Top 3 Best Choke Tubes for Pheasant Hunting


The most important thing in pheasant hunting is a good bird dog, but second is having the right choke in your shotgun when the bird eventually flushes. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the three choke tubes considered best for hunting pheasants and what makes them so popular.

Choke tube diameters are usually dependent on the range and shot size the hunt demands, and with pheasant hunting it is no different. Lead #5 shot and steel #3’s are popular pheasant hunting shotshell loads, so it’s important to find a choke that patterns this ammo well.


Best Choke Tubes for Pheasants

These are the top 3 choke tubes for pheasant hunting that you should consider that can deliver more consistent patterns downrange. Patterning your shotgun with the choke and ammo you will be using is the best way to fine tune your setup before heading into the field.

1) Carlson’s Modified Choke Tube

Carlson’s is one of the most trusted choke tube brands in the industry and their extended modified choke is perfect for pheasant hunting. It delivers a dense pattern out to 40 yards with lead #5’s and makes for a versatile all-around choke tube for most situations including those windy day hunts.

Either up close flushes or long-range passing shots, this choke can handle it all with the right ammo. It’s the perfect variable range option for pheasant hunting during changing conditions. This is the TOP pick.

2) Carlson’s Rooster XR Choke Tube

Carlson’s designed the Rooster XR choke tube to pattern perfectly with Winchester Rooster XR ammo, and the results are nothing short of amazing for pheasants. The Rooster XR is available in both early season (LM) and late season (IM) versions, so you can fine tune it to how the birds are flushing.

Paired with XR ammo’s 3-inch 1450fps 4 shot, the Rooster XR ammo is capable of cleanly folding pheasants at 40 yards or more. The days of high flying pheasants getting away are over. This is the pick for MAX range.

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3) TRUGLO Double-Threat Choke

The TRUGLO Double-Threat Choke is designed to make quick choke adjustments in the field. Even though it’s marketed toward dove hunting, it has it’s uses for pheasants. It’s precision-made using CNC to adhere to tight tolerances and can be twisted quickly to change the diameter of the choke. It has a DECOY and PASS setting for close or longer shots, respectively.

For the days when birds are flushing close, use the decoy setting and for windy days use the Pass setting. This is the BUDGET pick.

Why you should choose the Carlson’s Modified choke for pheasant hunting

  • Carlson’s extended modified choke works will all shot types and wads
  • The Carlson’s modified choke gives max range with #5 lead shot
  • Extended and knurled for easy removal by hand
  • Lead shot is rated for Carlson’s Modified Chokes
  • Modified choke tubes can put 80% or more pellets into a 30-inch circle at 30 yards
  • Carlson’s Modified chokes are affordable compared to similar choke tubes

Why a modified choke works best for pheasants

Modified chokes are the middle ground of choke diameters (0.705”) and because of this are versatile in many different hunting situations. Chokes in modified can handle pheasants flushing close as well as long fast-moving passing shots overhead.

Modified choke tubes work especially well with #5 lead shot and it’s not uncommon to pattern this choke and ammo combination and receive 80% of coverage in a 30 inch circle at 40 yards. Steel shot also works well with a modified choke tube like the Carlson’s extended choke mentioned above.

Hunting wild pheasants vs pen raised birds

Wild pheasants are a lot harder to hunt than pen raised and released birds. Your choke setup will likely need to be tailored to which of these types of pheasants you will be hunting.

Pen raised or released birds tend to be slow and flush late. This means most of your shots are going to be within 20-25 yards where an Improved Cylinder (0.716”) which opens the shot up quicker will be the top choice.

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For wild pheasants, the Modified (0.705”) or Improved Modified (0.695”) are the top choices that will keep your pattern together for shots between 30 and 40 yards.

Pheasant Choke Tubes and Ranges

  • Improved Cylinder (10-20 yards) – Up close flushing shots
  • Modified (20-40 yards) – Flushing and long range flushing shots
  • Improved Modified (35-45 yards) – Long range flushing shots
  • Full Choke (40-60 yards) – High flying birds over 40 yards

The chart above shows the recommended choke tube and range in yards for pheasant hunting. Modified is the best choke for typical pheasant hunting shots that include close flushes and bird exiting scenarios. Improved cylinder is the best for close flushing shots just as the pheasant rises. Improved modified (IM) and full chokes are best for longer range shots after the bird is exiting and gained full momentum.


High Flying Pheasants

A high flying pheasant is any bird over 40 yards. High flying pheasants usually flush somewhere out of sight, but end up right over you at a high rate of speed. They can be one of the most challenging shots in upland bird hunting.

Choke and ammo combinations for these high flying birds need to be able to hold together beyond 40 yards. A full choke can even be a viable choke size in this situation. Increasing shot size to lead #4’s or Steel #2’s is also warranted.

Pheasant Hunting Field Tips

  • Get a set of improved cylinder, modified, and improved modified chokes
  • This will let you switch chokes as conditions change
  • Lead #6’s and an IC choke tube work well on pen raised birds
  • Keep shots below 50 yards, know your ammo and choke limitations
  • A full choke may be needed for those days where birds are flushing prematurely
  • Wind days, especially those with cross winds, you may need to up your pellet size
  • Pattern your shotgun to find out what choke and ammo work best
  • If using a tight choke, allow a bird flushing close to get distance before shooting
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Modified choke tubes can take a lot of the guess work out of pheasant hunting. They usually work well with most ammo and won’t damage the birds at close ranges.

Having a set of choke tubes in your hunting vest or backpack is the best option that works well for changing conditions. You can tailor your setup to how pheasants are responding while in the field and changing a choke only takes seconds with a good choke wrench.

What to expect

When it comes to choosing the right choke tube for pheasant hunting, Carlson’s Modified choke stands out from its competitors. The Carlson’s Modified choke is engineered with a unique design that provides consistent and even shot patterns, resulting in better accuracy and a higher precision. Unlike most of its competitors, the Modified choke ensures that the shot is evenly distributed, reducing the chances of having holes or gaps in your pattern. Overall, the Carlson’s Modified choke is a top performer, delivering outstanding results that set it apart from the competition.

Bottom Line

Pheasant hunting requires a choke size geared toward the situation at hand. #5 Lead shot and #3 steel shot are popular pellet sizes most pheasant hunters use. Naturally, finding a choke tube that patterns these loads well is key to success in the field.

Carlson’s Modified choke is the top pick for pheasant hunting that patterns great with #5 shot and can function for almost any hunting scenario. Two other highly regarded options are the Double Threat Choke by Truglo and the Rooster XR Choke.

Hunting wild pheasants or pen raised birds can help determine which choke size you may need. Shots on wild pheasants tend to be longer where a modified or improved modified are best. Pen raised birds may only require an improved cylinder for shots inside 20 yards.

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Last update on 2024-11-03 / Affiliate links / Product Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>