870 choke question

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870 choke question

Postby Bertslash » Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:04 pm

I know this is a stupid question-- but here goes! I have an 870 12 gauge 3" that I had only a factory modified choke that it came with when I bought used. This summer I bought a Patternmaster Code Black Goose choke. My hunting buddies-who all have more than double my experience- say that my modified is more like a full with steel shot, and my Patternmaster is more like a full or extra full with my steel shot. I patterned my gun this summer with Winchester #4 and my Patternmaster verses Black Cloud #4 with my modified choke. The Patternmaster choke patterned better with about a 30-36" group at 30 yards.

I mostly hunt at a state reserve area with decoying ducks and geese within 40 yards. So, my buddies think my Patternmaster choke is too tight and that's why I can't hit the broadside of a barn!!

So, are they correct with my choke classifying? Should I change back to the modified choke or even go down to an improved cylinder choke??? Any help will be GREATLY appreciated!! Thanks! Phil.
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Re: 870 choke question

Postby z51 » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:02 am

Not a stupid question but, you seem to be caught up in the hype surrounding steel shot. First of all I would never shoot #4 shot for large ducks and geese. At 40 yards or less I use a modified or lite modified choke and no smaller than #3 on ducks and #1 on light geese.

You certainly don't need a tight Patternmaster or premium ammo in either case. Winchester Xpert, Federal Speed Shok, or others at 1400 - 1550 fps in a lite modified choke will kill like lighting if you can hit them at 40 yards or less and save you money.

Try it!
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Re: 870 choke question

Postby Bertslash » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:34 am

I was wondering about the choke--but it patterned good with that Patternmaster choke. I will give it a try. Thanks!
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Re: 870 choke question

Postby dakotashooter2 » Fri Oct 18, 2013 8:34 am

You have to understand something about chokes.... the name designation really means very little..... the actual constriction in terms of a numerical designation will tell you much more.

Here is the basic. Steel and other nontox shots are harder than lead thus deform less going through the barrel. Less deformation generally means a slightly tighter pattern. Therefore, steel shot through a choke designed for lead ,will pattern slightly tigher than the lead. So technically one might get a full pattern of steel through a modified (lead) choke. Now comes the second part. As they started making harder choke tubes for steel shot they also adjusted the diameter to accurately designate the pattern as delivered. In essince a modified tube designed for lead MAY NOT be the same diameter as a modified tube designed for steel or other non toxics. Your 870 very likely has a tube designed for lead shot and throws a "full" pattern of steel, however it is likely your patternmaster choke was designed for steel or other nontoxics and SHOULD throw the pattern as designated. To make it even more confusing some manufacturers have been labeling them as Long range mid range and short range instead of the standard F, M &I..

I have seen chokes designated as "full" vary from .690 to .705 depending on the choke matterial and maker. I actually don't even mess around with my tubes once I figure out what I want. My O/Us carry M amd IM tumes made for steel so when I switch to lead for upland hunting I still get M and LM or Improved performance from lead.
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Re: 870 choke question

Postby Bertslash » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:55 am

Ok- correction! I am shooting #2's not #4's. I wondered about that so I went out and checked! Thanks!!
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Re: 870 choke question

Postby z51 » Fri Oct 18, 2013 11:09 am

The only way you can find out for sure is pattern them at 40 yards on a large sheet of paper and count the hits in a 30" post shot scribed circle. Several shots are better. Don't discount the quality of your factory Rem Choke. It is made of maraging steel and is very robust. One of the best factory chokes made. It is modified lead and probably loose full with steel.
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Re: 870 choke question

Postby Joe Hunter » Fri Oct 18, 2013 11:59 am

Bert -- Chances are, your factory Rem-choke will work just fine for the type of shooting you described (decoying ducks and geese within 40 yards). Here are some of my 870's pattern numbers with a factory Mod and low-cost steel loads to give you an idea of what you might get with your Mod choke.

Patterning results from a 12-gauge 3" Remington 870 Special Purpose with a 28" barrel and factory flush Rem-chokes (pattern average of five, 30" post-shot scribed circle, yardage taped muzzle to target, in-shell pellet count average of five, and true choke constriction from bore gauge).

40 YARDS Mod. (.018" const.)
Federal Speed-Shok 3" 1 1/4 oz #2 steel (154 pellets) pattern 115 (75%)
Remington Sportsman Hi-Speed 3" 1 1/4 oz #2 steel (152 pellets) pattern 110 (72%)
Winchester Xpert Hi-Velocity 3" 1 1/4 oz #2 steel (146 pellets) pattern 106 (73%)

Technically speaking, regardless of the choke label a choke shooting 70+% patterns is giving full choke performance. Of course, what matters most is how many pellets are in the pattern at the distance you shoot your birds, not what the pattern percentage is. Pattern percentages measure load/choke "efficiency" not load/choke "effectiveness".

Now you can be the judge.

