Would you discuss/compare the felt recoil from an o/u with a G-Square recoil-reducer as compared to that from an auto-loader such as a Beretta 390 without the recoil reducer.
Great question. First let me fudge a bit by saying that recoil is very subjective. “Free recoil” is a simple mathematical calculation, but “felt recoil” has so many non-quantifiable variables that it varies from person to person.
By FAR the most important aspect of felt recoil is stock fit. I’ve shot 410s that caused misery after a hundred rounds because the stock was just wrong for me. You can be pretty sure that your problem is stock fit if you take any recoil to the face. If your face feels fine, but your shoulder,neck and back of the head hurt, then it’s good old recoil, pure and simple. By far the easiest and most efficient way to reduce mathematical free recoil is to use a lighter or slower shell.
When you get into the area of autos or hydraulic stocks, you really aren’t reducing recoil at all in the mathematical sense. You are just stretching the recoil pulse out over a longer period of time. If you graph the recoil curve of a standard fixed breech gun, the curve looks sort of like a witch’s hat or traffic cone. It’s peaky. When you use the same shell in an auto or hydraulic stocked gun of the same weight, the curve looks more like a flattened haystack. It’s wider, but not as high. The AREA under the curve hasn’t changed, but the time in which that recoil is delivered has been increased.
Fortunately, the human body doesn’t care too much about mathematics. All it cares about is what it feels. A push is generally less painful than a poke. Trick stocks and autos feel as though they kick less because they transform the kick into a long drawn out (relatively) push. This is called recoil attenuation. Recoil pads do exactly the same thing as the rubber compresses, but they just don’t do it as much.
So, which does a better job of attenuating- an 8# gas gun or an 8# O/U with a G-Square, Soft Touch or the like? Dunno. I almost think that the hydraulic stock does. I spent some time with a 7-3/4# Fabrique Nationale O/U with a Soft Touch (about the same as the G-Square) and just marveled at the recoil reduction. I once shot a 9# K-80 with a G-Square and couldn’t believe the lack of recoil with target loads. I normally shoot an 8# 303 gas gun and even that gun can be fatiguing after 100 pigeon loads. That said, the Remington autos and Browning Golds seem to shoot a bit softer than my Berettas do, so that might even it up if you went with those brands.
I’ved also fooled around with a 390 Beretta auto with a Soft Touch stock. It was built for a guy with a bad back. Surprisingly, it didn’t seem to add much recoil reduction. He ended up going back to a properly fit 390 with a standard stock.
Not all trick stocks work as well. I’ve tried a couple that weren’t properly adjusted for the load or for me and they seemed to kick just about the same as the gun without the stock. On the old Hydrocoil stocks Dockwiller used to put on guns back in the ’70s, I found that I could often “beat” the rebound of the stock with a quick second shot. The newer trick stock designs seem to cycle faster. Kim Rhode uses a G-Square on her Olympic double trap gun and she deals out that second shot pretty quickly.
I do have a number of issues with the hydraulic (or spring) stocks. They can wear out after a while and need parts replacement. They will also add weight to the butt of your gun. If you shoot low gun (sporting clays, FITASC, field) this could be a real concern. If you shoot trap or American-style skeet, it probably doesn’t matter.
Bottom line: Properly set up and with the right brand of trick stock (G-Square is excellent), I think that I would give the nod to that combo compared to the Beretta autos I am most familiar with. But it’s close and you might feel differently. Gunfit, shell selection, weight of gun could all throw the choice on way or another.
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)