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Carlson’s Choke Tubes for Black Cloud and Blind Side

July 13, 2012
Bill Waugaman , Ohio Valley Outdoors

When I read that using specially designed choke tubes with Federal's Black Cloud shotgun shells could enhance performance, I made inquiries to find out more. Carlson's Chokes, a name synonymous with quality aftermarket choke tubes, came to the forefront. Making a call to the company, I had an informative and enlightening conversation with Scott Carlson.

Carlson said they make special choke tubes for both Federal's Black Cloud and Winchester's Blind Side shotgun shells. They start with 17-4 grade stainless steel (17% chromium, 4% nickel) that is heat treated for increased strength and corrosion resistance to make these choke tubes. The choke tube is then coated with titanium to further enhance the strength and reduce build-up in the choke. Carlson went on to say that the design of the choke tubes for Black Cloud and Blind Side shells was accomplished using very sophisticated and specialized equipment. Since Federal's Flight Control Wad delivers poor patterns in ported, wad stopping and wad stripping chokes, this is taken into design consideration. Winchester's Blind Side shells utilize a special wad to enhance hexadronal shot patterning; this was factored into the choke tube design, Both chokes do extend beyond the muzzle and have a knurled surface for easy installation and removal.

Both mid-range and long-range choke tubes have a special choke constriction and length that maximizes performance of Black Cloud and Blind Side shells. The choke tube design takes variables such as shot size and velocity into consideration. The mid-range can be used with all steel shot sizes and velocities; the long range should not used with steel shot larger than BBB or any steel shot faster than 1550 fps. Even though these choke tubes are specifically designed for these shells, they will work with other steel, lead or hevi-shot shells.

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Carlson Chokes for Federal Black Cloud

To evaluate performance, I tested the Carlson's Black Cloud mid-range and long-range choke tubes in a 12 gauge Mossberg 935 with 26" barrel three waysshot hole counts, consistency of counts and distribution. The range was 40 yards with the standard 30" pattern diameter. Since patterns can vary significantly, average counts were used. For benchmarking, shells were fired with the factory Mossberg modified choke tube (.750" choke restriction):

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Carlson's Black Cloud Choke Restrictions: Mid-Range .743", Long-Range .727"

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Federal Black Cloud 3" #2, 3.5" BB and 3" BBB (BBB shot size was only tested with the mid-range tube)

Shot Hole Counts:

BBB (73 count) 71% Mossberg (52); 68% Carlson's Mid-Range (50)

BB (106 count) 72% Mossberg (76); 73% Carlson's Mid-Range (77); 81% Carlson's Long-Range (86)

#2 (153 count) - 66% Mossberg (101); 68% Carlson's Mid-Range (104); 74% Carlson's Long-Range (113)

The BBB shot performed 3% better with the Mossberg modified choke tube; BB shot was almost dead even between Mossberg and Carlson's Mid-Range; Carslon Mid-Range had a 2% denser pattern than the Mossberg modified with #2 shot. The Carlson's Long-Range showed a marked increase over the Mossberg and Mid-Range choke tubes.

Consistency (#2 Shot):

Both Carlson's choke tubes were more consistent and more evenly distributed in the pattern based on the number of shot holes in the target area. With #2 Shot, the Mossberg modified targets varied by 15 (95-110), Carlson's Mid-Range only varied by 7 (100-107) and Carlson's Long-Range varied by 10 (106-116).

Distribution (#2 Shot):

The Mossberg modified scored 14.6%, Carlson's Mid-Range scored 13.6% and Carlson's Long-Range scored 10.0%. The lower this number, the better the pattern is distributed.

Observations:

While shot hole counts were very close between the Mossberg modified and Carlson's Mid-range with Federal's Black Cloud shells with BB and #2 shot, the Carlson's Mid-Range definitely performed better in consistency and distribution. The Carlson's Long-range was a substantial improvement over the Mossberg modified for all three comparisons with BB and #2 shot.

It was a surprise to see that Black Cloud BBB shot did not perform as well in shot hole count as the Mossberg modified in this specific shotgun. There are many variables that come into play with shotgun patterns and other shotguns may or may not experience the same results.

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Carlson's Blind Side Choke Restrictions: Mid-Range .743", Extended-Range .727"

Winchester Blind Side 3.5" #2 and 3.5" BB

Shot Hole Counts:

BB (119 count) 72% Mossberg (86); 73% Carlson's Mid-Range (87); 79% Carlson's Extended-Range (94)

#2 (206 count) - 64% Mossberg (132); 65% Carlson's Mid-Range (135); 75% Carlson's Extended-Range (155)

Consistency (#2 Shot):

Both Carlson's choke tubes were more consistent and more evenly distributed in the pattern based on the number of shot holes in the target area. Using #2 Shot targets, the Mossberg modified targets varied by 22 (120-142), Carlson's Mid-Range varied by 12 (129-141) and Carlson's Long-Range varied by 17 (149-166).

Distribution (#2 Shot):

The Mossberg modified scored 11.9%, Carlson's Mid-Range scored 10.0% and Carlson's Extended-Range scored 10.9%. The lower this number, the better the pattern is distributed.

Observations:

In comparing the Mossberg modified to the Carlson's Mid-Range with Blind Side shotgun shells, they were very similar in shot hole count; the Carlson's was more consistent in the number of shot holes and substantially better in distribution. Patterns with the Mossberg modified choke seemed to have concentrations of multiple shot holes throughout the pattern while the Carlson's Mid-Range was more evenly distributed.

The Carlson's Extended-Range scored highest in shot hole count, as would be expected; the consistency was not quite as good as the Mid-Range but still better than the factory modified. The distribution was a surprise with the Extended-Range having a higher percentage than the Mid-Range, but for obvious reasonthe pattern was so tight that the largest areas void of shot holes were on the outside edge of the 30" circle. Another 5 to 10 yards would have allowed the pattern to open up a little more and improve distribution.

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Conclusions:

The above results are based on averaging multiple shots with my Mossberg 935 and cannot be assumed as expected performance for other shotguns and chokes. It's always best to pattern your own shotgun using different chokes and shells to determine which combination works best for your specific needs.

Based on these results, Carlson's claims of improved patterns with Federal's Black Cloud and Winchester's Blind Side shells is an accurate statement when all three factors are taken into consideration. When you consider the lifetime warranty, the quality construction and the fact that they are 'Made in USA' (Atwood, KS), these choke tubes are a winner.

www.choketube.com

First Published December 2011

 
 

 

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