TheSaturdaySportsman.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an affiliate, this website earns from qualifying purchases.
A lot of duck hunters’ discussion focuses on the shotgun and type of load, but what about the choke?
Choosing the correct choke tube will allow you to make clean kills which is essential to a good hunt. The freedom to swap chokes enables you to adapt your shooting pattern to the specific range of your target.
Settle in, and this article will guide you through choosing the best choke for duck hunting with a steel shot.
What to know when duck hunting
The general rule of thumb for all serious waterfowlers to follow is that you should land at least 60% of your shot on target to ensure a clean kill.
To achieve that percentage, you need some practice as well as a choke/shotgun setup designed for your target range.
As all the experts know, perfect practice makes perfect, so here are some tips to make your pre-season practice worth the time and effort.
The wingspan of a large American duck is roughly 30 inches wide, so use a compass to mark a circle with a 30 inch diameter on a piece of paper, cardboard, etc. that you can use as a target. A string tied to a pushpin will serve nicely as a homemade compass.
Place your target at varying distances and test your shotgun range with different chokes.
Make sure you use the load that you will use during your hunts to attain highest accuracy.
This may seem like a time consuming exercise, but your energy will pay off during the season.
Knowing the effective range of your shotgun, choke, and load combination is the only way to get clean kills.
Also, you need to know the number of pellets fired per load so that you can accurately gauge how many are landing in your range.
Understanding the mechanics of your choke
Chokes serve to influence the breadth of your charge. As your shot leaves the barrel of your shotgun, it will hit a narrower or wider target area as related to distance as guided by your choke.
As your load grows wider, the pellets lose power and lethal ability. Therefore, your likelihood of landing a clean kill declines.
To be a humane waterfowl hunter, you must accurately gauge the distance between you and your prey, and you must choose a choke tube that gives you the ideal pattern at that range.
Difficult areas to navigate
Sometimes, birds will fly in so hot that they are extremely close to your location before you can get a shot.
This scenario can occur during early season teal, and it usually happens when you are hiding in tall cattails or a heavily wooded area.
You can actually be over-choked! For some instances, your shot pattern can be too narrow for the ducks’ position. This can lead to a lot of missed shots or pulverized meat when you do kill a bird.
On the other hand, if you are shooting at ducks flying out of range, your shots will not be compact enough to make a clean, humane kill.
How do chokes and steel shots interact?
Due to their metal components, tungsten and steel shot give you a narrower spray as compared to lead shot when used with the identical choke.
Do not use solid lead chokes with steel shot because your pattern will be too narrow.
If you are hunting waterfowl at a close range, an improved cylinder choke will do the trick.
But, if you are hunting a further range, you will be better off using a modified choke.
This is the point where you will really see the benefits of your preseason work spent testing different chokes and loads at various ranges.
What to look for in a choke for duck hunting with steel shot
While there are tons of chokes on the market, only about half of them are appropriate for duck hunting.
The most common types of constrictions are:
- Improved cylinder (IC)
- Light modified (LM)
- Improved modified (IM)
- Light full (LF)
- Extra full
- Even fuller
The best constrictions for waterfowl hunting are highlighted.
When steel shot was just gaining traction, improved cylinder and modified chokes were your only options.
Now, some experts recommend improved cylinder for steel shot, but, in the field, a lot of hunters find it to be best used only in close range conditions.
Modified, improved modified, and limited modified typically work well in most ranges.
Again, the best duck hunting choke for you is the option that works well with your shotgun and load in your range.
Best choke for duck hunting with steel shot
There are a number of chokes that may work well for duck hunting. The following products may work well for use on your next hunting adventure.
Always consult an industry professional before using any new product or equipment.
Carlson’s Choke Tubes Waterfowl Carlson’s Beretta/Benelli Mobil 20GA Delta Waterfowl 3 Pack Set
Carlson produces some of the best choke tubes on the market– especially for waterfowl hunting.
They fit all Beretta/Benelli mobil 20 gauge shotguns, and are a wonderful addition to your hunting gear.
