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Thread: Recoil is the enemy of accuracy.

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
    dtknowles's Avatar
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    Recoil is the enemy of accuracy.

    I could not find a sub-forum on shooting so since this is the most popular sub-forum, I am putting this here.

    It is my experience that more recoil means less accuracy. Sometimes it is a trade-off because higher velocity means less drop and less wind deflection but as a rule the more it kicks the harder it is to shoot accurately.

    Tim
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  2. #2
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    For the firearm/ammunition combination I don't agree. Once you add the shooter to the mix it becomes much more true. More recoil requires better form to shoot well. The M-14 I used in service rifle competition was much less tolerant of form issues than the AR15 service rifles. Same for the 300 Win Mag falling out of favor for the 1,000 competitions. Ballistically it generally superior to its smaller bore replacements but the shooter fatigue factor is real so the smaller bores won out.

    On the other hand, the extreme long-range competitors are using some really big thumpers with incredible accuracy.

    I have a 375H&H that produces 1 1/2" groups at 300 meters for five shot groups. I put a Krieger barrel on it but it would not come close to being competitive for ELR.

    The 375 CT and the 37XC are very popular for that usage.

    https://cheytac.com/product/cheytac-...de-ammunition/

    https://www.rifletalks.com/ballistic...7xc-cartridge/

    https://www.rifletalks.com/ballistic...id-tubbs-33xc/
    Last edited by M-Tecs; 08-07-2022 at 09:46 PM.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    What was the line that got bounced around in The Ghost and the Darkness - "Can you control your fear?"

    The larger cartridges with big capacity and large bore volumes to expand their gas into are MUCH more forgiving of load variation than the little guys, and when loaded with the same scrutiny, are capable of turning in some very low SD figures over the chronograph. Like M-Tecs, I've had good luck with the .375 H&H. In contrast, my .22 K-Hornet (which barely recoils at all) took more work to get grouping properly than almost anything I've encountered in 35-ish years of handloading.

    The real issue is being able to turn off that little corner of your lizard brain that wants to scream out that you're about to get pounded. Once you can convince the lizard of what your rationality already knows - that it isn't REALLY going to hurt you - you can start delivering the goods with the larger stuff.

    No, it's not easy and it takes work. We're going back to 9mm in L.E. because (A.) we've learned it can work just as well, and (B.) institutionally, we don't have the money and time to get that point across to those that lack the inclination, but for MECHANICAL accuracy, I'd bet on the low-pressure .45ACP any day of the week.
    WWJMBD?

    Is the mightiness of the pen still relevant after we roll the writing paper into cartridges for a Sharps?

  4. #4
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    Larger cartridges are MUCH easier to get accuracy out of than a smaller one as the deviations between the bore/cartridge are minimized by the bore size. That being said, you gotta practice to be aboe to handle the recoil! A 500 S&W Mag. OR 458 Win. Mag. loaded with light bullets and Trailboss ARE NOT BIG BORES!!!

  5. #5
    If scoring: It's easier to get a better score w/ a larger bullet hole as cutting the ring is what matters.

    Recoil sensitivity varies person to person (mental & physical), and situation to situation.

    All depends on what you're doing, what you can manage, and what you want to manage.
    Mechanical & personal plays into this.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by dtknowles View Post
    I could not find a sub-forum on shooting so since this is the most popular sub-forum, I am putting this here.

    It is my experience that more recoil means less accuracy. Sometimes it is a trade-off because higher velocity means less drop and less wind deflection but as a rule the more it kicks the harder it is to shoot accurately.

