Free Choke Chooser™-Perhaps…

Submit a question to The Technoid, and IF we post the Q and A, we will send you a FREE Choke Chooser™, a $3.99 value. And an inestimable value if you start hitting those longer targets.

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Long Cones For Sub-Gauge

Dear Bruce,

To a user and advocate of the beloved sub-gauge I pose this question: Have you had any experience with lengthened forcing cones in this gauge? It seems to make sense that with such a relatively long shot column anything to “ease the journey” down the barrel would enhance patterns! Would it be worth while having the work done?

Thanks for a great column.

Dear Steve,

First of all, I am not a big believer in most after-market gun modifications, but lengthening forcing cones is one that I do like. I am fairly circumspect about offering gun modification advice in print because so much of a magazine’s revenues can depend on the after-market gunshops. Magazines live and die by those ad revenues so it doesn’t make much sense for me to trash the guy who pays the rent. One of the things that I like so much about being the Book Review editor at Shooting Sportsman Magazine is that the editors give me complete freedom to review the books I want to and to say anything I want about any book. SR’s parent company is also a book publisher, so this takes some nerve on their part.

The nice thing about Shotgun Report is that since I am co-publisher here, and since the only people I owe allegiance to at SR are my Technoid readers, I can say anything that I want to. If I don’t like a product or service, I will absolutely, positively tell you. I will leave it up to the readers to sort out the trash from the treasure.

So- as to forcing cones on little guns- Yes, I have lengthened the cones on some 28s. I think that it is a good idea. The whole purpose of lengthening the forcing cones in a barrel is to ease the transition of the shot from the shell into the bore. The smaller the gauge, the more abused the shot becomes during this transition. Remember, the bore diameter of a sub-gauge has decreased, but the size of the individual pellets has not. Also sub-gauges tend to have longer shot columns in respect to their diameters than standard twelve gauge loads.

I believe that the 410 would benefit the most from long cones and the 28 second most. A 3″ 20 would also benefit a great deal. The more shot you are trying to cram down a small hole, the more a smooth transition from shell to bore means. I believe that Kolar and/or Briley include long cones as a standard item in their premium sub-gauge tube sets.

If you believe in the benefits of long cones in 12 gauge (as I do), then you just have to believe even more in their benefits to the sub-gauge. Do it!

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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Gauge Pattern Comparison

Hey Bruce,

I have a very basic question in regard to shotgun pattern in terms of 12 ga. vs 20 ga.(or any other ga. for that matter).

It is my understanding that the pattern size of a 20 ga. at 30 yards would be the same size as a 12 ga. pattern at 30 yards and that the shot velocity would be the same. The difference being the the 12 ga. pattern would have more shot inside the pattern than the 20 ga. pattern, just how much more shot I’m not certain.

Of course the above “assumption” is based on the fact that both guns have the same choke, the shells have the same size shot, the shell load is the same in comparable terms, and the barrel lengths(which is probably negligible) of both guns is the same.


Dear Al,

Your question is a common one and it never hurts to cover it every now and then. Here’s the deal on comparing patterns in gauges:

If we ignore the .410 bore (which uses a closer distance and smaller circle), all other gauge patterns are measured as percent of the total shot load within a 30″ circle at 40 yards. The size of the shotload doesn’t matter, just the percentage of the total.

For example, Modified choke designation indicates that it achieves a 60% pattern in the 30″ circle at 40 yards. 60% of 3/4 oz of #9s from a 28 gauge is a Modified pattern just as 60% of 1-1/2 oz of #4s from a 12 gauge magnum. 60% is a Modified pattern of 60%. The actual pellet count is NOT a factor. Just the percentage of the total.

Now obviously, if you are using the same size of shot but with different weights of payload, the densities of that 60% within the 30″ circle will change. A 60% modified pattern of #8s from a 3/4 oz 28 gauge is clearly not going to have as many pellets as a 60% modified pattern from a 1-1/8 oz 12 gauge shell. There aren’t as many pellets to start with. 60% of a small number is always smaller than 60% of a larger number. It doesn’t always depend on gauge either. A 60% pattern of #8s from a 1-1/8 oz 20 gauge magnum will have a higher pellet count than a 60% pattern of #8s from a one oz 12. The math is even easy enough for me to understand!

One other question that you seem to ask: gauge has nothing to do with pellet velocity. Larger gauges give you more options as to what velocity you can use because they have extra space to play with, but the gauge itself doesn’t dictate any particular velocity. I load all four gauges to about 1200 fps for all my shooting except steel (which I don’ t reload).

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

Posted in Shotgun related | 2 Comments

Subgauge Tula Chokes?


