View Full Version : I shall fear 12-gauge recoil no more.

Oleg Volk
March 17, 2002, 03:22 PM
The first time I fired a 12ga pump shotgun with buckshot, I got hurt. The gun, a Mossberg 590A1, flipped up on recoil and bruised my cheek, in addition to hurting my shoulder. I made up my mind to avoid 12ga pumps, since even this large and heavy one kicked so viciously.

Years later, I had a chance to fire a 590A1 side by side with some store brand pump from 1960s, a mid-range SxS double and an Ithaca 37, all with birdshot. The 590 kicked worse than any of them, although it was also the heaviest of the four guns, again hurting my cheek.

Last week, I finally fired runt's 870 Wingmaster. It was a hefty weapon with a long barrel (24"?) and an extended tube. I finally worked up the nerve to fire buckshot though it. To my surprise, the experience did not hurt. Further, the least kick (or noise) came from 12-pellet S&B, the most from a 9-Pellet Remington, with 8-pellet Estate somewhere in-between. Moreover, the best patterns were a tie between S&B and Estate, with Remington far worse. The good performance of S&B was counter to most reports I've seen. Its recoil seemed to be a slower push, rather than an abrup jolt of other brands. Finally, the receiver stayed where it belonged.

The conclusion seems to be that magnum loads don't kick as unpleasantly as the so-called light/tactical loads. In that particular IC choke barrel, they patterned as well and had much less muzzle blast and report. And mean, heavy tactical-looking 590A1, which so impressed me visually, is much inferior for my taste than a sporting-looking 870 which runt owns. Seems that the advice to test for myself held yet again.

March 17, 2002, 04:29 PM
Yup, reality is how well all parts of the trilogy of gun, gunner and ammo work together.


March 17, 2002, 04:30 PM
Recoil is mostly in the mind. However, so many people complain of recoil do not hold the weapon correctly. Elbow out, right thumb (if a righty) on the starboard side (ow! My nose), place it properly in the shoulder not the collarbone or the bicep, hold tight and press (not a jerk) the trigger.

As well, for some reason, a lot of shotguns are sold with stocks that are way too long. A stock that is too long spreads the operator out creating imbalance and allowing the shotgun to push you around.

Here's the test I always used as a gun counter salesman during undergrad. After ensuring the weapon is unloaded, grasp the weapon as if you will fire it. Now place the stock along your forearm and bend your shooting arm 90 degrees. Ideally you should be able to place one hand thickness between the butt of the weapon and your elbow (2 is O.K. too--good to be shorter than too long).

Once people realize that there is a proper technique to shotguns, they no longer complain of the "pain." Remember, it's cool to go to skul.:cool:

Dave McC
March 17, 2002, 09:11 PM
KS brought up a good point. Kick is somewhat in the mind, and getting over that hump is the hardest part.

Stock fit is important, tho I don't completely agree with KS. The thumb goes to port for a RH shooter, and if one's schnozz is getting bumped, the stock's way too short.

March 17, 2002, 11:50 PM
Oleg, buy for yourself a Hogue CompStock.

I have one on my Winchester 1300, 18" barrel.

3-inch magnum slugs feel lighter than trap loads.

Trust me on this one.

March 18, 2002, 04:48 AM
powderman is right, the compstock is really quite good at killing recoil, you just have to get used to about an inch of compression, at first it's a little weird having a stock that squishes.

tossing out seven slugs from my 1300 defender without wincing afterwards is pretty fun.

Dave McC
March 18, 2002, 05:42 AM
I'm sure the Compstock reduces felt recoil. I'm even more sure that proper fit, form and practice do more.

Gadgetry is a poor substitute for expertise.

Check out the rack at your local trap range.Trap shooters soak up more recoil than other shooters, and do it longer. Chances are you'll see G- Squared, Gracoil, etc, stock mods, as well as that $1200 "RoboStock" from Precision Fit.

Now check out what the Local Legends use. Few of them have more than a pad for kick reduction. There's a lesson there....

March 18, 2002, 07:36 AM
ARRRR, stow that starboard thumb on the starboard side, matey (smilie with eyepatch and parrot).

Dave, never have heard that one. Which skul teaches that? How do you shoot the Garand or the 1903 with their short stocks? Of course, I'm a big wimp and the only non-ex-SEAL, SF, SAS, RLI, Selous Scout on the ErrorNet so I am disinclined toward wacking myself in la nariz.

IMHO, keeping the thumb starboard allows the use of shorter stocks which helps recoil reduction, control (allows the operator to pull in more) and retention/CQB drills. I guess if I had a weapon with a longer stock you could do that, but I've never shot such a thing.