    Tim
    Not if you learn to handle recoil. Now that I am elderly I don't shoot hard recoiling firearms anymore, not that I can't handle them but due to wear and tear on my arms.
    I still own some and once in a great while will shoot the monster mashers.
    It is ALL in the mind. To learn to handle heavy recoil one must shoot heavy recoil guns. A 22 RF, 9MM, 357 Mag won't get you there.
    We Know Mass Cannot Be Weighed But It Has Newtonian Weight And That Is Derived From Kilograms And Kilograms Can Be Converted to Pounds. But, Still Mass Cannot Be Weighed. But How is the kilograms obtained? Can Kilograms Be Weighed? Evidentally Yes It Can. But, Still Mass Cannot Be Weighed So Kilograms Must Not Exist. Funny Isn't It.
    One good thing out of this the next time I'm at the doctors and they want to weigh me I'll tell them mass cannot be weighed.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Stock fit, rifle weight, recoil pad(soft,hard,none) and number of rounds to be fired are all part of the recoil equation. An 18 pound 300 magnum is not a big deal, strip that down to 7 pounds and that same cartridge is miserable. Recoil is cumulative - muzzle blast, noise, actual physical impact to shoulder and face. If you think you are a tough guy, shoot another 200-300 rounds with something that has significant recoil, a 7 pound 300 Winchester Magnum, a 7.5 pound 45-70 with 300 grains at 2200 fps. Talking tough is easy, a 12 pound 6.5 Creedmoor is easy, a 7 pound 300 Winchester, not so much. Targets tell the tale, if recoil did not matter, all the target guys would be shooting 338 Lapua's at everything. I limit my shooting the hard kickers to 10-20 rounds per session, 50 or 100 32 Specials with 185 cast at 1600 fps is much more funner and is accurate enough for 150 yard offhand practice, my 12 pound 6.5 Creedmoor is also fun at the longer ranges- 300,600,800 yards sometimes more. I'll let you tough guys get beat up. Handguns, never found the 45 ACP to be difficult to handle, muzzle blast of 357 and 44 magnums also annoyed me more than in hand recoil, found the 45 Colt works just as well for most handgun stuff. I do like the 9mm, mostly due to low cost, same with the 223, cost not effectiveness. Have fun and don't beat yourself up trying to be a tough guy.

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master
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    I have only two data points.

    The first occurred 55 years ago when I was 17. I was at a public range with my first CF, a M700 Varmint in .222 doing load workups. Groups were 5/8" to 1.25 inches. At the next bench was a 40 something YO shooting a .338 Win Mag in a gorgeous Browning Olympic grade. His patterns were 10-14". He asked for help.

    I fired the first three shots into 1.5". Adjusted the scope and another 1.5" group. One more adjustment to get the groups 2 1/2" high at 100 yards, but the group opened up a bit. He was ecstatic. He told me I could finish off the box of ammo. I declined. It hurt and I was developing a flinch. The rifle and ammo were capable, but he was not...and I was getting there too.

    15 years ago, I bought a .300 Mag for an elk hunt. I remembered shooting that .338 and had a muzzle brake installed before taking the first shot. I can shoot that .300 Mag well for multiple groups as it kicks less than a .270. I "know" I could not do that without the brake. I am not willing to punish myself to learn to shoot well with heavy recoil. There is no point.

    IMO, recoil does not affect accuracy of the rifle/load as much as it affects the shooter.
    Don Verna


  9. #9
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    I have to pay attention when shooting my 7mm Rem Mag because it does have a bit of recoil. If I pay attention I get accuracy, if not I don't. That being said my fatigue limit due to the recoil is 15 to 20 rounds fired.
    Whatever rifle it is, whatever caliber, I believe if it fits your body properly recoil is easier to control.
    Death to every foe and traitor and hurrah, my boys, for freedom !

  10. #10
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    Good comments Don. Here’s something I learned years ago while teaching new shooters (and some “experienced” shooters who could swallow their pride). I’d take them to the range and insist that they wear both ear plugs and a good set of muffs (I provided both for the session). Much to their surprise I’d take them right up to the berm and have them shoot the gun without aiming at anything. I’d tell them to watch the muzzle and pay attention to the recoil with each shot. I’d have them shoot ten or more shots just paying attention to what the gun was doing with each shot. When they realized what was physically going to happen with each shot we’d go back to the bench and aim and shoot. Your autonomic nervous system will ruin good shooting based on your own physical reaction to this kind of stress. It won’t ever quit affecting it, but you can learn to mentally suppress it to a great degree. Rifles can wear you down, but a handgun shouldn’t if you properly train yourself. I own several 45-70 rifles and at the age of 73 I can still sit for an extended range session and shoot some amazingly good groups with several of those gun. They are inherently very accurate. Just my two cents…..

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master popper's Avatar
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    The real issue is being able to turn off that little corner of your lizard brain that wants to scream out that you're about to get pounded. A problem for me.
    Trying to figure out a target. 308W ~2300 fps, all cast bullets from same casting/coating session, PCd, sized 310 and 309, same load. Big difference on the target. 309 gives horiz spread - 310 gives closer grouping but vert and horiz spread. Presume 310 has more torque than 309 but 310 shoots high and 309 shoots low (possible lower fps due to lower start pressure?). Front stand and rear bag. Jacketed hits POA. Was 95F that day, repeat when cooler.
    Whatever!

