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Rifle Recoil: Oh, Mommy, My Shoulder!

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May 22, 2012

Rifle Recoil: Oh, Mommy, My Shoulder!

By David E. Petzal

As a number of you pointed out in my post on the Forbes Rifle, light rifles kick more than heavy rifles of the same caliber. But weight is only part of the equation, and recoil is a highly subjective matter.

In the case of NULAs, you get kicked less than the figures would indicate because the stock is an extremely good design that gives you plenty to hang on to, and directs the recoil into your shoulder rather than into your head.

I myself am not a good judge of recoil because I shoot all the time, have been reduced to an insensible mass of protoplasm, and don’t care anymore. I’ve shot NULAs ranging from .22/250 up through .340 Weatherby, and the only ones whose kick I really noticed were a .338 Win Mag and the aforesaid .340. They were not more than I could handle, but they weren’t fun, and I realized after a while that I could do the same amount of damage to the critters with lesser cartridges.

The .270 Forbes Rifle that I tested did not have enough recoil that you’d notice unless you were hypersensitive, and you can kill damn near anything with a .270. A .30/06 would jump more, but not a lot. However, as some of you pointed out, the best Forbes/NULAs would be/are the ones in the smaller calibers such as 6.5 Swede, 7mm/08, .260, and 7x57. I would add to that list the .257 Roberts, .25/06, .250 Savage, and .243.

Some people are less sensitive to recoil than others. On the upcoming season of Gun Nuts, you’ll see a young woman named Jessica Bruenn shoot a Savage Model 11 Lady Hunter in .308. Prior to the taping Jessica had shot a centerfire rifle exactly once, and the Lady Hunter, because it weighs something like 6 ½ pounds, will give you a jolt in .308. Jessica is a gifted rifleperson, and she paid no attention at all to the recoil. For her, it didn’t exist. Her shooting, despite her lack of experience, was exceptional.

Some people are like that. Others, who are not, should stick to small, sensible cartridges. With the bullets we have today, they will handle just about anything.

Comments (56)

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from dovebuster wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

My go to rifle is a Browning A Bolt Titanium in 300wsm, Talley steel rings and bases with A Swarovski Z3 total weight 6.8lbs, Recoil is not an issue, it is the stick of death. The problem lies in that most people do not know the proper mechanics of shooting. Dave you have addressed this several times in your articles. Most people only know what paw paw or daddy taught which was not totally correct. Lightweight hunting rifles rule in the field and make a day of still & stalking down right fun.

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from RipperIII wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I've never quite understood the "fear" of recoil.
I started shooting a 12ga. before I ever got into hunting, so maybe I'm biased.
I've not shot the really large calibers, but I just don't see how they could kick anymore than a magnum turkey load.
My Tikka .270 can give you a little pop when not properly seated...but no where in the realm of Jaw re-alignment experienced with an improperly mounted turkey gun.

My question for you Dave, is how does the design of the stock affect felt recoil?

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from davidpetzal wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

To Ripper III: Good question. Let's start with the proposition that you can take far more recoil in your shoulder than you can in your head, and so a good stock design is one that forces the rifle to recoil straight back, rather than pivoting upward. The best examples of this are the ARs, and the Kalashnikov, which kick almost straight back. You want as straight a comb as possible. I believe that Monte Carlo combs do the opposite of what they're intended to and crack you in the cheekbone.

Second is simply giving you enough of a stock to hang onto. Some very light rifles skimp on stocks to save weight, and leave you nothing to grab.

Third is a good recoil pad that absorbs and disperses the foot-pounds. The Remington Supercell is a particularly effective one.

Finally, weight is a factor. I love synthetic stocks, but if I were building a hard-kicking rifle I'd think very seriously about a laminated stock or a really dense piece of walnut.

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from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Your article was very good BUT, you could have gone a bit further and listed some of the ways to reduce recoil on a hard kicking rifle such as recoil reducing butt pads etc etc. also scope mounting may become a critical factor on said rifles because a person that gets smacked in the face is not going to like it all that much . I, myself had an episode with a friend's 30/06 a few years ago and developed a very bad flinch that took a long time to get rid of. Maybe you could do a show on proper scope mounting?? Improper mounting of a rifle cause all kinds of problems. In all my years of shooting I have seen alot of that. To put the toe of a rifle stock at the top of your shoulder is just asking for it.

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from Moose1980 wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Stock design and proper shooting form are big factors in felt recoil for me. I've mentioned it before, but I have a Remington 7600 in .270 that slaps my jaw when shooting from the bench (not so when off hand), and by the end of a session I get a little "jumpy." Yet I can shoot my Ruger M77 in .338 all day long. Still, the only time where I ever thought I did damage to myself was the 1st time I fired 3in, 1oz slugs out of my 12 ga. I was 18, wasn't holding the gun right and learned what "kicks like a mule" felt like!

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from Mark-1 wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Agree on stock design. Winchester put thought into my Model 70 458. Learned I must hold that fore end so the recoil doesn't get a head start.

BTW David. What's your opinion on this statement for writers. "You don't get widely plagiarized until you're widely published--and then it doesn't matter. Trust me on this". Inquiring minds want to know.

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from Happy Myles wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

As my Father used to say, "recoil doesn't bother me, but the flinch sure does." Working up loads for heavy recoil rifles at a cement shooting bench the first thing to hurt is my right elbow, I am right handed. Next a dull pain in the back of my neck. Worst of all was agony in the finger behind the trigger guard, until I came up with the idea of a kevlar pad taped into a fingerless shooting glove. The next morning a sore cheek bone. A bruised shoulder was not, and has never been an issue. Now, I am talking heavy recoil, 450 Ackley, 470 Nitro, 460 Short A Square, 500 Nitro, and 500 Jeffery. An old 416 Rigby has no recoil pad and a dropped stock, made before scopes were used. The same lack of pad on a 450 side by side, again no shoulder tenderness.

I stumble around and drool a lot, but my Wife claims that affliction does not have anything to do with decades of rifle recoil.

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from RipperIII wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Thanks Dave,
I've seen some stock designs that have good eye appeal, but I guess you never know till you pull the trigger.

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from jay wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I wonder how Roy Weatherby would respond to Dave's comment concerning Monte Carlo stocks increasing felt recoil????

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

@jay

I don't know, but perhaps Ed can weigh in!

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from Mark-1 wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Happy,

Noticed my sinus's feel a bit strange after fiddling with the 458.

When sighting in on a bench I put a bag of lead shot between me and the butt. Avoids broken bones.

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from Bellringer wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Build a stand up rest for sighting in hard recoiling rifles, that way your body can give instead of absorb.

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from davidpetzal wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

To Mark-1: Makes sense to me. Is someone plagiarizing someone?

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from RipperIII wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I've always liked the look of
Weatherby stocks, do they perform as good as they look?

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from hengst wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

The June 2012 issue of "Combat Handguns" has a neat paragraph in the "A Jeff Cooper Retrospective" (backpage)

The article stated basically what Dave just stated. The best part was It is not a matter of how strong or big you are, it is a matter of what you should think about rifle kick"

He also compares rifle kick to a game of touch football; you are gonna get banged around about the same but we don't cry about that! (paraphrased)

I like my rifles and get get a bit, embarrassingly enough I like to hug the scope. I just gotta keep away or get cut/bruised bad. As far as recoil I concentrate on the target and good shooting principles, the recoil happens so fast I almost forget it. As a disclaimer I don't exactly shoot 500 NE

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from hengst wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

@ Ripper
I like my Weatherby stocks, I seem to get better form and am sort off naturally in line with the scope. As far as recoil reduction, I am sorry I don't pay that much attention but my 300 wwsm feels about like the 300 wby and less than the 257 wby.

