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By 505mark

Men, including (especially?) those who own firearms, are pretty hard on other guys when it comes to perceived weakness. This is frequently mollified by humor – we don’t try to be mean. It just sometimes works out that way. This is the reason so many young (and foolish) men bravely step up to shoot weapons that produce absolutely brutal recoil without having any idea how to handle it. It’s not that different from young men goading each other into eating just one more jalapeno pepper. Itss the unacknowledged price for belonging to the Man Club . . .

While at a gun store recently, I joined several other customers as the clerks were opening up cases of ammo from a recent shipment. The clerks were excited because it was some “managed recoil” 12 gauge shotgun shells crafted specially for home defense, a trendy item that was unseen locally before. We do that a lot in our corner of the country, by the way – read about new firearms products and accessories. It normally takes a while for them to make it to our particular area.

Managed (read: reduced) recoil shotgun rounds are designed to produce basically the same results as a stouter load, though with only eight double-ought buckshot pellets instead of the usual nine. I understand that more versions are being made for slugs and even the larger-sized birdshot loads.

As you’d expect, the new ammo uses less powder so velocity is decreased enough to produce softer recoil while still being effective. That’s the idea, anyway. We had all read reviews that said it was very viable option in a home defense shotgun and even some police departments were going to the new ammo because it’s basically as good as the higher-powered rounds while producing less kick.

So there we were, examining the new ammo when a middle-aged couple approaches, arm in arm. They listen to us talking and the wife says, “Honey, let’s get some to try out.”

We, as a group, turn and slyly eyeball the husband. He sees this and knows he is trapped. “We don’t need that – got perfectly good buckshot in the shotgun at home.”

“Oh, Honey, the last time you went shotgunning at the range with your brothers, you couldn’t move your right arm for a week!” We watch him like a pack of hyenas waiting for the young antelope to stumble. He can do nothing but swallow as his wife grabs two handfuls of the new ammo and walks him to the register.

We hear her poo-pooing his objections as they walk away and she says, loudly enough for all of us to hear, “My heavens, honey, we aren’t going to be using it on elephants or buffalo! I think reduced recoil makes a lot of sense. I mean, really, why should practicing be painful?”

Several of us snicker and one of us mutters, “That poor guy is whipped.” The group disperses and we each go about our shopping. Somehow, though, as we separately circle the store, each of us ends up back in the vicinity of the new ammo, where we individually stack up box after box before leaving. The large pile of ammo was reduced by about half. I thought, hell, might as well check this stuff out. Each of us studiously ignored the others as we paid and went on our way.

From my time on the range the next weekend, my take-away was, ”damn, but that stuff really, really works.” I had invited my daughter to shoot with me, but she was busy and couldn’t go. That meant I didn’t have any plausible deniability. Nevertheless, my membership in the Man Club was protected as it was a slow range day and, thankfully, I shot alone.

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  1. Heavy recoil sucks. I simply will not shoot a gun that is uncomfortable to shoot period. Be it rifle, pistol or shotgun. I’ve lived a man life and don’t give a fig what anyone else thinks about the gun I shoot.

    • It sure does, but isn’t that why we have different gauges? When I get tired of shooting ’12’, I shoot 410 for a while.

      Am I missing some deeper significance, or is this just an opportunity to pay twice as much for half the powder?

    • This requires careful adjudication from the Man Club Review Board. As an unofficial non-representative of this board, I would point out that we don’t have such a clear-cut case for card revocation. What we have is a conflict of Man Club prerequisites. On the one hand, Mannish stuff is supposed to be brutal (stiff suspension, high horsepower, high fuel consuption, high recoil, etc). However, another characteristic of Mannishness is not giving a flip about fashion. There is a very real chance that the board may rule that avoiding low/managed recoil ammo for appearances’ sake renders that instance of ammo selection a fashion statement, a decidedly non-Mannish behavior.

    • I have a recoil-reducing stock on my 870. I’ve had it so long I can’t remember who makes/made it, but it really works; it uses a heavy spring system inside the stock itself.

      Maybe one of you knows what I’m talking about, and the name, etc. The only beef I have is the hex fastener won’t stay tight; it loosens a bit, but only so far. I need to get some heavy Loc-Tite in the sucker.

      It seems to reduce felt recoil by 75-80%, and even heavy loads are not at all unpleasant – look Ma – no bruises! With this ammo, recoil might disappear entirely.

      • I don’t know about a spring version but the fluid-based Endine Buffer on a Mesa Tactical LEO stock works very well.

