Trap Chokes


Thanks for your note on chokes for the BT-99. My only confusion is that in one of your articles you stated that good trap shooters usually use full choke and No. 8’s. Yet when I called Briley, they strongly urged that I use a modified (not IM) choke for 16-yard trap. I’ve been using the factory IM choke and 7 1/2s so far and my scores have not been too hot.

I know patterning is the only real answer and I’ll get to that in the next week or so. In the meantime, there seemed to be such a large gap between your statement of full and Briley’s recommendation of modified that I thought I would ask your opinion.



Dear Dave,

Full or Mod at 16 yards with #8s. It all boils down to personal preference. I mean, who you gonna believe- Briley who makes and sells a million billion chokes a year or some quack who calls himself The Technoid, Promoter of Preposterous Pomposity.

My recommendation for Full and #8s from the 16 isn’t my thinking at all. I’m not nearly a good enough trap shooter. It comes from the advice that I have received from some of the top ATA trap shooters over the years. They ALL use full at the 16 yard line. I believe that the reason is that with full choke they can “read” their breaks better than they can with Mod. These guys shoot for the money and if Mod worked better, they would use it.

Of course, the pros are better shots than you and I are. In defense of Briley, Mod will give a slightly larger pattern at 16 yards if you shoot quickly. This may give the newer shooter just a touch more margin for error. But the breaks will be “neutral” and not give a real indication of where the bird is being hit. That’s the price you pay for the very slightly larger pattern.

Also, for once I also have some mathematical evidence on my side. Our resident Ph.D. in ballistics, Warren Johnson, has cooked up “Choke Chooser”, a computer generated slide card showing optimum patterns and chokes based on loads and distance. It is really a pretty neat device. It is based on a pretty sophisticated mathematical model of shogun patterns (translation: I don’t have the vaguest idea how he does it.)

Running Warren’s numbers, “Choke Chooser” shows that if you take your 16 yard “trap view” (slightly turned) target at 30 yards, a modified choke using 1-1/8 oz of #8s would indeed give you the best pattern, an optimal 21″ in diameter. BUT if you use the same shell and shoot the bird just a touch later at 35 yards, a FULL choke delivers that optimal 21″ pattern.

It all depends on how fast you shoot your trap targets. Most people take their birds 16-17 yards out of the house, but a newer shooter might be a touch slower. That’s why I recommend the Full and 1-1/8 oz of #8s. It gives the newer shooter a bit of time and it also gives the kind of heavy breaks that you can “read” to make corrections.

Just as an aside, Warren’s “Choke Chooser” shows that if you drop down from 1-1/8 oz of #8s to only 1 oz, for the same 16 yard trap target, the biggest pattern you can hope for shrinks from 21″ to 19″ and you have to go up half a degree of choke to get even that. In the “forza bruta” blunt object world of the Technoid, “Less is less and more is more.”

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC

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1 Response to Trap Chokes

  1. scott says:

    I have a full choke in my 1100 Trap Gun. I started with a Modified years ago. Full choke 7 1/2’s
    absolutely gets it done. I will not go back. I shoot in the PNW where it is almost always damp
    and a bit windy, so pellet KE on target is all that matters……..
    As an aside…. Maybe the discussion should move from the differences between Mod and Full
    and go to how to center up the bird……


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