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from Sarge01 wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Stock design is almost everything. My Son has an H&R .20 guage shotgun that kicks harder than anything that I have ever shot in my life and I have shot some very large stuff and my favorite plinker is my 6 1/2 pound Sako A7 300WSM. The stock design on that shotgun is horrible. Limb Saver recoil pads make any gun alot tamer and my gunsmith says they are on par with a muzzle brake and a heck of alot quieter. Proper stock design, plus proper gun mounting and hold means everything.

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from ohiodeerhunter wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Sarge01

Agree on the H&R's,also got a 20 ga Baikal single shot that was supposed to be the wife's-it was a good fit for her-so we got it,I shot it a couple times before she did-and went and got a recoil pad for it before she shot it-the thing still kicks harder than the Savage model 11 in .308 that we got at the same time for a nephew to use.

That 20ga still kicks too hard-I'm going to put some #8 lead shot in the stock,where the hole is for the bolt that attaches it to the receiver. A local gunsmith suggested that one,and maybe drill a couple more holes to fill with shot.

Recoil doesn't seem to bother me much,I started shooting at a young age,went from .410 to 20 ga,to 30-30 for deer,and 12 ga for birds and rabbits-I don't even remember there being recoil pads on anything I shot when I was young-of course that was a while ago. (Mid sixties)

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from blevenson wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Never did much rifle shootin but a 12 gauge with slugs will do the trick if you're chasing big game in the great state of MN.

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from 1uglymutha wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

back in the 40s and 50s it was unusual,at least in my neck of the woods, to see recoil pads on anything. muzzle brakes were virtually unheard of. one of the quickest recoiling everyday guns from that era (at least for me) was the original browning a-5 shotgun with a metal buttplate. slugs in that gun were pretty wicked. i've shot a friend's .458, the .450-400, and the .416 rigby. all were heavy recoiling rifles, but not brutally so. in my later years i give thanks for limbsaver. they take much of the felt recoil out of just about everything. after three or four boxes of heavy 8s through that old A5 in the dove fields, hematomas were common. wish i'd had the recoil pad back then.

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from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I don't like recoil and avoid it as much as possible. I am an accuracy nut and feel that a well placed bullet trumps bullet energy on every shot (except for a charging rhino perhaps). I don't want anything to do with something that may cause me to develop a flinch. I've shot a 10 pound 25-06 most of my life and have been so deadly with that, that a larger caliber is rarely needed in the U.S.

I also shoot 12 pound rifles chambered in .223, 25-06, .300 Dakota and .375 H&H a lot. At that weight, their recoil is quite mild and very tollerable. Their accuracy is exceptional (less than .5 MOA with the .300 Dakota being around .1 MOA). I use LimbSaver recoil pads, straight stocks and no muzzle brakes (to preserve what is left of my hearing).

I do use an ultra-light 25-06 (at 5.5 pounds) where long carries are required and short range shots are likely. The recoil is fine but there is no way I would use such a light rifle in 30-06 or larger cartridges... that's just me.

I would have no problem shooting a .416 Rigby at an occassional Cape Buff, but I would never shoot one regularly for the fun of it unless it was in a Lead Sled.

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from Mark-1 wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

DP,

"Is someone plagiarizing someone?"

Yeah, People plagiarize, ripping you off all the time. Guess it's a sign of a writer’s success. Wondered how you and your fellow pro wordsmith's deal with it.

Plagiarism is rampant nowadays. I know in music [likely film/TV] a piece is put on the internet, very shortly there’s an A-D transfer within some Pacific Rim country.

I suppose the act is OK, if the plagiary doesn’t highjack and twist an artist’s work into something perverse and out-of-context.

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from fordman155 wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

A Weatherby-style Monte Carlo stock is designed for the stock to move away from the shooter's face as the recoil pushes the stock back. Since the angle of the cheak piece on the stock is going up from the neck of the stock, there is less stock moving toward the shooter as the recoil pushes the whole rifle back. Just about any buttstock can move into the face area if the shooter does not hold down the fore end enough. That is why I still hold the fore end of the stock when I'm shooting from a bench or with a bipod in the prone position. I like, as DP wrote, "having something to hold on to" and control that recoil some. Shooting M-14s on an Army hi-power rifle team taught me a lot about the shooter being in control of the rifle. It was common to have a sore cheakbone after a day at the range since there are times when the position of the shooter's face meant a heafty stock "bumping" your face. Recoil of that fairly heavy rifle was calmed by a leather shooting jacket and the rifles own weight, so the annoying bumps to the face weren't as bad as you might imagine. Lastly, the light weight rifles are meant to be that way so you can carry them all day without being worn-down by the weight AND be able to make a sweet shot on the animal you've been stalking all day. And if you don't like the recoil level of your rifle, get a muzzle break, get a better recoil pad, bulk up your shoulders and chest muscles, get a heavier rifle, or shoot more and get accustomed to it.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Muzzle brakes are a sure sign that you have more gun than you can handle! Man Up!

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from Steve in Virginia wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Like many, I tend to notice recoil when shooting from the bench, but it becomes non-existent when I get into the field. The worst recoil has come from shotguns loaded with 3 and 3/12 inch magnum shells.

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from Carl Huber wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

WAM I have to disagree muzzle brakes are a sign of technology. Bullets are no longer cast lead rather bonded metal or non lead alloys. Bigger faster and harder hitting with the mind of a quick follow up shot. All this with a mind to a lighter firearm. Even light caliber military rifles espouse to some sort of recoil dampening device. Be it muzzle brakes or gas impingement action. And some guy's will still pull the shot. The only thing I have against them is you hear all your bang for your buck.

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from whiteeagle wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I don't go out of my way to find hard-kicking rifles, but never found recoil to be that much of an issue. If I know that I'm going to put in a long bench session with, say, my .340 Weatherby, I admit to wearing one of the Pact shoulder pads, but I don't mind going 20 rounds without one, either. Although some folks are recoil-sensitive, I think that the issue is somewhat overblown and, as some have said, due to not ever really learning how a harder-kicking rifle is supposed to be shot.

Muzzle brakes, on the other hand, are something I just can't tolerate, particularly when someone is shooting one on a covered range right next to me. In these days when AR-15 and, worse (from a muzzle-blast standpoint) AR-10s are everywhere, if I flinch it's not because my ri9fle kicked, it's because three ARs with muzzle brakes sounded off just as i was breaking the shot.

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from jmeerpohl wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Stock design, weight and hold position are three key elements to felt recoil. We had H&R Topper 20 guage shotguns that some well meaning but unknowledgeable souls provided to our scout camp in 20 guage that kicked like Missouri Mules. I own a 375 Ruger that is quite tolerable. The new technologies can also cut down on felt recoil and when shooting becomes an issue due to recoil the owner needs to rethink the three fundamentals then look at reduction technolgies.

