Let's talk about recoil

This is a discussion on Let's talk about recoil within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I was in a forum yesterday where some people got upset because a poster hinted that anyone who cannot handle a XDs was less than ...

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Thread: Let's talk about recoil

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    Senior Member Array Old_Dog's Avatar
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    Let's talk about recoil

    I was in a forum yesterday where some people got upset because a poster hinted that anyone who cannot handle a XDs was less than manly. I know what he meant but he said it wrong. I want to start a discussion about recoil. I am in my sixties and come from a time when men carried either a .357 magnum or .45 for defense and a snub nose .38 was considered a mouse gun. The relatively new (to our shores) 9mm was considered a caliber best suited to those who peed sitting down and carried in a pocket book. The big names in guns back then, to a man, all felt that any able bodied man should be able to handle a 9mm at least and we were all issued .45's when we went to fight in Vietnam and never thought the recoil was excessive or even discussed recoil.

    I have shot all calibers up to .44 magnum out of a snub nose in a handgun. None are particularly troublesome for me. When I went to Nam I was a 117 lbs. and had no problem with a .45. What is different today that results in so many posts about not being able to handle the recoil of anything over a .380? Now I think it is how we were brought up. In my generation we did not have computers and video games so after school and on weekends our entertainment was sports. I played football starting at age 10 up through High School. I started Baseball at 8 as a catcher. I also played basketball and volleyball as well as bowling and softball until late in life. In all of these sports you got hit or hit someone or were hit with a ball, etc.. The point being that you got used to pain and being hit and thought nothing of it. I have yet to come across any recoil that matches being tackled by a 250 lb. linebacker running at you at full speed. I have passed out from pain playing sports and have over 30 stiches in my head and a few in my legs and back. I went through periods of not being able to walk or use my limbs until they healed and thought it was just part of growing up. My parents did not panic and take me out of sports but rather encouraged me to get back on the horse so to speak. Gym classes required hitting and being hit by playing dodge ball and touch football. Guys bleed, broke bones and went to the hospital and no one sued the school or teachers.

    From what I can gather from my nieces and nephews it is much different now. Trophies are given out to all that participate and there are no winners or losers. Everyone wins. None of my nephews has ever played any organized sport or was in a fight. They went home after school and played video games with their friends and similar non physical activities. They are not used to being hit or hard physical contact. Their parents kept them away from sports where they could get hurt. When they did play a sport on a rare occasion they had so much protective gear it was funny to watch. Heck when I played ball we were not required to wear helmets when batting until I was much older. We did get hit in the head with fast balls though. :) So I think that when I take them to the range and they refuse to shoot some of my guns due to recoil it is because they are not used to hard physical contact. I would not say they are not manly because what manly is, is defined by the men of that generation. They are like a lot of their friends more interested in things other than those requiring pain and physical exertion. They have desirable qualities that my generation did not have so I am not judging them. They are just different, at least to my old eyes.

    So I would be curious as to how some of you feel about recoil and why some cannot seem to handle it while others do? The Army even went to a 9mm from the .45 to accommodate the "new" type of soldiers entering the military. They must feel as I do that any able bodied person can handle a 9mm gun and yet I know so many who cannot. I was told a long time back that 80% of recoil is mental as the actual recoil really is not that much. A slap to the hand at worse, often less than you would feel giving a high five. It seems that some can handle it alright as they do not drop their guns but rather choose not to. I think it is because they have not grown up doing the things that gets you used to pain and physically intensive activities. That does not make them any less of a man, only a different kind of man. I also believe that most of recoil is mental. I do not even think about it when I shoot. Nothing I have shot hurt my hand until after prolonged shooting. If you have a proper grip and know how to deal with recoil rather than fight it, shooting up to a .44 should be doable by most. If you hold a gun loose it will slap your hand alright.

    Anyway I am curious as to what you all think. Is it a mental thing, a lack of physical conditioning, an unwillingness to put up with discomfort due to not having to endure it growing up or maybe something else. Try to be civil as we are not putting anyone down here. I know a lot of tough dudes who carry .22's.
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    VIP Member Array smolck's Avatar
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    Personally, I agree with you 100% about sports and outdoor activities in general being the way I spent my down time. Kids today are sissified thanks to liberal "gurus" on parenting. Life HAS to be fair and all that crap when it isn't. BLAH!

