5 Best Chokes for Buckshot: Which is Right for You?

by Dave Chesson

July 4, 2023

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Choosing the right choke for the type of ammo you’re working with is crucial to shooting efficiently, and this is pretty important to know whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned shooter. Personally, I can’t even begin to tell you how many mixups I made when I was just getting started with the buckshot; I’m no stranger to being left in a cloud of fur and feathers after trying—and failing—to hunt small prey with it.

Buckshot is a very versatile projectile and is usually used for close-to-mid-range engagements, like medium-to-large game hunting and self-defense scenarios, where its pellet spread gives it an advantage over something like a birdshot. If you are a duck hunter, read here for our best chokes for waterfowl hunting.

With buckshot, I’ve found that a narrower shotgun choke gives the best, densest patterns. Dense patterns are ideal for the best accuracy, but of course, no single choke tube is going to be the best for every single scenario. So I have come up with a list of categories and recommended the best performing chokes for each of them.

Before we dive into the list, let’s take a quick look at what exactly buckshot is and how it differs from the other shotgun ammunition you might already be familiar with.

What is buckshot?

Shotgun Shell Parts
Shotgun Shell Parts

Buckshot is one of the many types of ammo, or “shells,” you would use with a shotgun, and it gets its name from being frequently used to hunt “buck,” also known as large male deer. The pellets, or “shots,” in a buckshot shell are quite large, so it can deliver a serious amount of damage, which makes it great for taking down large prey.

Buckshot and other “shot” types are sized by number, and manufacturers typically make buckshot in sizes #00 through #4, from largest to smallest, respectively. The larger the pellets, the lower the load, meaning there are less of them packed into the shell, and I know all these conditions might sound a bit confusing, so here’s a quick breakdown of the specifications.

Buckshot SizeApproximate Weight of Single PelletApproximate Number of Pellets in a ShellApproximate Weight of Load (oz)
#00005.1g (85 gr.)5.910oz
#0004.54 g (70 gr.)6.972oz
#003.49 g (53.8 gr.)8.997oz
#03.18 g (49 gr.)91.022oz
#12.62 g (40.5 gr.)111.029oz
#21.91 g (29.4 gr.)151.023oz
#31.52 g (23.4 gr.)201.085oz
#41.34 g (20.7 gr.)241.148oz

#0000 and #000 are not unheard of, but are also not common among the hunting community. Since these are the largest (at approximately 85 grains and 70 grains), they are usually way too powerful for most hunts. Since I only use buckshot for large game, I have no reason to go with anything but #00, or “double aught” as it’s called in hunting circles.

Now, this next point is true of all shooting styles, but you’ve got to be especially careful with buckshot because of its immense take-down power; misfires are no joke, and you could seriously hurt whoever gets caught in the crossfire.

This is why most buckshot hunters wear bright clothing in the field to make their presence known to each other, and it’s also why I stick to #00 pellets; it’s got all the power I need without pushing the limits of safety.

Finally, you should know that not all buckshot is made the same; They make the pellets from a variety of materials such as lead, copper, tungsten, and copper-plated-steel. Different materials can give you different results, and just like your choke of choice, this can affect your shot patterns.

Now that you know what buckshot is, let’s take a look at the different types of chokes you can use to get the most out of it.

What type of choke is best for buckshot?

Depending on the hunting scenario, you might want a tighter or looser choke to control the spread and pattern of your shots. Based on my experience, I’d recommend two choke types for buckshot; full chokes and modified chokes.

Now, full chokes have the tightest constriction and narrow down the pellets the most so they stay together for longer and give a really dense pattern on impact. Modified chokes are slightly less constricted than full chokes and result in a more open pattern within the “kill zone.”

Typically, your kill zone is about 30-inches in diameter, and full chokes can land about 70% of your shot’s pellets within this zone. Modified chokes aren’t that far off and can result in a 60% distribution.

Here, I’ve recommended a mix of modified and full chokes, and instead of ranking them in any particular order, I’ve sorted them into their best categories.

