I am by no means a shotgun aficionado. I don’t claim to be an expert in any way, shape or form. However, I do shoot and hunt frequently and finding quick tips for improvements that I can make myself without professional assistance are always a bonus.
Recoil can truly be one factor that affects shooting performance. Uncomfortable recoil is one of the primary causes of flinching. Uncomfortable recoil is also linked to jerks and punches while shooting. Injuries such as soft tissue damage to the face and shoulder and even documented cases of retinal detachment can occur from intense recoil as well. Correcting the recoil a bit can indeed help improve your shooting success as well as help avoid injury.
One quick note: recoil should not be confused with kick.
Kick from a shotgun is a perceived, subjective force the shooter feels.
Recoil is actually an objective, calculated measurement.
A gun will recoil in direct proportion to its weight and the weight and speed of its payload. There are even published tables that compute the actual recoil for different firearms.
|Gauge, Length (oz. shot@MV)||Gun Weight (lbs.)||Recoil Energy (ft. lbs.)|
|.410 bore, 2.5″ (1/2 @ 1200)||5.5||7.1|
|.410 bore, 3″ (11/16 @ 1135)||5.5||10.5|
|28 gauge, 2.75″ (3/4 @ 1200)||6||12.8|
|20 gauge, 2.75″ (7/8 @ 1200)||6.5||16.1|
|20 guage, 2.75″ (1 @ 1200)||6.5||21|
|20 gauge, 2.75″ (1 1/8 @ 1175)||6.5||25|
|20 gauge, 3″ (1 1/4 @ 1185)||6.5||31|
|16 gauge, 2.75″ (1 @ 1220)||7||21.5|
|16 gauge, 2.75″ (1 1/8 at 1240)||7||27.6|
|12 gauge, 2.75″ (1 @ 1180)||7.5||17.3|
|12 gauge, 2.75″ (1 1/8 @ @ 1200)||7.5||23|
|12 gauge, 2.75″ (1 1/4 @ 1330)||7.5||32|
|12 gauge, 2.75″ (1 1/2 @ 1260)||7.5||45|
|12 gauge, 3″ (1 5/8 @ 1280)||7.5||52|
|12 gauge, 3″ (1 7/8 @ 1210)||8.75||54|
|10 gauge, 3.5″ (2 1/4 @ 1210)||10.5||62.9|
Shotgun Recoil Table by Chuck Hawks
Here are a few quick ways you can help reduce recoil and hopefully improve your shooting performance along the way:
- Shoot lighter loads with reduced velocity: This reduces the energy of the shot fired but does not interfere with performance. For example, reducing ammo velocity below 1200 FPS can make a big difference. Check your ammo box and see what you are shooting. Some manufacturers such as Winchester make low recoil ammunition under 1,000 FPS.
- Make sure your shotgun fits YOU: Length of the stock and height of the stock where it meets your face are the key points to consider. As well, you should be able to safely and comfortably reach the trigger. If your gun does not fit properly, take it in to a professional.
- Perhaps consider a heavier shotgun: Yes, you read that correctly. Heavier guns can absorb more energy and recoil. It should be noted that hunting guns are typically a bit heavier than competition guns as hunting shotguns require heavier loads. It’s worth the experimentation!
- Recoil pad on the stock: There are many different options out there and it comes down to personal preference. If you do opt for a stock recoil pad, ensure you are not stretching out your length of pull too much.
- Wearable recoil shields: These are also available in many different options. Wearable pads help absorb some of the energy and recoil and can help improve comfort. Again, which type you choose is definitely a personal and subjective choice.
- Consider a different action type: if all else fails. Gas power semi-auto shotguns have far less recoil than shotguns with different actions. Test out a variety and see what works best for you.
With a few simple options as listed above, you may be able to easily remedy an uncomfortable recoil problem and thus improve your shooting success!