September 23, 2010
Though best known for solving the problem of seeing your sights in low light, TruGlo has also solved problems associated with variable chokes.
Shotgun choke was a wonderful thing when it came along reportedly in 1866. According to patents, that's the year in which American Fred Kimble and a Brit named Pape of Newcastle, England, developed shotgun choke boring in their respective countries. Prior to then, all shotguns were probably the equivalent of cylinder bore, and consequently shot wide patterns.
Choke opened up a whole new world of shotgunning by allowing the shooter to have either a wide or narrow pattern, or anything in between, to match their shooting conditions. For example, high-flying geese are better taken on with a tighter patterning choke, while powdering a clay pigeon on the skeet field is easier with a wider pattern.
The TruGlo Titan is a collet-type of adjustable choke with eight splines that are either squeezed closer together or allowed to spread apart by tightening or loosening an external collar.
If there was a fault about choke in early guns, it was that you were stuck with the choke your gun had. That situation changed at least as early as the 1950s when several variable chokes came on the market. Variable chokes allowed a shooter to instantly dial the device to the desired choke constriction. Changing choke as such resulted in a wide pattern for close in shooting, or a tight pattern for long range work making shotguns even more versatile than they are inherently.
Adjustable chokes have been around since at least the 1950s when companies such as Poly-Choke offered them as options a gunsmith could permanently install on a shotgun.
Of the variable chokes, the most recognizable is, of course, the Poly-Choke that was followed by others including the Dyna-Magic and Emsco Choke. Problems with those chokes included that they had to be permanently attached by a gunsmith. If the choke was installed eccentric, then the gunsmith may have to bend the barrel to correct point of impact. Another fault was that the devices added a considerable amount of weight at the muzzle, which upset the balance of a shotgun. To some shooters, the bulbous apparatus at the muzzle spoiled the lines of otherwise sleek shotguns, and was distracting when shooting. Because attachment was permanent, the only solution to an ugly choke was to cut it off, making the barrel obviously shorter, but also without any choke.
Despite the faults in the execution of variable chokes, they worked. They even lead to so-called "automatic" chokes such as the Poly-Matic and Adjustomatic, which automatically tightened the choke for successive shots as the charge passed through them. These suffered the same problems as adjustable chokes, and made hitting incoming birds harder.
None of the problems with early adjustable chokes were insurmountable. Put them on straight, and impact shift isn't a problem. Make them lighter, and gun balance remains nearly the same. Finally, make them removable so your gun can have that sleek look while it's sitting in your gun cabinet and appearance is a moot point.
TruGlo's Titan choke tube solves all of those problems. The Titan is a collet-type adjustable choke that is rated for all types of shot currently on the market. It has eight splines that are squeezed closer together or allowed to flex farther apart by twisting an external collar. Twisting the collar in a tightening motion until it stops tightens the Titan's constriction resulting in nominal full choke patterns. Fully loosening the Titan's collar opens patterns all the way to cylinder constriction. A detent inside the collar allows the shooter to fine-tune constriction over the full range of choke in 1/4-turn increments.
It was clear from recovered wads that they were swaging into the splines of the choke and probably being affected similarly to wads fired from a straight-rifled choke. Manufacturers of straight-rifled chokes claim they produce more even patterns.
The Titan overcomes the problem of being on straight by being an internal choke tube. So long as the Titan is made straight, and the gun manufacturer threads the muzzle straight for tubes, you can be reasonably sure that the Titan will be on straight.
TruGlo overcame the weight issue by making the Titan out of titanium, an ultra lightweight and super strong element. At about 2 1/2 ounces, the Titan hardly affects shotgun balance. Aesthetically, if you don't like how a Titan looks, simply remove it when you're not using it. As for it being a distraction while shooting, TruGlo made it as low profile as possible. Besides, if you're looking at anything other than the bird while shooting a shotgun, you're looking at the wrong thing.
TruGlo has overcome the negative issues with earlier variable choke tubes. As for its actual performance, I recently compared the patterning quality of a Titan to factory WinChoke tubes from my Winchester Model 120 pump shotgun. I fired several patterns using Federal Game-Shok 2 3/4-inch 1-1/4 ounce Number 6 lead shot and Federal Premium 2 3/4-inch Number 4 buckshot. Shooting was at 40 yards and through each of the factory WinChoke tubes and the corresponding Titan choke settings.
There is no question that the Titan works in varying the percentage of the shot patterns. Dialed down to full choke setting, the Titan produced tighter patterns than when dialed to modified. Dialed to modified, the Titan produced tighter patterns than when dialed to cylinder. At all settings, the Titan delivered pattern percentages in a 30-inch circle within industry standards for the respective chokes, and also patterned similarly to the factory WinChokes.
Those results were expected. I did, however, make two observations I didn't expect. First, twisting the Titan from full to a more open setting requires turning the external collar in an "unthreading" direction. This results in turning out the entire tube from the muzzle unless the shooter is diligent about installing the Titan tightly. TruGlo provides a wrench with the Titan for just such purpose.
Scott found that when firing large shot, the Titan tended to produce patterns that were more round and evenly distributed than from a conventional choke tube. The wad swaging into the choke's splines may be the reason.
The second observation was a real shocker. Buckshot patterns from the Titan tended to be much more evenly distributed and round than from the WinChokes. Upon examining fired wads retrieved from downrange, it was apparent that they were swaging into the cuts between the splines as they passed through the Titan. There are several straight-rifled choke tubes on the market that claim to deliver better patterns by arresting any in-bore wad rotation. Swaging in between the Titan's splines would appear to have the same effect, if that is actually what's causing the improved patterns. Suffice to say, the sample Titan did appear to affect the wad the same way as a straight-rifled tube, and with buckshot, patterns were more even.
Whether one has anything to do with the other would require more shooting and different testing than I was prepared for at this time. With the number 6 shot, patterns from the Titan were similar in density and evenness to the conventional WinChoke tubes.
Buckshot fired through a Titan choke tube produced more round patterns than when fired from a conventional tube. The reason may be from the wad swaging into the space between the Titan's splines.
With the Titan, TruGlo has resurrected a good idea that suffered only from its execution. By overcoming those execution difficulties using modern materials and design, the Titan could prove to be the practical answer for shooters who often find themselves shooting or hunting in multi-choke conditions. Finally, if the interaction between the plastic wad and spline spacing proves to be the reason for better patterns with larger shot, the TruGlo Titan may be one of the most versatile and effective chokes for waterfowl and buckshot loads.