March 18, 2002, 09:08 AM
Recoil is in the mind and that's the problem. At some point after enough battering, the subconscious mind takes control despite your best efforts and no matter how tough you are a flinch results. The "cure" for flinching is to reduce recoil through improved gun fit, more gun weight, lighter loads, mechanical recoil reducers and release triggers (target shooters only). Better still is to practice some "prevention" to reduce recoil before a flinch develops.

If your thumb is hitting your nose under recoil then you are either crawling the stock or the stock is way too short. Keeping your thumb on the right side of the gun isn't a solution because it doesn't permit as firm a grip on the piece. I believe in longer stocks providing they are not so long as to prevent proper mounting and handling. A short stock is more likely to have greater perceived recoil in my experience. This is where gunfit is important in reducing felt recoil

Oleg's original post is very telling in this regard. His Mossberg smacked his cheek. That's a gun fit problem.

I like lighter loads and properly fitting guns. I haven't developed a flinch and don't intend to. Although having seen shooters develop a flinch overnight, I am prepared to deal with it. The precision stocks are quite ugly but they are remarkable things to shoot and are where I'll end up if I start flinching.

March 18, 2002, 11:32 AM
Gun fit is key. The English have known this for a long time, and English shotgunners routinely have their guns fit to them (whether the gun is new, or second hand). This is, unfortunately, not done much on this side of the pond.

Case in point. My buddy's Win. 101 will beat my face most unpleasantly with relatively light loads (STS Lites). In my Beretta 682 Gold, the same load is most pleasant. Only difference is gun fit.

I almost must disagree with KSFreeman's method of determining proper fit. This "method" of testing whether a shotgun fits properly does nothing more than compare the length of pull of the gun to the length of the shooters forearm and hand. What this has to do with determining propoer fit, I don't know. Such things as muscle development/build, stance, etc. etc. are not taken into account. There is a lot more to determining proper length of pull. And this method does not address any of the other factors that contribute to a properly fitted gun.


March 18, 2002, 12:53 PM
I fully agree that stock fit is most important. Indeed, IMHO, it is probably the major factor in shooting a long gun that will have a telling effect on accuracy and comfort.

Another thing I like about the CompStock is that I was able to install a spacer which greatly increased the length of pull. That, plus the cam/spring action really soaked up the recoil.

I purchased a .300 Win Mag, Winchester M70 Laredo. The stock on that rifle just felt good when I mounted it to my shoulder. At my range sessions I have fired 80 rounds in an afternoon; full power rounds, too. I can hold as well on the last 3 rounds as I do on the first three, because the stock fits so well that recoil is not a factor.

And yes, a properly fitted stock will probably do just as well, if not better than, the CompStock. Unfortunately, I do not have the money--or the time--to get one fitted. Besides, this is a duty gun; hence the CompStock. Best $85.00 I've spent.

March 18, 2002, 01:42 PM
Tax Doc, gee, I never intended my test to be scientific. I've seen those articles in the gun rags where they take measurements like a tailor. If you use the weapon as sporting equipment, there's much to doing that.

No, it doesn't take into account massive muscles like everyone else on the ErrorNet has from the years of lifting at ST6. However, even if you are one of those wiry, lanky office types (I can run through the pattern and hide behind a coat rack), proper technique and training can mitigate recoil. My rule of thumb relates to placement of the stock of the weapon and its relation to the right (assuming right handed shooter) elbow and the shoulder pocket.

As to placement of the thumb, I have never been instructed to place it opposite of my trigger finger. Where is this taught--I am unaware. Yes, it's counterintuiative (as some training must be), however no shotgun (you must train on all types) has beat me upside the haid.

I guess the best advice for Oleg is to try different ways, but some edukashun never hurt either. :)

March 18, 2002, 02:41 PM
Sorry if my last post came across with a contentious tone - that wasn't my intent.

I ask this only trying to understand, not to joust with anyone.

What does the previously described fitting method tell you, and why?

I contend that it only compares forearm and hand length to the length of pull of the gun. How does this determine that the length of pull is correct or incorrect?

Sort of like the airport security person laying the blade of your pocketknife across their palm to see if it is legal. All this shows is length of blade compared to width of palm. Does it determine legality? Of course not.

March 18, 2002, 02:44 PM
I was taught by old timers to measure shotguns as KS Freeman does. And the guns always hurt.

When I started shooting clays I learned differently, now they don't hurt.

A good gunfitter will not only find your proper measurements but teach you how to hold the gun to lessen recoil.

Few people take up Skiing or Golf without lessons. Shotgunners should take lessons too.

