I should ask Jason Steiner to write something up about recoil mitigation through grip and stance. (Consider yourself asked.) Meanwhile, I think it’s safe to say most people can handle the recoil from most guns if they handle the firearm properly. I’ve seen diminutive women putting 12-gauge rounds downrange without complaint. (I know of at least one babe who likes recoil. But then she probably likes root canal surgery too.) And I’ve seen big strapping lads who consider a .45 WAY too much cartridge for them. How about you? How much does felt recoil factor into your firearms selection?

28 Responses to Question of the Day: How Much Recoil Can You Handle?

  1. No factor for me. I own numerous 45 ACP and 10 mm handguns as well as 308 rifles and 12 gauge shotguns and love shooting all of them (especially the 10 mm’s).

  2. Felt recoil does not factor much in my decision. I select the firearm based on its suitability for the task. I wouldn’t use my 375 H&HMag for plinking at cans but I will use it when appropriate. I have handguns up to 45ACP and don’t mind shooting any of them. I am even considering a 44mag for hunting.

  3. I do not find recoil an issue in guns I own or shoot. I do not consider a 45 ACP, recoil heavy. My first pistol was a Smith and Wesson model 29, 44 mag. Blame Dirty Harry!
    At a recent Appleseed shoot, I have put 240 rounds of 30-06 downrange in two days.

  4. I am somewhat of a recoil junkie. I love the feel of a my 308 or 270 when it goes boom. Heavy 45 ACP recoil is a figment of people’s imagination or a product of a lightweight piece. A full size 1911 is well balanced and heavy enough to damp down the kick. I have rapid fired my Springfield and put all seven rounds in a tight 3-5 inch group. I am more likely to do that empty the magazine as fast as I can then I am with deliberate shooting.

  5. A .50 BMG is too much recoil after the third round, for me (even with a good muzzle brake). Its probably more the over-pressure/muzzle blast than the recoil. Short of that, I can tolerate as much recoil as my wallet can handle.

  6. I love shooting. Recoil..I can live or live with out…though sometimes I love the feel of a big bore weapon kicking back. But I am ultra practical, and think of guns as a utilitarian tool. To quote the great Krusty the Clown:

    “Guns aren’t toys…they’re for family protection, hunting dangerous and delicious animals, and keeping the king of England out your face.”

    Which means for me, that recoil is counter intuitive to my goal of putting as many rounds down range and into a zombies head, as quickly and efficiently as possible. I want quick target aquisition and minimum reaquistion.

  7. It’s not so much the caliber as it is the size of the gun and fit. .357 Magnum rounds from my 6 inch GP100 seem light, but that same round out of an LCR stings a little. A good grip and practice goes a long way to make speedy follow-up shots.

  8. Recoil is a consideration for follow up shots. For competition, a light recoiling gun/ammo combination gets you back on target faster. While I do own a 10mm, 12ga and .375H&, I don’t race with those.

  9. recoil is not much of an issue for me sure if I’m trap shooting my shoulder might get sore after shooting 75-100 12 gauge rounds but i cant say that the recoil itself is a factor for me.

  10. I want a Kriss V in 10mm….I already have a Glock G20, and a Kriss Carbine would go well with it.

    Speaking of recoil,
    I can handle up to about a .30-06 in most rifles, after that I start flinching. It kind of depends on the particular gun. I had a Savage 110 in .30-06 that was too much. My dad has a Rem 700 in 7mm Mag that is no problem at all, so it depends on the stock/recoil-pad to some degree. Some guns just whack you more than others.

    With handguns, I am good up to about .357 / 10mm and a bit beyond (light .44 mag, .45 Colt Ruger loads) but beyond that is a lot of work.

    I am surprised that anyone thinks a .45acp in a normal (duty) sized gun is too much. I find it to be basically the same as a 9mm or a .40S&W (not surprising because they all have similar muzzle energy).

  11. Well, since all you butch he-men are here extolling the virtues of recoil at any price….:)

    I’ve used and been trained on weapon systems up to the .50 Barrett, and I’m here to tell you boys, recoil is a consideration. There are far more important considerations, but all else being equal (price, power, trigger, etc.) I will ALWAYS choose the gun that recoils less. My carry guns are 9mm and .38sp, and the .38 recoils more than my model semi would in .45. But I’m a skinny guy, and a .38 is all I can conceal under light clothing. I tolerate recoil when I have to, but if I can get the performance I need from a lighter cartridge, I’d be either stupid or masochistic to choose a heavy round. .45s are well and good, I love them in a full-size pistol. In a sub-compact, it’s a different story. My deer gun is a 7mm-08, because that’s as much gun as I’ll ever need for whitetail. Why shoot a .308 (and I shot the M24 .308 for four years) when you don’t have to?

  12. Recoil is fun, right up to the point where it isn’t. E.g., shooting .38 SPL +P ammo through an Airweight is fun. Shooting a light J-frame revolver over and over with full-on .357s is a form of medieval torture. Shooting an original 91/30 over and over with heavy ball ammo is fun and torture.

  13. At one time, recoil was a minor concern for me. But after I got an artificial shoulder some years back, I am sensitive to recoil. So I got rid of my deer rifle and my handguns. These days I restrict myself to my .17 and my .223.

