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Recoil differences

2716 Views 11 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  12GA guy
I plan on shooting skeet and/or trap. Is the recoil from an O/U that much different than from a semi auto 12 *****? Also, based on your experiences, which O/U and Semi has the least recoil?
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Hi CT--

I'm primarily a hunter, not a clay shooter, so I won't try to answer your question, except to say that it depends on the specific o/u and the kind of semi auto you are considering (gas or recoil-operated). It's a good question though--I'll be interested to hear the answers. Some of our clay shooting experts will be by soon to do so, no doubt. But I did want to say welcome to shotgunworld, and I hope you decide to register and then hang around and join in the conversation :)

If you don't get an answer fairly soon, you might consider copying and pasting your question into the Trap/Skeet/ Sporting Clays forum--you can find it in the main index. People who shoot clays seriously might be more likely to see it there sooner.


Jeff 23
CT--I've been a skeet/trap shooter for 15+ years. Unless you are very slight of frame and or measurably underweight, you should be quite capeable of handling the felt recoil from either an O/U or a Semi-auto--IF YOU STICK TO 1200 FPS SHELLS. And there is no reason not to.

While there is a slight reduction in recoil from the use of a Semi over an O/U, neither should bother you. What is more important is getting the gun that FITS you. Some women shooters I know stick with the SA due to the reduced recoil--but they weigh 120lbs or less.

If you are concerned about it, go with the SA. Remember, which ever one you get, your first concern should be FIT. That in itself will reduce the felt recoil. You can always add aftermarket recoil reducing devices if, down the road, it becomes a problem There are many, many options avaliable. In addition, most trap guns are heavier by definition--that is to help reduce the felt recoil from the get-go.

When I was shooting competitively, it was nothing for me to shoot 1000 rounds in a 3 day meet. But my Beretta 682X weighs over 8.5 lbs. That's a lot of shooting and it never bothered me. I'm 5'10" and weigh 175lbs--OK,OK, 185Lbs. :D

Good luck and have fun.
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JMCCOYB knows what he's talking about.

In mentioning how the gun fits, he introduces something that too few new shooters consider or understand.

There are five primary stock dimensions that are chosen by manufacturers when they design guns. They are:
length of pull (LOP) the distance from the forward center of the trigger to the center of the recoil pad determined primarily by the length of the shooter's neck,
drop at the comb, the distance form the rib level down to the top surface of the stock where the cheek makes contact (actually, facedrop at the comb, the need for which is determined primarily by the distance between the shooter's eye and his cheekbone,
drop at the heel, the distance from the rib down to the tip of the recoil pad (heel), [On a Monte Carlo stock there is considerably more difference in the two drops than with a straight stock.], determined by the height of the eye above the shoulder,
pitch, the angle of the recoil pad relative to the bore (barrel) of the gun, determined by the the chest configuration of the shooter, and
cast, the angling of the stock to the right (for right-handed shooters) or to the left, for left-handed shooters when viewed from the rear.

The length of the stock is usually not a problem with guns bought off-the-shelf. Most of the time, it is close enough, just over 14 inches.

The drop at the comb is often a much more serious matter. The correct drop for any shooter depends on the distance between his eye and his cheekbone. It is the most important of all the dimensions because it positions the eye that acts like the rear sight on a rifle; it must be in the right place. The correct drop at the comb allows the shooter to apply firm cheek pressure on the comb and look along the top surface of the rib or very slightly down onto it. When the eye is too high, he is looking down at the rib at too great an extent and the gun will shoot higher than expected. When the comb is too low, he will not be able to see the rib; the action or receiver will block the view of it.

The correct drop at the heel is determined by two things, the length of the shooter's neck and the amount of shoulder slope. When the drop isn't right, neck strain, raising the cheek off the comb, and improper gun mounting is the result.

Pitch is another important dimension. Chest configurations are varied and so must be the angle of the recoil pad. Only the upper two-thirds of the pad need make contact with the shoulder, just inside of the shoulder joint. If the bottom (toe) of the pad sticks out too far, not only does it jab into the chest during recoil but will cause the barrel to rise excessively. (The rotational point around which the gun rotates during recoil is farther below the level of the barrel.)

