Beretta Blog

Shotgun Shells: The Ins and Outs of Selection (Part 3)

Posted by matteo recanatini on Jul 18, 2012 5:57:00 AM

By Brad Wilson - Guest Contributor

We now have a basis of how factory loads perform vs hand loads and a good understanding of how to figure out what load works best in your gun.  Now we will take a look at a few factors that we can manipulate in order to fine tune what we are working with.  Choke tubes and recoil pads, we'll take a look at them after the jump.

One of the first things that people like to change when they buy a shotgun is the choke tube.  There are a few manufacturers in the game that produce some excellent products.  I have personally shot some of the best choke tubes on the market and swore by a couple of them and it could have potentially been a huge mistake on my part.  My initial fault the first time I shot an aftermarket choke tube was due to me shooting it in the field on a hunt out of a buddies gun.  My shot to kill ratio on a couple of vollies actually went up and it really made me think it was because of the tube.  What I didn't take into consideration is the fact that I was shooting a different gun with a different setup.  Shotgun fitment is the number one reason people miss.  I have heard it too many times, "Do you think this gun will be good for me?" My reply is first and foremost GO FIT THE GUN!

Now don't get me wrong, aftermarket choke tubes can really improve your shot to kill ratio especially when your standard tubes that come in the gun do not have much research put into them.  This is the main reason I shoot a Beretta A400 Xtreme. There was so much engineering and field testing put into the OptimaChoke HP tubes that I don't have to go out and spend another $50-100 for an aftermarket tube.  It comes in the package!  The patterns through this gun are outstanding and produce a very high percentage of pellets on target while patterning the gun.  It is just one more reason this gun has my reliability stamp of approval.

The other thing we will talk about is recoil pads.  A lot of guys feel that follow up shots are more accurate when there is less recoil.  I will agree with this to a certain extent.  Recovery time between shots is vital in certain situations in the blind.  One thing the shooter should remember is a rushed shot is a missed shot.  IF you can concentrate, remember to breathe, and place your shots correctly then less recoil is a great deal.  Until you can get that down then your second and third shots are pointless.  My dad taught me this at an early age by letting me shoot a single shot 20 gauge.  His theory was my shot selection would be better if I only had 1 chance.

Now I can utilize this and become a better shot. The recoil reduction in my A400 Xtreme  is above and beyond anything else on the market and was the final piece to the puzzle for me.  Add to that the ability to change the length of pull with the extra butt pads, and you have a gun that can be tailored to just about anyone straight out of the box.

This wraps up my 3 part "class" on shotgun shells, how to select them, and how to manipulate their performance.  Hopefully your next trip out to the duck blind will be more productive with these extra tools in your blind bag.

Brad Wilson is an avid outdoorsman targeting waterfowl and saltwater fish and is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog.  He can be reached on Twitter or YouTube.

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

Topics: Hunting, Clay Shooting, New Shooters