Softest Recoiling Gun

Dear Technoid,

I am interested in finding the closest thing to a recoilless 12 gauge shotgun.

Can you please comment and advise, thanks.


Dear Emilio,

First things: The lightest recoiling 12 gauge gun that I ever shot was the Browning recoilless trap gun. It felt like a .410. Unfortunately, it couldn’t fire twice and it didn’t work reliably. It has been withdrawn from the market. Now on to stuff that you can actually get your hands on.

Kim Rhode shot a Perazzi O/U with a G-Square hydraulic stock. Like all bunker shooters, she was using 24 gram (-7/8 oz) loads. The Federal papers that the US team used run at about 1350 fps three foot velocity. I have one of her shells as a souvenir.

I have not spent a lot of time with a G-Square stocked O/U, but I have put a number of rounds through Soft Touch brand stocked guns. The stocks are similar in design. All these stock use a combination of spring and hydraulic or pneumatic damping shock absorber to permit the two piece stock to collapse in on itself slightly to reduce recoil. The system (G-Square, Soft Touch and numerous others) is very, very effective. It all comes from the original Hydra-Coil system of the ’70s which used the same premise. the Hydra-Coil had some reliability problems, but the new stuff is first rate.

The O/U that I shot with the Soft Touch was a B-25 FN bunker gun, something not particularly noted for low recoil due to its relatively light weight of 7-3/4#. I own the identical gun with a standard stock, so I was able to make a direct comparison. The recoil reduction of the Soft Touch was striking (or not striking, if you see what I mean).

Although total mathematical recoil cannot change by the simple addition of a different stock (the recoil formula doesn’t care about special stocks), the perceived recoil was lowered because the recoil pulse was stretched out by the slow compression of shock absorber in the stock. My personal “guesstimate” was that the perceived recoil was reduced by 30% to 40%. As it said, it was remarkable. In my judgement, the FN with the Soft Touch stock kicked just about the same as my semi-auto 303.

Next step: If an O/U with a trick stock kicks like a gas gun with a standard stock, then wouldn’t a gas gun with a trick stock be the best? Yes, but not as much as you think. I was also privileged to spend some time with a Beretta 303 which had been fitted with a Soft Touch pneumatic stock, just like the FN. It was harder to perceive any improvement, though I am sure that this is subjective. My impression was that the 303 gas gun with the Soft Touch kicked about 10% less than my own 303 with a standard stock. Again, this is just an impression, but it was a nose to nose comparison.

The owner of the Soft Touch 303 built the gun because he had a neck injury that he wanted to protect. He ended up selling the gun and going to a standard, non-trick stock gun because he didn’t like the extra weight that the Soft-Touch added to the rear of the gun. This gun was being used for sporting clays, where gun balance is important. If it had been strictly a trap or skeet gun meant to be shot mounted, then the addition of the extra 6 oz of weight in the stock might not matter.

Another thing that I should point out: These pneumatic stocks work better in mounted gun games like trap and skeet, and less well in low gun games like sporting clays and International Skeet. In a mounted gun game, you have plenty of time to “tuck in” properly and make sure that there is no play between the stock and shoulder. This permits the trick stock to work most efficiently. In low gun games, the mount is often a bit sloppy and the stock is not always perfectly seated on the shoulder. This means that the guns builds up a little head of steam before he whacks into the shoulder/face/bicep/etc. The pneumatic stock helps very little in these cases and you still get whacked.

If I were going to build the lightest recoiling 12 gauge gun possible I would proceed in the following order:

1) shoot the lightest, slowest load I could get away with;
2) shoot the heaviest gun that I could lift;
3) shoot a gas operated gun like a Beretta 303/390 or Remington 1100/11-87;
4) pay for every possible backboring, porting, coning trick known to man (I really don’t believe that these barrel modifications make much of a difference, but they do make a very slight one);
5) install a Terminator brand recoil pad and, finally, if there is any money left,
6) go to a G-Square or Soft-Touch pneumatic stock. Make sure to get the model with the adjustable cheek piece.

Good luck. The only other way I know of reducing recoil is to have someone else shoot the gun for you.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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