Gun University’s Choices of the Best Chokes for Buckshot

Best Chokes for Buckshot

Carlson’s Buckshot Choke Tube
  • Can be used in a variety of situations
  • Reduced recoil due to the porting
  • Consistent pattern
  • Easy installation and removal
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Best for predators and large game

Mojo Outdoors Predator Fatal Shot Choke Tube

Mojo Outdoors Predator Fatal Shot Choke Tube
  • Convenient grip for changing chokes without tools
  • Dense and uniform shot patterns
  • Quicker and cleaner shots
  • Usable with all types of ammo
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Best long range buckshot

Carlson’s Coyote Choke Tube

Carlson’s Coyote Choke Tube
  • Works well for targeting predators from long distances
  • Dense patterns at extended ranges
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Trulock Predator Choke Tube
  • Balanced pattern density and spread
  • Great for long range shooting
  • Textured grip for easy removal and installation
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Best for dense patterns

Kick’s Buck Kicker Choke Tube

Kick's Buck Kicker Choke Tube
  • Extra ports designed for reduced recoil
  • Consistent patterns up to 40 yards
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Best Buckshot Choke Spec Comparison

Below is a table of the specifications for each choke. Click the name of the item to jump to that review.

ChokeGaugeMaterialLength (in)Extended/Flush
Carlson’s Buckshot Choke Tube12Heat treated 17-4 stainless steel Black finish8Extended
Mojo Outdoors Fatal Shot Choke Tube1217-4 Ph stainless steel Gold finish9Extended
Carlson’s Dead Coyote Choke Tube12Stainless steel Black finish8Extended
Trulock Predator Choke Tube12Stainless steel Black oxide finish4Extended
Kick's Buck Kicker Choke Tube1217-4 stainless steel Black finish8Extended

Best Chokes for Buckshot

Here is our list for the best chokes for shooting buckshot

  1. Carlson’s Buckshot Choke Tube
  2. Mojo Outdoors Fatal Shot Choke Tube
  3. Carlson’s Dead Coyote Choke Tube
  4. Trulock Predator Choke Tube
  5. Kick’s Buck Kicker Choke Tube

Best Chokes for Buckshot – Reviews

Since the right choke for one person may not work for everyone, I’ve ranked the best ones I’ve used in several categories, instead of ranking them in order.

Best overall Carlson’s Buckshot Choke Tube

Carlson’s Buckshot Choke Tube Feature Image

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  • Effectiveness A
  • Durability A
  • Ease of Use A
  • Value A

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Carlson’s Buckshot Choke Tube Specs

  • Gauge 12
  • Material Heat treated stainless steel finished with a non-reflective matte black coating
  • Recommended Shells Lead, steel, and HEVI-Shot loads (cannot be used with any steel shot larger than BB)
  • Extended/Flush Extended
  • Length (in) 8

Carlson’s Buckshot Choke Tube Review

If you’re looking for a jack-of-all-trades buckshot choke tube, I recommend going with Carlson’s Buckshot Choke Tube. It is a versatile choke that can be used in most situations. 

The Carlson Buckshot Tube gives you tidy patterns with #00 and #000 buckshot, and this holds true on the field as well. When you pair it with the recommended buckshot, it has enough power for everything from hunting to home defense.

This choke has been extended from the barrel and has been ported to reduce recoil and muzzle jump. I also like its matte black finish since it makes the choke ideal for low light hunting to make sure that you don’t scare off your prey before you take the shot.

Now, one problem I have with it is that while it works well for all sizes of buckshot (from #000 buckshot all the way to #4 buckshot), you cannot use steel shot larger than BB size (.18”) or steel shot at velocities of 1,550 feet per second. So, if you are someone who typically hunts predators or other large game, this may not be the best choice for that type of quarry. 

Overall, I would recommend this choke to almost anyone because it can be a good fit for almost any situation and handle most ammunition. It is also durable, hassle-free, and doesn’t cost a fortune. I’d say that’s a pretty sweet deal.

Carlson’s Buckshot Choke Tube Pros and Cons

  • Flexibility – Can be used in a variety of situations
  • Recoil – Reduced recoil due to the porting
  • Pattern – Consistent patterns
  • Installation – Easy installation and removal
  • Velocity Rating – Doesn’t work well with steel shot above 1550 feet per second

Best for predators and large game Mojo Outdoors Predator Fatal Shot Choke

Mojo Outdoors Predator Fatal Shot Choke Feature Image

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  • Effectiveness A
  • Durability A
  • Ease of Use A-
  • Value A

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Mojo Outdoors Predator Fatal Shot Choke Specs

  • Gauge 12
  • Material 17-4 Ph stainless steel
  • Recommended Shells Any
  • Extended/Flush Extended
  • Length (in) 9

Mojo Outdoors Predator Fatal Shot Choke Review

Mojo is one of my favorite choke brands out there because of one thing: they always keep the hunter’s needs in mind. So, when I picked up the Mojo Outdoors Predator Fatal Shot Choke, I had very high expectations, and I’m pleased to say they’ve managed to exceed it. 

