You will find that squirrel hunting chokes will overlap with rabbit hunting chokes.
Depending on the time of year you are hunting squirrels, you may find one choke works better than the other.
However, for most of the year, an improved cylinder choke is going to be the best choice for hunting squirrels.
Best Chokes For Squirrels
As I mentioned above, you will find a lot of overlap between chokes for squirrels and chokes for rabbits.
Often I like to hunt squirrels and rabbits on the same outing, as do many other hunters.
Things change a little when there is heavy leaf coverage on the trees, and the squirrels get a little higher.
Similarly, if you are a little more confident and look for a better shot placement on a squirrel, you might want to tighten up the pattern a little.
Improved Cylinder For Squirrels
For most hunters, the improved cylinder will be more than adequate for squirrel hunting.
The improved cylinder allows the shooter to have a very open pattern but still constricted enough to travel through branches.
While most hunters find this a versatile choke for squirrel hunting, some hunters may find that it is a little too spread.
The drawback of this is that it may cause a little too much meat damage. There is also the case that the treetops are a little too dense.
The improved cylinder lands 50 percent of its pellets in a 30-inch group at 40 yards with a normal shot without obstruction.
If you start putting leaves and branches in the way, you may see that number drop significantly.
This is why some hunters go for the modified choke for their all-around squirrel choke.
I find the improved cylinder choke works best if you are calling squirrels in.
In this case, they are close enough for the improved cylinder, there are no obstacles in the way, and the spread is wide enough for their movement.
Modified Choke For Squirrels
A modified choke falls somewhere in the middle between an open choke and a full choke.
For this reason, modified chokes are one of the most used because they provide a happy medium.
When it comes to squirrel hunting, it’s hard to argue against the modified choke, especially if you are hunting mixed terrain or a mixed bag.
As I mentioned above, sometimes, the pattern of an improved cylinder choke is just too open.
Regardless of whether you worry about meat damage or not, you may find that an improved cylinder just can’t handle the treetops. This will be the case if you are hunting beneath a thick hardwood canopy.
This is where the modified choke comes into play. It has enough constriction to get to the target but still has a wide enough spread to give a higher success rate.
The modified is still enough of a step up from the improved cylinder that you can see a noticeable difference.
As I mentioned earlier, an improved cylinder choke has a constriction of .010 and lands to the percent of the pellets in a 30-inch radius at 40 yards.
The modified choke has a .020 constriction and lands 60 percent of the pellets in a 30-inch radius at 40 yards.
This is a considerable difference when it comes to squirrel hunting, especially at close ranges or if there are too many branches in the way.
There are strong arguments for the modified choke for squirrels, and I tend to agree that you won’t get a better all-around choke.
Still, if the trees are thick and tall, I will opt for a full choke.
Full Choke For Squirrels
As I mentioned earlier, things change when the foilage gets heavy or if you are looking for a headshot on a squirrel.
This is where the full choke comes in handy. The tight shot pattern is better for getting through the leaves and to the top of the trees.
You also have a much bigger chance of a headshot, meaning there will be less meat damage.
This time of year, most hunters will swap to a .22. I used to do it also. But I encourage you to try a 12 gauge with #4 and a full choke; you will not be disappointed.
Better still, if you have a double-barrel with interchangeable chokes, you can use a modified in one barrel and a full choke in the other barrel.
This gives you the best of both worlds and still allows you to get a shot off at a rabbit if you’re lucky enough.
The biggest benefit of using a full choke is its far-reaching abilities. Even a modified choke will struggle with heavily leafed trees and squirrels at the top.
The full choke has a 030 constriction and puts 70 percent of the pellets in a 30-inch radius at 40 yards.
This works perfectly for the hard-to-reach squirrels and even allows for better shot placement leading to less meat damage or no meat damage with a head shot.
Nine times out of ten, I will use a modified choke for squirrels. I feel this choke offers the best all-around solution.
With a modified choke, you can call or shoot squirrels at the treetops.
On some occasions, particularly when I know the trees are tall or heavy with leaves, I choose a full choke.
The best of both worlds would be a double-barrel shotgun with an interchangeable choke.
However, if you can only choose one choke, the modified would be the best unless there are special circumstances like I mentioned for the full choke.