An Inside Look At Shotguns & Chokes

| Last Updated May 4, 2020

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“Shotgun knowledge can be a rule of thumb or very scientific, all there to make you a better wing shot.”

The kid argued with me that all the hunters he knew used #6 shot on gray squirrels. “Not a good idea but go ahead.  I have some #4, 20 gauge high brass for you here after you get through making a fool out of yourself,” I said. A few minutes later I saw the first squirrel and shot him at about 40 yards with the full choke Model 1100. He fell limply out of the tree and I immediately caught flak from the kid, “Hey no fair you got a 12 gauge.” I got on the squirrel call and a little while later a big fox squirrel started cussing out the kid and was instantly set upon by a barrage of #6s and the little Browning light 20 gauge. He hit that squirrel every time but he didn't go down until the third shot.

“You done showing off now?” “Now take these 20 gauge #4s off me before I accidentally load one and blow my stuff away, and kill the next squirrel with one shot.” He reluctantly agreed and I called him up another one, this time a fast little Grey squirrel. It was a good shot, about 30 yards and the squirrel just tumbled out of the tall oak tree stone dead just like mine.

I explained later after we both limited out, it wasn't a matter of 12 vs 20 gauge in this case. The things you need to know about this is you need a clean barrel, the right choke and the right shell. The Kid had a clean barrel and a full choke but the the shell was wrong as far as shot size in this case.

Going back in time to 1966 my dad layed out $186 for the Remington 1100. He wanted to get me a Browning A-5 but they were $315 and that was all he had. Fine with me, I got the gun on December 1st even though my 13th birthday was Christmas Day.  It was early because the quail season in Arkansas opened on the first and daddy Frank had a hankering for quail for supper.

Old Duke, the English Setter locked up at the end of the field pretty as a picture.  I can still see it in my minds eye. Duke held tight and the birds got up in a wad. The Remington snapped up and rapped off 3 Remington Sure-Shot 1 1/8 oz, number 8s and five bobwhites hit the cut hay field as Duke tried to retrieve three at once. I reloaded and kicked up a pair by myself while Duke was still hunting dead. They both fell at the shot, somewhat to my amazement as I had been previously trying to hunt quail with a full choke 20 gauge. I turned around and Duke was locked up on a single, good thing to, it was the last bird of the limit, 8 birds with five shots.

Well daddy Frank got his quail dinner that evening and decided to himself the Remington was a good purchase. That night he had a little home made elderberry wine and played Rhapsody in Blue just like he did when he made the original recording with Paul Whitman. He looked up at the full moon and spoke in Italian, “Laluna Catchitorri, The Hunters Moon.” His passion was the Clarinet and Saxophone while mine became the shotgun and the rifle. He lectured at Julliard, and well, I lecture to you on guns and ammo.

To this day the Remington throws perfect patterns if you use the right shell, keep the bore clean and use the right shot size for the game. I believe the Sure-Shot shell with the Power Piston gave about the best most even patterns out of the improved cylinder choke, at that particular time period in gun history. Now I have a whole set of barrels and interchangeable chokes for my two Remington shotguns, which includes a scope sighted slug barrel with paradox rifling for deer hunting.

My name is Caleb and I am obsessed with hunting, fishing, and foraging. To be successful, you have to think like your prey. You have to get into the mind of your target - and understand Big Game Logic. If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at Read more about Big Game Logic.