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Old September 28, 2012, 08:30 PM   #1
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.30-06 Recoil?

So I recently went to the range with my new Marlin XL7 (.30-06). It weighs in at about 6 3/4 + a 3-9x40 Bushnell scope... It was actually my first time shooting a .30-06 and my first time shooting something "big" in quite a few years. The only other "high recoil" gun I had shot was a 12ga semi-auto Remington shotgun. thinking back, after about 15 rounds, that thing started to hurt quite a bit. I remember having a bruised shoulder for a couple days.

Enter the .30-06. I kind of knew what to expect, but of course it was going to be a little different from way back. So I was shooting some of that cheap Federal 150gr soft point. The first shot was surprising, but wasn't so, so bad. The thing is, the recoil was enough to make me flinch. Hard.

about 6 rounds later, I had a huge group at 33 yards (yeah, flinching that bad) and my shoulder was starting to get fairly sore. The XL7 has a really soft recoil pad, it feels really nice, but it didnt seem to help all that much. I know I can get myself to not flinch if I just relax and take it slow, but the recoil wasnt very easy to deal with. I was wearing only a t-shirt and I know if I had been wearing a sweatshirt or jacket I could handle more. Even still... I went about 6 more rounds until I kinda gave up. I could've kept going, but I had so much range time left and I figured I'd shoot my .22 before I completely destroyed the session for myself.

I was doing some research and found that people love 165gr for .30-06 and that is was probably the most well balanced bullet weight for flat shooting/knockdown available. I picked up some Rem Core-Lokt 165 to screw around with... Yes, I realized this would increase recoil a little. It had actually come to my attention that semi's "take longer" to recoil because the action has to come back, which during the travel will dampen recoil. Is that right? It might explain why I was able to shoot the 12ga more than the '06.

How many times can you fire a .30-06 with light clothing? Where do you shoulder your rifle? Is there any way I can dampen recoil?

I've always shouldered my guns about about 3 inches give or take to the side of the shoulder joint. The place where it feels "slightly indented"?

I also know that if someone's muscles are tight, more damage will be done. Since you tense up when you flinch, could that explain it a little?

sorry for this to be such a long post, it's just I can't wait to go back and shoot and I really want to get some tips from people who are far more experienced than myself. Thanks!
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Old September 28, 2012, 09:27 PM   #2
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the only two 30-06s I've fired were both springfields and both have metal buttplates. I never have much trouble with the recoil but that's just me and everyone is different. you have already developed a flinch so it is going to be very difficult to curb. wearing thicker clothing and firing low velocity rounds will help. also you may look into heavier thumbhole sporter stocks as the extra weight will resist more recoil from the get go.

semi's do have lower recoil but they are very expensive if you are looking for one in 06.
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Old September 28, 2012, 09:28 PM   #3
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In my old age I've gotten where I really hate recoil but I have some large guns I like to shoot, including my 375 H&H.

I also do a LOT of '06 shooting with vintage US Military Rifles, M1, M1903a3, and M1917, also my Mosin 91/30. All with steel butt plates.

What does work is the Buffalo Arms Recoil pad. You never know its there but it really helps with the recoil.

I'd recommend getting one and using it for all your shooting. When you go hunting, you wont notice the recoil for the 2-3 shots you use.

Using this recoil pad will help eliminate flinching caused by recoil.
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Old September 28, 2012, 09:36 PM   #4
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When I say this I am NOT bashing you for buying a Marlin...I happen to like Marlin firearms.

That said...thats just another reason why I chose the Winchester Model 70...its heavier, mine is 8.75 lbs. fully loaded and ready to hunt....scope, sling, everything...a heavier rifle dampens the recoil (slows it down)

With the factory stock and pad on my M70...I can comfortably fire about 20 rounds (my reloads, pretty warm, 168's @ 2,850 fps). I have a new stock ordered and its fitted with a much better pad (Limbsaver) can buy Limbsaver pads that slip over the stock, they ain't very pretty...but they do wife has one on her 270 (pic below)

You could also add a little weight to your rifle by putting it in a laminated wood stock...might just make it a bit more accurate too.

