- Modified Choke: These chokes provide moderate constriction while shooting so they can be used for both short and medium range purposes. This makes them good for both hunting as well as home defense purposes. However most manufacturers recommend using lead pellets for modified chokes as opposed to slug shells. This is because a slug can deal self-inflicted damage to the shotgun if too much constriction is applied by the choke.
- Full Choke: These chokes have the tightest constriction, and are usually recommended for shooting longer distances beyond 40 yards. Some manufacturers say that their shotgun models with full chokes can be used for even longer range shooting up to a distance of 60 to 65 yards. A full choke does not spread the lead pellets wider as in other types resulting in better accuracy to fired shots. These are usually best for hunting but can prove troublesome in up-close combat and self-defense scenarios.
To understand the function of chokes better as well as to differentiate among different types, the percentage of pellets which fall within a 30-inch circle at a distance of 40 yards can be calculated. In the case of cylinder chokes, around 40% of the pellets fall inside a 30-inch radius, while the share for improved cylinder chokes is about 50%. When it comes to modified chokes, you get around 60% of the pellets inside this range, and about 70% when using full choke shotguns.
All shotgun chokes have a series of markings to help the user identify which type of choke is installed inside the gun’s barrel. Cylinder chokes will have five notches on the end of the choke, while improved cylinder chokes have four. Similarly, modified chokes will have three notches, whereas full chokes will have only one notch each. Remember that not all manufacturers have the same markings on their chokes. If you do not know how to figure out the difference, you can seek help from an expert or manufacturer to understand the notches and recognize which choke type is meant for your shotgun.
Note that there is no one-size-fits-all choke; for instance, you cannot have a Remington choke installed on a Mossberg shotgun, or start using a Ruger choke on a Browning. Although some of the Benelli and Beretta chokes are interchangeable, that definitely does not cover all shotgun models available on the market. As mentioned previously, the choice of choke depends heavily on the specific needs of the user, so you should have a good idea of general use and be clear about your requirements before selecting one.