I was worried about the same thing. I have a little more to worry then most though, that shoot magnums I suspect. I am 6'2 and 135 lbs. I have a 300 RUM in a Rem 700 LSS. It is a sweet rifle. With my scope and bi-pod, etc it comes in at around 9 1/4 lbs. I have ran the numbers into a scale and I come up with around 45lbs of kick. I went into this knowing if I couldn't accurately shoot my 300 RUM without a brake, then I would seriously have to consider getting one. I shoot my rifle just great. Some of the groups will show it. I have never been scared to touch the trigger except the very first time I ever shot it. I have been scoped 4 times in about 600 rounds. Every time it was laying prone, slightly downhill angle. VERY BAD. I had it happen to me twice in a 4 shot series. But you cannot let that get into your head. You have to know its going to kick, but you cant be scared. I also highly recomend the lead sled for testing/target shooting. It just plain takes out all the recoil. A lot of peoples tolerance varies, but I know that most adults are at least a good 40 lbs heavier than me on average, so I say to see how you shoot w/out one first. If you shoot it fine, no point in spending $150 or so to have one made.
Here's my experience with a 338 Win mag in REM 700 BDL.
Purchased it used. Prev. owner had stock shortened and cut at the exactly incorrect angle.
I loaded up some 250s from book numbers and shot 3 shots leaning over the bench. First shot - pain [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif[/img] second shot - pain/pain/pain. Droped the rifle on the ground and did a bit of a rain dance. No kiddin' it really hurt! Got some double foam insullation for the third shot (the first two were lookin good-I'm dedicated [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crazy.gif[/img]) Third shot went "in there" rifle had potential.
Added 1.5 lbs to the weight of the stock. Lengthed it to normal pull, and cut the but square. Removed the dismal decelarator recoil pad and installed a trim to fit Limbsaver.
Now I was good for any position, benchrest, off hand, kneeling and sitting. But was skeer'd of prone.
Installed Holland QD brake. Cost me $160. Best thing I've ever done.
I mostly shoot prone w/bipod and can do it all day. Accuracy isn't any better and isn't any worse. But groups are way more consistent. That is, no fliers. Except now the trigger needs replaced to be up to snuff.
Also do most shooting over blow sand. No bottom holes - no dust.
But always use ear protection. I'd recommend even while hunting.
Having said all of that, I have a Ruger #1 in 375 H&H that is factory in every way. I shoot it from the bench and all other positions except prone with no trouble at all. I would never put a brake on it....its too purty [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]
I may be the slowest guy on the mountain . . . . but . . . . I'm on the mountain!
I own the 338 Rum and the 300 RUM. The 300's recoil doesn't bother me at all. I guess it the way the stock is made. I mean the foot lbs of recoil are there but I don't feel it on the bench or standing. I weight 192LBS am 5'10". That helps I know but I've talked to other guys and they agree
The recoil isn't that bad.
The one I shoot weighs about 15# and is in an A-5, no brake and not fun for me in the prone position. It's a friends and he doesn't want a brake. Like Roy my 375 H&H does not have a brake, but I shoot it off sticks standing and sitting, and ride the recoil.
As for size [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif[/img] size don't matter, it's position [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] prone you can't ride the recoil it just hits you your body doesn't give. Big or small your going to absorb it. I find off hand some small guys handle recoil well and rock with it and other times big guys dont rock as much and get hit by it.
If it is just being used for long range groundhogs, why do the 300 ultra?
THere are dozens and dozens of cartridges that will kill groundhogs at ranges up to and further than 1500 yards that abuse the shooter far less. Take my 6br improved for example, it is flat out SCARY accurate at 1500 yards and only burns 30.5 grains of Varget!! Kick, what kick? I can see the bullet fly through the paper at 100 yards and I can shoot 30 shots before having to cool the barrel as opposed to 3 shots from an ultra mag.
Just something to think about.
If you have high energy requirements for elk or deer or whatever, then you look to the big mags IMO. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]