Cast exists (or in some cases should exist) for shooters with wide shoulders or other than average face width or distance between the eyes.) Most US guns have no cast; that is because cast relates to handedness. Cast off to the right cannot be used well by left-handed shooters. The same is true for cast on. It is very difficult to use by right-handed shooters.

Off-the-shelf guns fit less than half the people that buy them. In some cases they fit well enough that the slight contortions necessary by those that shoot them is of little importance. For others, however, the bizzare shooting form needed to shoot their guns, prevents them from ever being a good shot.

The one saving grace about all these stock dimensions is that they can all be changed. That is what keeps stock fitters in business. The only reason there aren't more of them is because only a small percentage of shooters realize how important a well fitting gun really is. If they did, stock fitters would be rich and going crazy trying to complete all the work they have.

If you don't want to visit a stock fitter to learn the dimensions that are necessary to have a well fitting gun, click on the url below and consider investing $14 to learn everything you'll ever need to know about stock fitting and be able to fit your gun to yourself and the type of shooting you're involved with -- trap, skeet, sporting calys, or hunting.

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If the gun fits you reasonably well, then the biggest determinant in felt recoil is the load you are shooting. Automatics will reduce the felt recoil somewhat (approximately 10% IMO) compared to an O/U. However, the proper selection of loads can reduce the felt recoil by 30% or more. You can shoot real mild loads in an O/U quite comfortably, or you can shoot some real shoulder busters in an auto rather UNcomfortably.
I just switched from a Beretta 391, to a 686 Onyx Sporting. It may be due to fit, but I feel that the o/u actually kicks less. One thing that I have noticed is the semi kick is more of an extended push and the o/u is more of a crisp punch. I prefer the recoil of the o/u because I don't notice it as much and I seem to be able to get on my second shot quicker. However, remember that my results might not be the same as yours for the same two guns. I'm 5'10" and 250 lbs. (otherwise read as FAT) so I have a good bit of mass and insulation on my side! :lol:
Rollin, in my mind your are right about new shotgun shooters not paying attention to a gun's fit. That is because they don't know enough to think about it and also don't know what to look for.

How many posters on this thread have you seen that talk about fit? Few if any.

I don't blame the new buyers--they just don't know. However, many times they wind up with an XYZ gun that either kicks the snot out of them or does not shoot where they THINK it should. Far too many times this is due to be shooters body not fitting the gun.

Guns in America are made (typically) to fit a mythical Mr Joe Average--and most manufacturers Mr Joe is different in some way. However, many many folks are not built like Joe. Long/short arms, long/short necks, left handers are especially handicaped with cast off for a right hand shooter, the list goes on and on.

I'm also suprised how many gun shop know or care about proper fit. Of course, many are simply afraid that if they tell the potential buyer that that model just doesn't fit him, he will take it personally (not knowing what he is being told) and not buy any gun from that retailer.

It is really a sad sad story and also too bad. While I have never seen you program/story and have never heard of you before your above post, if I were buying a new (or any) shotgun for the first time, I would likely spend $20 to attempt to make sure I don't make a bad mistake on a costly shotgun. Not enjoy it, have a poor shooting experience, get beat to hell, get mad at it and sell it for a $200 loss, simply because it did not fit. Then buy another gun without knowing (again) to check the fit. I don't care if a particular gun is the coolest thing in the world and is $200 below MSRP, it it doesn't fit it is not worth 2 cents.

I also worry about new shotgun buyers buying shotguns over the internet--with absolutely no idea how their body may or may not fit the gun.

Good luck in your product.
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CT, I found the following comment on another BBS and thought it was well said:

"It is somewhat strange how some shooters are able to handle sustained shooting without recoil having an effect on them. Reading the prior post about recoil reminded me that there is too little communicated about how to handle the recoil from lots of shooting.

I have never read much about how to handle recoil, but have asked lots of my shooting companions and friends. Here is the conclusion that I have reached through experience and the experience of fellow shooters.

1. Never mount the gun unless you are smooth. This means not pushing the gun into your shoulder hard, just firmly. Having it hard to the shoulder means the muscle can be compressed somewhat, taking away from the natural give of the muscle.

