Buckshot is typically made up of large lead pellets used for hunting deer, coyote, and hogs. It’s also used for self-defense in some cases. A full choke should never be used with buckshot due to the tight constriction which may cause choke or barrel damage.
Open choke tubes work best with buckshot since they allow the shot column and large pellets to travel through the end of the barrel without being overly constricted.
What happens when buckshot travels through a full choke?
Buckshot ranges in size from #2 pellets up to #0000 and #000 sizes. The larger sizes are pronounced “ought” and can have as little as 4 to 8 pellets in a load. Pellets are typically made of lead which can deform to due to malleable nature of the metal.
Buckshot can be shot out of most modern shotguns in gauges 12, 20, 10, and 28 that have open choke tubes. Shell lengths for buckshot loads range from 2 ¾ inch to 3 ½ inch.
Related: Need a new choke tube? Check out the list of the top performers here.
When Buckshot travels through a shotgun barrel, it does so as the wad attempts to exit the barrel. The buckshot pellets are protected by the plastic wad and the shot column remains tight. As the wad and pellets exit the barrel, the shot column is compressed to the diameter of the choke tube.
Why a full choke can be damaged with Buckshot
The diameter of a full choke is 0.685 inches in most 12 gauge shotguns. Except for extra full and some turkey chokes, a full choke is the tightest choke you can get. This is what leads to problems when using buckshot.
Buckshot can damage a full choke tube or shotgun barrel because the pellets can not compress tight enough to travel through the choke. This may result in the choke or barrel bulging as it gives way to the shot column passing through.
A tight choke compounds the problem and repeatedly using buckshot in a full choke could damage a shotgun permanently.
Choke sizes that work well with Buckshot
First, avoid using a full choke with buckshot. Open chokes such as Modified, Light Modified, and Improved Modified still provide tighter restrictions but allow buckshot room to expand where a full choke will not.
Inspect your choke tube and barrel regularly when shooting buckshot to catch any issues before they begin to become a larger problem.
Never shoot buckshot through a full choke tube. Large pellets in a buckshot shot column need room to expand as they exit the barrel and a constriction too tight can cause bulging or choke deformity.
Use a modified choke tube or a choke tube with less constriction so that the shot column has the chance to expand as needed. Even thought buckshot pellets are made of lead, relying on them to deform as they pass through a full choke could damage the barrel.
List of the Best Choke Tubes
These choke tubes provide exceptional patterns at longer ranges.
If your choke tube isn’t performing well, check these out!