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Old 03-01-2018, 05:08 PM
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Gun Weight and Recoil



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I do not consider myself recoil sensitive. I can shoot 12 gauge high brass loads at doves all day and not think about it. I am not intimidated by big bore rifle cartridges.

Early on, when I started high power match shooting, we all shot Garands. I carried a Garand for 4 years, courtesy of Uncle, and shot it every chance I got. It was a joy to shoot. I enjoyed it just as much when I started competing, and was surprised to hear some of my fellow competitors complain about recoil. My shooting buddy was 6 foot 5 inches and 260 pounds would complain. Meanwhile, I didn't hear a peep out of the petite algebra teacher who was 5 foot 3 inches and 118 pounds. She said it didn't bother her. It was a puzzling situation, considering Newton's Third Law.

Then, I read an article in a gun rag about felt recoil vs theoretical recoil. It made some sense to me, and it talked about rifle Newton, gun weight, projectile weight, gas volume, and all sorts of factors that contributed to recoil, both felt and measured. It even addressed shooting styles, and that is when I realized why my heavy-duty friend felt recoil moreso than the algebra teacher. He would snug his rifle tight, hang on to it for all he was worth, and attempt to tame the recoil. The little teacher, on the other hand, supported her Garand firmly but not tight, and rolled with the recoil. My curiosity was pretty much satisfied.

Then, I bought a Remington 600 Mohawk in 308 Winchester.

Now, understand that my favorite hunting cartridge for North American big game is the 30-06. Everyone agrees that the 30-06 has more recoil than the 308 Win. But I swear you wouldn't know it after shooting that Mohawk. It felt more like a 300 Win Mag to me. Lightweight rifle, I thought to myself. That's gotta be the answer.

Well, this past hunting season, I ended up with a T/C Compass. It weighs about the same as the Mohawk. But the felt recoil is not near as harsh. In fact, compared to the 30-06s I hunt with, it feels just like I thought a 308 Win should. Now, I am thinking that another factor in felt recoil is stock configuration, which would include such things as shape and material. The Mohawk has a slightly unusual shape, and it is made of wood. The Compass has a more traditional shape and is synthetic. I am sure that the synthetic stock flexes more than the wood and absorbs some of the recoil, but I don't think that is the entire answer. I notice that I get considerably more muzzle rise on the Mohawk than I do on the Compass too.

I also have 2 CZ 550s. One is in 30-06 and the other in 9.3x62. The 30-06 wears the American stock, and the 9.3x62 has the European "hogback" stock. The 9.3 should have more recoil than the 30-06, and the 30-06 weighs a few ounces more, but to me, the 9.3 is noticeably more pleasant. So, the more I think about it, the more I believe stock configuration is a big factor in felt recoil, maybe more so than gun weight.

Clearly this is not a scientific judgement, merely anecdotal. I'd be interested in what others think about this theory.
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Old 03-01-2018, 05:14 PM
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Having only recently got into handguns in centrefire calibres, I have to say it's interesting. The weight of the gun does make a difference, but the weight of the bullet makes more.

In my Sauer & Sohn 38H (a 32ACP despite its name) the 40-grain loads have less "snap" than the 30-grain ones. The same seems to be true for the 204 Ruger single shot - 30 grain is more snappy, 40-grain is more pushy.
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Old 03-01-2018, 05:26 PM
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I've built some monsters. Also had a friend build some monsters, it's rarely The Recoil energy but the recoil impulse that gets everybody. Think sub 7 lb 300 Ultra Mag, sub 4 lb 500 Smith rifle, spitting 350s the 2400....

The worst was my buddies 358 sta, ti action, mpa stock, contour the thickness of a straw, absolutely brutal recoil. The energy wasn't so much, it was the speed. Anything over 16 fps flinching seems to become a thing, the sta was pushing 22.

What amazes me is the variance in pain tolerance amongst people, my personal pain tolerance is somewhere between a 7 and 300 Ultra Mag in an eight pound or less rifle. Oddly enough my eight and a half pound 375 is under that threshold, I love shooting it at 9 and quarter, I tolerate shooting it at eight and a half.

Stock design does play a big role, I can't think of anything more miserable at shock transfer than the old Ruger boat paddle stocks. I think they were designed by a masochist.
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Old 03-01-2018, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SailDesign View Post
Having only recently got into handguns in centrefire calibres, I have to say it's interesting. The weight of the gun does make a difference, but the weight of the bullet makes more.

In my Sauer & Sohn 38H (a 32ACP despite its name) the 40-grain loads have less "snap" than the 30-grain ones. The same seems to be true for the 204 Ruger single shot - 30 grain is more snappy, 40-grain is more pushy.
There is that too. I can tell the difference in a 300 Win Mag when shooting 165 grain bullets and 200 grain bullets.
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Old 03-01-2018, 06:19 PM
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Some of it may be due to stock design. A Mosin Nagant 91/30 will flat beat you up.
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Old 03-11-2018, 08:59 PM
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Years ago a good friends (mechanical engineer) father in law (also mechanical engineer) and small guy, 5’8” 165lbs used to talk about how us big guys 6’1” 220lbs would be beat up by recoil because we are don’t give with recoil our size absorbs it rather then moves with.
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Old 03-12-2018, 04:43 AM
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I found the most comfortable recoiling light weight .308 rifle is Browning's A-Bolt Hunter rifle. Weighs < 7 pounds scope sighted, and the recoil with 150 grain factory loads is quite mild.
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Old 03-12-2018, 07:20 AM
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I agree with all your factors and would add one more Phil...impulse. That is, how quickly and for what duration is the kinetic energy delivered to our shoulders. Some caliber/gun combinations push, others slap. I'll take push over slap any day.

