The Neanderthal Approach

Dear Technoid:

My I’m-in-no-rush, query is can a cylinder choke be tightened to provide improved-cylinder (or skeet) patterns by choosing the right components? I have a 16-gauge side-by-side with factory cylinder chokes. I’m contemplating using el cheapo, soft-shot “dove and quail” loads in the right barrel and Fiocchi’s Classic Sporter loads,which have hard shot and Gualandi wads, in the left one. Either that or have Briley tap the left barrel for Screw-ins, which costs a lot more than the first option.

Thanks for any advice. Yes, I could shoot patterns and count holes, but I’d rather be bird hunting with another gun while Technoid cogitates and comes up with the answer.

Tom Austin, TX

Dear Tom,

Heck, I’d rather be hunting while YOU do the patterning.

Cylinder bore for skeet? Nothing better. With a one ounce 16 ga load, it ought to be perfect. No need to tighten it up. If you want to get a reliable 30 yard choke, then you will have to do something with the choke and/or the shell.

Now if you do want tighter patterns for other purposes with a standard shotload, you are going to HAVE TO do some patterning. Gotcha! Low pressure, low or medium medium velocity shells with modern shot cups and ultra hard shot will patten tightest. Will they get you IC performance in your gun? Dunno. You have to do the work while I cogitate about you doing the work.

Briley does great work on screw chokes. A pair will cost you about $350. He can also sweat in a solid choke for you if you just want to do one barrel. My favorite upland grouse gun is a light weight 12 bore with cylinder bore and modified. It is simply sudden death on grouse and woodcock when I can talk a really good shooter into using it for me. Don’t ever underestimate cyl bore for close range shots in cover.

But there’s another way to tighten up, sort of-

In my experience, occasionally you can go up one degree of choke if you happen to find a super tight load. One easier way is to use a larger shell with more shot. Example: If your usual 16 ga load is one ounce, root around thorugh Lyman’s Shotshell Reloading Handbook and locate a 1-1/8 oz load (if you are sure that your gun can handle it). This will give you 12% more shot. The difference between a cylinder bore pattern and an IC pattern is 10%, so you will in effect get a one ounce IC pattern. Some 16s are comfortable up to 1-1/4 oz, which would give you the equivalent of a one ounce Modified choke. This is the Neanderthal, more is better, approach which is dear to my heart.

Figures lie and liars figure, but this is one way to solve the problem.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC

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