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from dtownley wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I want people to shoot the life out of game, so throw a brake on it. I'll plug my ears and we will go get your game, if you shoot your stomper better and make tracking shorter or non-existent, I'll go with you.
Da-m, WAM, let these people spend money(can cap the threads with the savings), some MAN may want a used hardly fired big bore, ya big bore. Man Up ? ... Belly Up to the cash register sir, your son ought to have one just like yours, lets move money & blue steel.
Thank You WAM & other veterans for your service.
Yes, my .358 NM has a brake & my 29yr old 7 RM is ported but I like my stuff to shoot like a BB gun(makes me feel like a kid & I was good at it) and hit like a meteor but that's just me.

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Thanks Phill;
You're putting it far better than most.
30-06 was about the biggest thunder stick i ever shot and i used to shoot a lot, but i've slowed down due to health reasons.
as i got older the recoil began to tell on me and now i love 7mm-08 and 243 and dammed if i don't do just as good with the girl calibers.
The hardest part about growing old is "accepting your limitations.

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from focusfront wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I agree; there's something about 3 1/2" 12 ga. recoil that is something special. I'd fire a .340 Weatherby any day over one of those. They really kick.

We are all different. 49% of Americans are going to vote for Obama no matter what he does; that should tell you something. That goes for recoil tolerance too. With an artificial lens in one eye and surgery to both shoulders (none of this shooting related), my magnum rifle days are over. I discovered that old has-been rounds like .30-30 and .35 Rem will still deer and pigs, come in light rifles, are good to at least 200 yards with the new Hornady ammo, and don't kick your eyeballs out of their sockets. If I ever buy another lightweight bolt rifle, it will be in 7mm-08 at the heaviest.

Dave, nobody has printed a recoil table in a couple of weeks. Do you have one you could post?

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

@ Carl Huber

I have yet to see a military service rifle with a muzzle break or recoil reduction device. Do share that one with us. Gas impingement operating systems are the cheapest system for autoloading rifles and recoil reduction is not the primary purpose, hence metal buttplates.

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from davidpetzal wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Tofocusfront: Do what I do: Google Handloads.com where there is an excellent recoil calculator. Enter the bullet weight, rifle weight, muzzle velocity, and powder charge weight and click. However, as they very correctly note, what you'll get is the numbers, not the felt recoil, which is something else again.

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from MReeder wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Agree with DP and just about everyone else who chimed in that stock design is the number one factor in reducing (or increasing) perceived recoil. My preference has always been for a very straight stock with a healthy comb that comes straight back into the shoulder. Weatherby made Monte Monte Carlos popular after WWII, but it always had more to do with style than function. A straight stock with a high comb accomplishes exactly the same intended purpose in terms of bringing the eye in line with the scope, and it does so without the excessive drop at heel that makes too many Monte Carlos rap you in the cheekbone. It took a long time but thankfully the value of a classic stock has been realized again (I also think a classic stock is far cleaner and more elegant than one shaped like a boat paddle, but that's simply a matter of taste).
Ripper III talks about shotgun recoil and there's no question most 12-gauge loads kick harder than the centerfire rifles the majority of us shoot. The difference is that you usually shoot a shotgun standing up so that you roll back with the recoil; not hunker down solidly behind it in a solid position. If you're sensitive to recoil inertia is not your friend. In my own case I also notice that when I'm shooting doves with a 12 my shoulder eventually takes on interesting shades of green, black and blue and for some strange reason my success rate starts to fall off about the time the discoloration starts happening.
The other thing I'm not sure anyone mentioned is now much muzzle blast plays into perceived recoil and subsequent flinching. I think the noise actually bothers people more than the kick and good hearing protection can do a lot to tame what shooters thought was fearsome recoil.
None of which is meant to imply that kick doesn't matter. As long as you use the right bullets a .243, .257 Roberts, .25-06, 6.5 Swede, 7X57 or 7mm-08 will kill medium-size animals just as dead as a .30-06 and an '06 will kill slightly bigger stuff just as dead as a .338. If you can shoot the bigger stuff without a problem more power to you. But dead is dead and if shooting something lighter lets you place a bullet more precisely then I can't imagine why you would want to up the ante with something bigger than you can comfortably handle.

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from Beekeeper wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I've known people who claim to like recoil. They were typically thrice divorced, short on allocated dentation, and used the phrase, "Hay...y'all watch this," way too much.

A light rife in a potent caliber from the bench is not the most pleasant thing in the world but is made more tolerable as Dave said by good stock design. Effective recoil pads also help a great deal. A nice cushy pad like the Limbsaver takes a heap of slack out of a kicker.

I have to wonder about Lead Sleads though. All that energy has to go somewhere and that somewhere is the stock and components in and attached to the gun.

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from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I am still on the fence as to whether an ought six actually kicks harder than a .270. I think it is a toss up. Shotguns definitely kick harder, and the H&R is king. I bought one in 3 1/2" 12 gauge and sold it after I shot it once for a loss of $70... best deal I ever made.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

My son has a H&R 10 gauge blunderbus that kicks like a rented mule despite it's weight. Try one of those on for size. I think Petzal hit it on the head: Mommy, mommy that thing gave me an owee! Waaah!

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from dtownley wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

WAM, Dr.Ralph bought a kicker, took a $70 loss re-selling to BKeepers ,"hey watch this" yuckster maybe that hillbilly found it comfortable or had it PRO-PORTED and found it perfect. Who knows, make money go-round its an American thing ... right

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

i started out with a .22 semi/Rifle, that was a good way to teach a city kid how to shoot. But alas, I didin't learn much. My first shotgun was a 12 gauge pump, big difference from the .22, and took me over a year to stop flitching. So my boys started with a .22,.410,.20,then to 12 gauge. Rifles went from .22(as mentioned).243, then .270.
It seemed to work well for them, and we still get alot of use out of them .22 rifles!

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from MReeder wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Dr. Ralph,
I'm with you about not there not being much difference between a .270 and .30-06. I probably shoot both more than anything else I've got and I've never been able to tell much difference between 130-gr. loads in the .270 and 150 gr. bullets in the '06 and powder capacity is about the same. I figure the .270 recoil velocity makes up for the recoil generated by the heavier .30-caliber bullet. Of course my '06 weighs about a pound more and that's a big difference, too. However, when I go up to 180-gr. and heavier bullets I can start noticing the difference. My son, who's bigger than me, has a bum shoulder (baseball injury) and he doesn't like shooting either one. He gets by just fine with his 7mm-08.

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from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

You have to judge by the same bullet weights. 220 grain 30-06's always kick more than the 150's.

A 150 grain .270 load will kick just like an '06 150. I guess ought is spelled aught now that I think about it.

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from MReeder wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Agree that bullet weights have to be the same, all things being equal. However a 130-gr. bullet moving at about 3,100 is -- assuming rifle weights are the same -- probably going to generate a little quicker and sharper equal and opposite reaction, while a 150-gr. at 2,900 is a bit more of a push. Again, I was talking about perceived as opposed to actual recoil and perception is all that really matters. Truth is I can't tell a dime's worth of difference between either one, even though my .270 weights about 7-pounds scoped and my '06 weighs a little more than 8. You are right of course, though, about bullet weights. With 200 or 220 gr. bullets I don't have any doubt which one I'm shooting amd it stops being fun after about ten rounds at the bench.

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from CJ wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Yikes! there certainly are a bunch of recoil shy wussies on here. You boys should get a pair or go back to CB .22 Shorts at the shooting gallery at the county fair.