  2. Joe Biden doesn’t use reduced recoil loads.

    Man up wusses. Uncle joe fires 2 blasts all the time.

    Or just buy an ar-15 and can like any other normal American.

    • Joe Biden’s a windbag when it comes to shooting folk with shotgun. Now, Dick Cheney….he’s a man who can speak from experience. I bet big Dick don’t truck no reduced recoil rounds.

    • Anyone who won’t hunt with a 4-bore double must be some kind of wuss, although I suppose a .700NE would be OK for the recoil-sensitive.

      My preference is the gun tube from an 8″ SP howitzer, fired from the shoulder. Still haven’t been able to handle a 16″ tube from the BB-16.

      (Note: First liar doesn’t stand a chance.)

  3. Where is this location that this is seen as something new? Reduced recoil buckshot, birdshot, and slugs have been around for years.

  4. Your alright, 505. As a young 0311 Marine on leave, I remember my first experience with Remington’s new 3 1/2″ 12-gauge 00 buck load in the north woods of WI. I loaded it into my 870 Express Mag and let 5 rounds rip against cherry cans, 12 oz sodas, and a snowman (the original zombie-reactive target). The results were impressive, as was the recoil. My middle finger on my right hand was abraded so badly that it bled some after 10 rounds. I told my friends that “I ain’t got time to bleed,” and handed the gun over so that they could punish themselves.

    I’ve been shooting reduced recoil “tactical” 00 buck in my duty 12 guage for the past dozen years. It kicks a lot less, and still delivers around 1400 foot pounds. My 930 SPX at home has full power Remington 00, and I’m probably going to load the shell carrier on the stock with reduced recoil slugs to limit penetration a bit. A 437 grain slug at 1200 FPS is no joke. I don’t see the need to push that much lead another 400-500 FPS inside a residence.

    • “I ain’t got time to bleed” — nice Predator quote!

      And yes … a 437 grain, 72 caliber slug striking a target at 1200 fps is extremely bad news for the target, especially when the target is a violent criminal.

      Now for the more important question. When will the ammunition manufacturers begin making reduced recoil rifled slugs (for smooth barrels) in 20 gauge? A reduced recoil 20 gauge slug would generate even less recoil than a 12 gauge reduced recoil slug. As for effectiveness, a 328 grain, 62 caliber slug striking “center mass” of a violent criminal at 1200 fps will immediately stop them, every time.

    • Plus one for the snowmen. Really helped me stop blinking while I shoot cause it was just so much fun to watch.

  5. Prior to the advent of the FlightControl wads, in addition to being easier on the bones, the reduced recoil buckshot patterned a lot tighter than the higher velocity loads. We went to it as duty rounds back in the 90’s.

  6. Makes a lot of sense.
    Less powder means less over-penetration.
    More kick means more flinch without a lot of practice.

    • Unless the lower recoil stuff is like Federal’s. Lower velocity copper-plated buck will overpenetrate more because the pellets will deform a lot less.

  7. The derision in such humor does not come from the joke or the joke teller but fron the target of said joke.

    He caved and failed to do a thing he vaery likely wanted to do because of a joke. That revokes the man card. To “man up” all hed have to do is buy a box in the face of such jokes. Missed opportunity to shoot more, shoot more comfotably and maybe get his wife to shoot.

    Goding me into torturing myself with another pepper doesnt do anything other than make you look like an asshole.

  8. I’ve gotten some reloads from a friend who loads them lighter than your normal production loads. Great for practicing and better on off arm and weak side shooting. I haven’t tested it but it seems that in close quarters over penetration would also be less likely and point of aim recovery would likely be improved.

  9. Wait, a man being encouraged to buy more ammo is whipped? In what world is this taking place in? My wife has almost as many guns as I do and I still have to convince her we need more ammo at times.

  10. Heard regulary at competitions… “I used to shoot that caliber, but I am too old to be beat up anymore.”

    I still shoot the bigger recoiling stuff but many of my fellow shooters are now on to stuff with low kick like the 6mm br, 204 ruger, 223 Rem, and other low recoiling wildcats.

  11. Nothing wrong shooting more comfortable stuff. Only problem I have with reduced recoil rounds is that some of them won’t cycle my Benelli M2. Those with SA shotties need to test fire some to make sure they will cycle your action.

  12. No reason not to make life easier, but I do suggest that what constitutes severe recoil has changed over the years.

    Was issued M1 Garand in boot camp and never thought much about recoil even after 100+ rounds, and still don’t shooting 30.06 or 7.62x54R.