I've shot a fair amount of .50 BMG through a 34 pound bolt action. Other than watching eye placement in relation to scope no worries, a giggle with every trigger pull. I also used a featherweight model 70 in .270 for elk for a few years...OUCH! The first pushed, the latter slapped.

In general, mixing a straight stock in a lightweight rifle action with a magnum caliber is a good recipe for pain...and that is why in my dotage I so enjoy rimfires!

Frank
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Old 03-12-2018, 08:11 AM
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My experience is that a LOT of factors besides caliber go into the amount of felt recoil:

1. Weight-makes a big difference for obvious reasons.

2. Stock geometry and fit to the shooter- just ask any pro shotgun user. The shape of the comb makes a huge difference on how you position your head and cheek to the stock which changes how the stock recoils into your shoulder. A poor fit will cause a shooter to hold the butt higher in the shoulder and closer to the collarbone where there is less muscle mass to absorb the recoil.

3. Stock material and recoil pad composition. Modern plastics, fiberglass and carbon fiber stocks can add some flex over wood while maintaining accuracy. The material used for modern stock recoil pads can absorb a LOT of recoil compared to the old rubber waffle recoil pads of the past. Witness your experience with the Compass.

4. Bullet weight, powder load and powder type- Not only is the bullet weight and load important but the type of powder will affect felt recoil. For example when I load with faster burning powders, the "snap" is far worse than with a slower burning powder that converts the "snap" to a more comfortable "push" effect.
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Old 03-12-2018, 08:13 AM
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I'll echo what y'all have said about felt recoil.
I've discontinued retina detaching, spinal rearranging, calibers larger than my 243 while suffering from arthritis in all my joints. The 300WM(lite weight syn stock) and even my pride n joy Rem 700 25-06 have gone down the road....that one was a shooter and hard to let go. Golden years and recoil, hack tooey!!
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Old 03-12-2018, 09:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdew View Post
Years ago a good friends (mechanical engineer) father in law (also mechanical engineer) and small guy, 5’8” 165lbs used to talk about how us big guys 6’1” 220lbs would be beat up by recoil because we are don’t give with recoil our size absorbs it rather then moves with.
I can't agree with your friend's father-in-law's idea even if he is an engineer and I'm going by experience. I'm identical in size to your small guy and I traded rides to work with a guy that was identical to your big guy and we were young and strong. I bought a big boomer and we would stop at a caliche pit and make gravel out of rocks with the rifle on the way home.

Five shots and I was done for the day. Totally beat up. Five shots didn't bother him in the least. He would just grin at me and ask if I wanted to shoot any more. My answer was always that I was done until tomorrow.

I still have the rifle and still shoot it now and then but it is loaded way down from max. It's still a handful but I'm not young or strong anymore.
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Old 03-13-2018, 12:25 PM
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I was going to post on here and say that you were right about stock fit being a big factor in recoil. I have a few big bores that I shoot, using similar bullet weights and velocity and rifle weights, one recoils like a 12 gauge and the other two aren't much fun to shoot.

But there is a post on here talking about powder burn rate. That is something I am going to have to review.
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Old 03-13-2018, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LtCrunch View Post
I agree with all your factors and would add one more Phil...impulse. That is, how quickly and for what duration is the kinetic energy delivered to our shoulders. Some caliber/gun combinations push, others slap. I'll take push over slap any day.
I hear that! The 6.5x55 definitely is a "push" and I think that is especially true with factory loads that are relatively low velocity.

Bullet weight, muzzle velocity, stock design, total rifle weight -- makes sense to me. That's a lot of variables in the ammo and rifle alone, then add in the shooter's hold, cheek weld, and even musculature and bone structure and medical history.

"Perceived" covers a LOT of territory.

Frankly, I love the 6.5x55 Swede. Am I recoil adverse -- yes, and I'm not ashamed to be that way. If I could find a load that would drop whitetail deer in their tracks and have recoil like the 22LR, I'd shoot that.
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Old 03-13-2018, 03:15 PM
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http://www.randywakeman.com/FullRecoilComparison.htm

I ran across this recoil table recently and I find it much easier to make comparisons with guns I may have shot or considering shooting well because
of the way they are listed in order of recoil rather than just calibers .

I have been playing with my 9.3 with bullet powder combinations , and other than the AA5744 reduced loads which are pretty obvious the full power loads do vary noticeably from min to max on the powder charge , only have 270 and 286 grain bullets so they don't seem to make a lot of difference . would like to try some 250 and maybe 232 grains to see what they feel like .

I really enjoy shooting the gun , standing offhand or sitting semi supported its like my 12 ga pump and the recoil table kinda supports that , at a bench from bags 5-6 full power is about all I can do with any accuracy , lead sled on a bench with moderate loads 20-25 rounds no problem.
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Old 03-13-2018, 04:13 PM
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Technique comes into play with recoil management, independent of the size of the person. Smaller shooters have to learn it, bigger shooters may feel they can make up for it with mass but they should learn it as well.

For me recoil is troublesome for accuracy; too much even on a seasoned shooter will effect their accuracy. And too much on anyone will disrupt time and accuracy on a second shot. Granted, the big boomers are typically only for one well placed shot ... but if there's even a slight flinch, a big boomer can wound game very well, requiring a second (or more) shot to put the animal out of its misery. Much better in my opinion is to seek to reduce the effects of recoil on every shooter which may mean stepping down in caliber, getting a different and heavier stock, rethinking bullet selection and learning technique. Not everything needs to be struck with the hammer of thor.

The hard part to me is the ranges do not accommodate simulation of normal hunting positions - off of bags on a bench is horrible for learning field shooting techniques.
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