View Full Version : HD, WIHTF and chokes.....

Dave McC
January 29, 2001, 08:18 AM
This has come up before, but maybe a refresher is in order.
And remember, these are opinions, but opinions arrived at after research and testing...

Lots of us have shotguns for HD,and chokes of varying degrees or no choke at all. How much does this matter?

Inside a house, not much at all. At these ranges, the load hits as a semi solid mass, think of a Glaser Safety Slug in .72 caliber.So, whether it's 000 or Breath Mints, the patterns about the same size. Small shot have less tendency to overpenetrate, but note it's a tendency. What's behind your target is still crucial.

But, some of us may have living rooms the size of bowling alleys or live in old commercial lofts, like some of my in laws did. Testing is the answer. Measure the longest distance of a shot possible in your house, add one yard for GPs, and pattern with your load of choice. If the pattern's wider than say, 8-10", you need more choke.

Remember, spread is a bad idea. Shotguns work so well for HD because of the immense amount of energy they dump into a target when it's hit with the whole charge. The old legend of spread making up for poor shooting or bad light is a myth that will get people killed. The wrong people...

Now, let's posit that it's not Home Defense any more, but Neighborhood Defense. For some reason, civilization has broken down, and havoc rules the streets where the Have Nots are attempting to become Haves. Or, the Decline and Fall of Western Civilization hits ths steepest part of the curve.

What need for choke?

Of course, here big pellets come into play. And longer ranges. Assuming you have no carbine, rifle, or heat seeking missiles, your shotgun is the weapon of choice by default. So....

Here's where testing of one's own weapon pays off big time. Choke is oft different from what's printed on the bbl,and only actual testing can determine performance.

Example, my HD 870 is chokeless, with the original bbl shortened to 18" and a bit. The forcing cone has been done, and patterns with my old duty ammo run 20-24" at 25 yards. They would be larger with other brands of generic 00, and tighter with SOME premium stuff. Just because it costs more does not mean it patterns tighter or hits harder.

So, test to find your best ammo, then test to find the tightest choke that will work with that ammo. In most gun/ammo combinations, that'll be somewhere around Modified, IME, but not always. And while you're at it, find the best slug and see where it hits in relation to the shot. No shotgun I've owned prints them together at over 10 yards.

For ballpark purposes, I'd call whatever distance you can keep it inside 10" as a good working range, and 20" as max range. These are kinda arbitrary, but empirical.

Awaiting discussion, I'd like to hear your views. And, anyone embarrassed to ask publicly can E me your questions.