Will a ported choke tube reduce recoil? This is one of the questions many shotgun owners have when evaluating the effectiveness of ported aftermarket choke tubes.
Ported choke tubes do reduce recoil, but it’s often at a level that isn’t noticeable to the shooter. The biggest benefit of ported choke tubes is their ability to slow down the wad so it doesn’t interfere with pellet separation, thus improving shot strings and creating uniform patterns downrange.
Ported chokes also have several drawbacks that we’ll discuss in more detail below.
How a ported choke works
Ported chokes have oval openings on the extended portion of the choke tube that allows gases to vent outward after the shot is fired and while the shot column travels down the barrel. This venting of gases through the ports is said by some choke manufacturers to help reduce felt recoil.
Related – Looking for a new choke tube? Check out the top picks here.
Ported chokes also have the ability though internal grooves and out gassing to delay the wad from the shot column to accelerate the separation between the two. This is claimed to decrease disruption in the pattern distribution that can be caused during natural wad and shot column separation.
So the question remains, do ported chokes really reduce felt recoil? Studies into this claim are not widely known and if they exist, have not been distributed. The science behind recoil reduction by adding ports is based on accelerating the expansion of pressure outward as the shot column and gases exit the barrel.
Expansion of gases
The science behind this effect is sound, as the ports do increase the outward expansion of gases, even if slightly. But for most it doesn’t translate into any noticeable difference in felt recoil. You likely won’t feel a difference between a magnum turkey load being shot through a ported or non-ported choke. It’s still going to kick more than you would like.
The amount of gas ports in ported choke tubes ranges between 6 and 12. These openings are oval shaped and are angled to provide maximum outward expansion. Choke tubes such as Patternmaster and JEBs contain the most ports and would likely be a good place to start for testing actual felt recoil in foot pounds.
Another claim regarding ported chokes is that they reduce muzzle jump after the shot. The principal is largely the same as that of reducing recoil. The ports allow for increased outward gas expansion that limits muzzle jump due to less rearward force.
The effects of muzzle jump are difficult to gauge while hunting, and few studies have been conducted to verify these claims. As with recoil, it is believable that the science behind ported chokes would provide a decrease in muzzle jump, but the degree to which it is noticeable varies.
The best way to reduce muzzle jump is to shoot lighter loads. Ammo with payloads of 1 1/8 oz or less create lower levels of recoil and muzzle jump. Light loads paired with a ported choke are the optimal setup for reducing muzzle jump.
Slowing the wad
Ported choke tubes, like those from Patternmaster, contain inner stud rings that stop the wad for a millisecond as it exits the tube. This controlled separation of the wad limits the contact of the shot column with the wad as it separates.
The distance wads travel from a ported choke tube on average are less than those of non-ported chokes. The wad retardation accounts for this effect. With less disruption to the shot column, the shot string is shorter and the pattern denser resulting with more pellets on target.
One of the negative aspects of ported choke tubes is that they are always dirty! Gun powder residue that would otherwise be forced out of the end of the barrel is instead directed through the ports of the choke. Over time, this residue builds up and coats both inside and outside the tube.
Cleaning a ported choke tube is more difficult than a non-ported choke. Gun powder residue coats the ports and each one needs to be gently brushed to remove it. Increased maintenance of ported choke tubes needs to be considered for medium to high use situations.
A common issue with ported chokes is a build up of plastic wad material on the ports and inside stud rings. Wads are made from soft plastic that protects the barrel from pellet contact after a shot is fired. This soft plastic adheres easily to surfaces that aren’t smooth, like the edges of ports or stud rings.
Ported choke cleaning
Over time, plastic buildup inside a ported choke can reduce its effectiveness. A stiff bristle brush along with some solvent is usually enough to loosen any buildup and get the choke working efficiently again. Plastic buildup along with gun powder residue combine to make cleaning ported chokes more difficult.
If you’ve ever hunted in a duck blind with a ported choke or have friends that do, you’ve probably noticed how loud they can be over conventional choke tubes. This is due to the gases and sound wave being ejected to the sides instead of forward.
Short barrel shotguns and noise
This effect is similar for short barrel shotguns that are equally as loud. If you hunt solo this isn’t much of a concern but should be a consideration if you exclusively hunt with groups. Longer shotgun barrels can negate the loudness of ported chokes to some degree but will always be louder than non-ported choke tubes.
Real world results
Results from patterning and field hunting with ported chokes has shown to be mixed. Some people swear by them, and others think they are too expensive for what they are. Ported choke tubes can deliver dense patterns out to 60 yards if the right conditions exist.
This is always the case with choke tubes, ammo, and shotguns. They can be finicky, and the sweet spot isn’t always a one size fits all. This is why the standard for developing good patterns is the art of trying as many ammo and choke combinations are possible to see what works. Premium chokes and ammo are a good place to start.
Will a ported choke tube reduce recoil? This is a common question for hunters and it’s mostly true. Ported chokes will reduce recoil, but the effects are small and not noticeable to many. The best way to reduce felt recoil is to shoot lighter payloads.
The biggest performance increase for ported chokes comes from the tight constriction (close to full) and wad stripping ability. These two factors can increase the success of long-range shots on ducks and geese.
Ported choke tubes do have their downsides. Gun powder and plastic buildup inside the choke is increased making them difficult to clean. Ported chokes are also louder than standard choke tubes which can cause issues in crowded duck blinds. And if cost is a concern, they are more expensive than most non-ported chokes.
Even with their downsides, ported chokes have gained a large following and continue to provide successful results in the field. Patterning a ported choke tube with the shotgun and ammo you plan to hunt with is the best way to find out just how well it will perform.