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What Choke For Turkey Hunting Should You Choose?

WriterAubrey McShan
12 min read
A hunter walks through the woods carrying a turkey and his shotgun strapped to his vest

The most rewarding turkey hunt is all about the prep ahead of the trip! Rather than risk missing that tom after spending hours waiting, grab the right shotgun choke for turkey hunting so you can feel confident even before you pull the trigger.

In this guide, you’ll learn all about the different types of turkey chokes, what to consider when purchasing one, and so much more!

Key Takeaways

What Is a Shotgun Choke for Turkey Hunting?

A shotgun choke screws onto the shotgun barrel’s muzzle. It constricts the bullet pattern for better accuracy. If you’re shooting a turkey from 40 yards away, then a shotgun choke can help you make a clean shot and target the vitals.

As we dive deeper into the article, we’ll cover different turkey chokes — including the cylinder, improved cylinder, modified choke, and full choke as well as the type of spread patterns for each.

The back of a turkey hunter dressed in camo is visible from the waist up as holds his shotgun and walks through the forest.

Do You Really Need a Turkey Choke for Shotguns?

Turkey chokes are not necessary when a turkey is mere yards away; however, full chokes, extra full, or ‘turkey’ chokes can create dense shot patterns over long ranges — increasing your chances of bagging a tom.

A turkey choke typically provides more constriction than a full choke and can produce the tightest patterns of shot. This can aid in effectively targeting a gobbler's vital areas, which can be particularly challenging when turkeys are in motion or strutting.

The full choke stands out with its 0.03 inches of constriction among various choke options. Only the extra full chokes and turkey chokes offer more constriction, providing an additional 0.01 to 0.015 inches beyond a standard full choke.

Expert Tip:

Practice shooting with different chokes on a gun range to get a feel for each and how they operate. Set up targets at different distances when practicing.

Types of Chokes for Turkey Hunting

Chokes for Turkey Hunting Guide
Choke Type Shot Spread Range Yards Best Conditions To Use Limitations
Cylinder Very Wide Short Up to 20 Close-quarters, fast-response situations Lack of range, wide spread
Improved Cylinder Wide Short to medium 20 to 30 Close to mid-range shots, fast-moving targets Not suitable for long shots
Modified Choke Moderate Medium 30 to 40 Mid-range, versatile hunting situations Not ideal for very long shots
Full Choke Tight Long 40 to 50+ Long-distance shots, stationary targets Limited effectiveness at close range

There are several common types of chokes for turkey hunting from which to choose: cylinder, improved cylinder, modified choke, and full choke. When aiming at a 30-inch circle target from a distance of 40 yards, the percentage of the shot that should land within the circle varies based on the choke used:

  • Cylinder Choke: The shot pattern should range between 25% and 35%
  • Improved Cylinder Choke: Look for about 45% of the shot to hit the circle.
  • Modified Choke: Approximately 60% of the shot should land within the circle.
  • Full Choke: Expect around 70% of the shot to hit the circle.
Graphic shows an overview of a cylinder, improved cylinder, modified, and a full choke

Shotgun Barrel

The cylinder shotgun barrel creates the widest pattern among the different choke options.

  • Hunters favor cylinder chokes for hunting rabbits.
  • Their widespread pattern increases the chances of hitting a fast-moving target.
  • The cylinder choke is also ideal for close-range shooting situations — where quick and instinctive shots are required.
  • The cylinder choke is easily recognizable by the five notches on its end that indicate its designation as a cylinder choke.

Improved Cylinder
Shotgun Choke

The improved cylinder shotgun choke is designed to produce a wide pattern that offers effective coverage at closer distances.

  • Compared to the cylinder choke, it offers a slight increase in effective range (adding approximately 10 yards of improved firing distance).
  • With a constriction of 0.01 inches, the improved cylinder choke strikes a balance between spreading shot pellets and maintaining sufficient density for effective shot placement.
  • The improved cylinder choke features four notches on its end.

Shotgun Choke

The modified shotgun choke provides a moderate constriction of the shot pattern, offering a balance between spreading pellets and maintaining density.

  • With a constriction size of 0.02 inches, the modified choke holds the pattern well at longer distances, making it suitable for various hunting scenarios.
  • The modified shotgun choke is a popular choice among hunters due to its versatility.
  • The modified choke is easily recognizable by the three notches on its end.

Full Choke
for Shotguns

The full shotgun choke is known for its tight constriction. It’s an excellent choice for hunting turkeys at longer distances.

  • With a constriction size of 0.03 inches, the full choke tightly constricts the ammunition, resulting in a dense and focused shot pattern. This makes it great for hunting turkey at 50-60 yards.
  • The full choke's ability to hold the pattern to a greater distance ensures accurate and lethal shots, making it a reliable choice for hunters seeking optimal performance.
  • The full choke is indicated with one notch on its end.

How Do Shotgun Chokes for Turkeys Work?

Shotgun chokes for turkeys work by constricting the diameter of the shotgun barrel. This yields in a tighter ammo pattern and allows for increased energy retention over longer distances.

  • When bullets exit the barrel, they utilize grooves that induce spin (similar to how a football spins in the air when thrown).
  • When shooting prey at distances of 30-50 yards, the bullet's trajectory becomes less reliable to predict. The choke plays a vital role by extending the duration of bullet spin: thereby promoting a more accurate shot.
  • Most turkey hunters typically shoot within 25 yards to maximize accuracy. Some experienced hunters prefer the challenge of shooting from long distances.
Graphic demonstrates how the chokes perform at various distances.

What Is the Best Choke for Turkeys?

The best choke for turkey hunting can vary depending on individual factors: the specific shotgun, ammunition used, and personal shooting preferences are just a few.

  • When shooting turkeys at a distance of 40 yards, use a full choke. It produces a tighter pattern.
  • Spend time at the range. Test out different shotgun chokes to assess their performance and pattern results.

Expert Tip:

The farther you are from your target with limited concealment, the narrower the choke should be to ensure greater precision.

What to Consider in a Turkey Shotgun Choke

  • The Ammo You Use: Turkey chokes are not one-size-fits-all. The density of the pattern depends on factors such as the weight of the shots and the size of the shot used. Heavier and smaller shot sizes create denser patterns, while lighter and larger shot sizes result in wider patterns.
  • The Shotgun You Use: Choose a choke for turkey hunting compatible with your specific shotgun. A choke that performs well with a 12 gauge shotgun may not yield great results with a 20 gauge. Chokes exhibit varying performance characteristics even on guns with the same barrel length.
  • The Ammo Pattern: Choose a turkey choke that matches your desired ammo pattern. For shorter distances in the woods, a wider pattern is sufficient. Opt for a cylinder choke for closer shots — which provides a larger spread compared to a full choke.
  • The Distance: While a narrower choke may be favored, it isn’t ideal at close distances. A full choke can make it difficult to hit a small, moving target like the turkey’s head. Consider the hunting distance to choose the best choke for your needs.
  • Budget: Shotgun chokes range anywhere from $10 to $40. They also come in packs. If you have the budget, purchase multiple packs to test out different chokes. Read reviews, and purchase at least 2-3 high-quality chokes to try.

Have Fun Out There!

Ready to bag that gobbler? Utilizing a choke for turkey hunting enhances your shooting precision — whether you're in close quarters or at a distance. At Academy, we offer a diverse range of shotgun chokes: various brands, pack sizes, and types. You’ll always have the perfect bullet constriction for your shotgun's muzzle.