Fitting A Recoil Pad

Dear Technoid,

I have been experimenting with the stock length on my Browning 425 Golden Clays by using spacers and am now ready to make a more permanent change. I need to increase the stock length 3/4 of an inch. The new recoil pad with conceivably spacers will need to be 1 3/8 inches thick. I’d like to do the job myself. I’ve been considering using the Pachmayr Sporting Clays pad as I almost always shoot low gun.

My questions are two:

  1. What is your recommendation for a new pad? The appearance of the gun is very important to me.
  2. How exactly does one go about “grinding ” down a pad to fit the stock? I am an amateur furniture maker with a well equipped woodworking shop. What type of a sanding tool is usually used, what grit paper, etc.?

Thanks for your time and great web site.

Piedmont, CA

Dear Jack,

Installation of recoil pads is the kind of thing that looks simple and really is quite simple IF (can I make that “IF” bigger?) you have the right tools. With the wrong tools it is a filthy task as likely to ruin a stock as it is to do anything else.

Since you are an amateur furniture maker, you probably have some of what you need and the expertise to avoid any major mistakes. I have a number of friends who do a very nice job of installing their own pads. My pad installations are strictly “ten footers” (they look adequate if you see them from no closer than ten feet).

Do yourself a favor and call Brownell’s at 515-623-5401 and request their catalogue of gun maker’s supplies. They have an exhaustive inventory of pads, spacers, grinding jigs, pad bolting systems and the like. Every home gun tinkerer ought to have this catalogue. Note: if you give Brownell’s an outdoor sports related business name, they will put you on the list as a wholesale customer and you can save about 25%.

When you call Brownell’s to place an order, you might also try asking their advice as to what grit of sand paper and speed of belt sander to use. They most definitely know their stuff.

As to what to get- If appearance is “very” important I would probably go with the old style Pachmayr “Old English” pad in all black. (NO white line, thank you). Since you need length and it is a working gun, I guess that I would get the 1″ pad, though they sell them in .6″ and .8″ also. The Old English pad is made from a choice of two materials- standard resilient rubber and a new Sorbothane material called Decelerator rubber. I find the latter a bit too flexible and sticky in the 1″ models and would go with the more traditional rubber compound. The traditional rubber compound glosses up nicely with use. You will want the large size.

I am not too big a fan of the plastic insert sporting clays model of the Pachmayr Decelerator bad, especially from an esthetic point of view. After some use, the plastic insert visually clashes with the rest of the rubber, the plastic can cause the gun to slip out of a gun rack, the early plastic inserts cracked and you don’t see plastic insert pads used on really nice English guns. I have them and also the standard pads on various guns and I do not believe that the plastic heel piece helps gun mount. If it does help gun mount, you are doing something wrong! A little bit of use and time in the sun will slick up the ordinary pad just fine. In my experience, the Decelerator material stays sticky for a long time. You will also find that the standard rubber pads, as opposed to the Decelerator rubber ones, will be MUCH easier to grind. If you get that Decelerator rubber too hot, it turns into goo. Same with the Kick-eez brands.

As to spacers, I recommend standard hard rubber ones if you are going for good looks. The new “100 Straight” foamed light weight spacers never shine up right. Standard hard rubber spacers finish out beautifully, but they are HEAVY. Make sure to glue them together in a stack, mount and finish them properly and then remove and skeletonize them before reinstalling. If you don’t you are going to pick up several additional ounces at the rear of the gun (which you may, or may not, want).

I also like the Kickeez brand of pads very much and think that they do a better job of reducing recoil than the Pachmayrs, but they are extremely heavy and don’t look quite as good to my eye. You can buy a shiney coating product for them called Slick-eez, but I have never used it.

As to installing and grinding the pad, Brownell’s sells a couple of jigs for use with a belt sanding machine. That is really the way to go if you are going to do a few pad installations. If this is just a one shot affair and you are REALLY careful, you can do it hand held on a disk sander held in a vise. Just make sure to put some masking tape on that stock and tape that shop vac nozzle in place so that it picks up at least some of the tons of black soot that it going to spew out. This stuff is messy in a way that sawdust just can’t dream of.

It would be dishonest of me not to confess what I do as far as recoil pads go, now that I am older and wiser. I layer on the pad and all the spacers I need full size, without grinding anything. It looks simply awful sticking over the edges of the stock. Then I shoot the gun for a while to make sure that I have what I want. THEN I take it to my local gunsmith who grinds everything perfectly in about ten minutes. Some times a bottle of ardent amber liquid changes hands. It is worth it.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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1 Response to Fitting A Recoil Pad

  1. Bill E. says:

    Grind-to-fit pad work has to be one of the most common requests that any gunsmith gets. In my experience, it is also one of those “simple” tasks that often do not get done. I have actually paid for pad work that as the Technoid describes is good at no closer than 10 feet. Maintaining all the proper lines and angles so that the pad looks to have “grown” on the stock is really difficult on a finished gun. It must be based on the bad experiences I have had!

    For that reason my pad fitting work is now limited to guns that are undergoing a full refinish of the stock. I can do those myself. On those I finish by sanding the pad so as to perfectly mate with the buttstock. Here in Tampa, FL area finding someone that can grind and fit a recoil pad properly on a finished gun; is a very iffy proposition. Good luck where you are located.

    KickEEZ does make a 1 3/8 inch thick pad but I have no experience with them.


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