Chokes For Steel Target Loads


I’m the Danish who send you a small amount a while ago. I still use grease on my 390 and it works beautifully. I was less dedicated this year and reached only a little more than 700 ducks.

Now for the question:

I am currently using a Beretta 682 trap for a discipline that looks a little like 5-stand. Everything is shot at distances below 30 yards. There are some trap like targets, but I’m pretty fast on those (also the true pairs).

Currently, the gun is choked IM/F, which gives you some nice dust-balls (we use steel shot), when you hit. Last year I went to a tournament (130 participants), shot 40 of 40 targets and used 42 shots (lack of concentration as all the true pairs (12 true pairs) were smoked). I placed second to a guy who, using a skeet gun, shot 40 in 40 shots. His breaks were quite thin, but as I would rather have thin breaks and win, than have smokeballs and loose, this incident convinced me to alter the chokes. I want to go to modified on both barrels, as I feel it will give me a little larger pattern while preserving density, which I think is important as thin breaks means you’ll have targets that doesn’t break even though they were in the pattern.

Unfortunately, it seems that the gunsmiths here in Denmark are really blacksmiths who would love to get your shotgun on the anvil. Joke aside, the ones I’ve talked to will open up the choke (from behind luckily), but they will just open it, they will not recut it, that is optimize the rearward part of the choke.

Apart from sending it to Briley, what is your recommendations? Will the described operation produce the desired result or do you have bad experiences with that type of choke alterations.


Dear Hans,

IM/F ought to be really tight with steel. In the US, the manufacturers usually don’t recommend anything much more than modified with steel. Then again, I have no experience with your shells. Perhaps you have something that we don’t here in the USA.

As to what chokes to use for 30 yard shots, I would have felt that .015″ (Light Modified) should give you good patterns. With lead #7-1/2s (.095″ diameter), .015″ is ideal out to 30 yards.

Unfortunately, I have little experience with steel clay target loads. We are still permitted to use lead for upland and clay target. For waterfowl we must use “non-toxic”, which encompasses steel but also bismuth and the new tungsten/polymer and tungsten/iron shells. The latter group closely approximate lead in performance, but the price is prohibitive for clay target shooting. In the US a box of 25 factory lead clay target loads retails for US$6, while 25 bismuth shells would cost over $60 for 25! The tungsten blend shells run around $50/25. Steel target loads are about $12/25 and thus the only viable non-toxic target option. However, the clay target shell market in the US in not elastic enough to support $12/box. If we are forced to go to steel for clay targets, the vast majority of the clubs will close.

Bottom line: since I don’t regularly shoot steel clay target loads, my advice isn’t worth much (if indeed it ever was). If the breaks you saw with skeet choke were marginal, then you ought to be OK going up one or two chokes to Improved Cylinder (.010″) or light modified (.015″). I would pick the latter.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid at <>
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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1 Response to Chokes For Steel Target Loads

  1. Wilco says:

    Good question and equally good answer! Downunder we have a few Sporting clubs that require the use of steel shot. My testing shows that I need to open up about one choke size for equal patterning with steel vs lead.

    Hans didn’t say whether any of the targets are showing belly on or back lip, and if that were the case, and with all targets under 30 yards, I would go with .010 and .015 in the gun and steel 7’s.

    Note: results may vary!


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