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.