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from MReeder wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

CJ,
Recoil tolerance has nothing to do with manhood. It's more about intelligence or the lack of it. Some people have a high pain threshold, some people have a lower one and more are in the middle. The '06 has always been considered the dividing line for most shooters who don't have a chance to spend daily hours at the range. If being belted silly by some crooked-stocked big bore doesn't bother you; then fine. If you actually LIKE bruised cheek bones that's fine, too, albeit a little weird. If you can shoot very well with a 7mm-08 or 6.5 Swede but approach a .300 mag with fear, trepidation and trembling then you're just plain stupid to shoot the latter at deer or similar-sized mammals when the former calibers will kill them just as dead just as quick. If you need to fire shoulder cannon to confirm your virility then that's probably a matter for another forum...

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from Bellringer wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Oh you wussies, my 500 Thunderstomperblatem don't hardly kick at all. However I am assured that if I get a 600 I will not be able to survive even one shot.

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from CJ wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

MReeder

Just because you can't handle the big magnums doesn't mean others can't. Apparently the popguns is all you can handle for your zillion rounds at the range weekly. I guess fear does play a part in daily life for many.

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from MReeder wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

CJ,
When did I ever say that I could not handle shooting the big magnums? I don’t own any really big-bore centerfire rifles because I have zero use for them. But over the years I have frequently used magnum turkey and waterfowl loads in my 12 gauge O/U with steel butt plate and own a couple of .50 caliber muzzleloaders which will certainly get your attention.
As most everyone here has noted, a number of factors influence perceived recoil. Some of them are stock design, bullet weight and shooting position. Another is individual tolerance to pain. Certainly people can learn to ignore pain. Lawrence of Arabia used to burn his hand with a cigarette as a parlor trick. But for most people reaction to pain is involuntary, and in the case of shooting the involuntary reaction is a flinch. Just to give another for-instance I have a relatively high pain threshold for most things, but for years going to the dentist filled me with dread of the agony awaiting me upon my arrival. The dentist would insist that there was no way I could possibly be feeling any pain after having been deadened, even though I would suddenly jump and yowl during the procedure. Finally, a new dentist discovered that I was blessed with a fairly uncommon condition that resulted in me having many, many more randomly scattered nerve endings in my gums than the average Joe. He solved the problem by going very slowly and giving me additional shots whenever I leaped up and attached myself to the ceiling. I guarantee you that finally addressing the problem sure beat ignoring reality.
Karamojo Bell was by any estimation a pretty tough character but his preferred elephant rifle was a 7mm Rigby (7X57). Samuel Baker was another leathery hombre, but he freely admitted that he feared his famous 2-bore, “Baby,” so much that even the thought of firing it made him shake and drool. That’s what concussions and nose bleeds will do to you. Granted Baker is an extreme example, but it shows that anyone at some point becomes susceptible to recoil. At what point that happens is a purely individual thing that has nothing to do with any other inherent qualities possessed by the shooter. Casting aspersions at someone because they don’t claim to enjoy having the snot kicked out of them doesn’t seem to me like a very good way to expand the number of people participating in the sport. In fact, equating big guns with virility is one of the constant ways the anti-hunters and anti-gun people attack those of us who shoot.

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from Walt Smith wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

I've shot lots of bigger guns but my Savage 110E in 30-06 still is the worst, it kicks like a mule. 5 shots at a target and my sholder has a bruise on it, but I've never felt recoil from any gun while shooting at a animal, kinda wierd!

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from ohiodeerhunter wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

What is it about the H&R single shot shotguns that makes them kick like a mule?
I had a Winchester model 370 single shot 20 ga many years ago-could shoot boxes of shells,and no recoil issues-the H&R and the Baikal we got for the wife both kick absurdly hard-they are actually painful to shoot-and as I've said-I never had issues with recoil,and everything I shot when young seemed to have a steel,or plastic butt plate,no recoil pad.
Old Winchester 12 ga pump,Remington 760 in 30-06, Winchester 94 30-30,Savage lever gun in .308,none with any kind of recoil pad-
never had an issue-until the H&R,and Baikal single shots.

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from Brian W. Thair wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

Every shoulder arm kicks like a mule.
If you hold properly so that the recoil pushes your shoulder around instead of punching you through the gap,
There's other things to consider but later.
A 'Smith told me that 15% of guns fit 15% of shooters'
If the factory stock breaks your teeth. . . . smile!!

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from PAShooter wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

In my youth I was surrounded by hunters and shooters. Many conversations turned to recoil of various gun cartridges. Listening to all this talk convinced me to stay away from kicking magnums. Yet, at age 12 I hunted with a Modle 29 12 gauge Remington, and thought nothing of recoil. I later graduated to more expensive light shotguns with 3 in. shells. Still no thought of recoil. One year about 40 years ago, I wanted to get a .280 Rem. It was not available and was on backorder so the gunshop owner persuaded me to buy a 7mm Rem Mag. He said,"You hand load so you can load to a .280 or load hotter, you will have a more versitle gun". Since then I have bought many more guns of standard and magnum cartridges. I enjoy shooting them all. I wish I would not have heard all of that "kicks like a mule" talk. The fear reminds me of a Winston Churchill quote.

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from Kimber708 wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

Family legend speaks of an old Arisaka that had been re-chambered to 30-06 and "sporterized". It is said that ones ears would ring after the first shot. I'll pass, thanks.

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from mcrumrine wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

I currently own only 3 rifles, a 7x57, a .338 Win Mag, and a .270 Win. I have shot many other calibers but these are the three I own. Shooting the .338 from a bench I feel the recoil but its not devastating, in fact that rifle taught me some mistakes I was making and made me a better shot. The first time I shot it I watched the entire shot through the scope because it went off a bit sooner than I was expecting and I realized then that I had been closing my eyes right as the gun would go off,not flinching just closing my eyes. Now I concentrate on watching though the shot and it helps. The eye closure stems from a slight trigger slip jut before firing that we have never been able to work out of the 7x57. The only time I've had a "recoil" problem was the first deer I shot with the 7x57, I pulled the trigger before I had the rifle tight to my shoulder. I caught the scope above my eye. I put another shell in the chamber and shot the deer I missed with the first shot, lesson learned. Buck fever, I never even felt the scope hit me. My .270 is the lightest of the bunch and funny thing it has the thickest recoil pad, because of a factory stock. Shooting at an animal I have found there is no such thing as recoil, as long as you have the rifle on your shoulder not 2 inches in front of it, no matter what caliber I am firing.

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from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

It is interesting to note that many seem to feel shooting a high recoil rifle is a sign of manhood. Some seem to feel that big heavy bullets kill game deader than anything smaller in weight. For most American game, my experience has not shown that to be the case (I do acknowledge that Happy Miles DOES have a place for big cartridges).

Some of the best hunters I have ever had the pleasure of meeting shoot puny rifle cartridges (.22-250 to 25-06) at deer and have more hunting success than I could imagine. The many deer I have shot and seen shot with a 25-06 have dropped SO fast that I am honestly always reluctant to shoot one with a 30-06 or a .375 H&H for fear that I might have to track them. I have tracked many shot with such rifles but surprisingly have yet to track one shot by one of the little calibers mentioned above. I attribute this more to the fact that their owners know how to shoot them than the size of the bullet.

I will say however, that I consider it very manly (or should I say very MATURE) to shoot deer in a vital area every time. I really respect someone (man or woman) who always hits where they should.

