Greeting Fellow Shotgunners,
I have been hearing lately about the added benefits of porting chokes. They are supposedly designed to strip the wad as it passes and stop the wad from impacting the shot string and “blowing out the pattern”. I shoot higher velocity loads for long range trap games and would be interested if there is any validity to this claim. Do ported chokes pattern better? If so, how much? Do they reduce felt recoil? do they reduce muzzle jump? Are there any benefits to porting tubes?
I’ve written often about porting barrels (and my semi-well reasoned loathing of them), but I don’t remember specifically touching on porting chokes. So here goes. Get your yard boots on, it could get deep.
There are three common claims made for ported or vented extended choke tubes.
1) Improved patterns due to wad retardation,
2) lowered recoil, and
3) less muzzle jump.
In typical Technoidal fashion, I’ll do the last first.
#3, less muzzle jump. Total hooey. Prunes. How on earth can a choke reduce muzzle jump when it has gas vents pointing in 360 degrees? IF the gas venting has any effect at all, it pushes equally in all directions. Up just as much as down. If the tube porting was directional (I’ve seen a few “shovel” shaped extended tubes), then at least someone could make the argument for muzzle jump reduction.
#2, lowered recoil. In theory ported tubes should reduce recoil due to the jet effect of the gas pushing against the front edge of the port cuts in the tube or being redirected rearwards if the tubes have angled ports. That’s the theory. We know that it works. I once spent an afternoon shooting a .338 7# “mountain” rifle with a KDF muzzle brake on it. The recoil was closer to that of a 30-06. If it wasn’t, I’d still be in the hospital. Muzzle brakes do work if there is enough gas pressure and if the gas has something thick walled to push against. That’s why rifle and pistol muzzle brakes are thick and bulky. Ported shotgun chokes are thin and have relatively very little pressure. Obviously, your high velocity long range trap loads will generate more muzzle pressure than light training loads, but I don’t think it’s enough different to matter. The difference between rifle/pistol muzzle pressures and shotgun muzzle pressures is huge. On the other side, I always felt that my Cutts compensated guns had somewhat less recoil than the same gun without the Cutts, but I’m still not sure whether the perceived reduction was due to the extra weight up front or the muzzle brake effect. My guess is that it was the weight, but there must have been a very slight muzzle brake effect too.
#1, better patterns. This one has always interested me. There are quite a few people out there, from the makers of the studded interior Pattern Master chokes to the makers of the scribed-choke Lujtic shotguns, who feel that retarding the wad at the last moment will keep it from being pushed into the shot column on muzzle exit and thus give more reliable patterns. Maybe, but I’ve never seen convincing “before and after” tests. The vast, overwhelming majority of clay target championships over the entire history of clay shooting have been won with smooth chokes. Rough chokes are nothing new and they have been rejected over time. Either the rough/vented/scribed chokes don’t work, or they don’t work well enough to make up for the certain accumulation up of plastic and lead. I will absolutely guarantee you that all the major competition gun companies have experimented with roughened chokes at one time or another. With very few exceptions (Lujtic is the only one that comes to mind), all have stuck with smooth chokes.
Bottom line: I think that ported chokes are mainly a marketing gimmick. The nice thing about them is that they are easy enough to test. Just get absolutely identical solid and ported choke tubes from the same company and have at it. You do the work. I’m not going to bother because I think I know what the answer is going to be. Ported chokes are “Cleaner! Whiter! Brighter!” Yeah, right. I wonder why the manufacturers haven’t published any comparison data. Maybe they just haven’t had the time. Yeah, right (take two).
The other side of the coin is that I don’t think that vents on the end of your choke will hurt anything, just as long as the rest of the choke is properly designed and the porting is in the parallel section. If someone is easily attracted to shiny objects, I’m sure that ported chokes will provide endless hours of mindless entertainment. Saying that, I suppose I’ll have to get some.
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)