Mythic Choke Quality


Dear Technoid

I purchased a couple of new Browning over and under shotguns and they are great guns except for the chokes. Of course you already know this is a problem with Browning shotguns. I have been thinking about buying an automatic shotgun. My question is this, Does Beretta or Benelli make better screw in chokes than browning, or am I going to have to buy another set of Briley aftermarket chokes? Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

R.

Dear R.,

I think that I may have had better luck with the current Browning chokes than you have. The original short Invectors were generally marked a full degree of choke tighter than they actually were. This made everyone think that they were “bad” in some way. They really weren’t. They were just mislabeled. If you did a little patterning work, you quickly found that the “Full” invector printed a pretty good modified pattern and so on. The only real problem was that you couldn’t get a Browning choke tighter than their listed “Full” so modified was the tightest you could go without buying aftermarket.

As with any choke, you HAVE to pattern it before you know what you have. This is true with every maker, including Briley. Just because the choke has some name printed on it or mikes a certain diameter, that doesn’t mean that it will pitch a certain patten with the shell that you are going to use. Since mass producers like Miroku (Browning’s maker in Japan) can’t possibly test each barrel/tube combination, they cut to a certain size and hope that it works. After you get production tolerance shifts in barrel ID and choke, everything becomes approximate anyway. This is fitting as shotgun shooting is only an approximate game to begin with.

Generally, when I set up a new gun with screw chokes, I make a point of sorting through all the dealer’s chokes to come up with ones that mike out at the standard choke dimensions. For example, .020″ is generally considered to be a “modified” choke (60% pattern), so that is what I start testing with. Most .020″ chokes will pitch a 60% pattern with some sort of shell, but it may not be the one you are using. Your shell may print 60% with a .015″ or .025″ choke.

Where relying on miking the chokes causes problems is due to the skirt relief area that screw chokes have. All screw chokes are set up with skirts that fall well below the bore line. This is done for obvious safety reasons. Problem is that each choke maker has his own ideas as to how to cut that skirt angle. Some use a very short skirt cut, others really taper it out so that it forms an effective “jug” choke and thus alters the pattern from what you would expect of a solid choke of the same diameter. This is why you HAVE to do your pattern work no matter what is stamped on the choke or what it measures. I just don’t know of any other way if you really want to know what you have. Maybe a blind-faith and untested assumption that your choke actually prints what the label says is the way to go. If you never test it, you will never know the truth. Ignorance can be bliss.

My gripe about the current Invector Plus chokes has little to do with their performance. I just think that they are big and heavy and add far too much weight to an already nose-heavy gun. That’s just my opinion though and many newer shooters who have no experience with solid choke guns have gotten used to the blob of weight at the front and even feel that they shoot better with it. They may well be right.

I shoot a Beretta automagic a good bit and have the stock short flush Beretta chokes, flush Briley chokes and extended Briley chokes. I like the Briley chokes better because they seal better at the skirt and I get less gas blowby, which keeps the chokes cleaner. I think that Briley also uses a different grade of steel which is easier to clean. That said, the Briley chokes don’t pattern any better or worse than the Beretta chokes of the same measured size.

If I were you, The first thing that I would do would be to pattern those factory Browning chokes to see what you really have. Ignore the choke designations stamped on the chokes. Then I would fill in any gaps you find with aftermarket chokes or Browning chokes, which ever you wish. Dealing with Briley has one big advantage. If the choke you buy from them doesn’t perform the way you want, they will swap it for another constriction. This is a major plus for dealing with Briley and one of the reasons that they are a favorite company of mine.

Remember, shotgun patterns are Gaussian in nature. They follow the laws of the bell shaped curve. What this means in practical terms is that, over a number of iterations, there is no difference between one 60% pattern and another 60% pattern. It doesn’t matter if the first 60% pattern comes from a Mossberg and the second from a Purdey. 60% is 60% and they will all average out with the same number of holes if you take enough examples. This means that there really isn’t such a thing as a high quality or a low quality choke IF they produce the same pattern percentage with the same shell. Where choke/shell quality differences become apparent is when you are trying to obtain tight patterns. In that case quality does make a difference because the poorly made choke or shell simply can’t reach the high pattern percentages of the good stuff no matter how much constriction is used.

Clear as mud, right? Well, I’m confused too and I hate to suffer alone.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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One Response to Mythic Choke Quality

  1. marist89 says:

    Wowser. I’ve been shooting a Browning 725 Sporting for the last 6 months and I must have been pretty silly for just screwing in a pair of factory Mods. Perhaps those 7 AA punches would have been 14 if I knew the chokes were that bad.

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