Mercury Recoil Reducers

Dear Technoid,

I have been hearing about the mercury filled reducers.

My questions are: How well do they work? Are mercury the best ones (vice other types)? How hard to put in a Beretta 686? Do you recommend a brand?

PS I realize I’ve left out a lot of detail–like gun fit, use of gun, loads I shoot, etc. I’m familiar with all those variables and am able to weigh them myself. The recoil reducer is not a variable I’m smart on.

Thanks in advance for your answer. You have a wonderful website!


Dear Steve,

I’ve never found that mercury reducers do anything much more than add weight. A lead slug does about the same. The theory of the reducers is that they can additionally attenuate recoil as the mercury is slightly time delayed in moving back through an internal orifice. The Griggs recoil reducer did the same thing with a lead plug on a spring. The idea is that you get the same amount of recoil (the laws of physics being as humorless as they seem to be), but you stretch recoil out over a longer period of time so that it becomes a push instead of a poke. That’s the way gas operated semi-autos reduce recoil

Like many things in shotgunning, the mercury reducers work, but I never found them to work much better than the equivalent amount of inert lead. Personally, I also found the sloshing of the mercury to be disconcerting when I moved the gun around. I’m sure many people wouldn’t notice it, but I did. I tried the mercury reducers on some guns and took them out. Then again, I shoot low gun games a lot, so balance and maneuverability are very important to me. I would be less critical if I only shot premounted trap or NSSA skeet.

I ought to mention that, aside from the sloshing, I didn’t find any downside to the mercury reducers. If you are thinking of adding weight to the butt, they are worth a try. You may be able to notice the difference even though I couldn’t. They really aren’t that expensive and might be worth the experiment. Mine are lost forever in a cigar box some where in my cellar gun area. It looks like that government warehouse in the last scene of “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark”.

Most recoil reducers look about like a cigar tube. They are installed by drilling a large hole in the butt underneath the recoil pad. The hole is in line with the bore for maximum efficiency and reduction of face slap. The reducer is wedged into the hole to keep it from moving and then sealed in with the pad.

Adding weight works well enough for a trap gun where a butt heavy gun doesn’t really matter. When a gun is shot premounted, the balance is far less critical. What you are really doing is adding weight. The ratio of weight added to recoil reduction is roughly 1:1. That is, if you start with an 8# gun producing 17.5 ft/lb free recoil with a particular load, when you add 10% or .8# of weight to the gun you will reduce recoil down to 15.9 ft/lb or 9%. Close enough to 10% for gummint work.

You get a roughly sort of a 2:1 reduction in recoil when you lower shell velocity or payload. Making no change other than dropping down from 1-1/8 loads to 1 oz loads will lower recoil about 19%.

An interesting, though expensive, alternative to the recoil reducer is the “hydraulic” stock. “Soft Touch”, “G-Square” and a number of others make the conversions to your stock for around $600 or so. The stock is basically altered to work like a shock absorber. Most of the conversions add around 6 oz of weight to the butt, but some claim to come out almost neutral. If you can always mount the gun firmly to your shoulder these gizmos really, really do work. The recoil reduction is amazing. If you have a sloppy gun mount and don’t mount firmly to the shoulder, or if your stock is too short, they don’t work very well. You need decent shoulder contact.

By the way, thanks so much for taking the effort to search through the archives before asking your question. It saves us all a little bit of time. And thanks for the comments about the site. Roland and I put a lot of time into it.

Best regards,

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

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One Response to Mercury Recoil Reducers

  1. jim rennie says:

    Right, extra weight helps-it’s physics. But, the Limbsaver recoil pad actually works remarkably well. It does have a sticky surface, so some people put talcum powder on it. I covered mine with the toe of a nylon stocking held in place with tape. It has survived 25 days of upland bird hunting without ripping……….Jim.

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