What are your thoughts on who makes the “best” chokes tubes? Does choke tube porting have any effects besides draining my check book? What are spreader or jug chokes? Who will make chokes that “match” the bore of my barrel?
A choke tube is just a tube spun and threaded. I don’t think that there is a nickel’s worth of difference between all of them. No one has yet proven to me that one brand, type or length does any better than any other.
That said, there is a great deal of difference between how well they fit your particular barrel. What you want is a minimum “step” between the barrel bore and the rear of the choke. Then you will also want chokes that actually measure the constrictions that you want. The latter is easy enough to get. The former is very difficult.
The only chokes that I have ever seen with absolute minimum steps from rear of choke to bore have been Nigel Teague’s chokes. He works in England. He custom makes each choke for each barrel and you have to look twice to see that there are screw chokes in the gun at all. I don’t know if they pattern any better, but they sure look better. Still, any time that you reduce the bore to choke step you reduce shock to the shot load and that is always good. The closer you can come to solid chokes, the better.
None of the screw choke makers talk about it, but choke and parallel sections should vary in length depending on the degree of choke. The more choke you have, the longer the constriction and parallel should be. A screw choke maker who sells all his chokes in one length obviously can’t do this. This is where solid chokes do better. I have used Briley custom Thin Wall chokes in several of my FNs and they are perfectly fine. They gave me exactly the dimensions I asked for and the chokes have proven durable over many, many innings and outings. In my factory screw choked Beretta gas guns, the over the counter Briley extended chokes patterned no better or worse than my factory Beretta screw chokes. Both were adequate, but not great.
The big problem with most of the over the counter chokes is that many of them bear little or no relation to the constriction marked on the tube. Browning factory Invector Plus chokes are some of the worst offenders. The original short Invectors were THE worst. This is really not such a big deal. When you buy your gun, you just have to mike a pile of chokes from the other gun boxes to come up with the constrictions you want. Don’t worry about being unfair to future purchasers. The choke you exchange has just as good a chance of being correct for the particular gun as the one you took.
I find it most convenient to run my screw chokes in .005″ increments. When I got my Beretta 303, my IC and Full chokes were right on at .015″ and .035″, but my Mod was off. I just pulled open a bunch of other Beretta boxes until I found a Mod that miked .020″ in my gun and swapped the choke.
I got my Sk and Lt Mod from Briley. I bought them over the counter. Both were off, so I sent them back to Briley along with my bore I.D. and told them what I wanted. They sent me back the same chokes, but they were wiped out to exactly what I asked for. Not only did I get what I wanted, but the chokes were MUCH smoother inside than they had been (that’s how I know that they wiped them out).
I am sure that Seminole and Ballistics will cut their chokes to match your bore, but I have real doubts if it is worth $60 a pop. What’s the matter with the chokes you have? It might be easier to just have them wiped out until they are perfect for the next size down and re-labeled. Save you a ton of money.
Having the right dimensions in a screw choke doesn’t guarantee any particular kind of pattern, but at least it is a place to start. My Beretta Full (.035″) and Briley X-Full (.040) both pattern “light”. Typical for screw chokes. My Beretta Full struggled to print the occasional 75% with premium trap loads. Most of it was closer to 70%. The Briley X-Full was better and would occasionally touch 80%, but not often. .040″ in a solid choke gun ought to pattern 80%+ consistently if it is a decent barrel.
“Porting” chokes doesn’t do a damn thing. Save the money. The ports can’t help barrel flip because the holes go all the way around the tube, pushing equally in all directions. There isn’t enough gas pressure at the muzzle and the chokes aren’t thick enough to act as an effective muzzle brake. If someone said that the ports acted as a “wad stripper”, I still wouldn’t believe them. I have tried several wad stripping chokes by shooting them horizontally and seeing where the wad fell. If the wad stripping function works, the wads should go a shorter distance when compared to a standard choke of the same constriction. They don’t. It’s all hooey.
I believe that I have covered “jug” and “Tula” chokes in the past. See if you can get our brain-dead search engine to find that stuff.
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)