The magnums give us greater range and I use them for that purpose when necessary. However, I have never seen one kill a deer deader than dead and I honestly don't believe that is physically possible. If you shoot your deer in the belly, the leg or the jaw, they actually don't seem to improve the outcome on that front either in spite of what people seem to think.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

I didn't even own a "magnum" rifle until 3 years ago. I appreciate the better trajectory and velocity at greater ranges over the standard cartridges, but I still don't shoot at anything that I can't be sure of hitting! Neither has much more felt recoil than the light weight .30-06 that I shoot. I don't think I would take either of them on a deer only hunt unless it was in griz country.

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from Greg Hart wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

I have a 6-3/4 lb syntheitc stock Handi chambered in .45-70 that kicks pretty good. However, it's light weight makes it easy to carry in the field, and most hunting situations don't lend themselves to taking a great deal of shots. But don't think for a minute I'm going to put 50 rounds through it at the range.
My Mosin smacks me pretty good too, thanks to the steel butt plate. I once did a competition where we shot prone at 200, 300, and 600 yards, 20 rounds each. The last ten rounds on the 600 yard range were so painful it felt like I was getting stabbed everytime I pulled the trigger. I cringed everytime I worked the bolt and saw another round in the magazine. The next day my jaw was sore.

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from Happy Myles wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

As my Father used to say, "recoil doesn't bother me, but the flinch sure does." Working up loads for heavy recoil rifles at a cement shooting bench the first thing to hurt is my right elbow, I am right handed. Next a dull pain in the back of my neck. Worst of all was agony in the finger behind the trigger guard, until I came up with the idea of a kevlar pad taped into a fingerless shooting glove. The next morning a sore cheek bone. A bruised shoulder was not, and has never been an issue. Now, I am talking heavy recoil, 450 Ackley, 470 Nitro, 460 Short A Square, 500 Nitro, and 500 Jeffery. An old 416 Rigby has no recoil pad and a dropped stock, made before scopes were used. The same lack of pad on a 450 side by side, again no shoulder tenderness.

I stumble around and drool a lot, but my Wife claims that affliction does not have anything to do with decades of rifle recoil.

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from davidpetzal wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

To Ripper III: Good question. Let's start with the proposition that you can take far more recoil in your shoulder than you can in your head, and so a good stock design is one that forces the rifle to recoil straight back, rather than pivoting upward. The best examples of this are the ARs, and the Kalashnikov, which kick almost straight back. You want as straight a comb as possible. I believe that Monte Carlo combs do the opposite of what they're intended to and crack you in the cheekbone.

Second is simply giving you enough of a stock to hang onto. Some very light rifles skimp on stocks to save weight, and leave you nothing to grab.

Third is a good recoil pad that absorbs and disperses the foot-pounds. The Remington Supercell is a particularly effective one.

Finally, weight is a factor. I love synthetic stocks, but if I were building a hard-kicking rifle I'd think very seriously about a laminated stock or a really dense piece of walnut.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

My son has a H&R 10 gauge blunderbus that kicks like a rented mule despite it's weight. Try one of those on for size. I think Petzal hit it on the head: Mommy, mommy that thing gave me an owee! Waaah!

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from RipperIII wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I've never quite understood the "fear" of recoil.
I started shooting a 12ga. before I ever got into hunting, so maybe I'm biased.
I've not shot the really large calibers, but I just don't see how they could kick anymore than a magnum turkey load.
My Tikka .270 can give you a little pop when not properly seated...but no where in the realm of Jaw re-alignment experienced with an improperly mounted turkey gun.

My question for you Dave, is how does the design of the stock affect felt recoil?

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from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Your article was very good BUT, you could have gone a bit further and listed some of the ways to reduce recoil on a hard kicking rifle such as recoil reducing butt pads etc etc. also scope mounting may become a critical factor on said rifles because a person that gets smacked in the face is not going to like it all that much . I, myself had an episode with a friend's 30/06 a few years ago and developed a very bad flinch that took a long time to get rid of. Maybe you could do a show on proper scope mounting?? Improper mounting of a rifle cause all kinds of problems. In all my years of shooting I have seen alot of that. To put the toe of a rifle stock at the top of your shoulder is just asking for it.

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from hengst wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

@ Ripper
I like my Weatherby stocks, I seem to get better form and am sort off naturally in line with the scope. As far as recoil reduction, I am sorry I don't pay that much attention but my 300 wwsm feels about like the 300 wby and less than the 257 wby.

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from Sarge01 wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Stock design is almost everything. My Son has an H&R .20 guage shotgun that kicks harder than anything that I have ever shot in my life and I have shot some very large stuff and my favorite plinker is my 6 1/2 pound Sako A7 300WSM. The stock design on that shotgun is horrible. Limb Saver recoil pads make any gun alot tamer and my gunsmith says they are on par with a muzzle brake and a heck of alot quieter. Proper stock design, plus proper gun mounting and hold means everything.

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from 1uglymutha wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

back in the 40s and 50s it was unusual,at least in my neck of the woods, to see recoil pads on anything. muzzle brakes were virtually unheard of. one of the quickest recoiling everyday guns from that era (at least for me) was the original browning a-5 shotgun with a metal buttplate. slugs in that gun were pretty wicked. i've shot a friend's .458, the .450-400, and the .416 rigby. all were heavy recoiling rifles, but not brutally so. in my later years i give thanks for limbsaver. they take much of the felt recoil out of just about everything. after three or four boxes of heavy 8s through that old A5 in the dove fields, hematomas were common. wish i'd had the recoil pad back then.

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from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I don't like recoil and avoid it as much as possible. I am an accuracy nut and feel that a well placed bullet trumps bullet energy on every shot (except for a charging rhino perhaps). I don't want anything to do with something that may cause me to develop a flinch. I've shot a 10 pound 25-06 most of my life and have been so deadly with that, that a larger caliber is rarely needed in the U.S.

I also shoot 12 pound rifles chambered in .223, 25-06, .300 Dakota and .375 H&H a lot. At that weight, their recoil is quite mild and very tollerable. Their accuracy is exceptional (less than .5 MOA with the .300 Dakota being around .1 MOA). I use LimbSaver recoil pads, straight stocks and no muzzle brakes (to preserve what is left of my hearing).

I do use an ultra-light 25-06 (at 5.5 pounds) where long carries are required and short range shots are likely. The recoil is fine but there is no way I would use such a light rifle in 30-06 or larger cartridges... that's just me.

I would have no problem shooting a .416 Rigby at an occassional Cape Buff, but I would never shoot one regularly for the fun of it unless it was in a Lead Sled.

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from fordman155 wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

A Weatherby-style Monte Carlo stock is designed for the stock to move away from the shooter's face as the recoil pushes the stock back. Since the angle of the cheak piece on the stock is going up from the neck of the stock, there is less stock moving toward the shooter as the recoil pushes the whole rifle back. Just about any buttstock can move into the face area if the shooter does not hold down the fore end enough. That is why I still hold the fore end of the stock when I'm shooting from a bench or with a bipod in the prone position. I like, as DP wrote, "having something to hold on to" and control that recoil some. Shooting M-14s on an Army hi-power rifle team taught me a lot about the shooter being in control of the rifle. It was common to have a sore cheakbone after a day at the range since there are times when the position of the shooter's face meant a heafty stock "bumping" your face. Recoil of that fairly heavy rifle was calmed by a leather shooting jacket and the rifles own weight, so the annoying bumps to the face weren't as bad as you might imagine. Lastly, the light weight rifles are meant to be that way so you can carry them all day without being worn-down by the weight AND be able to make a sweet shot on the animal you've been stalking all day. And if you don't like the recoil level of your rifle, get a muzzle break, get a better recoil pad, bulk up your shoulders and chest muscles, get a heavier rifle, or shoot more and get accustomed to it.

