Lowering Recoil

Dear Technoid:

I have just started pheasant hunting and have been using my partners over and under 12 and 20 gauge. He is now talking about sporting clays. I have a bad neck and would like to buy a shotgun that has the least amount of recoil without sacrificing too much accuracy. I have been told that recoil pads, which neither of the other guns that I used had, would be helpful. Also, I have been told that the barrel should be ported. I have also been told not to buy a semi but to stick to an over under.

Any input you have would be greatly appreciated


Dear Paul,

Some of the advice that you have received has been good, some has been bad. A good recoil pad (such as the Kickeez or Pachmayr Decelerator) will help take a bit of the perceived kick out of the gun because it attenuates (draws out) the recoil pulse. It will also help keep the gun on your shoulder far better than a slipper plastic butt plate. Most definitely, use a decent recoil pad.

Porting has no effect on measurable rearward recoil. If you think about the vectoring of the gas escape and thickness of the barrel involved, you will see that it cannot. Porting may help slightly reduce muzzle jump (if you are using giganto shells), but muzzle jump has nothing to do with rearward recoil.

I don’t have the faintest idea why someone told you to skip the semi-auto and buy an O/U when you want to avoid recoil in the neck and upper lumbar area. Even people who prefer the O/U to the semi-auto are quick to admit the vast superiority of the gas operated semi-auto (such as a Beretta 390/391/A400 or Remington 11-87) as far as recoil is concerned. If I wanted to protect a neck injury the FIRST thing that I would do would be to go to a gas operated semi-auto. Recoil operated semi-automatics (such as the old Browning A-5 or the Benelli) can seem to have just as much kick as an O/U and I would not recommend them for your particular usage. There is a big difference between gas operated and recoil operated semi-autos.

Although mathematical free recoil from all guns of the same weight and using the same shell is identical, the gas gun spaces the recoil out over a far longer period of time than the O/U. This gives you the recoil as sort of a shove, instead of a sharp, concussive jab. It makes a BIG difference if you are recoil sensitive. Buy the gas gun, no question about it.

Another very good way to lower recoil is to use mild shells. One ounce loads will kick about 10% less than 1 1/8 oz IF (big IF) loaded to the same speed. Those 3 1/4 dram one ounce promotional dove and quail loads kick just as much, or more, than a standard 1 1/8 oz light target load. This is where reloading would really pay big dividends. You can make up a delightful 1200 fps 7/8 oz load that will function reliably in a Beretta A400 30″ sporting clays model and you would almost not know that the gun was going off. For matches, a 1200 fps 1 oz reload would be perfectly fine.

One point, watch out for those who advise you that a 20 gauge gun will kick less than a 12. 20 gauge guns are usually made about a pound lighter than the 12s, so they end up kicking just about the same. The heavier the gun is, the less it kicks. Get the twelve gauge- it gives you many more options.

Your best bet for soft recoil is a relative heavy 12 gauge semi-automatic shotgun shooting a light target load. You cannot get any softer than that. I prefer the Beretta A400 to the Remington 11-87 because I have found the Berettas to be more reliable. If you want a combination field/sporting clays gun I would recommend a Beretta 12 gauge A400 with a 28″ barrel. If you want a gun for mostly sporting clays I would recommend the Beretta A400 sporting clays model with a 30″ barrel. Read back through some of the Technoid archives in Shotgun Report where I discuss the various gas operated semi-autos.

If you have neck problems, skip the O/U and take the gas gun. Trust the Technoid on this one. There is a big difference.

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

This entry was posted in Shotguns and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Lowering Recoil

  1. simonbon says:

    Hi…. Really fantastic advice……The beretta also have the Kick off system which helps to absorb some of the recoil. May I also recommend the Fabarm XLR Velocity with back boring. Light recoil and can cycle light loads without problems.
    Simon Bonello

  2. jon bastable says:

    I agree with the comment – 20 will kick the same as a 12. I have both guns and if I use 3″ shells, 1.25 oz., with my 20 ga I get a real good kick! 12 ga is an A5, 20 is Bng Gold.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s