When it comes to breaking clays we all look for things that might give us the edge.
Whether it’s to help achieve personal goals, win a competition or just shoot a higher average at our chosen discipline, the desire to improve is always there.
Those who take the trouble to think more deeply about their guns and cartridges will have already made decisions regarding what they think they will shoot best with, but there are other factors that could produce improvement.
Since becoming available, interchangeable chokes have rapidly gained popularity. No longer were shooters required to decide what chokes to have their barrels bored to, then use a variety of ammunition to achieve the desired result. Early interchangeable chokes were basic, and though some performed well, others left something to be desired.
Once the novelty of being able to change choke tubes while awaiting one’s turn to shoot wore off, those using interchangeable choke guns came to expect more of them, and the major gun makers responded. One of the first things they did was introduce longer chokes into standard guns, a trend that has continued. Pattern results began to improve in standard guns, but the possibility of providing specialist chokes to meet ever higher shooter demands also encouraged the after-market base to expand. Some big names became involved, supplying their own brand of choke tubes to suit most popular makes of gun.
The specialist market grew, with choke tubes claiming advantages over the factory product, some becoming very widely known; names like Briley, Teague, Gemini and Rhino among them. And the latest brand to reach these shores is that of Pure Gold choke tubes of South Carolina, USA, as used by Becky Bream and distributed by Edgar Brothers. These chokes are made from 17-4 grade stainless steel, to exacting tolerances and heat treated for high strength and wear resistance.
Pure Gold specialises in extended chokes that protrude some distance from the muzzle, the forward section ported around its circumference with two sets of circular holes, machined at a forward angle. The ports are equally spaced around the tube circumference and are not intended to act as ‘compensators’ to reduce muzzle rise, unlike ports in the top section of a barrel (such as ‘Magna-porting’), because the gas pressure is equal in all directions. Light target loads used today produce too low a gas pressure at the muzzle to create such a reaction anyway. But Pure Gold chokes are much longer and heavier than standard choke tubes, and will help reduce muzzle rise and recoil because of this.
Pure Gold says the purpose of its ports is to strip the wad away from the shot load as it exits the barrel, allowing the shot column to develop unhindered. This should lead to more regular and better-populated patterns. Pure Gold stresses its choke tubes “are not designed to increase maximum range – rather they are designed to provide more shot in the kill zone at reasonable ranges.”
But for clay shooting it should actually be possible to break targets a little further away with patterns that are better populated with pellets, as more strikes have a better chance of success.
Running a micrometer over the Pure Gold choke tubes confirmed tolerances were close, and the bore entry diameter is exactly the same as for the factory Invector Plus type. At 106mm overall length, the Pure Gold extended and ported chokes were 46mm longer than the standard Browning chokes. Naturally this means the Pure Gold chokes weigh more too. Clay shooters might wish to consider this, as it will push the point of balance forward. That will be less noticeable on a semi-auto shotgun, like the Maxus we used for testing, as only one tube is needed. In an over-and-under gun, the Pure Gold chokes added 59 grams to the forward weight, virtually double the weight of two standard Invector Plus choke tubes.
For the ‘field trial’, I used the Pure Gold chokes in a Browning Maxus Sporter at a local sporting clays club. Trying the Improved cylinder choke first, I was impressed with the kills, so much so I tried it for longer targets with equally good results. At the end of the 50 birds I had just sneaked home in first place, so I was happy with that.
Clay Shooting readers rightly expect results from more than a casual round of sporting clays, so next was a day at the pattern plate. I used the Maxus again, with the Pure Gold and the standard Browning Invector Plus choke tubes for comparison. I used RC Red Shot ‘Black Comfort’ loads. I tested the Improved Cylinder, Modified (UK ½ choke) and Improved Modified (UK ¾ choke) in both types.
The results were interesting. Most striking is the almost full choke pattern density produced by the Improved Cylinder Pure Gold choke tube, which may well explain the good results achieved with it on the clays, both near and more distant. The nominal pattern percentage for Imp/Cyl is 50 per cent at 40 yards, so this is a good result. It’s more remarkable for being produced with such a small restriction, the I/C Pure Gold choke tube carrying just 0.010” from the standard bore size of the ‘over-bored’ Invector Plus bore size of 0.740”.
The degree of choke restriction is etched large on the extended section of each choke for easy recognition. The high pellet density with low choke restriction and lower central density (cd) is beneficial because it means the pellets are more evenly distributed across its entire pattern, so off-centre shots stand a better chance of scoring a kill. Pellet deformation is likely to be lower, too, shortening the shot string.
Competition-grade ammunition and tight chokes tend to increase the pattern’s ‘central density’. This makes the centre able to smash targets further away, but places an emphasis on precision. We can see that central density did indeed increase with the degree of choke restriction, with the Mod Pure Gold putting 63 per cent of its pellets into the inner 20” circle and the Imp Mod 66 per cent. The Imp Mod Pure Gold gave almost identical results to the Mod choke, the extra .005” of restriction (0.025” compared with the Mod’s 0.020”) only serving to put a slightly higher percentage into the inner 20” circle. It’s a sign that some top grade ammunition does not require such heavy restriction to achieve closer patterns.
Choke choice is about selecting the one that gives you the best chance of breaking the target, not necessarily the tightest. Demands differ depending on the discipline, but as I found when shooting the Pure Gold, the lower choke value suited me well. Had it been an ABT shoot, I would use the Mod in a semi-auto.
These Pure Gold chokes are well made and will perform indefinitely with minimal maintenance. The lower choke restrictions performed best here but can only be assessed by test with regard to the discipline they are intended for. Their extra weight will move balance forward slightly, which can steady an over-lively gun. The ported extensions look particularly good on a semi-auto. These chokes are available to fit most popular guns, including Beretta, Benelli, Blaser and Remington. Priced at just £72 SRP per choke they are competitive, with some shorter types without porting. Anyone looking to upgrade factory chokes will want to take a closer look at these.