My $.02

March 18, 2002, 03:02 PM

Are you shooting 28 gauge through a tube set in your K80?

If so, which tubes, and how do you like them?

Dave McC
March 18, 2002, 08:49 PM
My first deer rifle was an 03, and I can use a stock 870 stock well enough. But, a longer stock works better for me over the long run. I can shoot the kids' 20 gauge Youth Express OK, and it has a 12 1/2" LOP.

But, the TB comes in a little under 15", and the new M/C stock on Frankenstein is a hair shorter, and I may be wingshooting better than ever with them.

Powderman, don't get me wrong. IMO, the Compstock is far from worthless.But buying one before getting good form and fit down is cart before horse.

KS, no Selous Scout or Green Beanie here either. I was a scared, half trained kid trying to get home. And I did, as much by the fortunes of war as from skill.Maybe more...

March 19, 2002, 12:40 AM
Pain? I get off on it! Bwahahahaa

First time I shot a pump shotty my shoulder was all friggin pink and blue. It hurt like a mofo. Finally got around to do it right, it still pushes quite a bit, but nothin' like it!!

March 23, 2002, 09:32 AM
I'm sure the Compstock reduces felt recoil. I'm even more sure that proper fit, form and practice do more.

Sure, but put them both together, and you can shoot all day long. Using a compstock may be gadgeteering, but it's gadgeteering that works... as opposed to vertical foregrips and HoMeBoY nYtesites.

One observation I've noticed about neophyte shotgunners is they're also not that good with ammo selection. When you're starting out, stick to the "tactical" lower-recoiling loads. Definitely don't start out with 3" or 3 1/2" magnum loads. Walk before you run.

Heck, that goes for rifles too... how many poor young guys have you seen at the range that pull out their first rifle, a .300 WIN MAG (because if it says "Magnum" it must be cool), and then begin hollering, "JESUS CHRIST! OH GOD, MY ARM! MY ARM!" That rifle may never be shot again. However, if they'd started out with a .308 or .243. they'd have been much better off.

Dave McC
March 23, 2002, 03:03 PM
JIH, I can shoot all day long without one. because I know how and my stock fits. I'm sure that a Compstock would help me on a triple digit round day, but it wouldn't help very much w/o good form and fit.

March 24, 2002, 12:00 PM
I bought a 590a1 last year myself, and took it to the range only to get beat silly (and black and blue ). If anyone gets a chance to feel the factory pad mossberg puts on those guns you would understand why they hurt,as they are SUPER HARD rubber with no give ( i guess to stand up in combat ) but no form or shooting style helps. I shortened my stock 1" so as to reach the controls better and installed a UNCLE MIKES medium size recoil pad and ground it on a taper to match the stock. My wife is 110 lbs and i took her to shoot it for the first time and she had no problems with recoil,( the weight of the gun was another matter) but it made it feel and function like a totally diferent gun.OH YA it only cost me 15.00 so i would HIGHLY recomend the change.

March 24, 2002, 04:29 PM
Dave is absolutely correct. Positioning will alleviate the recoil on nearly any 12 GA in existence. Most of the time when people say that 12 gauges beat them up its because they hold it incorrectly. Gadgetry is no replacement for dilligent practice and study.

March 24, 2002, 11:47 PM
The first shotgun I shot was a 12-guage, and I loved it. That gun and I got along very well. It pushed me back a bit, and it had a good bite, but it was fun! IMO, 12-gauge lets you know you're shooting something. :)

March 25, 2002, 01:03 AM
I don't think that "gadgetry" is the right word to describe a valuable addition to a firearm. Valuable, you might ask?

Sure, it is. Let me explain...........

If you buy a plain-jane .45 1911A1, and desire to use it for duty and/or daily carry, you might leave it like it is. Or, you might take it to a good pistolsmith to have Bo-Mar sights, or maybe Trijicon sights mounted. Of course, the beavertail, ckeckered mainspring housing, lowered and scalloped port, full length guide rod, hard-fitted match barrel of your choice, and trigger job to about 4.0 lb.

Is that gadgetry? I don't think so.

You might buy a rifle, and want it to shoot its best. So, here comes the custom barrel of choice, along with blueprinting the action, lapping the lugs, mounting a light stock, and depending on the caliber the scope of your choice. And, not a cheap scope either. Perhaps a Nikon, maybe a Leupold, Schmidt & Bender, Kahles, Swarovski, you name it.

Is that gadgetry? Doubt it.

So, let's say that I buy a shotgun.

I'm not worried about looks here, so I will not have a stock and forend blank hand fashioned from Circassian walnut, thank you very much.

