Caliber/size/recoil ratio.

This is a discussion on Caliber/size/recoil ratio. within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I've been reading a fair bit recently on sub-compacts, I plan to build a collection of six or so in the next few months in ...

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Thread: Caliber/size/recoil ratio.

  1. #1
    Ex Member Array Pete's Avatar
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    Caliber/size/recoil ratio.

    I've been reading a fair bit recently on sub-compacts, I plan to build a collection of six or so in the next few months in anticipation of my wife's incoming carry permit, and also as BUG options for myself.
    Most of the research will be done in the gunstore actually handling the goods but I always read up and learn as much as I can beforehand when I buy anything.
    I was looking at this site where they compare the smallest guns and list them according to size/volume, caliber and capacity. It's a good resource. It taught me that, for example, a Glock 27 has marginally less volume than a KelTec P11 and a Taurus PT22.
    But one factor they don't compare is perceived recoil, obviously as a lot of that depends on subjectivity.

    This is where you all come in.
    Please share your opinions regarding recoil in subcompacts, particularly in relation to staying on target, I'm not worried about getting a sore paw so much.
    Also, what is the smallest gun you would use in any given caliber, again with recoil as the deciding factor?

    I'm not scared of a bit of recoil myself but my wife has a longstanding thumb injury and I'm just trying to get as much gun as I can into her hands without letting it put her off. As a guideline she finds my Sig 232 to be too snappy but loves my Glock 34, she doesn't shoot .40 or .45.

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    VIP Member Array pogo2's Avatar
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    Simple rule of thumb

    A number of factors can affect perceived recoil, but I believe the most important are the weight of the gun, and the bullet weight and muzzle velocity of the ammunition used.

    When a gun is fired, the momentum of the bullet leaving the barrel (bullet mass times bullet velocity) roughly equals the momentum of the gun backwards in your hand (gun mass times gun velocity backwards). So you can approximate recoil as the backward velocity of the gun, as expressed by the equation:

    Recoil = (bullet weight X bullet velocity)/gun weight

    For example, if the gun is a 25 ounce .40 caliber Glock 23 firing a 155 grain bullet at 1200 fps, the equation is:

    Recoil = (155 X 1200)/25 = 7,440 (arbitrary units)

    You could then compare this to, for example, a 13 ounce J frame S&W .357 magnum revolver firing a 125 grain bullet at 1200 fps and get:

    Recoil = (125 X 1200)/13 = 11,538 (arbitrary units)

    If I divide the J frame number by the Glock 23 number I get:

    J frame recoil/Glock 23 recoil = 11,538/7,440 = 1.55

    So the J frame recoil is 55% greater than the Glock. And I think if you shoot both of these with the ammo specified you will feel this kind of difference.

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    VIP Member Array NCHornet's Avatar
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    There are so many variables on this, one persons idea of light recoil could be somebody elses nightmare. My best advise is to get your wife to a range that has a good selection of gun rentals. Her hand size will have a lot to do with her decision on a firearm. You can pound numbers with the formulas above but to be honest you can take a gun that has a higher numeric recoil factor but it is easier for you to shoot due to size of the grip and weight of the gun. Sometimes going to a sub compact is not worth a 1/2" of size difference if loose a finger or two on the grip. I have a Glock 23 which is considered a compact gun but I can get a full grip on the pistol with nothing dangling. You can see how the size of her hand will be a big factor as well as how sensitive she is to recoil in general. For a self defense round I would not go any smaller then 380 ACP. My next firearm purchase will be a Sig P232, it will serve as a BUG and probably my wife's purse gun once she sees it. I suggest having your wife grip one.Happy shopping!!
    Last edited by NCHornet; January 2nd, 2007 at 06:39 AM.
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    Ex Member Array Pete's Avatar
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    Kevin, I mentioned in my post that my wife doesn't like my Sig 232. I appreciate the best method is to try them out in the gunstore, I think I mentioned that too, but I'm here to ask your opinions on recoil. Specifically, what is the smallest gun in any given caliber that you would feel comfortable with.
    I don't assume the results to be scientific, but they will provide opinions for me to base further investigation on.

    To recap, I'm in the market for six subcompacts, let's say three need to be light recoil (9mm and less) and three can be heavier. What would you buy and why?

    I guess I made the initial post too wordy, sorry for that.

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    VIP Member Array pogo2's Avatar
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    Some suggestions - small size in each caliber

    Quote Originally Posted by Alias View Post
    Specifically, what is the smallest gun in any given caliber that you would feel comfortable with. To recap, I'm in the market for six subcompacts, let's say three need to be light recoil (9mm and less) and three can be heavier. What would you buy and why?
    Based on the guns I have owned or shot, the smallest guns in various calibers that I would be comfortable with are:

    .38 special - S&W 642 airweight J frame (15 ounces empty)
    .357 magnum - S&W 640 steel J frame (25 ounces empty)
    .380 ACP - Walther PPK - all steel (21 ounces empty)
    9mm - Kahr P9 - polymer frame (18 ounces empty)
    .40 S&W - Glock 23 - polymer frame (24 ounces empty)
    .45 ACP - Colt Defender (25 ounces empty)

    I own 4 of the 6 above, and have shot the other 2. These are all controllable but require a firm grip and concentration to shoot them well, and I really wouldn't want to go much lighter in weight in the calibers shown.