They designed the Outdoors Predator with the gun experts at Rob Robert Gunworks, specifically to hunt predators. The construction itself is standard and nothing to complain about; it’s made of 17-4 Ph stainless steel and has a gold finish, making it a solid choke for buckshot.

But what really makes it stand out to me is that they’ve made sure it’s able to handle all sorts of ammo, including steel shots. Now, not a lot of chokes do well with steel shots, so I consider this a huge plus. 

Another great thing about this is that because the Outdoors Predator can take almost any ammo you want to use, you won’t have to change tubes often. That doesn’t mean it’s hard to remove though; it’s got a knurled grip, so I could easily switch out mine with the Carlson’s Buckshot Tube even on the field. 

If you want a solid choke you can use for self defense against big predators like coyotes, then the Outdoors Predator Fatal Shot is the way to go. That said, the same features that make it so effective against big predators makes it useless against turkey and other smaller game. It’s also unported (that’s why you can use it with so many different ammo), but that really increases the recoil and muzzle jump, so repeat shots can be a hassle with this one.  

Overall, if you are hunting predators like coyotes, Outdoors Predator Fatal Shot is a great choice, but if you are looking at small game, you’d be better off with another choke. 

Mojo Outdoors Predator Fatal Shot Choke Pros and Cons

  • Textured – Convenient grip for changing chokes without tools
  • Pattern – Dense and uniform shot patterns
  • Efficacy – Quicker and cleaner shots
  • Ammo Flexibility – Usable with all types of ammo
  • No Ports – Increased recoil and muzzle jump

Best long range buckshot Carlson’s Coyote Choke Tube

Carlson’s Coyote Choke Tube Feature Image

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  • Effectiveness A-
  • Durability A
  • Ease of Use A
  • Value A-

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Carlson’s Coyote Choke Tube Specs

  • Gauge 12
  • Material Stainless steel with a matte black finish
  • Recommended Shells HEVI-Shot, lead, nickel, or copper plated loads (not approved for steel shot larger than #4)
  • Extended/Flush Extended
  • Length (in) 8

Carlson’s Coyote Choke Tube Review

There’s another Carlson on the list, and as the name suggests, the Carlson’s Coyote Choke Tube is designed specifically for hunting coyotes. I’ve also used it to hunt medium to large game since it has a tighter constriction compared to Carlson’s Buckshot Choke Tube, allowing for tighter spreads at longer ranges.

I have seen hunters complaining that this choke does not perform well at shorter ranges, but I advise against shooting it at short range. While this choke tube gives you consistent patterns with larger buckshot varieties, such as #00 buckshot at 20-30 yards, I got the best results with #4 buckshot at long ranges. So, you can confidently take it out to hunt predators from even distances up to 70 yards.

Even if you are hunting ducks or other waterfowl, you should have no problem using this choke for them as long as its medium range. I’ve taken it out duck hunting once, and its tight patterns are great to get a kill without destroying the bird. I also like that this choke is extended and has groves, making it easy to remove and install.

But it does have a couple of issues: the first is that it has more recoil and muzzle jump than most other chokes. Sure, it has some ports that can help reduce some of it, but I wish they had done better with the choke’s design because making repeat shots with it can be very difficult. 

The second issue I have is connected to the first one; because of its ported design, you cannot use it with any steel shot larger than #4 or you can seriously damage the choke. It’s not a deal-breaker for me, but if you live in a state that bans lead shots on some animals like waterfowl, then it’s worth looking up your laws before making a purchase.

