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Re: Heavy Recoil versus Imagined Recoil

24 Jun 2017
@ 10:45 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

OK, how do I post this without ending up with a divorce.

If recoil has a negative affect on accuracy, then it must be addressed. Accuracy must always come first.

When I am teaching, whether via the website, the books, one on one or via lectures, I begin by placing great emphasis on the stock and rifle design followed by technique. I do not expect folk to pick up the first POS they find and 'take it like a man'. But what I do hope, is that with the right kit and the right form, the client can use enough or more than enough power to achieve his or her goals with optimum accuracy.

But sometimes things just don't go the way we want them to. For example, Jon Short's sister in law wanted a nice carry weight rifle with enough power for deer, one that was not expensive and yet would shoot well without a great deal of work. A Tikka rifle in 7mm-08 fit the bill, using heavy bullet hand loads for both bush and open county. This lady has a fine build but is physically active. Her rig actually produces a great deal of recoil. But this is due to the design of the rifle, not the cartridge. There are various ways she could reduce this recoil but she like many woman has just put this out of her mind. She expects the rifle to do a job and so it does. Perspective is the key. In this instance, she is aware that the rifle physically pushes her back, pop's her head up under recoil and physically shifts her shoulder. So these are physical aspects. But she has yet to complain of any bruising. To me, this is an ultra light rig. To her, it is a medium weight rig.

Many times I have seen clients beaten into next week by very poorly designed rigs. We have dealt with the same here. I have shot client 7mm08 rifles that I loathe to this day for their unnecessary recoil. I can handle such a rifle and shoot it fine all day- but it grates on me to know that such a rig will handicap less experienced shooters. I also remember Steph once taking out an ultra light .300 Win Mag loaded with 180gr pills at 3070fps that really jarred her. I found the rifle somewhat more manageable but hopeless for truly good long range form. The trouble is, folk get put off the cartridges when most times, it is the gun design at fault combined with the rantings of some loud mouth 'expert' at the rifle range pushing poor shooting technique.

We are also fortunate in that on a single day, we may have three 7mm Rem Mags (as an example) side by side, each with different stocks. These situations really highlight major differences in stock / rifle designs.

You are correct Joshua when you say that I try to teach the reader / client to be more analytical towards recoil. I might for example say that a particular rifle produces a great deal of recoil which does not cause pain but due to the large movement, may effect accuracy. So yes, I do try to break it down. What I most want to achieve is to empower hunters. I believe Steph wants the same and her comments regarding high power should be seen as encouragement. I have never really likes the term "harden up" because we each have areas in our life where we may be very strong versus other physical, mental or emotional limitations that we may be struggling with. When dealing with our own limitations, we may need great courage to perform the most basic of tasks that another person might find easy. 'Harden up' is a very subjective and often damaging statement.

In any case, looking at Stephs's post, she is quite right, she shoots a lot of rifles and only a few fit her well. She will be quick to tell you which of these chamberings cause her to have to climb (I can generally tell her location from the swearing) into a ravine to retrieve a carcass following a long dead run versus those which drop the animal on the spot. I would hope that her comments here would be seen as a sign of encouragement.

Sufficient rifle weight, a good trigger and a good stock design followed by good technique. Thats the key. Unfortunately, many of the ultra lights we are seeing now produce very high recoil and beat the shooter into next week. You can come away from these without bruises but if the shooter is not practicing week to week, accuracy is often very poor. Gun makers sell these light weights to cater to our low fitness / modern lifestyles while at the same time saving money on materials. Its a win win for the gun maker. We pay for this with increased recoil. But the most recent trend from gun makers is the offering of low powered cartridges. Its a downward spiral.

Add ons are sometimes but not always necessary. The first things to look at is the design of your rifle and your form. But as we go up in power, we hit out limits. Both Steph and I get concussion headaches from some African rigs. There are two ways around this, one is to use a non traditional rifle design (such as when I fitted Clive's Precision Platforms stock to our .338 Edge). In this case, the stock is radically different to a slim M70 while the barrel has some meat to it. The more I shoot this stock design, the more merit I see in the design for heavy bush guns, not just long range rigs. The other way is to fit the likes of a brake.

The one thing we have to watch with add ons is that we are not trying to correct a flaw in the rifle design with an add on that creates new negative variables. Its all very well for folk to post about how for example a brake can fix recoil issues but you are not the ones who end up with these on your bench after the add on has created new problems. I came across a brake last week that was based on a half inch thread, but expected to handle big magnums, The brake was tiny, generating huge amounts of pressure. Long term, the muzzle will bulge. Simple as that. So to say "fit a brake" is on its own a hopeless statement. If the design, materials or machining are not optimal, you will ruin your rig.

Hopefully you will understand that there is more to this than just sticking stuff on your rifle. I see so many project rifles derailed before they have even had one shot fired through them, the client accidentally destroying any accuracy potential while increasing recoil in the way he has set the rifle up, often through no major fault of his own but simply due to the way the trigger behaves or how the scope fits its bases. Those of you who have seen my latest private client video tutorial will understand what I am saying here. Many hunters will never know just what they are capable of because they never have or never will actually use a decent rig. And this takes us back to the start regarding Lane's discussion heading - felt versus imagined recoil. My preferred term is perceived recoil. And by this I mean our perception of recoil relative to the power of the cartridge.

Quite often, recoil has very little to do with the actual size of cartridge.


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