Shotgun chokes : what, when, how ?

Published on 01 March 2016
Author: Olivier Rorive
Widely used, it’s now almost impossible to find a hunting or sporting shotgun that’s not equipped with a choke. Let’s learn more.

What is a choke ?

This piece, which is removable or not depending on the gun model, is used for narrowing the gun bore to the muzzle end of the barrel. The purpose of it is to be able to control the spreading of led for a given distance.

With its ability to increase the efficiency of every shot , this accessory has become a solid ally for every smooth bore shooter, be it for ball-trap or small game hunting.

Usage tips

If an animal or clay is traveling towards a shooter equipped with a double barreled shotgun, the ideal way to shoot would be to have the first shot done with the tightest choke – resulting in a tight and compact led spread ideal for long distances – and the second one with the more opened choke – this will get the led to be spread widely, thus increasing the chances of hitting the target.

Simply reverse the order when the target is travelling away from you.

Choke types

The different types of chokes are designed to exploit the efficient reach of the led to the maximum. For hunting, this efficiency is obviously best attained when the game is taken down properly (wounding is not acceptable).

Browning has about 7 variants of chokes but shotguns are commonly shipped with these types :


Target distance =  +-35m
The full choke gives you the tightest spread and the ability to hit a target placed far away. It is essentially used for ball-trap and duck hunting (when sitting at a distance).


Target distance = +-30m
It is widely used for sporting and many different types of hunts. The efficiency of the shots is great when shooting at conventional distances. It’s commonly used in the upper barrel of over-and-under shotguns.


Target distance = +-25m
This one is usually found in semi-automatic shotguns. It’s known for its great all-around performances in any type of shooting.


Target distance = +-20m
Usually used in tandem with a ½ or ¾ choke, this one is commonly placed in the bottom barrel of an over-and-under shotgun.


Target distance = +-15m
This choke is used when none of the other chokes are. It doesn’t affect the spread of led but is used to protect the end of the muzzle which would be damaged if no choke was in place at all.


Maintenance tips

As for any gun, a choke must be cleaned regularly for it to keep its initial properties and continue to work properly. So, for every removable choke, it is best to remove, clean and oil them after every shooting session. This will guarantee that it stays removable. Indeed, it’s not rare that a poorly maintained choke will “solder” itself in place because of the combination of hot gazes, gun powder residues and a hot barrel.

If it does need maintenance too, even after an intensive session firing off 500 of the most dirt-encrusting rounds, a Browning Invector DS choke stays clean by restricting the spread of gases, while the patented gas seal makes the choke easier to remove.


A choke is an essential accessory for every shooter willing to significantly increase the efficiency of his shots. If choosing the right type is one thing, it is also best to consider the technology behind every manufacturer’s make : indeed and contrarily to Browning, few can brag about their ability to guarantee the efficiency of their chokes at measured distances.

Happy shooting !