Carlson’s choke tubes are made from 17-4 stainless steel and engineered for tighter, denser shot patterns than standard chokes. Each choke has a 25% longer parallel portion for precision shots.
Specifically designed for waterfowl hunting, each three pack contains a close, mid, and long range choke tube.
They’re convenient, too! Each choke has a slight knurl to lend to fast removal in a pinch.
Also, the constriction and size specs are laser etched into the end and body, so you will not have to guess or remember.
These chokes are exceptional for steel shot.
Remember to always adjust your choke tube with regards to the load that you plan to use; each brand and ammunition type can throw different patterns.
Close range extended steel shot choke tubes work well if your range is less than 35 yards or if you are hunting over decoys.
If you’re shooting slightly further out, between 25-40 yards, the mid range choke tube will probably be your best option.
For the longest ranges beyond 40 yards, you will need the long range choke tube.
Only use the long range choke tube with size #2 or smaller, and do not load steel shot above 1550 FTS.
Do not use sabots or slugs with choke constrictions tighter than improved cylinder.
View at Amazon to learn more about this product and its potential use.
- 3 pack, including short, mid, and long range chokes that work from below 35 yds to over 40 yds away
- Laser-etched size and constriction specs for easy reading
- Fast and easy removal design
- Strong, durable material and construction
- Designed for super tight shot patterns
- Specifically made for waterfowl hunting use
- Compatible with steel shot
Remington 19159 Rem Choke 20 GA
The Remington 19159 Rem Choke 20 GA can handle all of your waterfowl hunting needs and is great if you’re using steel shot. You can also use this choke with pheasants over dogs, rabbits, and other small game.
With a super tough stainless steel casing, it’s corrosion resistant and strong enough to hold its shape against the test of steel shot.
It’s recommended for a 30 yd range with small game and can land nearly half of pellets fired within a 30 inch ring at 40 yards. This makes for lethal, clean kills, and this choke can land you quite the haul.
This choke is also interchangeable and allows you to customize your shotgun setup to your current hunting conditions.
View at Amazon for more information on this product.
- Type: flush
- 20 gauge
- Rem choke configuration
- Stainless steel finish
- .009 constriction
- 30 yd recommended range
- Compatible with steel and lead shot
- Not ported
- 7 x 3 x 2 inches
- 1.6 oz
- Averages 45-50% of pellets within a 30 in. circle at 40 yards
- Short range choke that gives a wide shot pattern for ducks within 35 yards
- Interchangeable choke tube that allows you to adapt your shotgun to current hunting conditions
- Seamless stainless steel design
- Strong enough to handle steel shot without expansion or loss of accuracy
- Perfect for hunting duck or geese with steel shot
- Can also be used with other small game such as rabbit, pheasants, etc.
Beretta Choke Tube OptimaChoke-HP +3/4″ Extended 12ga with Aluminum Band, Nickel Plated
This Beretta choke tube takes a stand against other leading brands with its high quality design and durable components. Made of the finest steel, the casing is extremely strong., durable, and geared for optimal performance.
Its nickel-alloy coating gives it incredible corrosion resistance, and it will hold strong against steel shot.
You can confidently pack this choke for your next hunt and know that it will hold up to the elements as well as give you great performance in the field.
Before purchasing, verify that it will work with your shotgun of choice.
Beretta choke tubes are interchangeable on all Beretta guns that have been threaded for Optima-Choke HP.
It is compatible with Beretta A400 Xtreme, A400 Xplor, A400 Xcel, 690, 692, DT11, A300 Xtrema, and SV10.
This hardened steel choke tube extends ¾” and offers improved cylinder constriction.
It’s great for duck hunting and is a terrific option if steel shot is your preferred load.
View at Amazon to learn more about how this product could work for you.
Features and specs:
- Interchangeable with Beretta choke tube OptimaChoke HP thread pattern
- +¾” extension
- Improved cylinder constriction
- 12 gauge
- Hardened steel body and nickel alloy coating
- Works with steel shot (not tighter than MOD)
Featured image credit: DepositPhotos.com