EvoShield Recoil Shirt: The Ultimate in Recoil Protection?

In the eternal pursuit of a way to put and end to recoil pain and discomfort for the active shooter, there have been more attempts and schemes than Carter had pills. Many involve permanent modification to the guns, requiring that each and every gun that you shoot enthusiastically be disfigured permanently. Some methods, such as muzzle brakes, provide little if any benefit in shotgun use-certainly not worth the potential for hearing damage and general annoyance they cause to the shooter the next stand over. Where they do provide more attenuation to the secondary recoil pulse is of course when employed in high-powered rifles, where a great deal more pressure is available to work with than in shotguns. There, even moreso, is the potential for severe and permanent hearing loss as deaf hunters and deaf guides around the world can unhappily attest to.

Of course, physics tends to work. So, we can always add weight to our rifles and shotguns. The problem is, of course, is that if we want to cut recoil dramatically we also have to add a dramatic amount of weight as well. A 7 lb. 12 gauge shotgun firing a common trap load (1-1/8 oz. @ 1200 fps) develops about 25.5 foot pounds of recoil, at a recoil velocity of 15.32 feet per second. Sure, we can cut those numbers in half-but it takes much more than a trivial amount of weight to do it. To slash the recoil down to 12.75 foot pounds with a recoil velocity of 7.66 fps, it takes a lot of weight. It requires us to add seven pounds, as a matter of fact-doubling the weight of our firearm. Going to this extent often completely destroys the portability, handling, and pointability of our long guns that we spend so much time seeking in the first place.

Our fascination with recoil reduction has never been satisfied, resulting in a huge industry of its own. Anytime a new cartridge or firearm model appears, one of the very first questions is, "Does it kick?" Naturally, that "answer" appertains not to actual free recoil or shock, but the mysterious "felt recoil"- which has everything to do about what you perceive, but nothing that can be readily measured much less accurately compared. Often, we get little bar graphs that brag of 42%, 59%, and 92% reduction of felt recoil-all of which is of little consolation when our arms go numb or our fillings are rattling. This brings us to a completely different technology than normally attempted: the "EvoShield."

The EvoShield does not reduce the recoil of your rifle or shotgun in any way. It has nothing to do with modification of a firearm, adding weight to it, changing loads, or drilling ports in the barrel. The EvoShield, at first blush, is a shirt with a recoil pad in it. But, it has no relation at all to the various gel and rubber insert type shirts and vests you've ever used. It also isn't a "one size fits all" panacea, either-more correctly, it is "one size fits you."

I do an awful amount of shooting. Most of it I enjoy immensely, but there is a lot of grunt work in evaluating ammunition and firearms that is just no fun. Firing endless combinations of heavy waterfowl and turkey loads off of bag and cradle at the patterning board is just no fun. Firing 300 rounds a day of .30-06 180 grain cartridges both at targets and through chronographs is also not always totally fun, but often totally necessary when publishing deadlines are to be met. A side "benefit" is being able to report on the cumulative effects of recoil. A recent battery of testing left my shoulder scraped and bloody, with lingering soreness that lasted several days. While being sufficiently tenderized enough to be able to easily discern what recoil pads worked the best, and what didn't work at all it interfered with the other aspects of firearms and ammunition evaluation in concert with the pain level.

As it happens, my EvoShield arrived the day before I needed to run some 300 rounds through .30-06 Springfield bolt actions. The green EvoShield shirt is made of stretchy, spandex-like material. It is designed to be worn snug. I had ordered a medium, as opposed to the large (or XL) I'd choose for most shirts-a good thing. Don't think of this as you would a cheap souvenir T-shirt, but order it as it you would a shirt that would never shrink. Along with the shirt you receive a black pad about 11 inches long, that is sealed in an airtight foil pack-for good reason. Read the instructions before you break the seal on the foil pack, for as soon as you remove it begins to harden-- a process that takes about 10 minutes.