I am aware that length of pull is important, of course. Too long, or too short will allow the shotgun to kick the poo-poo out of you--like my shotgun did when I fired a 3-inch Magnum slug through it with the factory stock mounted. Since I have very long arms, I deduced that the length of pull was too short.

Since I did not have access to a gunsmith with a try-stock, I selected the Hogue Comp-Stock. Nope--it's not pretty. Nope--it's not designed for a trap gun. It would have a lot of the PC shotgunners on Sundays turn their heads. But you know what?

I don't care one bit.

You see, I use that very ugly (to some people) Winchester Defender for one reason, and one reason only. That is, to place in a patrol car, where I might have to fire it in defense of my life, or someone else's life.

And, so, not having the money right now or the time to send off to Vang-Comp, I chose that CompStock.

Guess what?

I can now fire that shotgun with buck and slug mixed as fast as I can cycle the action--which, with the Winchester recoil-assist, is pretty durned fast.

At 50 yards, I can keep 8 3-inch 12 gauge 1 1/4 ounce slugs inside a 4 inch circle, rapid fire. The sights don't even move from the circle I'm aiming into.

Yep, my gadget works. Sorry if you don't like it.

Hey, Oleg---buy the doggoned Comp Stock.

Dave McC
March 25, 2002, 05:40 AM
Powderman,if you can shoot like you say you can, and I've no reason to doubt you, it's more you than the Compstock. Don't be so modest.

And, for folks sensitive to recoil, it may be quite helpful, IF they have good form and a reasonable fit.A Compstock may indeed be a valuable addition to a fine firearm, but...

My 45 carry gun has BoMars, match bbl, checkered everything,4 lb trigger, etc. I shoot it rather well for an old guy. But, if decades of practice and good form were not behind me, it would be a different story altogether....

March 26, 2002, 06:11 PM
SO if proper fit reduces recoil, and length of pull is everything (so to speak, and after proper form), how do you measure length of pull correctly? Imeasured LOP on my sons 870 express youth 20, and I got 13 1/2" (from trigger to end of recoil pad.) I must be doing it wrong if you (Dave) got 12 /1/2". ??, ours is factory stock.

Now I dont have a recoil problem, I just ignore it like the good col. said. But proper form and fit would explain alot. My buddy that came visiting awhile back said my 870 kicks like a mule, I laughed at him because I know better (for myself.)

March 26, 2002, 07:14 PM
I just read my reply. Dave, my apologies if I sounded a bit short.

I assure you that I am no master of the combat shotgun. Rather, I wrote that to illustrate the recoil reducing properties of the CompStock. And, believe me, the recoil before I installed it was no joke--and nothing that I could ignore.

When I first fired the arm with a 3" slug, all I remember was a stroboscopic blue/white flash from the 18 inch barrel before I found myself hopping backward on one foot with the weapon pointed almost straight up to prevent myself from falling on my butt.

After the installation, I fired the rest of those 3-inchers in the manner described above. Incredible would not describe the amount of recoil reduction that was present.

That day, I fired a total of 35 3-inch, 1 1/4 ounce magnum slugs (Federal). No discomfort, at all!! Felt like shooting my M1A--and I rung the 100 yard gong more than once since I was able to concentrate on my sights and my trigger, and not worry about if my shoulder was going to dislocate on the next shot. :)

Again, my apologies for firing off.

Dave McC
March 26, 2002, 09:12 PM
Powder, no offense taken. As Great Uncle Salvatore would say, "Fuggedaboudit"...

Ed, getting old is H*ll. I went and measured the Youth Express. From center of trigger to center of pad(The standard) is 12 15/16". Call it 13 inches. I had changed the pad to a Decellerator at some pouint in the past. 12 1/2" is the LOP on Son's NEF single. Sorry about the confusion.

Proper fit is more than just LOP. Drop, cast, pitch, etc, all play a part. When I started shooting trap, I moved the pad to add some toe out and canted the pad to fit my shoulder. Results were thought provoking. The M/C stock on the TB felt so good I added its clone to Frankenstein, and the rounds I've shot with it have been quite satisfactory, other than one round of 5 stand mentioned elsewhere.

The may not be a popular opinion, but I think a part of recoil probs is psychological. If we think it'll hurt us, it'll hurt us.

And,I'm a pragmatist when it comes to shotgunning, especially "Serious" shotgunning. Whatever is takes is good, proper, kosher and so on. But, I doubt the stuff can be utilized to its potential if fit and form are not up to snuff.

Once those are OK,ANYTHING that works is permitted in my universe(G). The key word there is "Works". Some stuff is just junk. The Compstock seems to be a good tool. Might get one myself and do a T&E.