Recoil Reducers

Dear Bruce,

As an avid “trapshooter”, I have always considered the purchase of one of those recoil reducers. There are a few that use different methods of operation. Mercury and springy things in a tube are the types I see advertised. After absorbing your insight on recoil reduction(adding weight to the gun, lowering payload, and propellant) you didn’t mention the use of recoil reducers as an option. Is this because of the fact that adding weights to the gun is a better and more cost effective method, or are those contraptions “snake oil” with a large price tag? I wouldn’t mind spending the cash for one if they truly do what is advertised. But, if a handful of #8’s in the stock hole and an equal amount in a “zip-loc” bag and put in the ol’ mag tube to balance the gun out is more effective, I’d like to know….. Thank you for your “colorful” wordage. Your writing style is up there with Ted Nugent.

Thank you again,


Dear John,

Geez! Up there with Ted Nugent! I reviewed his book for “Shooting Sportsman.” It was a hoot. He certainly is one of the original free spirits.

I’ve used most of the “shifting weight” recoil reducers (Mule, mercury, Edwards) and never noticed that they did anything that a sock full of lead wouldn’t do. The theory is sound however. Not only do these reducers add weight and thus reduce recoil on a 1:1 basis (add 10% weight to gun equals recoil reduction of more or less 10%), but they also seek to augment it by elongating the recoil pulse just a touch by having the weight shift a moment after the recoil of the shell. This is how a gas gun works. Free recoil from a gas gun is just the same as it is from any fixed breech gun, but the gas gun stretches the recoil pulse out a bit more so that it is more like a push than a punch.

The formula for free recoil understands perfectly what total free recoil is and how it is computed, but it has no way of figuring in the length of the recoil pulse. For that reason I put recoil pulse duration into the category of “subjective or felt recoil”, not calculated or free recoil. Subjective recoil is just as important, but it’s harder to quantify. That’s why most people don’t discuss it with anything more than personal opinions.

Spreading out the recoil pulse is an interesting phenomenon though. You can really notice it in a gas gun. Next time you are shooting a gas gun, try this test. Load and fire just one shell. Sense the recoil. Now load the gun again, but also put a second shell in the magazine. Fire the gun. I notice a slight lessening in recoil when I do this. In the second instance the gun weighs about 1.5 oz more (probably insignificant), but the gun also shifts that 1.5 ounce recoil reducer back a moment after the initial recoil. Also, the bolt goes forward instead of staying back, again attenuating the recoil pulse a bit more. The net reduction for me is a slight, but noticeable, reduction in recoil.

One of the most noticeable examples of stretching out the recoil pulse to reduce felt recoil is in the hydraulic stocks. These are the ones with the shock absorber built into the stock so that stock actually compresses on firing. This doesn’t do anything to change free recoil (other than adding weight because these stocks are heavy). But it sure does lengthen the recoil pulse to the point that many people feel that their O/Us kick less than gas guns. There is no question that they work.

And yet, I can’t tell the difference between a 10 oz mercury or Edwards reducer and the same amount of lead. Go figure. My wife often accuses me of being insensitive and perhaps this proves it.

Best regards,

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

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1 Response to Recoil Reducers

  1. wifarm2016 says:

    For what its worth: I recently had a pacemaker implanted. The Dr. would only put it on the RIGHT side. Said “Not to shoot”. (Not an option for me._) I dug out an old field strap-on field recoil pad which covers the pacemaker nicely and really reduces felt recoil in both 28 ga and 12. Note: If faced with getting a pacemaker make sure you ask if it can be put of the left side ( for right hander’s) . According to my belated research they can do it on either side. The strap on increases my LOP but not enough to affect my shooting style. Its much less expensive.


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