After a seemingly endless summer, hunting season for most of us is finally here! Fall is in the air and its past time to break out the favorite shotgun to clean, check, and prepare the shotgun for the work ahead. Hopefully, the hunter will take the time to brush up on their shooting skills on the skeet and sporting clays field!
In most states, the start of the hunting season brings hunters out to harvest small game and birds such as dove, quail, pheasant, rabbit and the like. It is important that the shotgun hunter match his choice of shotgun shell to the game and to use the right choke to deliver the shot for that one shot kill. The shotshell manufacturers do a great job of providing the recommended load for the game, but it is not so easy to pick the shotgun choke that will give the hunter the highest probability of hits.
As the shotguns come from their respective factories, most chokes supplied are either of the conical flush-type (ends at the muzzle) or of the conical/parallel extended-type with the latter finding the most favor. While there are lots of opinions on what the length the parallel section should be, almost everyone will agree that a conical section (as determined by the manufacturer of the shotgun) with some amount of parallel section greatly helps in the transition of the shot through the choke. After all, the less stress on the shot the better so that they will fly as true as possible to the intended target.
There are many manufacturers of aftermarket shotgun chokes out there and they all make chokes suitable for the hunting fields. Usually, shotgun manufacturers such as Browning, Beretta, Benelli, Winchester, Mossberg and others have particular shotgun models just for field use, with camo finishes and extended chambers for the 2-3/4", 3" and 3-1/2" hunting loads. Pump and semi-auto actions are the most numerous. Any of these will do the job and choice usually boils down to personal preference.
There is a new manufacturer of hunting chokes for the field hunter. The BlackBore HunterPro series of chokes are manufactured with ports incorporating a cutting blade within the port itself. The BlackBore HunterPro Choke is designed to be used with a particular port blade width and number of ports for a particular shot size range. That's because field loads within a range of shot use different wads of different thicknesses and configuration. When the shotgun is fired, the wad with the shot passes through the choke where the port blades slice off "slivers" of the wad, slowing the wad and preventing the wad from interfering with the shot column as it leaves the muzzle. You will see the evidence of this in the surrounding air when you shoot and on the ground in front of the muzzle. Patterns should show improvement because "flyers" will be eliminated.
If the shooter is not happy with testing loads and field results, but sure to try various other shotshell loads. Once the right choke/shotshell combination for your shotgun is determined, the hunter can concentrate on bringing home the game!