How to Manage The Rifle Recoil?

Have you experienced any discomfort when firing a gun? Were you ever sensitive to that backward kicking motion of the gun? This phenomenon is called gun recoil. For many first time shooters, gun recoil can easily be a shock to them because of its strong impact on their bodies. The best way to really deal with it is to just practice and get used to how it feels because recoil will always be part of shooting.

The Science Behind It

Momentum of Recoil

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For a deeper definition of gun recoil, you must understand Newton’s third law of motion, which states that each action has an equal and opposite reaction. Every time the trigger is pulled, the gun fires the bullet and exhaustion gases with a forward momentum that is balanced by a backward momentum. This backward momentum is then transferred to gun and the shooter. Some may wonder why the bullet travels a lot faster than the recoil. This is explained by the Law of Conservation of Momentum.

Basically, momentum is equivalent to the product of an object’s mass and velocity. This means that for the same momentum, a smaller gun produces a stronger perception of recoil than a larger gun.

How To Manage Rifle Recoil


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Gun recoil can cause some discomfort that normally doesn’t result to anything serious. However, if this discomfort persists, make sure that you are handling your gun the right way. If left untreated, this could lead to permanent damage such as arthritis or spine damage. If you have a sensitivity to recoil, don’t worry. There are many ways you could overcome it early on. To help you manage gun recoil, we have prepared some tips for you.

Choose a Heavier/Larger Gun

As mentioned earlier, heavier guns tend to accelerate slower than lighter guns. This significantly lessens the recoil you feel when firing a gun. Some may disapprove of heavier guns, but they can work equally as well as lighter guns. You just have to find the kind that suits you.

An experiment that studied the recoil of different sized guns proves that larger guns have less recoil. They studied four guns weighing 6, 7, 8, and 9 pounds. They kept the bullet mass and velocity constant at 180 grams and 270 fps, respectively. This produced recoil energies of 26.4, 22.7, 19.8 and 17.6 ft.-lbs for increasing weights.

Wear Gloves

Wearing gloves protects your wrist and hands from absorbing the full shock of shooting a gun. Instead, the shock is directed towards and minimized by the gloves. Also, gloves help support the muscles in your hand. It may seem like a small thing, but gloves can significantly change your recoil perception.

Add Pads/Cushion

When firing a shotgun or rifle, the recoil can affect the shooter’s shoulder and cheeks. This is the reason why some hunters choose to wear a shoulder wrap/ recoil pad or add cheek pads and comb raisers to the shotgun stock.

Use Smaller Cartridges

Smaller calibers are more advantageous for minimizing the effects of gun recoil because smaller bullets produce less firing momentum. Because of the Law of Conservation of Momentum, this also lessens the backward momentum.

Use a Muzzle Break

Also known as a recoil compensator, a muzzle break is a device attached to the muzzle of a gun to redirect the propellant gases when firing. This counteracts the recoil, as well as the unwanted rising of the barrel. Muzzle breaks are usually used for practice or training, so some shooters don’t like to use them for other purposes.

Wear Hearing Protection

Sometimes, shooters mistake a painful noise for recoil because of anxiety. To improve your shooting and confidence when shooting, you can wear protective ear pieces.

Fire a Gas Gun

Gas guns are projectile-firing guns powered by compressed air. These are great because they are said to be more comfortable to shoot than recoil-operated guns. This is because gas-operated guns prolong the recoil impulse that makes it feel more like a push on the shoulder than a quick jab.

Surely, these helpful tips will make firing guns a more comfortable experience for you. Make sure to use guns responsibly and properly to ensure your safety.