Was jug choking ever available for sub gauge barrels? If not, if popular in 12 gauge why not? (excepting the cutts which I have seen in all gauges).



Search ShotgunReport for “Tula”. That’s the Russian name for their jug choke. Quite a few gun companies (Baikal, Krieghoff, Perazzi and some others) have used jug chokes in 12 gauge. I just don’t know if any used them in subgauge. As you mention, the Cutts was in all gauges.

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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Rich Cole-Fitting Stock Wood To Receiver

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Better Screw Chokes?

Dear Bruce,

What are your thoughts on who makes the “best” chokes tubes? Does choke tube porting have any effects besides draining my check book? What are spreader or jug chokes? Who will make chokes that “match” the bore of my barrel?


Dear Christian,

A choke tube is just a tube spun and threaded. I don’t think that there is a nickel’s worth of difference between all of them. No one has yet proven to me that one brand, type or length does any better than any other.

That said, there is a great deal of difference between how well they fit your particular barrel. What you want is a minimum “step” between the barrel bore and the rear of the choke. Then you will also want chokes that actually measure the constrictions that you want. The latter is easy enough to get. The former is very difficult.

The only chokes that I have ever seen with absolute minimum steps from rear of choke to bore have been Nigel Teague’s chokes. He works in England. He custom makes each choke for each barrel and you have to look twice to see that there are screw chokes in the gun at all. I don’t know if they pattern any better, but they sure look better. Still, any time that you reduce the bore to choke step you reduce shock to the shot load and that is always good. The closer you can come to solid chokes, the better.

None of the screw choke makers talk about it, but choke and parallel sections should vary in length depending on the degree of choke. The more choke you have, the longer the constriction and parallel should be. A screw choke maker who sells all his chokes in one length obviously can’t do this. This is where solid chokes do better. I have used Briley custom Thin Wall chokes in several of my FNs and they are perfectly fine. They gave me exactly the dimensions I asked for and the chokes have proven durable over many, many innings and outings. In my factory screw choked Beretta gas guns, the over the counter Briley extended chokes patterned no better or worse than my factory Beretta screw chokes. Both were adequate, but not great.

The big problem with most of the over the counter chokes is that many of them bear little or no relation to the constriction marked on the tube. Browning factory Invector Plus chokes are some of the worst offenders. The original short Invectors were THE worst. This is really not such a big deal. When you buy your gun, you just have to mike a pile of chokes from the other gun boxes to come up with the constrictions you want. Don’t worry about being unfair to future purchasers. The choke you exchange has just as good a chance of being correct for the particular gun as the one you took.

I find it most convenient to run my screw chokes in .005″ increments. When I got my Beretta 303, my IC and Full chokes were right on at .015″ and .035″, but my Mod was off. I just pulled open a bunch of other Beretta boxes until I found a Mod that miked .020″ in my gun and swapped the choke.

I got my Sk and Lt Mod from Briley. I bought them over the counter. Both were off, so I sent them back to Briley along with my bore I.D. and told them what I wanted. They sent me back the same chokes, but they were wiped out to exactly what I asked for. Not only did I get what I wanted, but the chokes were MUCH smoother inside than they had been (that’s how I know that they wiped them out).

I am sure that Seminole and Ballistics will cut their chokes to match your bore, but I have real doubts if it is worth $60 a pop. What’s the matter with the chokes you have? It might be easier to just have them wiped out until they are perfect for the next size down and re-labeled. Save you a ton of money.

Having the right dimensions in a screw choke doesn’t guarantee any particular kind of pattern, but at least it is a place to start. My Beretta Full (.035″) and Briley X-Full (.040) both pattern “light”. Typical for screw chokes. My Beretta Full struggled to print the occasional 75% with premium trap loads. Most of it was closer to 70%. The Briley X-Full was better and would occasionally touch 80%, but not often. .040″ in a solid choke gun ought to pattern 80%+ consistently if it is a decent barrel.

“Porting” chokes doesn’t do a damn thing. Save the money. The ports can’t help barrel flip because the holes go all the way around the tube, pushing equally in all directions. There isn’t enough gas pressure at the muzzle and the chokes aren’t thick enough to act as an effective muzzle brake. If someone said that the ports acted as a “wad stripper”, I still wouldn’t believe them. I have tried several wad stripping chokes by shooting them horizontally and seeing where the wad fell. If the wad stripping function works, the wads should go a shorter distance when compared to a standard choke of the same constriction. They don’t. It’s all hooey.

