Long Range Hunting Online Magazine

Recoil Management: Take The "Ouch" Out Of Shooting

Recoil Management: Take The "Ouch" Out Of Shooting

By John Johnston

Have you ever gotten home after a day at the range and reached up to your shoulder to feel the soreness, and then tried to rotate your arm, only to find out it hurt? If so, you are not alone in this sport. Recoil is a natural consequence of shooting. For you young shooters who can shoot anything up to a bazooka without feeling the effects of recoil, just wait. The effects of recoil to the body can be felt from your eyes to your toes. It will take its toll on your hands, wrists, shoulders, neck and right down your spine. Old injuries will stick up their ugly heads. Age has a lot to do with it also. Not only does it affect you physically, it can mess with your concentration also. The major problem it can cause is flinching, which in turn causes a loss of accuracy and more importantly a loss of confidence in your own shooting ability.

Recoil Management
The grip area of the axiom.


My personal story started about 25 twenty-five years ago. I wanted to make a long range shot at a deer. I had picked a safe place from which to shoot, and I had built a flat platform in a tree. About 350 yards away was a spot where the does came out of the woods every evening. I had picked up a new Winchester model 70 in 300 H&H with a good scope for this hunt. I know I did not need this magnum to make that shot, but at the time it seemed like a good reason for a new rifle. You may ask, why 300 H&H? Well I started shooting in the 1950’s. During that time period, all the magazines could talk about were the H&H calibers. The .300 Winchester magnum had not hit the market yet. I had always wanted a 300 H&H, and Winchester made a limited run for one particular distributor in the 1980’s. My buddy and I each got one. I made the one shot one kill that day and put the rifle away. My buddy later sold his because of the recoil. Fast forwarding 20 years, I took the old 300 H&H out of the safe one day and loaded up some reloads. I sat down at my bench for an afternoon of shooting. Just a few rounds from the old gun made me ache. Back into the safe it went.

Recoil Management
The butt of the Comstock.


A few years ago while at the SHOT Show, I saw the Knoxx Compstock. It is basically a Hogue over molded stock with a spring lever system built into the butt of the stock. I had tried a few rifles with muzzle brakes and found they caused a lot of ear discomfort, even when using good muffs. So the folks at Knoxx sent me a Compstock for my Winchester.

Recoil Management
The Comstock on top with the Axiom.


The stock comes in a plain pillar bedded and an aluminum bedded version. Mine is the plain model. I loaded up some heavy bullets with a very hot load and went to the bench. I am always skeptical of gimmicks in the industry but I kept an open mind. After five rounds I was smiling and that smile got even bigger after shooting a total of twenty rounds. The recoil that the shooter actually feels is far less than with a factory stock. I have heard claims of up to 80% reduction in felt recoil. There is no real way to know how it will perform for you unless you actually shoot one. Recoil is determined in foot pounds by use of a formula using bullet weight, velocity and total rifle weight. It does not take into consideration the body type of the shooter, the shooting position or how the shooter mounts the rifle.

I decided to get a second opinion on the Compstock, so I loaded up some more maximum loads and took the rifle to the Lucy Creek Arms range where the owner, Tim Miller, tried it out. Tim, like me, was a little skeptical. He normally hunts with a 300 Win. Mag Ruger and knows the recoil. He sat down at his one hundred yard bench and proceeded to fire a few rounds while I photographed the session. After he shot a few, he looked up at me with a big grin and said, “John, that thing really works.” He then checked the spotting scope for group size and said, “and it shoots good too.” He liked it so much he finished off my reloads.

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