2. The forward and rear hand shoot grasp the forend and grip firmly, not overly hard. This allows the hands to absorb some of the recoil and allows a relaxed grip which makes moving the gun easier.

3. The gun should not be cheeked too hard, as that allows the face to take up too much recoil. A firm placement on the stock is adequate in most cases.

4. Transfer the weight of your body onto the forward foot. This can allow the body to shift under recoil.

Overall, a relaxed position helps overcome some of the effects of recoil and how we deal with it.

I would like to hear from your prospective how you handle the above techniques.

Just my humble opinion."

Notice the emphasis on different parts of the body absorbing the recoil? They can only do that if the guns fits the body Also, nothing tight--everything somewhat loose.
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You have identified the difference, the dimensions on the stock, fit.

Semi autos are thought to kick less becaue of the time period over which recoil occurs. the minute amount of energy used to cycle the action is, for all practical purposes, is not a factor.


How right you are. Until about ten years ago, I didn't even consider stock dimensions as a cause for my cheek beaten up when shooting. I have low cheekbones; that means that when I mount an off-the-shelf gun, my eye is above the line of the rib and causes me to shoot high, even with my cheek snugly on the comb. I even bought a used Browning Superposed trap gun for duck hunting. The vast majority of crossing ducks were still crossing when I was home wondering what went wrong. I went through about a half-dozen guns trying unsuccessfully to find one I could shoot decently.

You bring up a valid point when you sy that new shooters (especially) have no way of knowing about stock-fit. I've thought about it and have come up with no way to correct the situation. It is the first stage of the three-stage learning process, "they don't know that they don't know."

"Joe Average" may be the "typical" shooter in height and weight but what about his shoulder width and slope and his neck length? Manufacturers do the best they can to come up with stock dimensions that fit shooters but it only works about half of the time.

Part of the reason store owners don't know about stock fitting is the reason gun0-buyers son'e know; there wasn't any information available outside of a gunsmithing school until I wrote my first stock fitting guide about three years ago. Since then, Ipve receives fewer than a dozen orders from owners of gun shops.

That is probably due to the other reason the don't know. They're in the business of selling guns, not selling guns that fit. And when it doesn't fit, the customer isn't likely to blame the seller. He is more likely to throw up his hands and trade guns and that is good for the gun shop.

In your gun-buying scenario: in the past, the typical shooter would have sold the gun not because it didn't fit, but because he had gotten beat up. Fit would not have even been considered as the cause as I failed consider it in the past.

It wasn't until I got my first computer about four years ago and started visiting and answering questions relating to stock fitting on shooting sites that I realized most other shooters were in the same boat as I had been. Finally, realizing there was a real need for information, I wrote the first 9,000-word version of the guide over six months, and referred to it as a thesis until I tired of answering questions about my post-graduate work and changed the reference to "a guide."

The same problems exist all over the world with the partial exception of England. Europe and particularly England, is the true home of stock fitting. (Only two copies of the guide have been sent there.) Many countries have few or no stock fitters. These include Canada, Australia. New Zeland, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Egypt, Brazil, Argentina, and South Africa according to the information I received when a copy of the guide was ordered. Monitary transfer, exchanges, and rates are lots of fun and at times, impossible. (They got a free guide.)

JMCC..., if you can devise a way to convince me that you are the one sending an E-mail message to me, I will send you a guide and welcome any comments you may have.

If necessaary, there is an E-mail link on my website. If the site happens to be down when you visit, it is because my son and I are working on trying to find out what's wrong with the "visit counter" that ran amuck a couple of days ago.

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Rollin, you can reach me at:
[email protected]

I would look forward to seeing your product.
CT- JMCCOYB is 100% correct. DOn't fall into the high velocity trap. Stick to the 1200 FPS loads. If you still have a problem with too much recoil, get loads that are at 1150 FPS, or go to lighter loads. High velocity isn't the holy grail of shotgunning. It will not solve problems, like not enough lead. If you are struggling with missing birds, get instruction from a competent teacher. A couple of hours of instruction will increase your enjoyment immensely.
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