The Limits of Recoil Reduction

Recoil and shooting comfort has long been heavily studied, both by the military, hunters, and competitive shooters. Although it gets newly re-marketed annually, the recoil event is very, very old news.

In a fixed breech gun or a gun that fires like one, including O/Us, pumps, “inertia actions,” lever actions, bolt actions, and so forth, the action of the gun cannot possibly do anything to change the rearward thrust of a shoulder-fired weapon, or “recoil.”Heavier guns have less actual recoil, it is as simple as that.

A recoil pad device has its limits as well. The gel recoil pads produced a recoil force reduction of 19% for light target loads and a reduction of 6% for Turkey Magnum 3 inch loads. The smaller percentage improvement for the turkey load is due to its much higher impulse.

Based on extensive (and public) test results, it is believed that a gel stiffness of about 60 Shore 00 hardness is best for light shotgun loads including target loads and light field loads for quail or dove. A stiffness value of about 90 is preferred for heavy loads such as turkey magnums or heavy water foul loads. It has been found that hardness values below about 60 Shore 00 can permit excessive rearward movement such that recoil force is not dissipated over the entire time span of firing. Gels having a hardness below this value are said to "bottom out." That is, they produce the desired attenuation effect early on during the recoil event but provide unsatisfactory performance later during the recoil event. Depending on their hold, some shooters may also experience excessive "face slap" with low hardness gels.

That is the main problem with various recoil devices and springy stock things. A recoil pad or springy stock thing that is ideal for one weight of gun cannot be ideal for a gun of a different weight. A recoil device that is ideal for a light target load cannot be ideal for a heavy turkey load, anymore than a far more sophisticated automobile suspension cannot be ideal for both smooth highway use and rugged off-road use at the same time.

This should explain the grand failure of the Beretta “Kick-Off” device and the Benelli “Progressive Comfort” attempts. Both produce excessive, unacceptable stock movement with light, 1 oz. loads. Extraordinarily light guns and heavy payloads do not happily co-exist and they never have. Humans do not all have identical shoulder pockets. That's an overlooked area of gun fit, for the buttstock needs to fit your shoulder pocket and that also complicates recoil pad selection: use of a larger pad size may require modifying the gel hardness value of the pad itself, to account for dissipating the recoil force over a larger area.

The only action type in popular use, regardless of brand, that reduces recoil is the gas action. The recoil we talk about is rearward thrust. However, propellant gas has mass as does the gas piston or pistons that gas actions that are shot towards our shoulders to cycle the action. This necessarily produces thrust as well, but forward thrust. This forward thrust reduces peak skin pressure on our shoulders by some 30 percent, in concert with the mass and velocity of the gas piston array that comprises the “payload” that we shoot against our shoulders. Whether we propel things forward towards the muzzle or back towards our shoulders, the same rules of free recoil, or translational kinetic energy equation, apply.


Copyright 2015 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.



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