    Maybe its the difference between that era and those trained on M16’s which doesn’t punish you for bad habits, i.e. butt plate placement, failure to tuck tight and weight placement.

    • The Garand’s got that “right kind” of recoil, so it’s a fine place to learn to manage. It’s a nice brisk straight-back. You know you’re shooting a big boy gun, but just as you said, as long as you’ve got it in the right place, you can shoot comfortably for a long time.
      Ain’t got shit on the Carbine, though. I can shoot all day, place like a champ, and high-five all the way home.

    • Jacknine, I think you’re right about recoil skills. One in particular: I see wing shooters tuck the stock into the pocket, pulling the gun in tight with their trigger hand. Too tight. They flex their pectoral muscle in act. That doubles the pain and is not beneficial in any way. So, too, people pull their gun in with both hands. The off or forward hand should actually be pulling lightly toward the target. That flexes the muscles across the back of the left shoulder and helps dissipate recoil. With a medium bore rifle it is an even more essential technique. Or so many believe. Recoil is a bug, not a feature.

      • I’m going to remember that. Shot 10 rounds of .30-30 from a lever action yesterday, and my shoulder is definitely letting me know. I was also doing the “shove the rifle into my shoulder so that it goes completely through and out my back on firing” technique.

        It’s funny. I’ve fired more rounds than that through a Mosin carbine, and my shoulder didn’t bother me nearly as much.

    • A 10lb semi-auto doesn’t kick anything like a 6-lb pump or bolt. I haven’t shot a semi-auto that I mind (that’s not bragging, I just haven’t shot enough), but I have shot .30-06 bolt guns and 12 gauge pumps that were really unpleasant.

  13. My brother lives in Alaska, and he tells me that most guides there tend to groan quietly when a “lower-48” hunter pulls out a brand-new .338 Mag or similar big boomer on their moose/bear hunt. Many of them have not fired the rifle, and as soon as they fire one shot they get flinch-itis. One of the common “guide tests” is to tack a paper plate to a tree and ask the hunter to hit it 3 times at 50 yards.

    Many guides keep a .308 or .30-06 in their gear as a loaner, since they would prefer a hunter who can hit the correct spot on the game animal with a lighter-recoiling load, rather than gut-shoot the critter with a magnum whomper.

    If you can shoot a powerful cartiridge accurately, multiple times, more power to you. If the heavy recoil is making you flinch and miss, you aren’t gaining anything. As Jeff Cooper said, “only hits count”.

  14. Derision for another man’s ammo choices doesn’t make you a manlier man’s man. It makes you, well, kind of an ass.

    Hell, I’m 6’2″ and 220 and the first time I shot slugs at the covered range I didn’t even get all the way through the box of 10 before deciding that my teeth were now loose enough thankyouverymuch.

    • I swore off shotgun slugs years ago. I’m a big guy too. But I don’t take a beating for no reason. I’m a shotgun fan for HD. If I need to reach out further than house range I have rifles that will do the job better than a shotgun and for less pain in practice.

  15. I guess I’m kind of a masochist. I know I’m going to get my rear kicked everytime I pull the trigger on my 375 or my 50. But I don’t care.
    And in the excitement, I’ll end up with a scope cut. My buddy sent me a picture of me. Blood dripping down my face and a big stupid grin after my first harvest 2 weeks ago.
    But I know that if my shoulder is getting pounded, the round is already on it’s way…

  16. Personally I’m kind of partial to Remington’s 3 inch 41 pellet #4 buck at 1225fps myself, but then I don’t have any plans to run 50 rounds of it through the old 12 gauge at the range any time soon. Shoot a silhouette at 20 yards with that and you will clearly see that there would be no need for a second shot.

    Recoil is the enemy of accuracy. Some of us have a higher threshold than others, but the vast majority of us would be more dangerous with a 9mm than a 500 S&W, although the sound of one of those one ounce+ slugs supersonically whizzing by your ear would certainly be intimidating. If you’re shooting rifles or handguns the answer is pretty simple, get a smaller caliber weapon. With buckshot it’s a bit complicated because there’s not much out there 20ga. and almost nothing in 16ga. I think a 16ga. would be ideal for a lot of people, but the only buckshot load I can find is Federal’s 12 pellet #1 at 1225fps. That is just a touch hotter than 8 #00 at 1200fps, but you’d likely get a little better penetration out of the larger shot. At inside the house distances though, there’s little point since even light target loads are completely devastating at a few feet.