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    Ex Member Array Pete's Avatar
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    Now we're talking. Thanks Pogo.

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    VIP Member Array frankmako's Avatar
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    what gun does your wife likes???? besides the guns that you push at her. the best thing is to let her shoot several different guns to find what she likes. if this is her first gun, the only thing i would push at her would be a j-frame wheel gun. the j-frame as the first carry gun for newbe's work out the better in the long run over autos. here i go again, i know i will make some mad with that statement.
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  9. #8
    Ex Member Array Pete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frankmako View Post
    what gun does your wife likes???? besides the guns that you push at her. the best thing is to let her shoot several different guns to find what she likes.
    She has a few guns, she's been shooting longer than me and was doing fine. She injured her thumb a year ago and it required corrective surgery, now she feels recoil more than before.
    As mentioned before, she is comfortable with guns like a Glock 34, or a Walther P22, but not comfortable with a full size .40.
    So we're in the process of getting a few subcompacts as she has finally gone after getting her carry permit, and as we all know some kick like a mule and some less so.

    To make this thread less easily distracted from the matter at hand disregard that this is for my wife, or how best to choose a gun, I appreciate the advice but that wasn't information that I was lacking.

    What is the smallest gun in each caliber you are comfortable with.
    You can use Pogo's reply as a template if you wish, or add/subtract calibers from his list.

    Thanks.

    FWIW

    I'm thinking;

    Seecamp - .32
    KelTec 3AT - .380
    Rohrbaugh - 9mm
    Glock 36 - 45ACP.

    I have gaps for .40 and .357, plus I'm not certain about any of the above choices at this point. It's all speculative.

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    VIP Member Array NCHornet's Avatar
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    Why does it matter what gun in a particular caliber we are comfortable with. You aren't buying me a gun are you? I am sorry I don't see how this is relevant to choosing a gun for your wife.
    I told you already I am not comfortable with a self defense gun in anything smaller than a 380 ACP. Put the round in any gun you want, it doesn't matter. Because of your wife's injury, you need to let her shoot as many guns as possible in as many calibers as possible. Let her decide which gun is right for her. She is the only one that can determine this. I know you already know all this, but it really is the best way. My choice on guns and calibers means nothing. If a 380 out of a P232 is to snappy, but she like the Glock34, it would appear you need to be looking at larger framed guns with more weight in order to keep muzzle flip down to min. If she soesn't like the 40 or 45, I would say a full size 9mm will be in your future, as to what make, that is up to her, not more I can add here, sorry. I really am trying to help you.
    Last edited by NCHornet; January 2nd, 2007 at 06:50 AM.
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  11. #10
    Ex Member Array Pete's Avatar
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    She is the only one that can determine this.
    Correct.
    I'm helping her collate information.
    I haven't asked anyone to help me choose, merely asked everyone to state their opinions which I will then assimilate, it's called going through the data, as I said in the first post I already have a lot of data but just wanted some subjective opinions on recoil.

    There is a theme running here where it seems people are assuming I am coercing my wife into getting the gun I want her to have and without going to a gunstore to test any.
    That isn't the case.

    I'll let this one go soon, seems only Pogo picked up on my question.

    Thanks anyway guys.

  12. #11
    Distinguished Member Array Fitch's Avatar
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    I don't like recoil either.

    The guns I have that I'm comfortable shooting, going from best, to worse, are:

    Single Six shooting .22LR. This is a .22 that weighs 45oz. The sight moves when it goes off, but not much. It is effectively recoil free.

    S&W model 17 with 6" barrel. This is a 41oz .22, effectively recoil free and very accurate. It isn't unusual for my wife and I to put 150 rounds through the Model 17 during a range visit.

    Browning Buck Mark. I don't know how much it weighs, but it has a wonderful trigger and is a dream to shoot. I seldom put less than 100 rounds through it during a range visit when I take it along, which is nearly every time.

    S&W 686 with 6" BBL. This is a 44oz .357 magnum with Hog Hunter Crimson Trace Grips. It is my wife's HD gun. It is very comfortable to shoot with .38Spl +P. I frequently put 50 rounds through it on a range visit. It has way more recoil than my 9mm Glock 19 when shooting .357 mag in it.

    PPK/S shooting Federal HS or WWB is pleasant to shoot. It is snappy, but not violent. Mine is West German made, the S&W manufactured ones are more pleasant to shoot because they have a longer and fatter grip tang on them. This is a very concealable gun.

    Glock 19 9mmP. Not sure of the weight, it has more recoil than a G34 but not a lot. The G34 has a nicer trigger, but the G34 trigger is too light for carry purposes. I've been known to go through 300 rounds in my G19 during a range visit, or when practicing for Action Pistol Competition.

    The 686 Shooting .357 magnum is here in the list. You know you fired a round, but it doesn't "hurt". I've put as many as 50 .357's through it during a range visit with no distress.

    .44mag Super Blackhawk Bisley Hunter. This is a 54oz .44mag and frankly, I don't shoot more than 12 .44mag cartridges in it during a range visit. It is extremely pleasant to shoot with .44Spl in it. The trigger guard raps the second knuckle on my middle finger pretty hard when shooting .44mag. I need to get a shooting glove for it.

    Fitch

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