Carlson’s Coyote Choke Tube Pros and Cons

  • Range – Works well for targeting predators from long distances
  • Pattern – Dense patterns at extended ranges
  • Recoil – More recoil and muzzle jump
  • Ammo Restrictions – Designed specifically for smaller loads, using larger loads may cause damage

Best Budget Trulock Predator Choke Tube

Trulock Predator Choke Tube Feature Image

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  • Effectiveness A-
  • Durability A
  • Ease of Use A-
  • Value A+

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Trulock Predator Choke Tube Specs

  • Gauge 12
  • Material Stainless steel with black oxide coating
  • Recommended Shells #2, #4 buckshot
  • Extended/Flush Extended
  • Length (in) 8

Trulock Predator Choke Tube Review

If you are on a budget and looking for a value priced choke, then I’ve got you covered. The Trulock Predator Choke line is very affordable and will help shoot consistent #00 or #000 buckshot at a short range; however, this choke truly shines at predator hunting, so I recommend pairing it with either a #4 buck or a #2 buck when hunting.

What I like about Trulock is that they don’t cut costs on construction; made of high strength stainless steel, the Predator will last you a long time. It also has a black oxide finish, and a knurled head for easy installation and removal. 

Like Trulock’s waterfowl choke line, the predator also gives you some tight patterns perfect for hunting varmints. I recommend you take some time patterning your shotgun when you use it though; it not only helps you get familiar with your choke but also helps to find the right load for you. Trulock is so confident in their product that they also have a 60-day refund or exchange policy; so if you don’t like your purchase, you can always get your money back. But after using it, I don’t think you will. It’s a very solid all rounder choke for any hunter on a budget.  

The only problem is that the Predator is non-ported right out of the box, meaning you could experience a bit of recoil and muzzle jump. This is hardly a deal breaker though, and I would still say it’s a great value priced choke.  

Trulock Predator Choke Tube Pros and Cons

  • Pattern – Balanced pattern density and spread
  • Range – Great for long-range shooting
  • Grippy – Textured grip for easy removal and installation
  • Recoil – Increased recoil and muzzle jump

Best for dense patterns Kick’s Buck Kicker Choke Tube

Kick's Buck Kicker Choke Tube Feature Image

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  • Effectiveness A
  • Durability A-
  • Ease of Use A
  • Value B+

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Kick’s Buck Kicker Choke Tubes Specs

  • Gauge 12
  • Material Stainless steel
  • Recommended Shells Lead loads
  • Extended/Flush Extended
  • Length (in) 8

Kick’s Buck Kicker Choke Tubes Review

Coming in as my pick for the best dense patterns (and, honestly, the best name) is Kick’s Buck Kicker. The Buck Kicker comes in different constrictions for different shot sizes, but I am personally a huge fan of their full choke, which is perfect for #00 buck. I’ve always gotten dense patterns with this choke. You can get effective patterns between 40 and 60 yards if you find the right combination of choke and shot size.

These high-quality chokes are made of 17-4 Ph grade stainless steel, which is a welcome change from the lower quality stainless steel. While the lower quality material found in most factory chokes isn’t usually made to last, the Buck Kicker is corrosion-resistant, super durable, and has stayed precise since the first time I shot with it. I love the build of this choke. It has a unique conical internal design and is extended with diagonal ports, and all of this put together improves pattern density down to a 20-22-inch diameter.

My only grievance with the Buck Kicker is that you can’t use it with all shot types. The manufacturer recommends that you only use it with lead shots, but they ban lead shot in some states. 

Copper-plated pellets are what I’ve found to be the best shot type for this choke, but I’m hesitant to keep using them with the Buck Kicker cause there is a risk of them damaging my equipment. It’s a pretty great choke overall, but personally, the ammo issues are hard to look past, so I’ll have to say no to this one when it comes to general use. That said, if you don’t mind taking that risk or plan to only use it occasionally for when you need that high-density shot, the Buck Kicker might just be the one for you.  

Kick’s Buck Kicker Choke Tubes Pros and Cons

  • Porting – Extra ports designed for reduced recoil
  • Patterns – Consistent, dense patterns up to 40 yards
  • Shot Type – Not ideal for steel shot

Buyers guide

If you are new to buckshot chokes, it can be tricky to know what to look for when buying them and what differentiates them from other types of chokes. So I’ve put together a buyer’s guide to help you understand the differences between the different types of ammo and what you should be looking at when buying buckshot chokes. Let’s get right into it.

Types of Shotgun Shells Cutaway
Types of Shotgun Shells Cutaway

The biggest difference between buckshot and birdshot is the size of the pellets that are loaded in the shell.

Birdshot shells are mostly used to hunt—you guessed it—birds and other small game, and they contain tiny pellets in large numbers, while buckshot shells have a smaller amount of larger pellets.

