No Magic Chokes


All gnawing one,

Question is: Over the past several years, I have had two different guns, equipped with Briley chokes; a Super X and a 390. With both of these guns, the IC, X2 choke would break targets convincingly and reliably at unbelievable distances, ie 50 yds.

At first I thought the choke was simply throwing a tighter pattern than marked, so did some measuring and patterning. The result of which was that they do indeed throw IC pattern.

The impression they left me with is that they open up just as they are supposed to but that the pattern stays together much longer than one would expect. My latest experience of this nature was just this past Sun. when I broke 16/20 quartering away teal that were launched from 26 yds away and screaming. They were thrown as pairs, so the second shot was attempted at at least 45-55 yds. The ones I hit broke convincingly. The load was 1-1/8th oz. of 7-1/2 shot.

Your analysis or musings would be interesting and appreciated.

Thanks,
Con

Dear Con,

Well, I dunno about this magic choke stuff. Magic tends to evaporate when put on paper. Andy Duffy and I once spent part of an afternoon shooting 50 yard (measured) crossers with skeet chokes. Once you got dialed in, you could break them pretty reliably. Does that mean that a .005″ skeet choke is ideal for 50 yard crossers? Not hardly.

A pattern has two parts. If you were to take an aerial view of a moving pattern, the pattern flight and spread would look sort of like a trumpet, not a cone. In the words of Bob Brister, patterns sort of stay together until they suddenly go to hell in a hurry. Thus the flare outward at the end. Trust the Technoid on this one- there is no kind of magical choke that will permit the pattern to stay together, then open to the usual outward vector and then some how get back on the straight and narrow again. A pattern continues to open from the time it leaves the gun until it hits the ground. It doesn’t open at the same rate at all places in its flight, but it does continue to open.

There is a second part of the pattern too. This is the part that is actually dense enough to break the bird. You might call it the killing pattern. This part of the pattern looks like a candle flame and is positioned inside the trumpet. As the bell of the trumpet expands, the tip of the killing pattern candle flame contracts. Obviously, this is because pattern density is eroding to make the trumpet bell so wide.

Now comes the good part. Just because the tip of the candle flame (the part of the pattern that is dense enough to break the bird) is getting narrower, that doesn’t mean that it disappears. If you are absolutely dead perfect on target, you may be dealing with the sharp point of the flame, not the broad part as you would at more reasonable distances, but the sharp point will break the bird just fine. You just have no room for error. Obviously, at a certain distance the flame goes “out”, but that may be further than you think.

So, when you get a good break on a distant target with an open choke, don’t give the choke the credit for doing something magical. Give yourself credit for being absolutely, perfectly dead on center.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
The Technoid at <www.ShotgunReport.com>
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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