Finding the best choke for quail hunting isn’t all that hard.
It doesn’t matter if you started right out hunting for quail or if you simply use these fine birds as a gun dog training tool; sooner or later, we all want to chase them. Once we get the chance, they consistently prove to be more than a match for our favorite shotgun.
Sure, bird dog training has come into its own in the past few decades, getting us closer and closer to one of our favorite-eating upland game birds. However, you still need to be steady to flush covey, and sometimes our shooting just isn’t good enough.
Enter those, who for many years now, have produced the tools that we that make up for our shortcomings with a firearm. Let’s take a quick look at what they do, how they work and a few good choices for chasing quail.
Without going into too much detail, the shotgun choking system was invented by several hunters and shooting aficionados just like us who wanted to spread the load out and reign it in.
Shotgun patterning chokes have come a long way since they were produced in the late 1800s, and luckily for us, they’ve improved greatly. In the case of quail hunting, it should be obvious that having a choke tube that gives the hunter the widest spread at the closest range would be ideal.
The Five Basic Choke Tubes
The five basic shotgun chokes are cylinder, improved cylinder, modified, improved modified and full. Others have different names, such as skeet and extra full (which is a great turkey hunting choke) and certain versions are specific to which game bird the hunter is after.
The best range for a shotgun with an improved cylinder choke is 20-30 yards, modified choke patterns best at 25-40 yards and full choke is best at 30-50 yards. The improved modified choke distance should fall somewhere between the modified and full, but ammunition factors into the equation, too.
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Best Quail Choke
Since so many shots on flushing quail are well within 25 yards, a solid choke system should ideally knock down a fleeing bird without damaging that delicious meat. There are three choke tubes that get most of the attention when it comes to quail hunting: skeet, cylinder and diffusion.
Skeet and improved cylinder are closely related with skeet getting a soft nod. A cylinder choke fires an extremely forgiving pattern with virtually any of the smaller loads, as its internal diameter measures roughly the same as the shotgun’s bore.
But, when it comes to downing these little birds up close and personal, diffusion might be exactly what you are looking for.
Diffusion chokes are “slightly rifled,” with the idea being to spin the wad and disperse shot more quickly, giving the shooter a fast-opening pattern for close-range targets such as quail, grouse and woodcock.
It should go without saying that the smaller shot sizes, such as 7 1/2 and 8 are best.
Unlike a cylinder choke, the internal diameter of a diffusion choke is actually greater than that of the bore (at the end), giving it an extremely wide pattern that opens up almost immediately upon exiting.
When hunting upland birds with open chokes, constriction can be everything, as it’s often the first shot that counts the most. Having a variety of choke choices will offer you the most flexibility.