You wouldn’t stand a chance against buck or elk with birdshot, and you’d probably vaporize a duck if you went at it with buckshot—a mistake I have unfortunately made in my early days of hunting.

Slugs, on the other hand, do the job of multiple buckshot shells—they can take down large prey in one shot, but it would be a waste of power to use them on quail or other smaller game. Here’s a bite-sized overview of the most important differences you should be aware of:

BirdshotBuckshotSlug
Shots range from #4 to #9 (.13” to .08”)Shots range from #000 to #4 (.36” to .24”)Shots range from 7⁄8 oz, 1 oz, and 1 1⁄8 oz
Used for hunting small game, vermin, birds, shooting sports, and target practiceUsed for hunting medium to large game, self-defense, and law enforcement scenariosUsed for hunting medium to larger game
Broader spread to hit fast-moving targetsTighter spread for ethically harvesting mid-large gameNo spread

Now that we’ve covered the basics of what buckshot is and what sets it apart from other shotgun ammo, here are some questions you should be asking when you buy your buckshot choke.

What to consider when purchasing a buckshot choke?

With chokes, it’s worth remembering that certain specs are more important than others, depending on your priorities and your quarry. Asking yourself these questions while browsing through your options can help narrow down your best choices:

Purpose – What do you intend to use the choke for?

Do you want a choke you can use for a variety of purposes or a choke specifically for hunting? Maybe you don’t hunt and want a choke to defend yourself. Depending on what you have in mind, you may want to pick a certain choke over another.

Range – What do you hunt and what’s the range you need?

Depending on what you hunt, the range you’ll need from your choke will differ. If you are hunting coyotes, you are going to need something with long ranges and tight patterns, but you may not need the same range for small game. Consider your hunting habits and optimal ranges when choosing a choke.

Ease of use – Is your choke easy to use right out of the box?

While patterning is a general practice when it comes to using chokes with different types of ammunition, chokes that work well with the recommended ammo right out of the box are so much easier to use. They eliminate the need for guesswork, allowing you to get straight to hunting. 

Manufacturer recommendations – Does the choke have limitations? 

They may design certain chokes for specific ammo; therefore, it is important to identify any special restrictions for the choke. If the choke cannot handle a specific ammo type or ammo velocity, it could damage the choke over time. I know a friend in California who ordered a buckshot choke in a hurry and found out on the packaging that it couldn’t handle steel shot. As we all know, certain states have laws preventing lead ammunition. Save yourself some time by taking a look at the manufacturer’s recommendation for the choke.

Finding the right choke at the end of the day depends on you; what you want out of your shotgun, your personal situation, and your ammo preferences, so use your judgment to choose the one that fits you the best.  

Conclusion

You have a lot to consider when you purchase a choke, but taking that time to experiment and figure out what really works for you can make a big difference in your hunts. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a highly rated choke, but you’re always going to perform best with a choke that feels comfortable for you to use with your shotgun. Don’t be afraid to take a chance on a choke you like, you never know–it just might be the right one for you. Happy hunting. 

Best Chokes for Buckshot FAQs

Can you shoot #00 buck with a full choke?

Yes, you can shoot #00 buckshot with a full choke. In fact, shooting buckshot with a full, modified, improved or cylinder choke is perfectly safe, but I recommend sticking to full or modified chokes. They give you better range and denser patterns.  

What choke to use with buckshot?

The best overall choke to use with the buckshot is the Carlson’s Buckshot Choke Tube. It’s versatile, durable, and perfect for hunting. 

What effect does choke have on buckshot?

A choke can better control the spread and pattern of your shots, so you can have a better hunting experience when using buckshot.  

Does buckshot do more damage than slug?

It depends on what you want out of your shotgun. A slug will penetrate deeper than a buckshot, but buckshot has a larger spread.

Which two shotgun chokes are the best for hunting?

The best choke for hunting would depend on what you plan on hunting. I recommend going with a versatile choke and a specialty choke for hunting. The Carlson’s Buckshot Choke is a great choke you can use for a variety of hunting scenarios, and for the specialty choke, I recommend checking out the Carlson’s Coyote Choke Tube; it works well for long range shooting.

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About Dave Chesson

Dave Chesson is prior Navy with a specialty in international arms dealing for the US government across multiple countries. Having traveled the world and abided by ATF and ITAR, Roy has a unique background in legal as well as practical capabilities of weapons deployment and use.

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