The right "grip" on a rifle varies a little from person to person...but practice makes perfect. You can buy reduced recoil ammo for the 30-06, try that until you get your form figured out.

To get rid of the flinch...nothing beats a good 22 rifle...LOTS and LOTS of 22 takes a lot longer to lose a flinch than it does to gain one.

Last edited by Ridgerunner665; September 28, 2012 at 09:42 PM.
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Old September 28, 2012, 09:40 PM   #5
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Get the rifle up higher. Raise your rest up so you are sitting up straight. It will allow your body to move and that will greatly reduce felt recoil. If your 30-06 hurts try a 12 ga off the bench. Ouch!!! My 243 can cause pain when i hunker down at the bench. My 338 is pleasant to shoot when I'm standing. Body position is a large factor in felt recoil. Try it, its free or really cheap.
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Old September 28, 2012, 09:48 PM   #6
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The XL7's recoil pad is pretty decent.
Out of all the rifles in my safe, I'd say it's the best by far.

To me, your recoil aversion seems more like a problem with technique, than actual recoil.
Make sure you tuck the rifle into your shoulder well, and keep it there.
The biggest problem I see with people that have serious recoil aversion, is that they get in the bad habit of letting less powerful rifles free-recoil into their shoulder (.22s, .223s, .243s, etc). That bad habit gets carried over to the bigger stuff, and causes serious problems. Even if it's only 1/8", it increases perceived recoil, substantially.
Keep it tucked in there, nice and snug. Don't go gorilla on the thing, trying to hold it as tight as possible. Just make sure it's nice and snug against your shoulder. That XL7 recoil pad is all you should need (it's a really good recoil pad).

For a time, my XL7 weighed nearly 10 lbs. (Boyd's stock and heavy Bushnell scope.)
At that weight, it seemed to have much more felt recoil than the stock (and current) form's 7.7 lbs. Even with more than 2 lbs added to the rifle, the Boyds' recoil pad was very much inferior.

Work on technique. It will pay off in the long run, and help you with everything you shoot.
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Old September 28, 2012, 11:40 PM   #7
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I found that if I interposed a small sand bag between the butt pad and my shoulder when shooting from the bench, the extra weight which was spread over a wider area tamed the recoil by a significant amount.

Come to think of it, a small bag of lead shot might work even better.
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Old September 29, 2012, 06:23 AM   #8
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A slip on recoil pad for the rifle or a recoil pad you wear, or even both well really help to reduce felt recoil. I think the older you get the more sensitive to recoil you become. I know shooting mil-surps for the afternoon can be well over 200rds and I just couldn't do it without a way the reduce the felt recoil.
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Old September 29, 2012, 07:25 AM   #9
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I don't know a whole lot about your rifle, but I do have a quick fix to your woes. Once you're sure you're sighted in- get off the bench. I don't know why, but nothing hurts as bad as bench shooting. Learn good practical positions such as sitting, prone, and standing.

You can (with practice) produce nearly as good groupings from a solid slung in sitting position as you can from the bench (I said "nearly"). And from the prone- make that "more nearly". Standing is another story. It's a shooters high achievement to claim he's perfectly satisfied with his standing groupings/scores. But any way, try a few rounds away from the bench and you'll better see that the recoil isn't so bad after all.
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Old September 29, 2012, 07:30 AM   #10
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Last weekend I took my Savage 111, 30-06 to the range to practice shooting off my "triggersticks" tripod, and everytime I squeezed the trigger my sons would giggle about the rifle kicking the ole man's you know what but I liked it,,, before I camoed this stock I mounted a Pachmyr Decelerator pad on it,, and painted over it.. I tell you it works!
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Old September 29, 2012, 07:50 AM   #11
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Yes, good advice so far. I shoot a lot of 30-06. The only one that I rarely strap on the Past pad for is the M1. For the others, I have the thick strap on Past pad. Even with that 20 rounds at a sitting is about as much as I want to shoot. The Garand is a joy to shoot and I can shoot 100 rounds without noticing any flinching. The gas system spreads out the impulse and the rifle is heavy.