    • Second here on the 3-inch #4 Buck. I prefer it to 00 in more ways than I can remember. But I don’t hunt, so there’s that factor.

      Not against hunting in any way, shape of form. Just don’t do it. But I would if I needed to.

  17. You can hear all kinds of hilarity at the gun store counter. Was buying a pistol at big retail store and waiting for the background check:
    A somewhat attractive woman came up to the counter with small boy of talking/walking age in tow. She was looking at display case of high voltage personal protection devices next to the pistols.
    Child: What are those?
    Woman: Tasers.
    Child: What’s a taser?
    Woman: Something mommy can use when someone is messing with her. (glancing at those of us waiting for gun background checks)
    Child: (seeing the pistols) I want a gun so I can shoot the big bad wolf.
    Woman: You don’t need that, you have a daddy.
    Child: Whats a daddy?
    Woman quickly loses interest in the products on display and leaves with child in tow.
    Afterward, those of us look at each other and verify we each heard correctly.
    True story I like to tell.

        • Somewhere there must be a gun store/counter clerk with an itch to write and the stuff to do it. That clerk, if he exists, needs to write that book, “Wisdom and Hilarity at the Gun Counter”.

          Or whatever.

    • Something that used to exist before the feminists came along and convinced women that they didn’t need men for anything.

      Men and women need each other – it’s how we’ve managed to put a man on the moon. Don’t let someone stick their tuber in your baby maker unless you know he’s going to stick around and do the job right.

      I’m sorry – women are kings and in control of mating privilege. Sadly, it must come with as much responsibility as you’re asking of the so-called deadbeat dad.

  18. I shifted to primarily low recoil 12ga several years ago. While I can handle full power buck and slug, like many others, don’t like the abuse (most of the time). I’m also not part gorilla as I’m only 5’6″ and weigh 160+ lbs so there’s less mass to absorb said recoil.

    One of my favorite loads is Remington’s 8 pellet low recoil load as it feels just like cheap birdshot so you can practice with the cheap stuff.

    Something many forget is that in addition to lower recoil these loads also can reduce your time between shots which could be very important in a defensive situation.


  19. I have hunted deer in a shotguns only part of michigan for 4 decades. I have shot everything that comes out of a shotgun barrel. managed recoil buckshot throws great patterns in everything I have ever shot it in. pattern uniformity and size ar the 8 most important things in buckshot effectiveness. the first time i checked a patter board with remington RR buckshot , It was love at first sight. smooth,even, tight. … but I digress.

    I also belong to a shooting club that opens its range to the public for sight in for a month before the deer season. I see people bring in a short barreled pump with plastic stock, aluminum receiver, and plastic forend. they bring 3″ slugs. Shooting 458 win mag ballistics (450+ grains, 1800+fps)fps out of a 6lb 0oz gun is painful to watch, much less shoot.

    a 20 guage kills deer as well as a 12 in my experience. even with the 5/8 oz foster type slugs.

  20. Gotta love that caliber snobbery. Power this… size that… not being “manly” enough. I’ve been mocked by a few guys for carrying my LCP, but I have caught them more than a few times not having their G21 or their Full Size 1911 on them because they couldn’t carry it that day for whatever reason.

    Use what works, what you like, what you want. Not what the guy behind thinks you should.

  21. I’m a woman (makeup-wearing, shoe-loving, all that) and I adore the Glock 21. I have my own.

    I’ve also fired my best friend’s Desert Eagle .50.

    Sure, I couldn’t write my name with a pen the next day, but it was worth it.

  22. Allegedly a 10-gauge can feel softer than a 12-gauge because of the 10-gauge’s heavy weight. Maybe the savvy manly-man should shoot 10-gauge just for the bragging rights.

  23. There is a better way to reduce the recoil from a shotgun. Just get an autoloader. My Remington 1100 kicks less than my 243 bolt gun. So with an autoloader you can reduce recoil without losing your man card.

  24. Managed recoil loads with 8 pellets of buck seem to provide better patterns while still having good stopping power. That, at least, is why the Secret Service started testing them a few (maybe 3) years ago. People aren’t very robust against even lighter loads. I switched to light 12 gauge skeet loads 30 years ago. It didn’t affect results. I wouldn’t use light loads for bad bear defense. laugh. As for recoil and manliness, who’s kidding who? The AR-15 is popular because of its light recoil, accuracy, and add-ons, not because it’s extra-manly.

