Best Chokes For Duck Hunting (Top 5) | Duck Choke Tubes 101

Best Duck Hunting Choke Tubes
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The best choke for duck hunting will allow you to achieve the best shotgun pattern density at distances you expect to be shooting the most. For this reason, the best duck hunting choke tube for you will be situational.

Choke tubes may seem complicated because of marketing jargon, but don’t overcomplicate it. Choosing a choke tube is actually very simple. At the end of the day, choke tubes allow you to open or tighten your shotgun pattern depending on how far you’ll be shooting.

Below I talk about the main types of duck hunting chokes, what range each is best for, and some examples with links to some of the best duck hunting chokes on the market.

This post contains Amazon and other affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Of course, you are not obligated to use my links, but it does help fund these posts in hopes of bringing more value to you!

Types of Choke Tubes

There are a lot of choke tubes on the market. The most common ones are listed below, in order, from the most open to the tightest pellet spread.

  • Skeet
  • Cylinder
  • Improved Cylinder
  • Modified
  • Improved Modified
  • Full

But which chokes are best for duck hunting? Keep reading to find out…

Best Choke Tube Types For Duck Hunting

There is no singular “best” choke tube for duck hunting. It is actually beneficial to have more than one so you can adapt to your hunting situation accordingly.

For example, I would suggest getting an improved cylinder, modified, and full choke, this way you cover all your basis. Many new guns come with these in the box already.

Best Chokes For Duck Hunting | Waterfowl Choke Tubes
Full Chokes Are Best For Longer Passing Shots When Duck Hunting

Choke Tube Effective Ranges with Diagram

Improved-Cylinder Choke Tubes For Duck Hunting

Improved cylinder choke tubes are a great option for close-range to medium-range duck hunting. For a 12ga shotgun, you will do best is ducks are between 15-30 yards. If you expect birds to decoy well and at close range, the improved cylinder is an excellent option because the shot pattern will be wider at close range making it easier to hit ducks.

Modified Choke Tubes For Duck Hunting

Modified choke tubes are probably the most common choke tubes for duck hunting because they’re good for close-range shots (15-25 yards), excellent for mid-range shots (25-35 yards), and decent for longer-range shots out to about 40 yards. Basically, they are the best well-rounded choke tube for any situation.

In this video below you’ll see an example of a goose that was really close that I missed 3 times 😳 because my pattern was too tight. But I was able to get him once he got out a little further into the sweet spot of my pattern.

Improved-Modified Choke Tubes For Duck Hunting

Improved-Modified choke tubes are another great choke option for duck hunters. These chokes offer even tighter patterns than modified choke tubes. They’re best suited for medium to long-range shots.

You will likely want to pass on ducks that are at close range (within 15 yards) and wait for them to get further away because it will cause too much damage to the ducks because the pattern is so tight. It’s going to be harder to hit ducks at closer ranges too because of the tight pattern. 

That said, if you know ducks aren’t going to decoy well and you’re going to be getting a lot of further passing shots an improved modified choke is great for duck hunting. The improved modified choke is perfect for distances of about 25-45 yards.

Full-Choke Tubes For Duck Hunting

Many full chokes don’t let you shoot steel through them so you need to check to see if the full choke you’re buying is steel-shot compatible.

You will likely want to pass on ducks that are at close range (within 15 yards) and wait for them to get further away because it will cause too much damage to the ducks because the pattern is so tight. It’s going to be even harder than the improved cylinder to hit ducks at closer ranges because the pattern is so tight.

Some hunters like this choke tube because if you’re a good shot and can hit ducks at medium ranges with a full choke it will greatly minimize wounding because you won’t have nearly as many stray pellets.

If you know ducks aren’t going to decoy well and you’re going to be getting a lot of further passing shots a full choke can be a great duck hunting option. The full choke is perfect for 25-50 yards, and maybe further if your setup is dialed in and you’ve got some hard-hitting ammo.

 

Choke Tubes Explained, Generalized Comparison Illustration of Different Choke Tubes and Their Effective Ranges (Cylinder vs Improved Cylinder vs Modified vs Full Choke Tubes).
Choke Tubes Explained, Generalized Comparison Illustration of Different Choke Tubes and Their Effective Ranges (Cylinder vs Improved Cylinder vs Modified vs Full Choke Tubes).

Best Duck Hunting Choke Tube Brands

When it comes to choke tubes there are only a few top dogs that make the best choke tubes for duck hunting. This makes the selection process easy. Below are the top 5 choke tubes for duck hunting. Of course, there are many more out there but these are tried and true choke tubes with the best ratings.

Carlson’s Cremator Choke Tubes

Carlson’s is one of the best shotgun choke tube brands because of their quality products. They have the most extensive shotgun patterning data on choke tubes and make it easy for you to choose the right choke tube for your shotgun and the type of hunting you do.

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Carlson’s Cremator Choke Tube Set

You can also get Carlson’s choke tubes in close-range, mid-range, and long-range options. Or you can buy a pack of all 3 so you’ll be ready for any duck hunting scenario. These equate to an improved cylinder, modified, and full choke.

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Hevi-Shot Extended Range (ER)

Hevi-Shot makes great choke tubes as well. The Extended Range (ER) choke tube is a long-range choke tube that is able to handle Hevi-Shot ammo which is very dense, which makes it one of the best ammunition available for duck hunting. Not all choke tubes can handle Hevi-Shot ammo. So if you shoot a lot of Hevi-Shot this choke tube might be for you.

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Kicks High Flyer

This is another choke tube that was designed to handle Hevi-Shot ammunition. These choke tubes work great just be sure to check to see if the shot sizes you are planning to use will work with the choke tube constriction you are planning to get.

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JEBS High Voltage Waterfowl Choke

JEBS can also handle any ammunition you throw at it. These chokes have excellent ratings and are well-known in the duck hunting world.

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Are The Choke Tubes That Come With Your Gun Any Good?

You will need to pattern your shotgun with them to see if they work well in your particular shotgun. However, yes they are good and are all most hunters will ever need if they come with an improved cylinder, modified, and full choke.

That said, sometimes stock choke tubes can’t handle the shotgun shells you want to shoot. For example, full chokes often can only shoot lead and can’t shoot steel shot at all because the choke isn’t strong enough. In this case, you could buy a 3rd party choke full choke if you wanted a tighter shot constriction than a modified choke.

Pattern Your Shotgun For Duck Hunting

Each gun will shoot a little differently so it is important to pattern your shotgun to determine the shot density. To do this all you need to do is set up a large paper target at different yardages, shoot them, and see how spread out your pellets are.

You’ll want a roll of paper 36-inches wide, plywood, and a staple gun. Draw a 30-inch circle on the paper after stapling it to the plywood and place the target at 30 or 40 yards (or at a distance you shoot the most). Check to see how many pellets are hitting within the 30-inch circle.

If most of your pellets are spread out and have a lot of gaps then you’ll want to use a tighter choke that has more constriction to achieve tighter patterns. If your pellets are very tight together, you’ll want to use a choke tube with less constriction to spread your bbs out.

More Duck Hunting Resources:

Find the best duck hunting gear faster by navigating to one of my more specific articles:

More Duck Hunting Resources

Best Brands When Buying Duck Choke Tubes

  • Carlson’s
  • Browning
  • Hevi-Shot
  • Jebs
  • Kicks
  • Mojo
  • Mueller
  • Patternmaster
  • Primos
  • Trulok

Other Places To Shop For Hunting Gear

Some great places to find hunting gear include:

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Article Written By: Jason Tome

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