The great thing about hunting rabbits is that it doesn’t take a lot to knock them. This is probably why most of us hunters start out on rabbits.
For most scenarios, the best choke for rabbit hunting is an improved cylinder. There may be some situations where you might want something else, but the Improved cylinder will do nine times out of ten.
Best Chokes for Rabbit Hunting
As I just mentioned, rabbits don’t need a lot of stopping power, so you are better going with a wider spread.
Most times, when hunting rabbits, you will be able to get fairly close, but they move fast.
So in these situations, why not choose a large pattern and short-range choke?
However, if hunting over dogs, you may want something a little tighter and further reaching.
The improved cylinder choke is probably the best all-around choke for rabbit hunting.
For most of us, we are probably shooting rabbits under 30 yards. An improved cylinder choke will land 50 percent of pellets in a 30-inch circle at 40 yards and even more at 30 yards.
Considering a rabbit doesn’t need a lot to take down, this would be more than enough to do the job and a large enough spread for fast-moving rabbits.
This type of choke is best if you are hunting rabbits in dense areas or thick country.
It’s also good for hunting fencelines, but some hunters may find it too open for this and may want to consider a modified choke for that.
With a 20 gauge shotgun and a #5 or #6 shot, you would have one of the best rabbit setups for most situations.
The modified choke is slightly more constricted than the improved cylinder.
An improved cylinder has .010 constriction, whereas a modified has .020. To give you some context, a full choke has .30, and a turkey choke has 045.
As you can see, going from an improved cylinder is not a huge change, but it’s more than enough to be noticeable.
The modified choke will land 65 percent of pellets at 40 yards. This is 15 percent more than the improved cylinder making for a much higher pattern.
I see the modified choke coming in useful when hunting over dogs or running rabbits.
The smaller pattern is a much safer option over dogs, and the fact the rabbits are moving away quickly, you may find a little comfort in the extra range.
The modified choke would also be my go-to choice if hunting fencelines; often you’re jumping rabbits from a little further out. I see the improved cylinder being a better choice in the 30-40 yard range.
However, even though I like it for the 30-40 yard range, I wouldn’t hesitate to use it under 30 yards either.
If you ask me what my number one choke choice for rabbits is, I will tell you one of the two I mentioned above.
If you ask me what type of choke I took the most rabbits with, I would tell you an open choke.
This is because I have done more rabbit shooting in my younger days. That was with nothing but a single barrel break action shotgun.
Moving on, I’ve shot many shotguns and always stayed with the open choke.
When I introduced dogs, I finally started using improved cylinders and modified chokes.
As I mentioned a few times, rabbits don’t need a lot, and they are fairly easy to get close to, so you can see how an open choke can work.
However, most people, myself included, like some control over the pellets, even if it is only a small amount of constriction.
This is why the cylinder choke only lands third, but this does not mean it should be dismissed.
As I said, the cylinder choke has probably taken more rabbits than any other choke.
The skeet choke gets its name from skeet shooting. This choke works well on the skeet range.
Skeet clays are close range and easy to break, so the skeet choke is designed to have a wide pattern.
A skeet choke is the next level up from the cylinder and just before the improved cylinder in terms of constriction.
The skeet choke constriction is .005, and it lands 75 percent of pellets at 25 yards.
However, at the standard 40-yard measurement, the skeet lands only 45 percent, which is only 5 percent more than the cylinder.
You can see that the pattern is still largely open. The improved cylinder was created for people who wanted a really open pattern but didn’t want an open cylinder.
The skeet choke came in and opened it even more. This choke is great for bird hunting and also works well on rabbits.
It’s not a choke I would use over dogs for two reasons:
- The chances of hitting the dog are too large. Much like using an open cylinder.
- The rabbits are usually too far and moving too fast.
However, for everything else, have at it. The skeet choke may be the perfect answer to those who want close to open but just not quite open.
Choosing a rabbit choke does not need to be a complicated task. I have taken my fair share of rabbits with multiple chokes, even full chokes.
My choice if I am going out after rabbits now is an improved cylinder or modified choke.
If I’m in thick country, then I will take the improved cylinder. If I am hunting over dogs or in more open country, I will choose the modified choke.