I believe that I have covered “jug” and “Tula” chokes in the past. See if you can get our brain-dead search engine to find that stuff.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

Posted in Shotgun related, Shotguns | 1 Comment

High Velocity Worth It?

Senor Technoid, Sir

I just read something you wrote called bits and pieces, in which you gave some technical (what else?) information concerning the degree to which increasing pellet velocity cuts down on the necessary lead for x target at x range at x speed. Actually, at first blush, the small difference in lead reduction would not appear to be worth the added recoil etc. This surface, and somewhat superficial conclusion, leads me to a couple of questions:

1. Why, then, do the British, whom I’m sure you will admit are very experienced sporting clays shooters, prefer the faster loads? Granted, they are limited to 7/8 oz of shot, but all things being equal, they must see some real advantage to the highest velocities possible.

2. While I grant the accuracy of your calculations, I guess that you arrived at them arithmetically. Since none of the variables in the problem is of constant speed, would you not need to use calculus to arrive at a correct answer?? Believe me I’m not being facetious or trying to catch you up. Math of any kind is not my forte.

If I’m correct here, isn’t it possible that there is some significant advantage to high velocities that you calculations don’t reveal??? Hope so. If there is no actual advantage, I may stop shooting them!!!


Dear N.,

What! Do I detect just the slightest hint of derision? A faint whiff of lack of faith? “Superficial conclusion”? It’s superficial reading more likely. My conclusions are always cogent, well reasoned and ineffably correct. That’s because I crib them from sources that are a lot smarter than I am.

I get most of my time to distance and retained energy stuff from the most excellent Lyman’s Shotshell Reloading Handbook, 5th edition. They do the work. I get the credit. An aeronautical engineer friend of mine in Canada got the ballistic coefficients for lead pellets and ran some parallels on Lyman’s numbers and everything checks out. And yes, use of The Calculus may be required, but why should you consider that beyond someone who knows the difference between a back action and a snap haunce? Actually, we both know that the Calculus was the three headed dog that guarded the gates of Hades in Greek mythology.

Why do the Brits prefer the faster loads, even though they are limited to 7/8 oz of shot? Come on. Do some homework before you write. On second though, don’t. That requirement would eliminate most of my mail and make the questions too hard for me to answer. I am right on the edge of competency as it is.

The fact is that British sporting rules require no more than one ounce of shot, not 7/8 oz. That 7/8 oz stuff (really 24 gram) is the ISU maximum for the Olympic shotgun disciplines. Sporting Clays is not an Olympic status game. The US Olympic load used at the Atlanta games was a Federal paper load of 24 grams at about 1325-1350 fps, US measurement. At least those were the shells that I got from Kim Rhode. The higher velocity was used in an effort to increase pellet energy to try to make up for the minuscule pellet count. Additional recoil was not considered a problem because of the light payload. The high velocity had nothing to do with shortening leads. The 32 gram loads used by many teams in the ’76 Montreal games were often of today’s standard velocity, though the US Army Marksmanship Unit did experiment with an Olympic skeet load of #10s driven at very high velocity. These loads wouldn’t reliably break the harder International birds, so they gave up on them and went back to standard velocity 32 gram #9s.

Secondly, the British measure muzzle velocity differently than we do. The American SAAMI standard measurement for muzzle velocity is taken three feet from the muzzle. The Brits use a different system of measurement closer to the muzzle which consistently brings in a higher number. Measured by our standards, our one oz shells and the Brit’s one ounce shells are about the same and run the gamut from slow to fast. The Brits just print a higher number on the box. The Victory shells from Cyprus use the British system of measurement and report very high numbers, but they chronograph right in the range of the comparative US shells.

The bottom line is that I am not a believer in the advantages of high velocity shells. Yes, they give you a little more pellet energy and a slight change in lead (not always good unless you always practice with that speed of shell), but in return they are more difficult to get to pattern properly due to added set back and they kick more.

I have always said, and continue to maintain, that I would NEVER trade pellet count for velocity if I was trying to keep recoil equal. I shoot a gas gun for sporting clays competition, so recoil really doesn’t matter as much, but I set up all my loads to a standard velocity of about 1200 fps. Even my 1-1/4 oz FITASC loads are about this speed (the 3-1/4 dram, 1-1/4 oz pigeon loads I use for FITASC are about 1220 fps). This way I get used to dealing with one velocity and set of leads for all my shooting. I think that velocity much above that is a waste of time and energy (pun) unless you are trying to milk everything possible out of an artificially tiny load- like the ISU 24 gram shells. With the standard 1-1/8 oz loads permitted in American clay target shooting, high velocity causes more trouble than it is worth. And that’s my superficial conclusion.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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