I have a Mossberg 835 and am trying to find the best choke and shot combination. Can you help? — Foy Shuler
As with any shotgun, you’ll have to experiment with various shot sizes and choke constrictions to find the ideal gobbler-killer. The 835 is somewhat of a different animal, though, because it has a 10-gauge-diameter barrel (about .775 inch) instead of the standard .729-inch 12-guage-diameter barrel. This requires that you adjust your choke constriction accordingly.
Think in terms of points of constriction — the difference between the choke diameter and bore diameter in thousandths of an inch. For example, a standard-bore (.729 inch) 12-gauge will often perform well shooting smaller lead shot (Nos. 5 or 6) through a .660-constriction choke. That’s a .069-inch difference. If you could screw that .660 choke onto an 835 — with its .775-inch bore diameter — it’s a difference of .115 inch. With that much constriction, you’ll likely get lots of flier pellets and see a very uneven pattern. It’s just too tight. For comparison, it would be like putting a .614-constriction choke on a standard-bore 12-gauge.
If you’re shooting lead, look for a choke with a .054- to .069 difference from the Mossberg’s bore diameter (that is, about .721 to .706). That’s equivalent to a .660 to .675 constriction in a standard bore. If you plan to use heavier-than-lead nontoxic shot, you won’t want to go tighter than .721. In either case, remember that smaller shot typically performs better through tighter chokes, but larger shot often does well through slightly more open constrictions.
Again, you’ll likely have to experiment with several loads before finding that magic combination that puts at least 100 pellets in a 10-inch circle at turkey killing ranges. That work, however, will be more than worthwhile when you stare down your 835’s barrel at that gobbler and know you’ll make the shot.