    As to recoil specifically, I have been hunting/shooting since I was 10. I do not consider myself to be recoil sensitive. My first handgun was a .40 cal and I just always thought that was what handguns felt like. Today I shoot Glock 23's, and Kimber 45's along with a .357 mag revolver. I actually LIKE the hard hit of the .357 mag. The reason I personally think people are so recoil sensitive is everybody wants to shoot FAST. If you don't have good form/strength trying to rapid fire my Glock 23 accurately is not easy. Or maybe people in general are just pansy's. I dunno, maybe it is both.
    Eric357 and ironmike86 like this.
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    Member Array MLittle's Avatar
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    I think a lot of issues regarding recoil is due to the new generation of pistols made in lightweight plastics..... Back in the day handguns were mostly made of steel. Then came aluminum and now we have polymer and other spaceage plastics. Also, handguns have gotten smaller.....tiny, light 380's. I'm also an old fart.....was in the Navy during the Viet Nam war (1967-1971) and I'll be the first to admit that I don't like shooting the small pocket 380's and 9mm pistol. I gravitate towards larger firearms for carry (Sigs and 1911's). I find them more enjoyable at the range and since I mostly wear casual clothes, I have no problem concealing them.
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    Member Array bgusty's Avatar
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    For me, it is more about performance than anything to do with recoil. My 3" Kimber in .45 recoils less than an airweight in .38 special. I choose a gun based on a balance between "power", concealability, and how well I can quickly and accurately shoot the gun. While shooting a .44 is indeed doable, shooting a .44 out of a gun that is easy to carry every day concealed becomes less and less pleasant. My thoughts? It is more about the use of the gun, and the gun itself rather than a certain caliber. Shooting .38 special is a pleasure in a large steel K frame, while that same exact bullet in a small airweight revolver has way more muzzle rise and recoil. Choose a gun that you can shoot effectively in any caliber shown to have enough lethal force to stop a threat, and carry confidently.
    I think guns are like insurance. I would rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

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    Popular handguns (rifles too) have shrunken since you and I were young. They are smaller, lighter, and with less to hang onto. Large numbers of people these days can't be bothered to carry a substantial handgun. Flea-weight handguns were once mostly marketed as back-ups for lawmen. Now everyone demands them as a primary carry piece and folks are crying because steel J-Frame Smith & Wesson revolvers are too heavy to carry.

    Shrunken firearms carried by people apparently too weak to carry a handgun weighing more than 1 lb. aren't popular with absolutely everyone but the ever-smaller, ever-lighter crowd seems to drive the handgun market these days.

    The popular rifles these days are lightweight and chambered for what amounts to a middling varmint cartridge.

    It's so nice not to be required to buy into current conventional wisdom.
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    While I've seen many that have legitimate issues with recoil due to physical limitations there are many that also are recoil sensitive due to lack of conditioning with it so they stay with the lower calibers.

    Defensive shooting is just like fighting home fires. The first hurdle is having the tool and the second is practice in using that tool. For fighting home fires having a fire extinguisher is the first step but how many people actually ever go out in the yard and try putting out a test fire with it to become proficient with the extinguisher?

    I am happy to see at least the need for self defense is being acknowledged and they at least have made to effort to start with a handgun they feel comfortable with. Those that are recoil sensitive rarely continue to train when they feel intimidated by a large caliber that they purchase based on caliber discussions but are uncomfortable with. Those that start small and work their way up may go to a higher caliber once the correct habits are instilled.
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    VIP Member Array LimaCharlie's Avatar
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    I grew up in rural Arizona and New Mexico in the 1950s and early 1960s. I shot my first gun at seven years old. It was a Colt .22LR single-action. At ten, I was deer hunting with borrowed .30-06 rifles. At sixteen, I ordered a Lee-Enfield British .303 and a few boxes of ammo from the Sears Christmas catalog. I mailed them the order and a postal money order. About ten days later the mailman dropped it on the porch. I was shooting a .357 magnum or a .45 ACP as a kid. It was just expected.

    My first owned handgun was a 10 ½” Ruger Super Blackhawk in .44 magnum. The .44 magnum is still my favorite handgun round. I currently own six revolvers in .44 magnum. I have .44 magnum only days at the gun club. If I want more power, I go with my Desert Eagle 50 AE which has 60% more muzzle energy than a .44 magnum or the S&W 460XVR with the same muzzle energy as a .308 rifle round. I am sixty-six and have arthritis.

    My wife has carried an S&W 640 .357 magnum since 1992. She qualifies with it at the range with .357 magnum ammo and carries .357 magnum rounds. We were at an LGS recently. Two large guys in their early twenties were at the counter and talking about a 6” Ruger GP100 on the wall. One guy told the other that he had shot a few rounds out of his friend’s GP100 and his hand and arm were numb for days. The other guy said he would not shoot one. My petite senior citizen wife thought they were pansies and girly-boys.
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    I agree with most of your post. I cannot fathom the idea of a plastic gun having any recoil. As a kid of 9 or 10 years old, I depleted my grandfathers supply of 45ACP ammo shooting at turtles in the pond, and owned my own 357 magnum at the ripe old age of 14.