If you are shooting off of a bench you can put a sand bag or something heavier between the butt and your shoulder. My Ruger #1 kicks harder than anything I have, including my 03A3. As stated, you will not notice recoil when hunting (unless you are hunting doves with a shotgun).
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Old September 29, 2012, 10:20 AM   #12
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I don't shoot a lot of full power loads out of my 'big game' rifles. Except for hunting season I load reduced power cast bullet loads and use them for varmints, grouse (legal rifle fare in Idaho) and killing rocks and pop cans.
When sighting in for hunting season I usually only have to fire a couple of rounds from the bench, so that is not a problem. If I'm working up full-bore loads for a new rifle and will be shooting more than a few rounds I use a bag of #9 shot as a shoulder pad.
Most of my shooting during the off season is with my beloved old .22 single-shot Western Field rifle that I pack around in the truck with me. Shooting is shooting and a .22 really helps you keep your hand in. It's all about sight picture, breath control and trigger squeeze anyway, so if you can shoot one rifle well you can shoot them all well - so long as your not scared of 'em.
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Old September 29, 2012, 10:49 AM   #13
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I agree with many that have already stated using a recoil pad while on the bench is always a good idea when sighting in or practicing shooting technique.I use a past magnum recoil strap on shoulder pad,it really tames the 7mm rem mag stout "packed full" elk loads at the bench.

This will help you with the flinch you've developed,where you can concentrate on your crosshairs and finger control instead of the recoil generated from a bench shooting position.
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Old September 29, 2012, 11:30 AM   #14
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Something you can do if your rifle has a hollow plastic stock is to take off the butt pad and put a pound or so of lead shot in the cavity, then pack some plastic shopping bags or foam in behind it to keep it from rattling around before putting the butt pad back on. This will increase the weight of the rifle and decrease recoil by quite a bit. I ended up doing this with my Remington 700 SPS .30-06 and it worked quite well. It also balanced out the rifle; plastic stocked guns can be front-end heavy, especially if they have a longer 24" barrel.

Fill the cavity completely with shot and it will shoot like a .243. Only problem is the gun will weigh around 10-12 pounds and be extremely unbalanced.

Last edited by Regolith; September 29, 2012 at 11:35 AM.
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Old September 29, 2012, 04:47 PM   #15
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A better pad and making sure the stock is seated in the correct part of your shoulder should help quite a bit.
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Old September 29, 2012, 05:01 PM   #16
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A better pad and making sure the stock is seated in the correct part of your shoulder should help quite a bit.
What he said. Try a Pachmayr Decelerator Pad. I have one on a Model 70 30.06 and a Model 70 .300 WIN. Mag. It does a great job with those rifles and I shoot 180 grain bullets. One thing that might be helping me though is the weight. Both rifles are probably 8 pounds plus.
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Old September 29, 2012, 06:21 PM   #17
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I don't know a whole lot about your rifle, but I do have a quick fix to your woes. Once you're sure you're sighted in- get off the bench. I don't know why, but nothing hurts as bad as bench shooting. Learn good practical positions such as sitting, prone, and standing.
When you're sitting at a bench, your bones line up differently and don't offer as much 'give' to absorb the recoil. Instead of your upper body acting like a shock absorber, it's a wall. Rather than allowing your rifle to 'push' your shoulder back (like when standing), it hits a shoulder offering considerably more resistance, due to the way your upper body is positioned.

That is one of the biggest reasons I've been trying to figure out how to build a light weight, portable, standing rest for heavy load development. Right now, I'm leaning toward something adjustable, that will slide in the receiver hitch of my truck. Even if that isn't the most stable choice, it seems to be a good compromise for size, weight, and utility.

GunXpatriot, don't spend your money on a Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad. The XL7's pad is as good, or better. You'll just end up making a 1-for-1 swap for a different brand name, with no real benefit.
I think the biggest reason for the number of recommendations, is that the members are unfamiliar with the stock pad on the X7s.
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Old September 29, 2012, 06:51 PM   #18
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I'm quite familiar with the pads on Marlins...and the Limbsaver pad is better by a considerable margin.

