No Patterning, Please!

Dear Technoid,

I’ve noticed that all Beretta skeet chokes have the constriction very close to the skirt end of the choke tube and then it flares out to a reverse choke at the muzzle end. All other Beretta chokes have the tightest part of the constriction at the muzzle end of the tube as does all other makes that I’ve checked.

Theoretically, what are they trying to accomplish with this configuration and would it lend itself better to the smaller shot sizes.

Please don’t make me go pattern it! It seems every time I’ve patterned a gun or shell I end up going into a mini slump (if not a major one). I play too many head games after staring at holes in the pattern, point-of-impact off by a few millimeters, out of round/out of balance pictures, etc… I know it shouldn’t be that way but I seem to turn it into reality. Theory only please.

Feet up, boots on.


Dear Bruce,

Waddayamean “don’t make me pattern”! Any Junior Technoid worth his Twinkies just lives to pattern. Patterning is our salt, our bread, our very essence! (And- the more patterning I can get you guys to do, the less I have to do cause I hate doing it also.)

Beretta has generally preferred its skeet chokes to be cylinder bore to a flair. That is certainly what they used in the solid choke Beretta skeet guns I have owned. Measuring a screw choke may be confusing as they have also to include the skirt relief plus account for ganging of tolerances.

What does Beretta know with its skeet choke of Cylinder Bore to a flare that Remington, Winchester, Browning, Briley and Kolar don’t with their conventional .005″ or so skeet chokes? I dunno, but it will surprise many people that the Italians have won more Olympic medals in skeet than most other nations. The Italians have actually produced more skeet Olympic medals than trap, for which they are noted. They must know something.

I competed in IntSk at a high level for fifteen years using a custom choked barrel with cylinder bore to a flare. Sure, a lot of the guys with conventional chokes beat me, but I beat a lot of them too. It wasn’t the choke that decided things. Of course, this was with 32 gram loads in the ’70s an ’80s, not with the current 24 gram loads. I haven’t experimented with the 24 grammers since I retired from serious competition.

The Russians did a lot of developmental work on cylinder bore choke when they constructed their famous Tula jug choke (after examining our Cutts compensator). The Tula choke, since sort of copied by Krieghoff and Perazzi “jug” chokes, was cylinder bore to a plenum expansion chamber and then back down to a “choke” at the muzzle that was actually larger than cylinder bore. It is exactly the way a Cutts skeet choke works without the muzzle brakes. Perazzi even used muzzle brake slots when they copied it, though their plenum chamber wasn’t as big.

When I experimented with 32 gram IntSk shells for the Baikal’s Tula choke and the Perazzi’s jug choke, I found that the Federal skeet shells with a conventional Federal plastic wad outperformed the fiber wad International shells (Federal and Winchester at that time) for which the Cutts/Tula choke was purportedly designed. Not everyone agreed with me though. The guys at the US Army Marksmanship unit got good performance in both conventional and Tula choked guns with the hot fiber wad International loads. You really had to do the patterning and then shoot the shell long enough to build up a good data base.

What is the theory behind the cylinder bore to a flare choke? It is probably that 1) no choke is needed at skeet distances, and 2) a flare, rather than an abrupt cut off barrel, allows a smoother gas escape behind the wad so that the wad won’t be pushed through the shot column. That’s my guess.

Does it all work? It sure worked for the Italians and Russians in Olympic skeet, but it doesn’ t seem to be popular among Americans at American-style skeet where the conventional .005″ skeet choke is more popular (with the exception of the amazing Wayne Mayes and his Cutts compensated auto). Take your choice. Of course, you COULD actually risk that slump to pattern and see what works best in your gun. Lacking that, why not just shoot skeet for a month with the Beretta cyl/flare choke and then get a Briley flush mount choke with .005″ and shoot that for the next month. See which one does better for you. Maybe patterning would be easier after all.

Best regards,

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

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