    I began reloading shotgun shells before I was 18 and was handgun hunting with a 44 magnum at this time. By the age of about 27 I had shot my first 44 magnum loose, and not too many years after that handily destroyed my 2nd with overzealous loads of 2400.

    When I started playing with the 10mm in "89" people talked about its power. Too me it was very pleasant to shoot, and the G20 which came later was a pussycat.

    I guess always being the smallest guy on the football team, or drawing the biggest bull to ride, and countless times getting stomped, hitting the ground, busting thumbs while driving nails, and throwing 100 pound bails of hay over the years has a way of building some " the hell with it" attitude that the plush lazy life of kids and people today just never experience.
    I sometimes think of my grandfather and how tough he was. Working in the coal mines along side of grown men as a teenager. I remember watching him smash his thumb with a big waffle head Eastwing hammer, and just shaking his hand slinging the blood off, spit tobacco juice on it, and keep right on going.

    I dont thing people are cut from the same piece of cloth as they were, and we may be the last remnants of that life.
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    Distinguished Member Array Hoganbeg's Avatar
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    In general I agree with you that as a society we have become too safety-centric in our approach to life. Life comes with risk. Success requires the ability to assess risk vs benefit yet we have somehow gotten the idea that we should eliminate all risk from our activities. As a society, we've become risk averse; not good.

    As for shooting, I think most of those who are uncomfortable shooting a .45 ACP or .44 magnum just need proper training.There is also the issue of concealed carry vs full sized guns and what one must sacrifice to gain concealment. I think that many of the new, inexperienced generation of shooters are focused on the idea that you carry it often but shoot it seldom. This attitude favors the "lighter and smaller" movement that we have been experiencing. and results in the complaints you have mentioned.

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    For me it's about getting back on target and fatigue. I like to shoot. I like to shoot several hundred rounds an outing. It's just plain fun.

    I have a model 29 that I can shoot most factory .44 mags without any trouble, except for very hot loads, after which I become fatigued. All of my 686's handle .357 mags without much on my part. I was actually disappointed when I fired .357's. Lots of bark, but not much bite on the butt end.

    But I'll tell you that I've tried shooting 100+ rounds of .38+p in a 637 airweight and my shooting hand got fatigued. Not so with regular 38's, which is what I carry in it now. And I've shot some .357 mags in my little 60 snubby and it's not fun after a couple of dozen. Don't get me wrong, I hold onto the gun, it doesn't slip or cut me or anyhing like that. It just wears me out.

    I guess the question is, for me, one of endurance. I can shoot hot loads without flinching. But try 30, 40, 50, or 60 - me, I'm just not having much fun anymore.

    If some of you out there can shoot full house magnum loads all day long without getting fatigued, well, you're a stronger man than I am, and I'm not at all ashamed to say it.

    On a related note, I do think youngerns coming up are soft. I think that has to do with our gradual (or perhaps not so gradual) acceptance of the "entitlement society." I remember when I was a teenager I worried about what skills I would learn so I could make a living. Nowadays it seems like youngerns out of college worry about who will take care of them.
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    Do a six-hundred round day behind your .44 snubby and get back to me.
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    VIP Member Array NONAME762's Avatar
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    I am often recoiled when any Liberal opens their mouth.
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    Recoil is so subjective. It's not predicated on bore diameter, projectile weight, or initial velocity. The Browning Baby .25 pistol is less pleasant to shoot for me than my Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum with heavy handloads. There's just not much to hang onto with that .25 pistol. The Smith & Wesson Model 642 is also more brutal than the .44 Magnum revolver. Many .380 pistols of blow-back design give a sensation of more "kick" than does any full-sized 10mm or .45 ACP pistol.

    "Two large guys in their early twenties were at the counter and talking about a 6” Ruger GP100 on the wall. One guy told the other that he had shot a few rounds out of his friend’s GP100 and his hand and arm were numb for days. The other guy said he would not shoot one."

    This kind of talk has gone on for years in some shooting circles. 35 years ago my dad related to me a similar type of discussion he heard on a coffee break. Two fellows were talking about the .357 Magnum and one proclaimed how a person needed to wear special gloves when shooting it or else the revolver would split open his hand. My dad just guffawed that his then new daughter-in-law (my wife) weighed in at 100 lbs and could shoot a .44 Magnum without being maimed.
    surefire7 likes this.
    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

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    VIP Member Array BugDude's Avatar
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    Recoil....personally, I like it. I enjoy it. Perhaps that is why I am drawn to subcompacts, airweights, and .357 Magnums.

    I enjoy shooting, and recoil is part of the sensory experience. Like shooting a full house .357 Magnum round out of a snubbie and feeling the percussion in your sinuses. But hey, as I said in an earlier thread about enjoying shooting my 442, I'm weird.
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    But we already knew that...heh!
    BugDude likes this.
    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

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