View Full Version : 30" and full choke

09-23-2010, 12:33 PM
I've been surfing gunbroker.com lately looking for a new gun and I've noticed something... I see a lot of the semi's have 30" barrels and are choked full. Most of these guns seem older than me (which isn't saying much) but is there some reason why these are like that?

I would think they would be just a little more open like say a modified... Can anyone give me a history lessen?

09-23-2010, 01:13 PM
I started hunting in the mid 50's and back then (and before) full choked shotguns were the norm, as well as longer (28"-32") barrels. A person generally owned one shotgun that was used for everything, including waterfowl and upland birds. With early powders it was believed that a longer barrel was required to fully burn all the powder. Over the years shells were improved and loaded with faster burning powders, thus the longer barrel was not needed. However, there are those that do prefer the longer sighting plane, especially for pass shooting waterfowl. With new plastic hulls and wads shot columns held together better and that made it possible to get tigher patterns with a more open choke. Then came the era of steel shot. Since steel shot did not compress or deform like lead when it passed through the choke area of the barrel, shooting a lot of steel in an older full choked gun would damage the barrel. Thus the need for more open chokes.

I'm sure that a lot of these older 12 ga. guns are also chambered for 2 3/4" shells and not 3". Back when I was a young hunter I didn't know of anyone that had a 3" gun. Not sure you could even buy shells at the local Coast-to-Coast.

There is nothing wrong with some of these older guns, it's just that everyone wants a 3" or 3 1/2" gun with choke tubes. There are usually some good buys to be had on these shotguns because there is not much demand for them. If a 2 3/4" gun will work for your needs you could do a couple of things with it to shoot steel. You could have the choke bored out to Modified or IC. Or you could have choke tubes installed. And if you are having choke tubes installed it would also allow you to shorten the barrel to the desired length.

Sorry for rambling. Hope this was the info you were looking for.

09-23-2010, 01:21 PM
That was an awesome reply! Very interesting and nice insight into the history of shotgunning. I wasn't necessarily thinking about buying any of the guns I just thought it was interesting because these days you just don't see many 30" barrels on new guns.

After reading the part about modifying the gun to shoot steel I might consider buying one if I could have a gunsmith do that for me.... only problem is I think that might be a little expensive.

I know there has been a lot of discussion about steel on this board but I tend shoot almost all steel just because I hunt a lot of public land and some of it is the WPA type which don't allow lead and I would hate to be "caught" accidentally carrying lead in my vest.

Thanks for the info!

09-23-2010, 01:26 PM
Carlson's is just one company that installs choke tubes. For a single barrel gun the cost is $125 which includes 3 tubes.

09-23-2010, 01:27 PM
Zeb pretty much covered ya. Yes do not shoot steel through one. Getting them bored can be as little as 40$

09-23-2010, 01:34 PM
Yeah that's much cheaper than I thought. I really don't mind buying a decent used gun and this might be a good way to get into the semi gun market. I mostly just shoot an O/U but I would really like to have an auto for deer and turkey hunting.

It's also nice to have an extra shell when I hunt pheasant in SD... Last time I went out there all the guys were laughing at me as I was reloading my gun when wave after wave of pheasants were leaving the field we had just pushed.

Uncle Buck
09-23-2010, 01:45 PM
Zeb's 100% dead on on this one. I' ve only 3 guns with tubes, two autos and one sxs, that I shoot steel in. All I ever use is ic. 30" tubes are by and large dinos in the field tho used in sporting clays and trap.

Ranger Rick
09-23-2010, 02:46 PM
When I was 12 I bought a used Stevens 12 ga. pump, 30" barrel, full choke, for $25 with paper route money. Dad had to cut the stock back so I could shoulder it. I remember Dad's first pheasant hunt with a 20 ga. semi-auto he had just bought. Our old setter goes on point, the rooster flushes and dad raps off three quick shots, all misses. As the bird gets out there a bit I slam it with one shot. You didn't need to be in a hurry with that long barrel and full choke. I still take that gun to SD with me as a backup and even carry it once in a while just for grins.

09-23-2010, 03:44 PM
Those old 30" full guns are a good deal for a reason. However, unless you are a crack shot, AND plan on letting the birds get out to full-choke distance, you are much better off with a modified choke. Also, modern shells with their one-piece shot cups are just like tightening up the choke one degree as compared to the old paper shells with cardboard wads. Some of the new "high-performance ammo" is actually designed to shoot better with an I/C or more open choke.

A lot of beginners either miss most of their shots or rip birds apart with a full-choked gun. Neither of those options are good. You could do well with three chokes for most applications (I/C, lite mod, and mod) in a gun with ecrew-in chokes.

09-23-2010, 07:08 PM
Excellent job George, You nailed it perfect. i only wish I had wrote it.........Bob

09-24-2010, 06:21 AM
Good job explaining it Zeb.

Believe it or not. The long barrels are making a come back(maybe not so much the full choke though). Many guns are available in 30, 32 or even 34" now. Most are doubles(O/U's) but Benelli is offering several autos with a 30" barrel

quail hound
09-24-2010, 07:33 PM
The gun I started with was my grandpas 30in full choke wingmaster he bought in '53. By the time quail got out far enough they had usually put cover between me and them. That gun brought down a lot of roosters in its day though, and now its one of my prized possessions. It still comes out for at least one hunt a year, thank you grandpa.

09-24-2010, 08:31 PM
I agree with the previous posts but want to add another wrinkle. With some of those old autos you could switch barrels, including adding a 3" barrel. Some had actions that would take a 3" barrel with no other adjustments. Not every gun can do this but a few can. If 2 3/4" shells will fill you needs have the barrel shortened and add a poly-choke. I had one installed on a 870 plain barrel a few years back. It makes a nice backup gun or when I hunt with guys who come to visit and don't want to bring their gun. The poly-choke once you get use to it is much faster to change then any choke tubes. Great for waterfowling or dove hunting when you never know what range your target will be at. The poly-choke people will make your barrel whatever length you want. Good luck.http://www.ultimatepheasanthunting.com/forum/images/smilies/cheers.gif

09-29-2010, 04:31 PM
I get a lot of hell for this, but I have switched to full choke only when hunting for pheasants. (28" barrel auto) I want dead on arival to the ground, and it just does not happen enough unless you go with a full choke. IMHO.

09-29-2010, 06:55 PM
Not at all. DOA or DRT is much better than running down cripples.