In the gun business, I’ve heard lots of views on recoil. Some shooters recognize recoil as something they need to address and they diligently look for solutions that work for them. Some don’t want to admit that recoil has any effect on them. They honestly believe they are immune to it’s effects, or at least they don’t want to admit it. Still others know it effects them and they have bad shoulder injuries to prove it, yet they still insist on shooting heavier recoiling guns than are really necessary for their intended application. There are firearm/caliber combinations than just don’t recoil enough to matter, but in most cases some improvement can be useful to the shooter.
The advantages of recoil reduction can come in many forms. For some, it’s faster shot recovery for quicker follow-up shots. For others, it’s less fatigue after a full day of shooting, or less pain to their shoulder or hand.
I often hear that a .223 AR-15 doesn’t kick and recoil control isn’t necessary. While it may not be painful to shoot one, thousands of AR-15 shooters every year see great benefit from reducing recoil so they can shoot faster and more accurately with less sight movement, less fatigue and a smoother shooting weapon. It gives them more shooting enjoyment, optimizes their weapon and helps them to reach their shooting goals.
Tactical Shotgunners, on the other hand, tell me on a regular basis about the super heavy loads they’re shooting in their 12 gauge, like a one ounce slug at 1600 feet per second with punishing recoil, and they’re trying to figure out what to do to their shotgun to reduce the recoil. In a self defense application, I have to ask why they think that level of power and recoil is necessary. Maybe it’s hype about a certain type of ammo or the desire to have the most powerful gun possible. But for self defense, you’re not shooting a Cape Buffalo!
There’s a balance to be struck between power and control. If it hurts to practice with it and you have shoulder and neck problems from it, it’s too much recoil. You can reduce recoil with accessories for sure, but sometimes it makes sense to just shoot a lot lighter load or a softer shooting caliber. It would be better to have a gun and load that will not hurt even with regular practice than one where the follow up shot won’t be a day later. The most surprising to me are the shooters who have serious shoulder or neck injuries or pace makers, yet they still want to shoot the heavy magnum rifle. This is far more common than anyone would imagine and again I have to ask why they can’t move down to a less brutal gun/cartridge combination when the problem is already this serious. Really folks, some common sense is in order here. In many cases, the gun/caliber combination is such that enough recoil reduction is possible through the use of the right parts or accessories, but sometimes a more appropriate weapon is the first step to take.
For those who see a need to reduce recoil and have a weapon that they can reasonably handle, there are many things that can be done to make it more comfortable and controllable. For rifles, a quality muzzle brake or compensator can do more for recoil reduction than any other single accessory. They do increase the noise level to the shooter, but they are very effective. It’s reasonable to expect a 50% reduction in felt recoil from the best designs and some can do even better than that. Beyond muzzle devices, there are recoil stocks, compression butt plates, recoil pads and additional weight for both rifles and shotguns. Muzzle devices are not nearly as effective for shotguns due to far lower gas pressures at the muzzle, meaning that they have to be very large in order to have much effect. For pistols, the options generally consist of compensators, weight, grips or gloves to reduce the sting and recoil guide rods to reduce the slide to frame impact.
The best options available change quite a bit depending on the type of firearm, so it’s best to talk to an expert with a lot of personal, first hand experience with the available accessories being considered. Avoid marketing hype or negative opinions based on hearsay, and focus on repeated shooting experience with the options in question. We work everyday to be that trusted source of information and assistance for our customers. We learn a lot from our customers and their experiences, and we go to the range and try these parts out for ourselves and compare them against each other. If we try a part out and it doesn’t really work or is poorly made, we will not recommend it or sell it to our customers. But beyond that, if a part is good, but doesn’t really do what you’re looking for, we’ll tell you that. We try products out against each other side by side so that when a customer asks, we can give him or her an honest, first hand comparison so they can make the best choice. Unlike the big box stores, we don’t try to stock everything under the sun, but instead we evaluate everything very carefully and do our best to only add the highest quality, most innovative parts and accessories available. So if you have questions, would like assistance picking the right part or don’t even know where to start, we can help.
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Thanks and Happy Shooting!