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Published September 29, 2022 10:57 am
I first started testing different custom turkey chokes with different patterns and gauge shotguns a few years ago. As wise old Toms are wont to do, a thick-bearded easterner hung out at the edge of the field. We had the best decoys imaginable, but the bird would not part with his girls. It was 60 yards, and never in my turkey career had I attempted such a shot. Granted, I had also never swapped out a manufacturer’s Extra-Full choke for a custom model. So, at my friend’s insistence, I placed the HIVIZ fiber optic bead on the tall chin dome, took a breath, and squeezed the trigger. The 20-kilogram bird didn’t even fall.
Playing choke has been a lot of shoulder abuse, but it’s also been fun. I’ve found some great brands and models (along with some I wouldn’t have my worst enemy thread in their barrel). The bottom line is that the best turkey chokes are a significant benefit to the turkey hunter and are worth adding to your arsenal.
The best overall
Why did he make the cut: This choke can roll a gobbler at 60 yards with open sights and will digest any bullet shot from #2 to #10.
- 10 models available to fit a variety of shotguns
- Works with hybrid lead and metal loads
- Handles shot sizes from #2 to #10
- Outstanding patterns in the near and far ranges
- The extended design makes it easy to change
- Narrow and straight
- You will pay for it
Engineered to ultra-tight tolerances, this tube will stick wing heads near and far. In testing, Strike has shown that pattern density increases beyond 40 percent, meaning more rounds hit the target when you pull the trigger. With an extended choke tube, installation is easy and the choke is proven to be tough as nails, meaning season after season of failure-free use.
The best budget
Why did he make the cut: I’ve shot the choke many times over the years and like the density of the pattern I get along with the ported pattern that reduces recoil.
- Elongated conical and bevelled gates
- 20 percent model increase
- Easy in and out
- More rounds on target
- Reduced recoil
- Great range
Primos know a thing or two about killing turkeys and they wouldn’t trust their success to a product they don’t trust. Primos’ Jellyhead Maximum Turkey Choke could have easily secured the best price overall, but its wallet-friendly price makes it a budget no-brainer. Multiple thread constructions allow you to choose your gun and find the Jellyhead thread pattern that is right for you. The tapered design and flux gates reduce shoulder abuse while putting more lead (or other metal) on target. As with most turkey chokes, the only metal the JellyHead won’t handle is steel, so don’t try to use it as an extended waterfowl choke.
Best long range
Why did he make the cut: Designed for use with Winchester long-barreled shotgun shells, this extended barrel has broken heads beyond 50 yards.
- Ported design dampens recoil
- 10 percent more penetration
- Lethality over 50 yards
- Designed for multiple makes and models of shotguns
- Exceptional pattern density
- Keeps the shot ultra tight
- Designed for one type of ammunition
Carlson’s is a choke creation genius and the Long Beard XR is one of the manufacturer’s finest creations. Designed to produce distinct downrange patterns when using Winchester’s long-bearded turkey loads, this tube promises ultra-tight patterns and holds plenty of bullet on target. When combined with the Winchester’s long chin, the combination gives the turkey 10 percent more penetration than the standard bullet at distances greater than 50 yards, and terminal performance on target is increased because the design of the choke tube strongly throws the shot round. . I have used the tube with other ammo and seen similar results.
Best gauge 20
Why did he make the cut: This choke is one of the best I’ve used and comes in handy when shooting my Browning 12 gauge—I like the density of the pattern.
- 17-4 stainless steel
- Safe for lead, bismuth and TSS
- The tube never leaves the jaws of the lathe
- Amazing customer service
- High density of the model
- No impact change points
Rob Roberts is a master craftsman and has spent a good deal of his time perfecting shotgun chokes, many of which have found their way into the shotguns in my arsenal for one reason: They perform as advertised. Built in a single cycle, the exterior and interior are straightened before the tube ever leaves the lathe. This construction means consistent concentricity and you never have to worry about changing your point of impact. The choke threads slide into the barrel like butter and produce excellent pattern densities at near and far ranges. When shooting a 20 gauge paired with a high end TSS or Bismuth load, dropping a Tom in his tracks is possible beyond 50 yards.
Things to consider before buying a turkey stuffer
First, you need to consider the ammunition you plan to run and the shotgun you plan to take into the turkey woods. Some chokes are designed to work better with certain metals (lead, bismuth, TSS) and you want to make sure you are buying a choke tube that will fit properly in your shotgun.
Next, you need to consider your turkey hunting plans. I’m an open-sight guy and limit my shots to 60 yards and in (after 20 years of turkey hunting all over the country, I’ve only shot one bird at this distance). I shoot turkeys for the thrill of their call, and when I get them tight, I like a #7 1/2 or #9 or TSS bismuth load. Shooting smaller sized pellets that are denser than lead and pairing those pellets with a quality choke means maximum lethality and close range.
When it comes to testing, I’ve lost a small fortune on turkey chokes over the years, and unfortunately, one of the best ways to find the top choke for your turkey killer is to buy them and to try them. However, I recommend reading the available literature and watching videos that provide decent information about a model you are considering. Some excellent choke tube tests have been performed and these tests are good for gathering additional knowledge.
I would also visit the website of the choke manufacturer you are considering and make sure the choke is available for your shotgun. If so, do an online search and see if you can find some reviews that discuss the success and failures other shooters have found with the tube you’re considering.
Frequently asked questions
Q: What is the best choke for turkey hunting?
I like an extended choke tube. These tubes produce exceptional patterns and keep recoil under control.
Q: Do you need an extended choke for turkey hunting?
No. My first 10 seasons in the turkey woods yielded 10 longbeards and I took all of those birds with a standard Remington Full choke. On that note, all those shots were very close, and over the years, I saw the light and changed to extended choke tubes when shooting turkeys.
Q: What do you look for in a turkey stuffing?
It has to fit properly in your shotgun, and I want a choke that will keep my pattern tight and uniform and put a lot of rounds on a target beyond 50 yards.
Q: What size shot is best for turkeys?
Man, this question can cause some heated debate among the turkey crowd – every turkey hunter has their own opinion on strike size. I consider myself an old school turkey hunter sold on #5 shot, but with advancements in choke tube design and the undeniable death of bismuth and TSS, I stick to #7 1/2 and #9 shot these days . When I pull the trigger on a big old Tom, I want a lot of pellets in the air.
Don’t overdo it – you’ll drive yourself crazy and may end up spending a lot of money. Do your research, do your testing, and when you find a turkey stuffing that pairs well with a particular type of crust, stick with that combination and everything else will be cream cheese.
I’ve hunted turkeys from Idaho to Texas to Florida and just about every state in between and tested and tinned turkey choke piles. These are chokes that have proven their worth. I have a cart in my garage full of turkey stuffing; one might say I’m a collector, but only a small part is in the original lineup, and this article contains most of that lineup.