal purposes or to get a engine started...*ahem*

Re: Books/ Notes :(

I do not have McIntosh's Shotguns and Shooting -anymore.
Nor do I have my signed copy of Brister's book,and other really special works, signed, special words written in them upon being presented to me.
My old notebooks and those of Mentors and Elders are gone as well.

Not to mention firearms, including shotguns. Mother Nature, Natural Disasters, Evil and all - happens.

I gots memories, for which I am grateful for , and I may not remember everything I was exposed to, still "somethings" are inside.

-- Fixed or Screw in Choke:

I was a little boy of 3 years old.
I owned a High Standard nine shot .22 revolver, Maternal Grandma had put that gun and holster in my dresser drawer crib when I came home from the hospital from being born.
Grandma wanted lessons and grandsons give grandma's lessons of course ;)

I remember, other folks, ladies and gents had .22 guns too. They had the neatest deal, shiny brass ctgs with little "rat shot" inside , and the end of the
shiny brass ctg case was crimped on the end so the itty bitty pellets would not fall out.
Shake these ctgs and you feel and hear that "rat shot" rattle.

Shoot a piece of paper and pretty neat! I made holes just like shotguns did!

How come my gun shot pellets different from "that" gun? And her gun shot different, and...and...

We were all shooting the same neat rat shot ctgs, but how come different guns shot them different? ;)

Then...then I watched ladies and gents shoot shotguns, same box of shells , different guns, but from the same distance , same spot and the pellets did not all look the same either.

It was pretty neat putting pop corn kernels in a shotgun shell my size , I was still really young, and not really big enough to shoot a shotgun by myself.
These ladies and gents did not want to get hurt, so some special loads with these kernels instead of lead pellets were made up for me.
I helped. I was a big help.

Holes in the paper looked a lot like the holes the lead pellets did.
Then a adult sized gun like the one I had been helped to shoot , shot some of my popcorn loads.
How come it shot the same loads different than my little gun did?

No screw in chokes on a High Standard Revolver, Ruger MKI, Colt Revolver...
No screw in chokes on these shotguns back then.

How come?

Not only was I "a lot of help" I was pretty good at asking "another dad-burned question".

I turned out all right. ;)

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