  12. #12
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    A big help in high power and long range was the heavy NRA coat that was worn the padding spread recoil over a larger area. The match stocks were heavier and slightly larger. The rosin a lot used kept the rifles from slipping around.

    As was stated above stock design makes a big difference as does weight. A muzzle break helps also but can be annoying to those around you on the range.

    It isnt recoil that ruins accuracy its uncontrolled recoil that does and learning to control recoil so the rifle does the same every shot is a long process. When the Garands and M14/M1As were on the line building a position with a solid natural point of aim was extremely important. at the shot the rifle recoiled then came back down to the sights at 6 o clock naturally.

  13. #13
    I'll throw back in:
    The comment on training is a very good comment.
    Most people train themselves to shoot, and undoubtedly train in a lot of bad technique. Hold, body positioning, repeatability of physical relationship to gun, etc.
    Also, reaction to recoil is training too. I never give someone something that kicks hard when they want to learn how to shoot. It's a learning process, as much as anything, to shoot high recoil guns well.
    It is also really hard to learn out a flinch. I had to do that after shooting a 10" handgun for a few years that made 1600-1650 fps on a 400 grain bullet. Initially I shot that gun well, then as time went on I got worse and developed a flinch. Then, that habit took hold on other handguns. Then I purposefully re-learned control. Took me about 6 years. I am glad I sold that particular pistol that taught me to flinch.
    The comments about fit have Big implications. I had a 1894 Marlin in 44 Rem Mag. I swear it kicked as bad as a 30-06 Springfield sporter w/ hard buttplate. I also have a Spanish made 20 ga sxs that kicks worse than my 12 ga Parker sxs. Fit, weight, they play a role.
    The hold / repeatability thing is really big. Probably the biggest in my mind. Most factory guns ill-fit most people in some manner, and this is where most of us are as we don't do custom stocks made to fit (new stocks w/ adjustable comb risers, butt offset, etc. can help), yet, good hold and repeatability can make a good shooter look great w/ a factory gun.

    Honestly, I shoot my 416 w/ 400s at 2300 fps (9.75 lb, 52 lb*ft recoil energy) as well as I do my 23" TC Contender 7x30 (6.875 lbs, 11 lb*ft recoil): 1.5-1.75" 5 shots @100 yds, and have shot other guns better. I have shot enough groups in the 0.1-0.4" range, 5 shots at 100 yd with other guns & loads, that I don't bother to consider it "great". Am I happy, sure. However, mostly what I pin my variance to is load development (what am I going to do with the gun, and when is the load good enough for a purpose), and shooter form/technique.

    I am not a world class shooter, but I wouldn't exactly recommend trading places w/ a prairie dog at 400 yds or less, and then tweaking me...
    I find that I realized long ago that doing most anything is training, and good training is invaluable and rare. No one does anything naturally but breathe and scream.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master VariableRecall's Avatar
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    It's really critical, especially for new shooters, to help them have a more positive relationship with recoil. For example, I had my dad try out my 20in A2-alike AR build, and he got serviceable groups at 50 yards. Next, I had him try my buddy's RIA 1911, and he wasn't able to get a single round on target in a near 20 inch radius at 5 yards. With my experience with his 1911, I'm able to get about 2 1/2 inch groups at the same distance when I'm pacing myself.

    The 1911 platform has a potentially high ceiling for accuracy, with its crisp single action trigger. However, given full power Ball .45 ACP, that could leave the user with a great deal of flinch to overcome.
    I suppose the same goes with using revolvers with single action triggers and spicy hot loads as well. If you combine a hot revolver cartridge with double action, and I'm certain that even a recoil buff is going to suffer in accuracy.

    I don't have much experience with full-scale high powered calibers, but I could say that I can handle them well enough physically.
    I'd say experience is the best way to bring yourself to the standard of accuracy that your firearms can achieve.

