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Transcript for Understanding Shotgun Ballistics

Haley: The pellets from a shotgun travel very differently than a bullet from a rifle.

Rob fires his shotgun at a target.

Rob: They most certainly do. You see, unlike the single rifle bullet, the pellets or shot from a shotgun create a shot pattern. And that’s affected by a lot of things, such as the gauge of the shotgun shell, the length of the shell, the choke in the barrel, and, of course, the distance to the target.

Haley: Let’s start with the gauge.

Gauge: Measure related to the diameter of the smooth shotgun bore and the size of the shotshell designed for that bore.

Shotguns come in different gauges, from the little .410 all the way up to the 10-gauge, the most popular being the 20-gauge and the 12-gauge.

Rob: The length of the shells differs as well. The longer the shell, the more pellets it can potentially contain. And the number of pellets can affect your shot pattern.

Haley: Another thing to consider is the choke. The choke in my barrel affects the spread of my pellet pattern.

Rob: So there are three main choke types: Full, Modified, and Improved.

  • With a Full choke, I have a smaller, denser pattern of pellets.
  • With an Improved choke, I have a wider, less dense pattern of pellets.
  • The third choke type is a Modified choke, which is in between the Full and Improved.

The effective range is different for all three choke types. No matter the choke or gauge, shotgun pellets can travel a long way—anywhere from 150 yards to over 400 yards. So you should be aware of where your shotgun pellets will fall.

Haley: Whether you’re hunting or practicing, think firearm safety before you pull that trigger. Know what your gun is capable of and your abilities as a shooter.

Rob: Practice may make perfect. But being smart will keep everyone safe.

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