I am very sensitive to recoil. I want to continue to shoot a 12 gauge so I can compete in NSCA registered tournaments and don’t want to switch to a smaller gauge. I also prefer over-and-under shotguns compared to semi-autos. What do you suggest?
First, let’s understand the difference between “actual” recoil and “felt” recoil. The former is determined by physics. The latter is the shooter’s perception.
There are two ways to reduce actual recoil: 1) increase the weight of the gun, or 2) decrease the energy produced by the projectile. To decrease energy, you must reduce the weight of the projectile (the shot) or decrease the charge (gun powder). “Felt recoil” is the shooter’s perception of recoil. Reducing actual recoil also reduces felt recoil. There are a couple of things you can do to reduce felt recoil without increasing the weight of your gun or decreasing the energy of your shell.
While recoil reducers do not reduce actual recoil, they do reduce felt recoil by spreading out the impact of a gun’s recoil. Some of the most common recoil reducers on the market are the ISIS System by Recoil Systems, Gracoil by Graco and SoftTouch.
Another technique for reducing recoil is the lengthening of the forcing cones in the barrels of your gun. Much of the felt recoil from a shotgun is due to friction and pressure created in the five inches forward of the chambers. It is in this area of each barrel, called the forcing cone, where the wad and shot are forced to transition from the wider diameter of the chamber to the narrower diameter of the barrel. Forcing cones that have a steeper transition will produce greater recoil. Barrels with a more gradual transition will produce less felt recoil.
Finally, there is barrel porting. I am not a proponent of porting, as it involves putting holes in perfectly good barrels and is not as effective as lengthening of forcing cones or the use of a recoil system at reducing felt recoil.
Don Currie is NSCA’s Chief Instructor, an Orvis Wingshooting School instructor, and Master Class competitor. To get free shooting tips and videos, sign up for his monthly newsletter. You can also see more tips from Currie at www.doncurrie.com.