Recoil Pads

Dear Technoid,

I have a 20 ga Rizzini O/U with cosmetic wooden butt plate and after a few skeet rounds I can feel its pop. I am ready to put on a pad as I feel slip on and tie on pads insufficiently dignified. The more I inquire the more complex it becomes. I must admit I am drawn to the Gooey pad because it apparently works and, dang it, it just looks cool. Next on line is Limbsaver for good absorption, but just today a good gunsmith told me that Xcoil’s data showed that their pad absorbed better than both of those others….in house statistical bias by Xcoil?? I dont want to add a lot of weight either. Have some concern too that Gooey pad may attract dust o so easily. Any advice amongst these three is deeply appreciated.

Good health

Robert in Louisiana
Dear Robert,

I’m something of a recoil pad junkie. I have boxes and boxes and boxes of removed recoil pads and new pads awaiting installation. For some anal retentive reason, I never throw an old pad out. There are failures and successes. Experimental models and production models. All, repeat “all”, pads have some drawbacks.

First of all, do you shoot pre-mounted or low gun? That has a lot to do with the pad you choose. Sticky pads will absolutely kill your gun mount if you shoot low gun. They will also stay in place very nicely if you shoot pre-mounted. The Gooey pad is just that. It’s as sticky as glue. Some of the trap shooters and American-style skeet shooters love them. Clay shooters and hunters don’t. I’ve never spent a lot of time with Gooeys for that reason, so I don’t have much of a data base on them.

I’ve had mixed results with the LimbSaver. Things started out well as the pad was great at recoil absorption and I liked the idea that I could get a prefit one for some models of guns. Unfortunately, my LimbSaver was sticky (I shoot low gun) and seemed to develop some kind of creeping crud disease. It sort of started to melt. It was an early model and perhaps they have fixed it, but I never gave the LimbSaver another try.

Ditto XCoil. A pal of mine just loves them, but they didn’t work for me. They reduced recoil marvelously, but the first few I had delaminated and were also too sticky for my preference. They have reformulated the rubber and claim they won’t delaminate again.

Rubber compound technology is constantly changing, so the problems I had with LimbSaver and XCoil may not be present in the current versions. I can’t vouch for that one way or the other. It’s just that with the expense of having the gunsmith install a pad, I’m less inclined to give someone a second chance.

That pretty much leaves Kick-Eez and Pachmayr. Kick-Eez pads are long lived, easy to install and do an excellent job of recoil absorption. The only drawback I see to them is that they are heavy because, like the Gooey, they are solid. If you don’t want to add excess weight to the butt of your gun, then the Kick-Eez is not an option. If you don’t care about some additional butt weight, it’s a great pad.

That leaves Pachmayr by default. Due to their egg crate construction, they are as light as can be expected. But I don’t think that they reduce recoil quite as much as a thick Kick-Eez. I’ve got some Pachmayrs that are 30 years old and they hold up just fine. My old pads have hardened up with time, but they have also glossed up nicely in that time. That means they are slick to mount, but slippery once up there. The new Pachmayr Sporting Clays recoil pads with the plastic insert seem to be a nice compromise between soft rubber and slippery plastic. I don’t think that they have been out ten years, but none of the ones I’ve gotten have hardened much. Pachmayr probably changed the rubber compound.

To date, this Pachmayr remains my favorite when weight is a concern. I use the Kick-Eez if I want a bit more weight in back and if recoil is really an issue.

One thing to be wary of. If you decide to use a thick “magnum” pad, watch out for excess face slap. If you put on a thick, soft pad, the recoil at the butt will be less, but the pad will permit the stock to move rearward under recoil more than usual. For many shooters this increases face slap as the stock slides along the face. Other shooters aren’t bothered by this. It probably depends as much on stock design, shooting stance and physiognomy as anything else. Graco and Isis mechanical pads compress in the extreme and some people can shoot them comfortably. Some can’t.

The nice things about rubber recoil pads is that they are easy and relatively cheap to experiment with. You an just screw them on to test them. No need to fit them to the gun until you make the final decision to stay with them. I use rubber slip on and Velcro-on pads to for temporary fooling around, but I agree with you. They are practical, but they do lack dignity.

Do remember though: Recoil pad rubber technology changes quite often. They are always coming out with new compounds, so one brand of pad that has failed in the past may be improved. It all depends on how forgiving you are when the company talks you into buying a pad and paying to install it, then admits it’s a sticky mess and wants you to pay to install their latest version that they hope will work. I say “phooey” to that. So I stick with what I know works. Kick-Eez and Pachmayr.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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One Response to Recoil Pads

  1. cpd says:

    You could also get a leather Purdey style pad – very dignified and pretty good at recoil absorption.

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