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Thanks Phill;
You're putting it far better than most.
30-06 was about the biggest thunder stick i ever shot and i used to shoot a lot, but i've slowed down due to health reasons.
as i got older the recoil began to tell on me and now i love 7mm-08 and 243 and dammed if i don't do just as good with the girl calibers.
The hardest part about growing old is "accepting your limitations.

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from focusfront wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I agree; there's something about 3 1/2" 12 ga. recoil that is something special. I'd fire a .340 Weatherby any day over one of those. They really kick.

We are all different. 49% of Americans are going to vote for Obama no matter what he does; that should tell you something. That goes for recoil tolerance too. With an artificial lens in one eye and surgery to both shoulders (none of this shooting related), my magnum rifle days are over. I discovered that old has-been rounds like .30-30 and .35 Rem will still deer and pigs, come in light rifles, are good to at least 200 yards with the new Hornady ammo, and don't kick your eyeballs out of their sockets. If I ever buy another lightweight bolt rifle, it will be in 7mm-08 at the heaviest.

Dave, nobody has printed a recoil table in a couple of weeks. Do you have one you could post?

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

@ Carl Huber

I have yet to see a military service rifle with a muzzle break or recoil reduction device. Do share that one with us. Gas impingement operating systems are the cheapest system for autoloading rifles and recoil reduction is not the primary purpose, hence metal buttplates.

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from MReeder wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Agree with DP and just about everyone else who chimed in that stock design is the number one factor in reducing (or increasing) perceived recoil. My preference has always been for a very straight stock with a healthy comb that comes straight back into the shoulder. Weatherby made Monte Monte Carlos popular after WWII, but it always had more to do with style than function. A straight stock with a high comb accomplishes exactly the same intended purpose in terms of bringing the eye in line with the scope, and it does so without the excessive drop at heel that makes too many Monte Carlos rap you in the cheekbone. It took a long time but thankfully the value of a classic stock has been realized again (I also think a classic stock is far cleaner and more elegant than one shaped like a boat paddle, but that's simply a matter of taste).
Ripper III talks about shotgun recoil and there's no question most 12-gauge loads kick harder than the centerfire rifles the majority of us shoot. The difference is that you usually shoot a shotgun standing up so that you roll back with the recoil; not hunker down solidly behind it in a solid position. If you're sensitive to recoil inertia is not your friend. In my own case I also notice that when I'm shooting doves with a 12 my shoulder eventually takes on interesting shades of green, black and blue and for some strange reason my success rate starts to fall off about the time the discoloration starts happening.
The other thing I'm not sure anyone mentioned is now much muzzle blast plays into perceived recoil and subsequent flinching. I think the noise actually bothers people more than the kick and good hearing protection can do a lot to tame what shooters thought was fearsome recoil.
None of which is meant to imply that kick doesn't matter. As long as you use the right bullets a .243, .257 Roberts, .25-06, 6.5 Swede, 7X57 or 7mm-08 will kill medium-size animals just as dead as a .30-06 and an '06 will kill slightly bigger stuff just as dead as a .338. If you can shoot the bigger stuff without a problem more power to you. But dead is dead and if shooting something lighter lets you place a bullet more precisely then I can't imagine why you would want to up the ante with something bigger than you can comfortably handle.

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from Beekeeper wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I've known people who claim to like recoil. They were typically thrice divorced, short on allocated dentation, and used the phrase, "Hay...y'all watch this," way too much.

A light rife in a potent caliber from the bench is not the most pleasant thing in the world but is made more tolerable as Dave said by good stock design. Effective recoil pads also help a great deal. A nice cushy pad like the Limbsaver takes a heap of slack out of a kicker.

I have to wonder about Lead Sleads though. All that energy has to go somewhere and that somewhere is the stock and components in and attached to the gun.

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from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I am still on the fence as to whether an ought six actually kicks harder than a .270. I think it is a toss up. Shotguns definitely kick harder, and the H&R is king. I bought one in 3 1/2" 12 gauge and sold it after I shot it once for a loss of $70... best deal I ever made.

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

i started out with a .22 semi/Rifle, that was a good way to teach a city kid how to shoot. But alas, I didin't learn much. My first shotgun was a 12 gauge pump, big difference from the .22, and took me over a year to stop flitching. So my boys started with a .22,.410,.20,then to 12 gauge. Rifles went from .22(as mentioned).243, then .270.
It seemed to work well for them, and we still get alot of use out of them .22 rifles!

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from MReeder wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

CJ,
Recoil tolerance has nothing to do with manhood. It's more about intelligence or the lack of it. Some people have a high pain threshold, some people have a lower one and more are in the middle. The '06 has always been considered the dividing line for most shooters who don't have a chance to spend daily hours at the range. If being belted silly by some crooked-stocked big bore doesn't bother you; then fine. If you actually LIKE bruised cheek bones that's fine, too, albeit a little weird. If you can shoot very well with a 7mm-08 or 6.5 Swede but approach a .300 mag with fear, trepidation and trembling then you're just plain stupid to shoot the latter at deer or similar-sized mammals when the former calibers will kill them just as dead just as quick. If you need to fire shoulder cannon to confirm your virility then that's probably a matter for another forum...

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from MReeder wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

CJ,
When did I ever say that I could not handle shooting the big magnums? I don’t own any really big-bore centerfire rifles because I have zero use for them. But over the years I have frequently used magnum turkey and waterfowl loads in my 12 gauge O/U with steel butt plate and own a couple of .50 caliber muzzleloaders which will certainly get your attention.
As most everyone here has noted, a number of factors influence perceived recoil. Some of them are stock design, bullet weight and shooting position. Another is individual tolerance to pain. Certainly people can learn to ignore pain. Lawrence of Arabia used to burn his hand with a cigarette as a parlor trick. But for most people reaction to pain is involuntary, and in the case of shooting the involuntary reaction is a flinch. Just to give another for-instance I have a relatively high pain threshold for most things, but for years going to the dentist filled me with dread of the agony awaiting me upon my arrival. The dentist would insist that there was no way I could possibly be feeling any pain after having been deadened, even though I would suddenly jump and yowl during the procedure. Finally, a new dentist discovered that I was blessed with a fairly uncommon condition that resulted in me having many, many more randomly scattered nerve endings in my gums than the average Joe. He solved the problem by going very slowly and giving me additional shots whenever I leaped up and attached myself to the ceiling. I guarantee you that finally addressing the problem sure beat ignoring reality.
Karamojo Bell was by any estimation a pretty tough character but his preferred elephant rifle was a 7mm Rigby (7X57). Samuel Baker was another leathery hombre, but he freely admitted that he feared his famous 2-bore, “Baby,” so much that even the thought of firing it made him shake and drool. That’s what concussions and nose bleeds will do to you. Granted Baker is an extreme example, but it shows that anyone at some point becomes susceptible to recoil. At what point that happens is a purely individual thing that has nothing to do with any other inherent qualities possessed by the shooter. Casting aspersions at someone because they don’t claim to enjoy having the snot kicked out of them doesn’t seem to me like a very good way to expand the number of people participating in the sport. In fact, equating big guns with virility is one of the constant ways the anti-hunters and anti-gun people attack those of us who shoot.