Good luck.
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Re: 870 choke question

Postby Jim Atlas » Fri Oct 18, 2013 12:20 pm

I'm just going to echo Joe. I use my Rem Mod choke 95% of the time in one of my 870's (the other one is a fixed full).
If the pattern looks good, it doesn't matter whether the chke says skeet or extra full on the side. Use the patternmaster if it gives a better pattern.
It's only sky busting if you miss...
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Re: 870 choke question

Postby Joe Hunter » Fri Oct 18, 2013 1:19 pm

One more thing -- "So, my buddies think my Patternmaster choke is too tight and that's why I can't hit the broadside of a barn!!"

That is possible and if you are shooting most of your shots around 30 yards then an IC will probably give you a larger effective pattern making hitting/killing a little easier. And, if you try an IC then a #3 steel load should help to fill out the IC pattern so it can be effective out to the 40-yard mark too. Here are some of my IC patterns at 40 yards with low-cost #3 steel loads for your comparison.

Patterning results from a 12-gauge 3" Remington 870 Special Purpose with a 28" barrel and factory flush Rem-chokes (pattern average of five, 30" post-shot scribed circle, yardage taped muzzle to target, in-shell pellet count average of five, and true choke constriction from bore gauge).

40 YARDS IC (.009" const.)
Federal Speed-Shok 3" 1 1/4 oz #3 steel (186 pellets) pattern 112 (60%)
Remington Sportsman Hi-Speed 3" 1 1/4 oz #3 steel (193 pellets) pattern 113 (59%)
Winchester Xpert Hi-Velocity 3" 1 1/4 oz #3 steel (195 pellets) pattern 109 (56%)

Here again, the IC is basically shooting Mod (60%) patterns.

Good luck.
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Re: 870 choke question

Postby MK10 » Fri Oct 18, 2013 1:56 pm

Bertslash wrote:I know this is a stupid question-- but here goes! I have an 870 12 gauge 3" that I had only a factory modified choke that it came with when I bought used. This summer I bought a Patternmaster Code Black Goose choke. My hunting buddies-who all have more than double my experience- say that my modified is more like a full with steel shot, and my Patternmaster is more like a full or extra full with my steel shot. I patterned my gun this summer with Winchester #4 and my Patternmaster verses Black Cloud #4 with my modified choke. The Patternmaster choke patterned better with about a 30-36" group at 30 yards.

I mostly hunt at a state reserve area with decoying ducks and geese within 40 yards. So, my buddies think my Patternmaster choke is too tight and that's why I can't hit the broadside of a barn!!

So, are they correct with my choke classifying? Should I change back to the modified choke or even go down to an improved cylinder choke??? Any help will be GREATLY appreciated!! Thanks! Phil.


Reading through your post, I'd say that the combination of this choke size and insufficient shooting practice is your main issue.

An Improved Cylinder or Light Modified/Skeet 2 choke might provide more user friendly patterns, however, this is not a fix for poor shooting.

In the first instance, and in a similar position, I'd limit my shooting distances to 30 yards or under and incorporate a more open choke (i.e. IC or LM)........the OEM IC choke is just fine. Finally, get out and practice with this gun/choke combination, this is a great way to build those shooting skills and confidence. :thumbsup:
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Re: 870 choke question

Postby MK10 » Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:06 pm

Jim Atlas wrote:I'm just going to echo Joe. I use my Rem Mod choke 95% of the time in one of my 870's (the other one is a fixed full).
If the pattern looks good, it doesn't matter whether the chke says skeet or extra full on the side. Use the patternmaster if it gives a better pattern.


Despite owning many different aftermarket choke tubes for my Remington o/u, I still find the original factory supplied tubes are quite adequate for most of my waterfowling needs. For decoying I just use an IC/Mod. combo, and for pass-shooting (depending on range) either a Mod/Full or a Full/Full combination.
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Re: 870 choke question

Postby Bertslash » Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:04 pm

Thanks guys!! I was thinking of getting an IC choke because of the wider spread. And I do REALLY need to get out and pattern more and practice shooting some skeet so I can have more ethical shots! Thanks everyone for your help!!
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Re: 870 choke question

Postby Blackmallard40 » Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:39 pm

I have a question as well guys. I purchased a code black duck choke. With the original bead the poi is somewhat high. What can I do to lower my poi without selling my pm? The gun shoots dead on with the modified Remington choke in it. I was wondering if a lower profile bead would help me? Thanks guys I shot it yesterday at about 30 yards
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Re: 870 choke question

Postby BBK » Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:43 pm

Blackmallard40 wrote:I have a question as well guys. I purchased a code black duck choke. With the original bead the poi is somewhat high. What can I do to lower my poi without selling my pm? The gun shoots dead on with the modified Remington choke in it. I was wondering if a lower profile bead would help me? Thanks guys I shot it yesterday at about 30 yards


You will need a higher bead to lower your POI. A fatbead or something to that sort.
Why do I shoot 3.5" for geese? Because they don't make a 4" yet!
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