Rifle vs Shotgun Recoil


Daniel L
February 16, 2005, 04:14 AM
I'm just getting into the firearms addiction and I need some information to help my next purchase out.

I haven't had the chance to fire many rifles and I was wondering how they compare in recoil to a shotgun because I've fired a shotgun. The shotgun I used was a Benelli M1 Super 90. Is the shotgun's recoil similar to a rifle's? About what caliber / rifle is it comparable to? Shooting my AR-15 is nothing compared to that 12 gauge and I'm wondering what rifles would be similar to it. Thanks guys!

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Art Eatman
February 16, 2005, 09:09 AM
I don't remember the numbers, but a 12-gauge has more kick than a .30-'06. 25%? 30%? Something like that.

A shotgun's recoil is more of a push, though, and a rifle gives a sharper jolt.

I think most folks notice rifle recoil more because of the benchrest shooting that's so common. Shooting offhand or from a casual rest, I never notice the kick.

Stock fit makes more difference than anything else, seems to me.

Centerfire rifles are louder than shotguns, and that's a factor for many people.

I'm lucky, I guess. Back when I was a kid and the steel buttplate on an old 1917 '06 was beating me to death, I griped about the "kick". My uncle sorta looked over his glasses--"That Look"--and said, "That's all in your head. That gun doesn't kick." Well, kids and uncles; uncles have credibility. So, guns don't kick. :D


February 16, 2005, 09:28 AM
If you can handle a 12ga pump or semiauto, any rifle up to about .30-06 or 7mm Rem Mag will be similar or less.

Bwana John
February 16, 2005, 09:41 AM
What kind of 12 ga loads?, there is a BIG difference between low base dove loads and high velocity, heavy turkey/goose type loads. A semi-auto tends to soak up some of the recoil also.

February 16, 2005, 09:47 AM
Here's a good way to see the relative recoil. Go here (or any other calculator)http://www.huntamerica.com/recoil_calculator/

The only downside with this is that felt recoil is a very subjective thing (different people feel it differently...I think 30-06 is a pussycat but others think it is a cannon) and has many other variables (stock design, impulse curve shape, e.g., sharp crack versus slow shove). Plus as Art said, shooting position, gas vs recoil action, etc all affect felt recoil

Using bullet weights, powder charges, gun weights (from memory) for typical characteristics of different cartridges and plugging them in this calculator, here's what I get YMMV

12 ga -- 12 ft lbs
5.56 in AR -- 4 ft lbs
308 -- 12 ft lbs
30-06 -- 15 ft lbs
300 WSM -- 26 ft lbs

February 16, 2005, 09:59 AM
Depending on the action of the firearm, they will have noticeable differences in felt recoil. A semi-auto rifle will not kick as hard as a bolt rifle. My Remington 700 BDL (bolt action) is chambered in .308 win. and kicks a bit harder than my Knight's SR-25 (Semi-auto .308 win). Other factors that will cut down on felt recoil include the gun's weight. If you imagine shooting a scandium .44 magnum S&W revolver vs. an 8" full lug model 629, you will get the idea.

The shotgun you fired is one sweet long arm. Benelli's are known for their actions being both quick and extremely soft on the shoulder. My advice, and there are always differences in opinions, is to try out smaller caliber rifles before graduating onto long actions and magnum calibers. As with handgun shooting, you don't want to jump to a large caliber gun before training with something smaller. You will sacrifice accuracy when you worry about the recoil about to happen.

Best of luck to you buddy with entering into rifle shooting. It is a great sport and brings a lot of us satisfaction and endless entertainment.

February 16, 2005, 10:04 AM
An 8 or 9lb .308 or .30-06 with a rubber buttpad will feel similar to the Benelli. 6lb rifles are 'faster' :)

I liken it to imagineing there's a guy with a sledgehammer about to hit each rifle on the muzzle. If the gun weighs a lot (eg 30 lb Barrett M82A1) then even if he uses a big sledge (.50BMG) it will be a relatively long and soft recoil. (honest!)

If I'm using a 5lb rifle in say .300WinMag, then it's like getting hit with a 10lb sledge with only 5lbs in the way. 'brisk! baby!'

You should be able to fire anything to .30-06/7mm mag comfortably if you are very comfortable with many rounds of 12-gauge.

Daniel L
February 16, 2005, 11:41 AM
I appreciate the responses guys. It's all very good info. Thanks.

February 16, 2005, 12:20 PM
I'd say my pump 12 gauge is comparable to my bolt action .270, depending on the loads used.

Bwana John
February 17, 2005, 09:24 AM
I dont notice rifle "recoil" as much as I notice the blast from "overbore" cartridges.
A .300 win mag with a muzzle break will have me cringing before the round even goes off, but I find my .375 H&H mag a joy to shoot.

Shotguns are different for me, I notice the "recoil" from goose loads, but not from dove loads in the same guage.

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