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from dovebuster wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

My go to rifle is a Browning A Bolt Titanium in 300wsm, Talley steel rings and bases with A Swarovski Z3 total weight 6.8lbs, Recoil is not an issue, it is the stick of death. The problem lies in that most people do not know the proper mechanics of shooting. Dave you have addressed this several times in your articles. Most people only know what paw paw or daddy taught which was not totally correct. Lightweight hunting rifles rule in the field and make a day of still & stalking down right fun.

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from Moose1980 wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Stock design and proper shooting form are big factors in felt recoil for me. I've mentioned it before, but I have a Remington 7600 in .270 that slaps my jaw when shooting from the bench (not so when off hand), and by the end of a session I get a little "jumpy." Yet I can shoot my Ruger M77 in .338 all day long. Still, the only time where I ever thought I did damage to myself was the 1st time I fired 3in, 1oz slugs out of my 12 ga. I was 18, wasn't holding the gun right and learned what "kicks like a mule" felt like!

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from Mark-1 wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Agree on stock design. Winchester put thought into my Model 70 458. Learned I must hold that fore end so the recoil doesn't get a head start.

BTW David. What's your opinion on this statement for writers. "You don't get widely plagiarized until you're widely published--and then it doesn't matter. Trust me on this". Inquiring minds want to know.

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from RipperIII wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Thanks Dave,
I've seen some stock designs that have good eye appeal, but I guess you never know till you pull the trigger.

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from jay wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I wonder how Roy Weatherby would respond to Dave's comment concerning Monte Carlo stocks increasing felt recoil????

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

@jay

I don't know, but perhaps Ed can weigh in!

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from Mark-1 wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Happy,

Noticed my sinus's feel a bit strange after fiddling with the 458.

When sighting in on a bench I put a bag of lead shot between me and the butt. Avoids broken bones.

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from Bellringer wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Build a stand up rest for sighting in hard recoiling rifles, that way your body can give instead of absorb.

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from davidpetzal wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

To Mark-1: Makes sense to me. Is someone plagiarizing someone?

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from RipperIII wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I've always liked the look of
Weatherby stocks, do they perform as good as they look?

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from hengst wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

The June 2012 issue of "Combat Handguns" has a neat paragraph in the "A Jeff Cooper Retrospective" (backpage)

The article stated basically what Dave just stated. The best part was It is not a matter of how strong or big you are, it is a matter of what you should think about rifle kick"

He also compares rifle kick to a game of touch football; you are gonna get banged around about the same but we don't cry about that! (paraphrased)

I like my rifles and get get a bit, embarrassingly enough I like to hug the scope. I just gotta keep away or get cut/bruised bad. As far as recoil I concentrate on the target and good shooting principles, the recoil happens so fast I almost forget it. As a disclaimer I don't exactly shoot 500 NE

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from ohiodeerhunter wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Sarge01

Agree on the H&R's,also got a 20 ga Baikal single shot that was supposed to be the wife's-it was a good fit for her-so we got it,I shot it a couple times before she did-and went and got a recoil pad for it before she shot it-the thing still kicks harder than the Savage model 11 in .308 that we got at the same time for a nephew to use.

That 20ga still kicks too hard-I'm going to put some #8 lead shot in the stock,where the hole is for the bolt that attaches it to the receiver. A local gunsmith suggested that one,and maybe drill a couple more holes to fill with shot.

Recoil doesn't seem to bother me much,I started shooting at a young age,went from .410 to 20 ga,to 30-30 for deer,and 12 ga for birds and rabbits-I don't even remember there being recoil pads on anything I shot when I was young-of course that was a while ago. (Mid sixties)

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from blevenson wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Never did much rifle shootin but a 12 gauge with slugs will do the trick if you're chasing big game in the great state of MN.

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from Mark-1 wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

DP,

"Is someone plagiarizing someone?"

Yeah, People plagiarize, ripping you off all the time. Guess it's a sign of a writer’s success. Wondered how you and your fellow pro wordsmith's deal with it.

Plagiarism is rampant nowadays. I know in music [likely film/TV] a piece is put on the internet, very shortly there’s an A-D transfer within some Pacific Rim country.

I suppose the act is OK, if the plagiary doesn’t highjack and twist an artist’s work into something perverse and out-of-context.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Muzzle brakes are a sure sign that you have more gun than you can handle! Man Up!

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from Steve in Virginia wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Like many, I tend to notice recoil when shooting from the bench, but it becomes non-existent when I get into the field. The worst recoil has come from shotguns loaded with 3 and 3/12 inch magnum shells.

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from Carl Huber wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

WAM I have to disagree muzzle brakes are a sign of technology. Bullets are no longer cast lead rather bonded metal or non lead alloys. Bigger faster and harder hitting with the mind of a quick follow up shot. All this with a mind to a lighter firearm. Even light caliber military rifles espouse to some sort of recoil dampening device. Be it muzzle brakes or gas impingement action. And some guy's will still pull the shot. The only thing I have against them is you hear all your bang for your buck.

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from jmeerpohl wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Stock design, weight and hold position are three key elements to felt recoil. We had H&R Topper 20 guage shotguns that some well meaning but unknowledgeable souls provided to our scout camp in 20 guage that kicked like Missouri Mules. I own a 375 Ruger that is quite tolerable. The new technologies can also cut down on felt recoil and when shooting becomes an issue due to recoil the owner needs to rethink the three fundamentals then look at reduction technolgies.

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from dtownley wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I want people to shoot the life out of game, so throw a brake on it. I'll plug my ears and we will go get your game, if you shoot your stomper better and make tracking shorter or non-existent, I'll go with you.
Da-m, WAM, let these people spend money(can cap the threads with the savings), some MAN may want a used hardly fired big bore, ya big bore. Man Up ? ... Belly Up to the cash register sir, your son ought to have one just like yours, lets move money & blue steel.
Thank You WAM & other veterans for your service.
Yes, my .358 NM has a brake & my 29yr old 7 RM is ported but I like my stuff to shoot like a BB gun(makes me feel like a kid & I was good at it) and hit like a meteor but that's just me.

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from davidpetzal wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Tofocusfront: Do what I do: Google Handloads.com where there is an excellent recoil calculator. Enter the bullet weight, rifle weight, muzzle velocity, and powder charge weight and click. However, as they very correctly note, what you'll get is the numbers, not the felt recoil, which is something else again.

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from MReeder wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Dr. Ralph,
I'm with you about not there not being much difference between a .270 and .30-06. I probably shoot both more than anything else I've got and I've never been able to tell much difference between 130-gr. loads in the .270 and 150 gr. bullets in the '06 and powder capacity is about the same. I figure the .270 recoil velocity makes up for the recoil generated by the heavier .30-caliber bullet. Of course my '06 weighs about a pound more and that's a big difference, too. However, when I go up to 180-gr. and heavier bullets I can start noticing the difference. My son, who's bigger than me, has a bum shoulder (baseball injury) and he doesn't like shooting either one. He gets by just fine with his 7mm-08.

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from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

You have to judge by the same bullet weights. 220 grain 30-06's always kick more than the 150's.

A 150 grain .270 load will kick just like an '06 150. I guess ought is spelled aught now that I think about it.

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from MReeder wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Agree that bullet weights have to be the same, all things being equal. However a 130-gr. bullet moving at about 3,100 is -- assuming rifle weights are the same -- probably going to generate a little quicker and sharper equal and opposite reaction, while a 150-gr. at 2,900 is a bit more of a push. Again, I was talking about perceived as opposed to actual recoil and perception is all that really matters. Truth is I can't tell a dime's worth of difference between either one, even though my .270 weights about 7-pounds scoped and my '06 weighs a little more than 8. You are right of course, though, about bullet weights. With 200 or 220 gr. bullets I don't have any doubt which one I'm shooting amd it stops being fun after about ten rounds at the bench.

