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According to, the shooter in the pic above was wearing hearing protection. “Oleg wanted me to wear muffs,” Nathan McSweeney reveals. “But I wanted to get the real feel for just how loud it really was next to my head.” OK then. Still, “Earplugs won’t be enough,” commentator R. counters, “The muzzle brake looks insane. This level of sounds would likely be damaging even if you had no ears.” Never mind the noise. Feel the recoil! Which isn’t very much in this case, apparently. So how much recoil can you handle? What’s the most recoil-intensive firearm you’ve shot and/or own?

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  1. The worst recoil I ever felt was from a .454 casull Super Redhawk. I thought it was an extraordinarily uncomfortable gun to shoot.

    I’m comfortable with handgun loads up to .44mag. Longarms I’m good with 3-inch 12ga shells and .300 magnum rounds. I’ve only gotten to shoot a .50 once, and I much preferred being prone for it.

  2. I don’ t mind the physical force of pretty much any recoil you’d find in a handgun, shotgun, or rifle. But my reflexes abhor the mildest sharp reports of any caliber of anything going supersonic. Shooting .22lr doesn’t generally bother me, but occasionally I develop a flinch from the noise of one shot indoors.

    My solution? Keep shooting. After several minutes my senses settle down and the noise stops bothering me.

  3. My Mosin Nagant 91/30 kicks like a freakin’ mule. With no porting or other means to vent gasses, everything comes straight back to my shoulder. Even with a rubber butt-pad and pulling the rifle into my shoulder as tight as possible, it still leaves a welt behind after thirty or so rounds. Those WW2 era Russkie solders must have been supermen. Yeah, I know they wore heavy winter coats and all, but they fought in the summer, too.

    I’ve shot the .50 cal. rifle and the .500 revolver and thought that both the rifle and JOE’s revolvers did a great job of dampening felt recoil. But with the 91/30, no thought whatsoever was given to recoil dampening, and baby it shows.

    • The M44 Nagant is pretty bad as well. Mine is more accurate than my 91-30 though, so the trade off is worth it. I also have an ’03-A3 Springfield that will beat a shoulder to quitting pretty quickly as well. The K98k also deserves special mention.

  4. I had a M48 8mm Mauser once. It had very short stock, with a relatively small steel butt plate. It also tended to hit me in the cheek, which hurt quite a bit. Nothing like having a bruised face from shooting. I also have a friend who has a .450 Marlin T/C Encore with a 16″ barrel. It hit me in the forehead with the scope the first time I shot it. That didn’t feel good either.

  5. Ruger .454 Alaskan. .454 Casull is not as powerful as some of the newer cartridges, but this one has no brake, while the others generally do. And it’s not all that heavy. I have no desire to experience more, and even shooting that is a once-a-year affair that calls for a stiff drink afterward.

  6. I have seen a shooter with a 338Lap with a break firing on the next bench. His range bag was 1.5′ away laterally from the muzzle and it went sailing onto the floor. 50BMG round is really going to leave a mark.

    That said, spectators to the sides receive far more blast/decibels than the shooter. Have sufficient hearing protection especially if your not directly behind the shooter.

  7. Honestly, a 12 guage 3.5″ is about as bad as I’ve felt. M91/30s, M44s, 7 and 8mm Mausers, they’re all rough. My .300 win mag is pretty jolting, but acceptable. And all the .50’s I’ve fired are engineered to compensate for the recoil. All of these rifles I shoot happily for a day, with minor discomfort. But when it comes time to throw a few 3″ slugs at a target to make sure the deer slayer is still hitting its mark, I tend to fire 2 or 3 and call it quits. I’m on target, I’m done.

  8. For handgun it was a Freedom Arms .454 Casull, not long after the revolver first came out. For rifle it was a friend’s weird European .30-06 with a strange,sharp, left handed stock. 1st of all, I’m right handed. Secondly, this thing focused like an arrow into the shoulder. The worst shotgun was some old 12 ga. single shot my great grandfather had. I went to nail a squirrel and got nailed myself.

  9. A Makarov in 9×18. Very snappy recoil. After a couple magazines my hands were sore and quivering from my death grip on the thing.

    • The Makarov can have some snappy recoil, but generally if it’s downright uncomfortable, that means the recoil spring is in need of replacement. Wolff makes 19 lb. springs for it that bring things down to a manageable level.

  10. S&W .500 Mag snub nose, I thought the thing was going to break my wrist. For worst rifle, I’m going to have to agree with Ralph, that 7.62x54r out of a Mosin has always banged my shoulder up worse than any of the .50 cal rifles I’ve shot.

    • It’s funny though, Ryan, that I like shooting the Russian beast. But then again I’ve been divorced twice, so I guess I just enjoy pain. Oops, I mean I enjoy a challenge.

      • Yea there’s has not been a single time that I’ve pulled the trigger on a Mosin and not gotten a big old grin.