I imagine the Decelerator is no different....there is a reason McMillan only offers these 2 pads on their stocks.
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Old September 29, 2012, 07:07 PM   #19
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I put the best recoil pads on all my rifles. Even on the .243 plus it helps keep the gun from sliding when stood against a wall.

I always liked to shoot with a tight military type sling unless standing. The tight sling takes up some recoil, and helps when shooting on a bench

Get a Past recoil pad that you strap on your shoulder when shooting from a bench. Don't shoot in shirt sleeves.

Recoil is also a mental thing, and the advice that you do not feel it when shooting at game does not keep one from flinching if shooting on the range has resulted in a flinch there.

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Old September 29, 2012, 07:34 PM   #20
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I guess everybody is different. I grew up shooting 30-06's with steel butt plates and to me they don't kick much at all.
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Old September 29, 2012, 07:37 PM   #21
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Here is something that no one mentioned yet. How are you seated at the bench? I see lots of people sitting like they would if they were eating a meal at a picnic table. Meaning, both legs in front shoulders square to the target and leaning forward at about a 45 over their rifle. Doing this drives all the recoil directly I to a very stiff structure. With no "give" this leaves your shoulder high and dry to take much of the abuse.

Yes the strap on PAST pads are nice. If you want to see if you can handle it without spending money, change your form.

For a right handed shooter***

Start Facing your target.
turn 90 degrees right and step over the sitting bench with your left leg so you are standing straddling the bench or seat facing down the firing line.
Sit down
Now turn your upper body and face down range and shoulder your rifle and fire.

In using this technique when the rifle recoils it will cause your body to twist and allow for more recoil absorption through your whole upper body structure rather than tenderizing your shoulder meat.

Try it, it works. Would be the same only opposite directions for a lefty rifle shooter.
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Old September 29, 2012, 08:48 PM   #22
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I guess everybody is different. I grew up shooting 30-06's with steel butt plates and to me they don't kick much at all.
What kind of rifle were you shooting? I'm betting it was something that weighed quite a bit more than the OP's rifle. The M1917, for instance, weighed between 9 and 11lbs, depending on attachments, which is between 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 lbs heavier than the OP's gun. That extra weight makes a huge difference in felt recoil, I've found.

Ammunition makes a big difference, too. 150 grain loads loaded similar to M1 ball ammunition have a lighter recoil than modern 165 grain loads loaded to 2800 fps, which is what the OP is shooting.
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Old September 29, 2012, 10:55 PM   #23
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Have you considered a muzzle break?

I know your pain.
I have a Savage model 110 in 30-06 and it was brutal to shoot. I normally shot the 165 or 180 grain Core-lokt ammo, so it's got a pretty stout punch with it.
I talked with my gunsmith, and we decided to put a muzzle break on it.
WOW, what a difference. It's now a pleasure to shoot. I've been told we dropped the recoil down to nearly the same as a 270. This is now my goto rifle for everything short of elk. I have an other bruiser for them.

I was totally amazed how much the difference is with that break on it. It might be something you might want to consider too.

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Old September 29, 2012, 10:58 PM   #24
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Most people who shoot from a bench have a tendency to lean forward into the rifle. If you scoot in under the rifle to an upright position, then hold the butt snugly in your sholder "pocket", hold your cheek snugly onto the comb of the stock, the rifle will rock you back and your body will absorb the recoil instead of your sholder. My father taught this to me when I was 8 and shooting his M1 garand. I dont have a problem shooting the big magnum rifles because of it, unless of course it is from the prone position. Not much you can do there.
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Old September 29, 2012, 11:36 PM   #25
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I'm not a hunter but shot 200 and 600 yard matches for years. Our matches have 56 rounds including sighters and a few times, the 1903A3 sent me home feeling punished. I shoot with a USMC cloth shooting jacket which has a recoil pad on the right shoulder. That helps a lot!

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