  15. #15
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    Recoil is purely physics. How the shooter reacts to recoil is purely subjective. Every shooter has a recoil limit which has nothing to do with physical size. Learned technique and psychology can move that threshold upwards. The trend in recent years toward lighter rifles and bigger cartridge cases does nothing to help matters.
    I notice more and more that a sizable percentage of shooters find recoil level above that of 5.56 to be objectionable. If that's the case leave that little black rifle at home occasionally and practice technique with something bigger. That said I do not believe one Has to shoot the biggest thing around.
    I have long been grateful Dad taught me to handle a 12ga at 10-12 years old thus helping me avoid learning to fear recoil.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master Daekar's Avatar
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    I cut my shooting teeth with 8mm Mauser and 7.62x54r, so I thought I didn't mind recoil. Then I shot a modern 300 Win Mag and decided that I minded recoil after all.
    The worst gun I have ever shot was an old single shot 12 gauge with a 3" chamber and no butt pad. It was light and handy, but hurt almost as much behind the trigger as it did in front of the muzzle. It had beautiful wood and a good trigger despite decades of neglect, but God, it was punishment to shoot.

    There is a reason why I chose 357mag for most of my guns...
    I'm a big fan of data-driven decisions. You want to make me smile, show me a spreadsheet! Extra points for graphs and best-fit predictive equations.

  17. #17
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    Shooting prone there is very little roll one can put into upper torso to disperse energy, it is what it is. The bench is another story, I was blessed with a retired Gunny Sergeant (Gunny George) that took a shine to me and spent hours coaching and mentoring me in all things shooting. The least amount of felt is when you are standing allowing your body to roll off the recoil in your upper body, duplicating this on the bench made the boomers much more enjoyable. Forward hand under front end as if you were standing, back of hand laying on bag. Upper torso as straight vertical as possible and after discharge let your body roll up and off with tight hold and with probably hand lifting off bag as if you were standing. I see guy's basically laying over rifle as if prone or even more on bench, ouch!

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks for all the replies. I wish we had more threads about shooting.

    Tim
    Words are weapons sharper than knives - INXS

    The pen is mightier than the sword - Edward Bulwer-Lytton

    The tongue is mightier than the blade - Euripides

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy todd9.3x57's Avatar
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    back when i was young and dumb, i used to shoot really big cartridges. i was befriended by an old gunsmith(RIP) and he taught me many things. i was never an apprentice gunsmith, just a shade tree gun tinker, but he'd let shoot the customer's gun in and other little things. i shot a 460 Weatherby mag (customer) in. after 5 or 6 shots, i was done, or rather my shoulder was. i've shot the 416 rigby and remmy, 458 win mag, 375 H&H, 378 weatherby, 375cc?(it was a wildcat and i don't know the name), 404 jeffery and some others. i really like the 416 rigby and the 375 h&h. i hate weatherby cartridges, why on earth would they go faster than necessary!!! the recoil was stout but i didn't mind it (except weatherby cartridges). when i was deer hunting, the '06 i had was small and insignificant to "real calibers".

    i'd say it had to 15 or so years later, my friend had a 338RUM and he brought it over to shoot. he gave it to me to shoot...i did (i hit a 2" steel target at 100 yards) and i quickly gave it back to him. my shoulder however, had a bruise quickly forming tho.

    i had a stroke about 10 years ago and i had to relearn how to shoot again. i had a hard time closing my eyes and flinching before i shot. but i learned and now i consider myself to be an average shooter. before my stroke, i was an above average shooter. i was NOT an expert shooter or a excellent shooter, just above average shooter.

    8 or 9 years ago, cast boolits came onto my screen and to tell the truth, how could i missed them?! i luv them. jacketed bullets be danged!!! i luv cast boolits!!! i no care about how fast cast boolits are. to kill a deer, 1900+/-fps is fast enuff for a 30-40 krag. 1600fps for my 444 and 1700-1800fps for my 35/30-30 and 9.3x57. look out!!! the boolit is a comin, yep, when it gets there........eventually. yep, its a comin. soon. then there will be heck to pay!!! soon as it gets here.......i got a newspaper if anybody wants it?
    "The price of cowardice will only be evil. We shall reap courage and victory only when we dare to make sacrifices." ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy
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    there is a reason we have slip on recoil pads...and a good reason for earmuffs.....and earplugs
    we are spoilt as can fit suppressors to our rifles...it is a gamechanger...the 270w with full noise loads,is as mild as the 223 to shoot...and the 223 is like a bare .22lr good technique and hanging on to the foreend like our forefathers did makes a HUGE difference too.... yeah sure some fellas can shoot good groups off a bipod while hugging themselves with free hand..... yeah nah,not this K1W1.... I shoot much better and consistantly with good firm grip of stock.

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BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
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