Have an unloaded rifle or shotgun at the ready. After removing the pad, you slip it into the shirt properly, and slip the shirt on. After everything is as you would normally wear it, you mount your long gun as would normally once a minute for about ten minutes, not sitting down during this little custom-forming process. That's it; you are essentially done. It takes about 20 minutes to fully cure, but it seemed "cured" to me after about ten minutes. The shirt with the formed pad is extremely light and gets in the way of nothing. Wearing a regular shirt over the top of it looks like you are just wearing a green undershirt-other than that, it can't be readily discerned you are even wearing it. I made the hour and fifteen minute drive to my testing area, soon forgetting I was wearing it at all.

Some 300 rounds of .30-06 Springfield later, the difference was astounding. No marks on my shoulder, no pain, it didn't even feel like I had been shooting. Along with the rifle range work, we broke some clays as well with a couple of 12 ga. O/U shotguns. The virtually complete isolation from the recoil was almost eerie: pull the trigger, a bird breaks-and you feel next to nothing. The true test was the next morning, where after this amount of shooting I'd expect a lot of residual soreness. Again, there was nothing-not only no marks in my shoulder pocket as I had before (with a smaller volume of shooting), no suspicion of soreness at all. As you might be able to tell by now, I'm impressed. The EvoShield is going to change things in a very big way for a lot of shooters.

I'm not certain of the exact material the EvoShield pad is made of; EvoShield refers to it as a layered composite. How it works, though, is almost self-explanatory. Rough measurements of a 20 gauge shotgun's buttplate I have here is about 5 inches long by 1-3/4 inches wide at the center. Assuming this was a rectangle, which of course it isn't, would yield 8.75 square inches of theoretical engagement between your body and the gun. In actuality, it will be less than that of course. The EvoShield is about 11 inches long, and averages about 4 inches wide in rough terms yielding somewhere in the neighborhood of 44 square inches of potential engagement between firearm and torso. So, I guess that the EvoShield gives you 500% of the contact area of a conventional buttstock. As it is formed to your own individual upper body, most all of this additional surface area is actually utilized. If I guessed (and I think I will) that the EvoShield slashed recoil by 80%, that's an approximation I'm very comfortable with.

Let me jump back to the original free recoil calculation example of about 25.5 ft./lbs for a 7 lb. shotgun throwing 1-1/8 oz. of shot at 1200 fps. To reduce that 25.5 or so foot pounds 80% you'd have add a pile of weight-about 28 lbs., giving us a 35 lb. gun to lower free recoil to 5.1 lbs. Well, we can add 28 pounds of weight to that shotgun, or we can pop on the EvoShield shirt-the result is going to be close to the same, according to our shoulders. Rarely do I give such positive reviews, but in this case the difference is so dramatic-I'm compelled to. When you do your initial forming of the pad, as you mount your gun-you make a flat surface that mates perfectly with the buttstock, both providing you with a flat shoulder pocket that promotes consistent gun mounting and gives better gun to body contact than the natural form of the human torso would allow.

So, what are the negatives? Well, there really aren't many. If you get one for your young son or daughter, as they grow and need new clothes-they will need a new Evoshield as well. You wear the Evoshield shirt next to your skin, so you'll want to wash it a lot-that may not always be convenient, so if you find yourself using this all the time you might want to buy extra shirts. Supposedly, the shield itself can crack-so, you'll not want to back over it with the truck. It does add a bit less than a quarter of an inch to your length of pull, so that's something you might want to keep in mind (many slip-on recoil pads add one inch, by comparison).

It's a major league solution to recoil pollution. That double gun you hate to shoot because of the pounding will now be painless. If you dread sighting in that slug gun before deer season, now you won't be. If you have a touch of bursitis in your shoulder, or have to shoot wimpy loads out of your shotgun because a day on the clays field has made you start to flinch-you won't have to any more. If recoil keeps your wife from shooting along side you, your son, or your daughter, or the gun you really like really gets to be a pain after a while-- the EvoShield is likely to change all that for you. It's a fabulous product.

For more information, see: http://evoshield.com."

Copyright 2009 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.






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