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from Walt Smith wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

I've shot lots of bigger guns but my Savage 110E in 30-06 still is the worst, it kicks like a mule. 5 shots at a target and my sholder has a bruise on it, but I've never felt recoil from any gun while shooting at a animal, kinda wierd!

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from ohiodeerhunter wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

What is it about the H&R single shot shotguns that makes them kick like a mule?
I had a Winchester model 370 single shot 20 ga many years ago-could shoot boxes of shells,and no recoil issues-the H&R and the Baikal we got for the wife both kick absurdly hard-they are actually painful to shoot-and as I've said-I never had issues with recoil,and everything I shot when young seemed to have a steel,or plastic butt plate,no recoil pad.
Old Winchester 12 ga pump,Remington 760 in 30-06, Winchester 94 30-30,Savage lever gun in .308,none with any kind of recoil pad-
never had an issue-until the H&R,and Baikal single shots.

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from Brian W. Thair wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

Every shoulder arm kicks like a mule.
If you hold properly so that the recoil pushes your shoulder around instead of punching you through the gap,
There's other things to consider but later.
A 'Smith told me that 15% of guns fit 15% of shooters'
If the factory stock breaks your teeth. . . . smile!!

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from PAShooter wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

In my youth I was surrounded by hunters and shooters. Many conversations turned to recoil of various gun cartridges. Listening to all this talk convinced me to stay away from kicking magnums. Yet, at age 12 I hunted with a Modle 29 12 gauge Remington, and thought nothing of recoil. I later graduated to more expensive light shotguns with 3 in. shells. Still no thought of recoil. One year about 40 years ago, I wanted to get a .280 Rem. It was not available and was on backorder so the gunshop owner persuaded me to buy a 7mm Rem Mag. He said,"You hand load so you can load to a .280 or load hotter, you will have a more versitle gun". Since then I have bought many more guns of standard and magnum cartridges. I enjoy shooting them all. I wish I would not have heard all of that "kicks like a mule" talk. The fear reminds me of a Winston Churchill quote.

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from mcrumrine wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

I currently own only 3 rifles, a 7x57, a .338 Win Mag, and a .270 Win. I have shot many other calibers but these are the three I own. Shooting the .338 from a bench I feel the recoil but its not devastating, in fact that rifle taught me some mistakes I was making and made me a better shot. The first time I shot it I watched the entire shot through the scope because it went off a bit sooner than I was expecting and I realized then that I had been closing my eyes right as the gun would go off,not flinching just closing my eyes. Now I concentrate on watching though the shot and it helps. The eye closure stems from a slight trigger slip jut before firing that we have never been able to work out of the 7x57. The only time I've had a "recoil" problem was the first deer I shot with the 7x57, I pulled the trigger before I had the rifle tight to my shoulder. I caught the scope above my eye. I put another shell in the chamber and shot the deer I missed with the first shot, lesson learned. Buck fever, I never even felt the scope hit me. My .270 is the lightest of the bunch and funny thing it has the thickest recoil pad, because of a factory stock. Shooting at an animal I have found there is no such thing as recoil, as long as you have the rifle on your shoulder not 2 inches in front of it, no matter what caliber I am firing.

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from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

It is interesting to note that many seem to feel shooting a high recoil rifle is a sign of manhood. Some seem to feel that big heavy bullets kill game deader than anything smaller in weight. For most American game, my experience has not shown that to be the case (I do acknowledge that Happy Miles DOES have a place for big cartridges).

Some of the best hunters I have ever had the pleasure of meeting shoot puny rifle cartridges (.22-250 to 25-06) at deer and have more hunting success than I could imagine. The many deer I have shot and seen shot with a 25-06 have dropped SO fast that I am honestly always reluctant to shoot one with a 30-06 or a .375 H&H for fear that I might have to track them. I have tracked many shot with such rifles but surprisingly have yet to track one shot by one of the little calibers mentioned above. I attribute this more to the fact that their owners know how to shoot them than the size of the bullet.

I will say however, that I consider it very manly (or should I say very MATURE) to shoot deer in a vital area every time. I really respect someone (man or woman) who always hits where they should.

The magnums give us greater range and I use them for that purpose when necessary. However, I have never seen one kill a deer deader than dead and I honestly don't believe that is physically possible. If you shoot your deer in the belly, the leg or the jaw, they actually don't seem to improve the outcome on that front either in spite of what people seem to think.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

I didn't even own a "magnum" rifle until 3 years ago. I appreciate the better trajectory and velocity at greater ranges over the standard cartridges, but I still don't shoot at anything that I can't be sure of hitting! Neither has much more felt recoil than the light weight .30-06 that I shoot. I don't think I would take either of them on a deer only hunt unless it was in griz country.

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from Greg Hart wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

I have a 6-3/4 lb syntheitc stock Handi chambered in .45-70 that kicks pretty good. However, it's light weight makes it easy to carry in the field, and most hunting situations don't lend themselves to taking a great deal of shots. But don't think for a minute I'm going to put 50 rounds through it at the range.
My Mosin smacks me pretty good too, thanks to the steel butt plate. I once did a competition where we shot prone at 200, 300, and 600 yards, 20 rounds each. The last ten rounds on the 600 yard range were so painful it felt like I was getting stabbed everytime I pulled the trigger. I cringed everytime I worked the bolt and saw another round in the magazine. The next day my jaw was sore.

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from whiteeagle wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

I don't go out of my way to find hard-kicking rifles, but never found recoil to be that much of an issue. If I know that I'm going to put in a long bench session with, say, my .340 Weatherby, I admit to wearing one of the Pact shoulder pads, but I don't mind going 20 rounds without one, either. Although some folks are recoil-sensitive, I think that the issue is somewhat overblown and, as some have said, due to not ever really learning how a harder-kicking rifle is supposed to be shot.

Muzzle brakes, on the other hand, are something I just can't tolerate, particularly when someone is shooting one on a covered range right next to me. In these days when AR-15 and, worse (from a muzzle-blast standpoint) AR-10s are everywhere, if I flinch it's not because my ri9fle kicked, it's because three ARs with muzzle brakes sounded off just as i was breaking the shot.

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from dtownley wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

WAM, Dr.Ralph bought a kicker, took a $70 loss re-selling to BKeepers ,"hey watch this" yuckster maybe that hillbilly found it comfortable or had it PRO-PORTED and found it perfect. Who knows, make money go-round its an American thing ... right

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from Bellringer wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Oh you wussies, my 500 Thunderstomperblatem don't hardly kick at all. However I am assured that if I get a 600 I will not be able to survive even one shot.

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from Kimber708 wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

Family legend speaks of an old Arisaka that had been re-chambered to 30-06 and "sporterized". It is said that ones ears would ring after the first shot. I'll pass, thanks.

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from CJ wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Yikes! there certainly are a bunch of recoil shy wussies on here. You boys should get a pair or go back to CB .22 Shorts at the shooting gallery at the county fair.

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from CJ wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

MReeder

Just because you can't handle the big magnums doesn't mean others can't. Apparently the popguns is all you can handle for your zillion rounds at the range weekly. I guess fear does play a part in daily life for many.

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