Can You Handle The Kick?
“A man’s got to know his limitations.” So said Inspector Harry Callahan in Magnum Force, and he was right. I...
“A man’s got to know his limitations.” So said Inspector Harry Callahan in Magnum Force, and he was right. I get lots of questions on how hard various cartridges kick, and it’s an almost impossible question to answer because there are four factors in the equation: the load, the rifle, you and, oddly enough, public opinion. There was a time when the .45 ACP was thought of as almost unmanageable, and you still see it referred to as a brutal kicker. After World War I, the .30/06 was held in awe as something only the manliest of men would dare to shoot.
In a sense, this was correct. If you shot a Springfield 03 with its too-short stock, or a Winchester 95 with its crescent steel buttplate, you would suffer. And if you’ve never shot a .44 Magnum (or a .45 Casull), you will indeed think the .45 ACP a hard kicker.
The most important factor is the human one. Some people can shoot anything. I have a friend who shoots an 8-bore black powder double with a steel buttplate for fun, and I will not touch the thing. My own limit is a .458 Lott, which is about 70 foot-pounds of recoil. And that’s assuming that the rifle is not too light, has a straight stock, and a good recoil pad. Beyond this I do not go because there’s no sense to it. If there’s something you can’t drop with a Lott, maybe you need an RPG. If you go beyond your limit, you will develop a flinch, guaranteed, wreck your back, and detach your retinas.
Warren Page, who shot everything, loathed recoil, and made no bones about it. His dangerous-game rifle of choice was a .375 Weatherby Magnum (NOT the .378 Weatherby), largely because it kicked notably less than the over-.40s. You might keep that in mind. I do.