  11. My Grandfather’s long barrel goosegun. Both barrels at the same time. By far the worst thing I have ever shot. Gun pointing in air, me on ass.

    I can shoot 3″ magnums out of my Mossberg 930 all day and not feel what I felt that day.

  12. .45-70 with a steel butt plate. two rounds was all I could handle. That moron with the .50 cal and no hearing protection probably lost .25 percent of his hearing with one trigger pull. I will take safety and my hearing over stupidity anyday!

  13. A beautiful old English double rifle in .577 Nitro Express when I was eleven. I had never fired anything bigger than a .22lr up until that point in my life. It was a magnificent and most memorable experience. Mr. Morris, the owner of the rifle, said the look on my face when I handed the rifle back to him was priceless; in the awe and joy sense of the word.

  14. 5.25″ cannon. The ship shook when we fired the damn things. I am glad the Coasties didn’t have battleships. The recoil fron an 16″, 18″ or 20″ mst have been unbearable!
    (I was going to say an M2 in a mount, but Abunal beat me to it. I’ve never personally fired the 5.25″ but I was way too close to muzzle when we did.)

    • I didn’t consider mounted weapons. In that case, the driver’s seat directly underneath the main gun (105mm) in an old Marine corps M60A1 tank. It was old, so at the range, on line, we had to take turns with someone sitting in the driver’s compartment holding the brakes down.

    • Ya got me beat. My best was the twin 40 mm Bofors on an M42 Duster.
      240 rounds a minute, if the loaders can keep up.

  15. Among my regular shooters, the M44 Mosin and any 18″ pump shotgun shooting magnum slugs or buckshot are the roughest. On the bigger end of the spectrum, I’ve bench-rested a. 35 Whelen carbine and a Ruger Dangerous Game .375 H&H Magnum. With iron sights, I got 1″ groups at 50 yards with both of them

    While memorable, I’ve got no plans to relive those magic moments any time soon.

  16. I’m not much for recoil on rifles especially from the bench. I’ve not shot anything larger than a .30-06 and that was with a solid rubber butt pad. I didn’t like it too much.

    But handgun recoil doesn’t bother me at all. One of my favorite guns is a .480 Ruger and a friend’s custom .500 Linebaugh. In addition to those, I can shoot a .308 Win in a Encore all day long. The S&W 329PD isn’t much *fun* to shoot with full house .44 Mags. but I’m not recoil shy with it either.

  17. The recoil on my 8 3/8 and 10.5 inch 500’s isn’t to bad even with the 700 grain T-REX round, but try shooting the 700 grain out of my 4″ snub nose and you’ll quickly learn what recoil is all about. I also have a 1″ snub nose 357 that is one of the nastiest little guns I’ve ever shot.

  18. I touched off a 458 Lott Ruger number 1 and didn’t even feel the recoil. The reason I didn’t feel it was that I was semi-enveloped by the explosion of the bottle of tannerite I had just shot from 25 yards. The next year, I did the same thing with the same rifle only this time, I missed the tannerite. The recoil was quite substantial on that occasion.

  19. I’m a recoil junkie but I have never shot anything more potent than my Remington 700/308. It’s a real kick, blast etc. I could shoot it all day but at a dollar around I’d go bankrupt.

  20. An NEF Handi Rifle in 45-70 is the most powerful recoil I’ve felt. gave me a bit of a bruise on my shoulder.

  21. I am not that recoil sensitive. Muzzle blast is more of a factor to me.

    Although the worst I can think of was one of those ridiculous scandium .357 S&W J-Frames. 11 oz . I got dared into shooting 1 cylinder out of one. That was enough for me. Who thought that such a gun was a good idea?

  22. The largest for me was the Smith & Wesson 460XVR. It’s strange but the biggest difference between the 460 and the 454 Casull was not the recoil but the heat from the blast.

  23. H&R break action 12 gauge shotgun cut to 18.5″with 3 1/2″ duck loads and a youth stock. Gun weighs less than 5 pounds.

    Mosin, 45/70, 500 s&W…..Nothing compared to this thing. Swear it could detach a retina if you shoot a full box. People don’t believe me until I hand it to them at the range. Have never had someone shoot 2 in a row and it actually broke a good friend’s trigger finger.

  24. Family friend of mine’s unbraked .300 Wby Mag Rifle. I fired 3 shots and called it a day with that gun.

    As far as handguns, a S&W 29-3 with full power 240 grain hollow points. You learn to keep your thumbs out of the way of recoiling bits very quickly.

  25. The worst handgun recoil I felt was from a .44 Auto Mag I owned for a short time. The recoil wasn’t all that bad but I couldn’t hit anything with it. The worst rifle recoil was my Dad’s 8mm Mauser with a steel butt plate he let me fire when I was about 15. Once was enough.

  26. Im a 13 year old boy and the worst recoil ive experienced was a single shot 12 gauge that only weighes about 3 pounds so it hurts alot more than the typical 12 gauge next in line would be a 8mm mauser


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