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Why You Need a Turkey Choke on Your Shotgun

turkey choke

Kill more turkeys with the right combination: a good shotgun, and a great turkey choke.

A turkey gun is a marvelously simple machine. But without a turkey choke, that gun is useless.

Maybe that’s an exaggeration. But not by much.

A shotgunwhich is what the vast majority of turkey guns are—is nothing more than a chamber to hold the shell, a stock for you to shoulder the gun with, and a barrel. A smooth cylinder of steel.

Shoot a load of pellets down that smooth barrel, and where the pellets go is little more than a guess. Gravity will take hold. And those pellets will scatter. Wide and far.

Don’t believe me? Remove the choke from your turkey gun, pace off 30 steps from a target and fire.

A turkey shotgun would be better described as a “pattern” gun. The goal isn’t to spread the shot over a large area. That’s perfectly fine when breaking clay targets or toppling doves. But turkeys require special care and a direct load of shot to the head for acceptable, consistent results.

Close up of a female wild turkey looking directly at camera with a serious or stern expression.

 

That’s accomplished by the use of a turkey choke. The choke constricts the shot as it leaves the end of the barrel. If you’re not familiar with how a shotgun shell works, it’s pretty simple.

A “wad” surrounds the shot. The number of pellets in the load varies depending on the size of the shot (smaller shot, more pellets) and shell length. That wad serves to keep the shot from scattering too soon. But when fired from a smooth barrel without a choke, the wad is pretty ineffective.

Think of the choke as an adjustable nozzle on a garden hose. Open the nozzle up and you get a wide, inconsistent pattern of spray. Tighten the nozzle down and the spray becomes more defined.

The key with a turkey gun is finding a choke that is tight enough to put a dense pattern of pellets in the kill zone, but isn’t so tight that you lose the benefits of a pattern spread.

Strutting male wild turkey displaying in the spring mating season.

Most turkey chokes are designed to provide just the right amount of spread at a distance of about 30 yards. As you extend the range, the pattern opens up and holes begin to appear in the coverage area. That’s how turkeys are missed at long range.

At close distances, however, the pattern is extremely tight making it easy to miss a turkey at 10 steps. Trust me on that one.

So how do you know what choke to choose? By shooting them. There’s no shortage of options. Kick’s, Primos, and Comp-N-Choke are just a few of the companies making excellent turkey-specific shotgun chokes.

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Cabela’s

A choke is measured by its constriction with the higher the number being the tighter the constriction. For turkey hunting, an extra-full choke is considered the minimum with xx-full being more common. Turkey-specific chokes start at .o35 constriction and climb from there.

Get your hands on several different chokes, shoot several different loads and let the target tell you which is your gun’s preferred setup.

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