  25. This managed recoil stuff sounds like a good option, my 18″ 870 Express’ kick can be charitably described as “brisk” even with 2.75″ #4 loads, and standard 2.75″ 00 is downright painful. I don’t flinch after 50 rounds of my 91/30 mashing its metal buttplate into my shoulder so it’s not like I’m recoil averse either.

    • I’ve never had a problem with recoil discomfort from my 870 Express, even with 3″ sabot slugs. Mine has a pretty thick recoil pad, though, and I think that’s been making all the difference.

  26. I am definitely not trying to sound all bad, however I haven’t found myself particularly bothered by anything I put through my shotgun in a while. Perhaps I am simply used to it, though I certainly will get a little sore if I spend the entire afternoon blasting away. The Bennelli M4 also feels really nice to me. I recently blew off a ton of my ammo due to a recent issue that made me reconsider not firing a couple rounds out of each box. I think it has more to do with a proper hold than anything else. Still, if it’s just as functional, why not? Unless it’s more expensive.

  27. I have been living with the effects of a partially slipped disc in my l5 vertebrae for the past year. One of the things that I quickly discovered is that shooting 50 rounds of 00 out of my ancient Mossberg 500 falls in the category of “NOT a good idea”. In order to maintain my skills, I have installed a hydraulic recoil reducer and at times even put a small pillow on my shoulder to help absorb the recoil. My back and my shoulder appreciate it a lot… man card be damned

  28. Man club? Get a silencer. Softens the recoil…easy on the ears… and no one ever questions your “manliness” if you’re seen with one.

  29. Excellent topic. While managing heavy recoil is a learned skill, there is no doubt that recoil tolerance differs. For someone who has no idea of how to manage even intermediate recoil levels, the jump to a heavy recoil firearm (shotgun, rifle, or handgun), can be painful and in some cases dangerous.

  30. Y’know, folks, there are these things call “mercury recoil reducers” that can be put into the buttstock of a shotgun to spread out the recoil impulse quite inexpensively.

    Another alternative is to simply wedge a cotton bag of lead shot into the bolt hole in a buttstock to increase the mass of the gun.

    There’s no reason to suffer the recoil of a too-light gun.

  31. I use a .223 No4 conversion because it is accurate and cheap to shoot. When I can shoot a match for less than 20 cents a round (about half the cost of the cheapest factory fodder in my part of the world) for a total cost of about $5 in ammo, I think I’m ahead. But if someone gives me grief about using a “girl’s gun” (hardly as the damn thing weight over 9lbs), I pull out the M44 carbine or the Yugo M48 with full-power military loads (and not wimpy US 8mm Mauser commercial loads which are about .30-30 in power levels). After the demonstration, I offer the other person a try. Very few have taken me up on the offer. Fewer again have had a second go.

  32. I second much of what has been said about recoil management being important as well as the innate differences in recoil tolerances between individuals. However, I think what too often happens is that someone has a ‘bad experience’ with a heavy recoiling weapon then fails to continue training with it, thus never developing the form and skills to manage such recoil. I’m also of the school that size doesn’t matter (unless perhaps we’re talking pro line-man Vs child) when it comes to recoil management. I’m very light (5’8 145) and have no difficulty with the recoil of any standard 2 3/4 00 loads from my feather light M500. Yes it’s a little uncomfortable, and heavier or magnum loads can even be painful, but I don’t see a need to shoot the beast more than 50 times a year or so (anymore that, is, I’ve put thousands of such rounds through it and many more than that through others like it). It’s currently in the closest stoked with 3″ 15 pellet 000 loads and I have no misgivings about firing all 8 of them if needed. The recoil doesn’t make me flinch (anymore) it doesn’t slow down my follow ups, it’s fine. If you want big power AND speed AND accuracy, you have to commit to taking the beating over and over again. It can be done by almost any shooter with determination and cash for ammo. However, the 12ga being what it is might be as close to a magic wand as a gun can come. Reduce recoil 00 at house hold distances? Bravo! The BG will never know the difference. 20ga 00? same same, the BG won’t know what hit him. Some of us are (fire)power mongers and are willing to invest the pain and time and money to competently use the most powerful weapons available to civilians, others are not or will not, and thus are much better served by something that is while still a reasonable weapon for man, is also more comfortable and with which they will adequately train. I don’t see a manliness issue being involved in it. It’s every bit as dumb as trading punches, it hurts and it proves nothing.

  33. Yeah. I first fired my Mossy 500 pistol grip qith slugs. YEOWW my hand hurt after ten of those. The guy down the range from me was shooting the same thing and chipped his tooth.


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