  14. I always thought recoil intolerance just meant you were doing it wrong.

    I mean I can usually tell when someone is going to feel the recoil on the 12 gauge they are about to fire. If it is firmly seated in their shoulder they won’t feel it much, if there is a gap between the butt of the gun and their shoulder then they are going to feel intolerable recoil.

    I never tell them, at least not before they shoot, because I figure the recoil will explain it better than I could.

    But I will say that I am amazed at how many people who have fired guns for a decent amount of time, neglect to properly seat their gun in their shoulder before firing.

    Also funny is how many people believe bigger gun means more recoil, when actually the opposite is true. Bigger bullet means more recoil, but bigger gun means less recoil.

  15. I have no problem with long guns, up to .470 N.E. and .50 BMG. My grandfathers H & H .470 (500 gr. at 2150, 11 lbs) is certainly no fun at the range, but he claimed when facing a bull elephant in the field, you barely noticed. I have a bigger problem with handguns due to my relatively small hands, which makes stuff like a stock walnut gripped model 29 pretty unpleasant. But the few rounds I’ve fired from the .460 with good grips and porting weren’t too bad, although quick follow ups aren’t happening. I don’t hunt big game myself, so I stick with .260 Remington and .264 Win Mag for my freezer filling needs. I daily carry .357 “J” frames and an LCR, but I use moderate .158 gr. 38 Special +P’s like everyone else. I would race a 9mm or .38 Super if I needed fast follow ups.

  16. Like some have mentioned, I select the gun/caliber based on what I want to do with it. I’m not going to consider a .38 as a bear protection BUG (a good rifle is the primary weapon for bear imho). But a good .454 or .500 is a nice thing to have for those times. That means shooting it enough to be proficient recoil notwithstanding.

  17. I’m not the connoisseur that some are on here so, without trying to sound like he-man, I’ve never shot anything that I’ve considered unbearable. I can put a few hundred rounds of 10mm down range from my G20 during a casual day at the range with no real discomfort so take that for what it’s worth.

    I’d have to say that the closest I’ve come to painful is the .500 S&W and the Savage Edge in .308. The .500 wasn’t bad outright, the problem was that a friend of mine bet I couldn’t get through a box of ammo. I did, and he paid for the ammo lol. The Edge is a 6 lbs bolt action .308… 50 rounds later I was more than ready to leave the range.

    I’ve never shot a .50 BMG, though I’d love to, and I’ve never shot any of the big bore/dangerous game rifle rounds though they sound like fun out of a 7 lbs lever action 😈

  18. Never had an issue. Everything from tiny .45 and 10mm handguns to several .50 BMGs (which are actually quite tame given the weight of most of them) and including several silly Weatherby contraptions (uncompensated .460 WM, call your office).

    My earliest memory of being pro-recoil is of pestering my father to let me shoot his 10 gauge shotgun at the age of 14 or so. He finally relented and let me go to town until I wanted to stop. After four boxes of shells, I’d depleted the supply of 10 gauge he’d brought to the range that day, and I never had much problem requesting the big stuff afterwards.

    I did end up busting a lip with an ill-planned 3″ 12 gauge slug through a pistol-gripped Winchester 1300 some years afterward, but in retrospect that was a pretty valuable lesson in recoil management.

  19. The only two firearms I have shot that were “too much” were S&W revolvers. The scandium tiny .357’s. Unbearable with magnum loads. And the “snubby” .500 magnum. I have no idea why such things exist.

  20. I can handle anything for a few rounds, but more than 20 rounds of heavy buckshot or slugs, or more than 2-3 rounds of .375 H&H and I’m ready to call it a day. I’m more tolerant of big-bore handgun recoil, and less tolerant of snappy little Chihuahuas like subcompact 9s and .357 snubnoses. I shoot them quite well, but they bring the pain.

    We *all* hate the recoil of those things, don’t we?

  21. For pistols, I consider my maximum to be 10mm Auto and .357 Magnum. Anything above that, or even with really hot loadings of those two cartridges, the felt recoil becomes a distraction.

    For a light weight, semi-auto rifle, I’d say 6.8 SPC would be the most powerful cartridge I can shoot well. I can shoot 7.62x51mm ok, but it takes some effort. With a precision rifle, something heavy, I really don’t know what my upper limit is. I’d say .338 Lapua Magnum would be tops.

  22. For fun, not much other than tiny lightweight revolvers with very heavy rounds. They cut my hand after only a few shots.

    For serious social work, I prefer whatever I’m most accurate with at a minimum power level (.38, 9mm, .50BMG). Just kidding, .223.

    Other than 10mm from a Glock 20 or a 1911, I generally shoot 9mm more accurately than any other round.

    Currently, I believe the M&P is the softest and easiest shooting 9mm on the market IMO. I own multiple 9mm Glocks and love them, but the M&P was softer and more accurate for me the first time out with it.

  23. I think it needs to be remembered that the recoil charicteristics of a gun are just as important as the amount of recoil. I have a sig sauer p245 that weighs as much as my 1911 but is much less comfortable to shoot just because of the design. Just some food for thought. And remember just because it feels good in your hand doesnt mean it will feel good under recoil. Im probably just preaching to the choir though. im more or less fine with any handgun caliber as long as it in an appropriately sized guns, I agree with chris its the small guns that get you

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