My buddy laughed when I pulled out a can of a product that plumbers use called Nev-R-Seize. He watched me jack up my new boat trailer, remove the wheels, and coat the threads and lugs. "That's a waste of time," he said, "mine always pop off when I change a flat tire." Well, he got a flat on our way to launch his boat for a sea duck hunt. And guess what? He was right. We jacked up his trailer and with one strong torque with his lug wrench, and he snapped one cleanly off. "Next time I'll try your goo," he said.
Choke tubes are similar in that they involve metal, threads and occasional water. Without regular care, they can become corroded and make their removal a chore. And don't they always seem to be stuck when you're trying to change chokes from full to cylinder quickly?
Waterfowl hunters are more prone to experiencing stuck choke tubes because their day of choice involves dumping rain along with boat spray. Upland bird hunters hit the fields and covers on soggy days, too, and that makes them candidates for seized tubes also. Here's how to remove a stuck choke tube from the muzzle and then to clean it properly before reinsertion.
1. Give 'em a bath
Soak the choke tube in Break Free CLP (Cleans, Lubricates, Protects). The penetrating solution breaks loose corrosion, dirt, and build-up on metal. It's especially effective on rusted threads. If you haven't cleaned or lubed your tubes in a while, then you'll need to let it soak. I take an old tomato paste can (washed of course), and add enough Break Free CLP so that it's about 2/3rds full. Invert the unloaded shotgun, place the muzzle in the small can, and let it sit for an hour. Remove the firearm, and wipe off the excess liquid. Get your choke tube wrench and grunt as long as it takes to free the tube. If you can't budge the tube after an hour then re-stand the choke tube in the Break Free CLP and wait longer. Bad corrosion might require a day or more.
2. Spin the wire wheel
Hit the threads with a wire wheel to remove the loosened rust from the threads. The threads will clean up easily, and when you're finished inspect each thread. If the rust is severe, part of the threads may have broken. That means that the tube will need replacing.
3. Clean the threads inside the barrel
Chuck a bore brush one size larger than your gauge in a drill. Meaning, if you're shooting a 12-gauge, then chuck a 10-gauge bore brush in the drill. Insert the brush into the muzzle and spin lightly until the threads are clean.
4. Clean the shotgun
Thoroughly clean your shotgun to remove any Break Free CLP solvent or metal shavings. A clean shotgun is a happy shotgun.
5. Grease 'em up
Grease the threads of the choke tube as well as the threads inside the muzzle. Install the tube and wipe off the excess grease.
Corroded trailer lugs can be easily removed with some heat from a blow torch. That same torch applied to a shotgun barrel? It's a bad idea. That said, heat from a blow drier can work wonders, and after the metal is warm, the tubes can be easier to remove.
Frozen metal parts can be unfrozen with a tap from a hammer. And while you may hit a frozen trailer U-bolt don't hit a shotgun barrel either. It's a very bad idea.
Firearms that have had rusted threads and stuck choke tubes are prone to having them freeze again. Be sure to remove your choke tubes after every hunt and clean and regrease.
Proper preparation prevents poor performance. Maintain the threads on your choke tubes and there will be less cussing when you're trying to swap them out.