Recoil: .45ACP in Revolver vs. 1911


Spotted Owl
August 9, 2006, 11:57 PM
Is the recoil of a .45ACP revolver, say a 5" S&W 625, more or less than the recoil of the same cartridge in a 1911?

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August 10, 2006, 01:27 AM
Much less in the revolver. There is no slide to operate, and the gun is usually heavier.

August 10, 2006, 01:30 AM

I feel that the weight of the revolver and curved grip shape make recoil FEEL less.

Others say that the semi-auto action cushions recoil more than the revolver action.

There isn't a single answer IMO, it depends on the individual.

August 10, 2006, 04:19 AM
The recoil force will be the same since it's the same cartridge.

However, the perceived recoil will be lighter in the revolver if it is of a similar weight because the revolver doesn't transmit the two impacts of the slide, slamming to a stop during it's rearward motion and then again slamming to a stop returning to battery, to the shooter's hand.

And felt recoil is what's important.

August 10, 2006, 07:13 AM
Actually, the recoil energy will be similar, given the same cartridge and barrel length. The velocity will be less in the revolver, due to the b/c gap. The recoil will be greater in the revolver, since all of the energy is available, where the semi stores some energy in the hammer spring, more in the recoil spring to work the mechanism, and loses some in the slide's friction. The recoil force will be less with greater mass, too.

I let several fellows shoot my 625's over the years - and a few bought those, one even bought a ported light weight 4" Taurus. They are all gone now - and they are back to their 1911's, etc, stating that the revolver was too harsh. I told them I had detuned loads in my 625, as they have no need for sufficient recoil energy to work their mechanism. The harsh reality is simple - we, revolver folk, are accustomed to gripping our revolver's grips tight enough to squeeze a 10 lb plus DA trigger, which better prepares us for the felt recoil than one who simply presses a 3-4 lb 'button' on a semi. A 625's felt recoil is no worse than a 624/629 shooting .44 Special 200/240gr LSWC's at 750-850 fps, a rather mild .44 load. Still, a semi-friend uses shooting gloves and a .500 Magnum Hogue backstrap-enclosing grip on his 3" .44 (696) to shoot such fare. He prefers his 1911's - bare handed!

I'll take the revolver, thank you, and I am not a recoil junkie.


August 10, 2006, 08:08 AM
The best part of the 625 is that it soaks up the recoil, and I shoot powder puff loads most of the time. I shoot 200gr LSWC over 4.2gr of TG with a Fed 150 lighting it off. I shoot heavy loads every once in a while, but why? I shoot my hardball equivalent once in a while. One nice load was shooting Berry 185gr RNHB with some TG. That was scary accurate!

August 10, 2006, 08:15 AM
Originally posted by Dr. Rob:
Much less in the revolver. There is no slide to operate, and the gun is usually heavier.I don't see how operating a slide could do anything but reduce the perceived recoil. Moving the mass of the slide and compressing the spring is doing work, which requires energy.

Of course, I wasn't a physics major... ;)

August 10, 2006, 09:39 AM
I know all the physics but I owned two Model 625 revolvers and still own a Model 1917 along with several 1911 type .45 autos and my personal opinion is the semiauto pistols have always felt more controllable than any of the revolvers. At least to me the autos are a better choice for this cartridge.

My 4" 625 was downright uncomfortable because muzzle flip was excessive with this revolver.
One would think that with the heavy underrib this wouldn't be the case but I beg to differ, that gun would flip way off target every shot with any kind of powerful load.

The five inch barrel 1917 and 625 aren't near so bad but both guns exhibit more muzzle blast and flash than what I am accustomed to from the 1911 pistols.

I do not find my 625 Mountain gun in .45 Colt as unpleasant to shoot, nor do I find fault with my 5" 629 Classic but this may be because I expect those guns to react with some force when I fire them and it could be that I have always expected the .45 auto cartridge to react a little more sedate than what I perceive when I fire this cartridge from a revolver.

What ever the case I feel the .45 is best served in what the cartridge is named for,,,,the automatic pistol.

Deer Hunter
August 10, 2006, 11:26 AM
I don't understand this. Are you people saying that the 625 has more felt recoil than your run-of-the-mill 1911?

The first .45 ACP I shot was from my father's friend. It was a Kimber 1911, and that was my first centerfire gun to shoot. It bucked first, because I wasn't holding it right. After I got used to it, the recoil wasn't that bad. When I got my 625, I was surprised to find that the recoil was more managable. It's a 5" version. At first I shot some CCI Blazer ammo from it, no problem. Then lots and lots of Wolf, still no problem. Remington UMC and WWB gets eaten up like candy with no problem. Even some stiff loads of 230 JHP traveling at just under 1000 FPS are more than managable with that gun, and in fact I find them more fun to shoot than anything else.

For me, the 625 is the easiest shooting .45 ACP I've ever used. I've held the gun solid for DA shooting (which is how I shoot most of the time), and I've held it very lightly when I'm shooting SA. None of which I have ever found particularly unpleasant.

August 10, 2006, 11:31 AM
In a 1911 the barrel is about one inch above your hand/wrist, in an N frame revolver the barrel is more than 2 inches above your your hand/wrist. This gives the revolver a "longer lever" to use to rotate your wrist generating a higher recoil moment around the wrist. We like to call this phenomenon "muzzle flip" which we perceive as part of recoil. The laws of physics are irrefutable here. The recoil is the same for the same cartridge fired in different guns. How we perceive the effects of the recoil (muzzle flip, barrel torque, rearward motion etc) is a subjective matter based on grip and wrist strength.

August 10, 2006, 11:58 AM
I shoot both with the same loads.

Depending on the specific 625 model, the revolver will weigh 1 --> 4 ounces more than the 1911. However... the 1911 starts out with 2 extra rounds of weight.

I used the recoil calculator over at Real Guns, and the difference is so small they both rounded to 4# recoil with my midrange target load.

Perceived recoil is a very individual thing. The higher bore of the revolver wants to "flip" more, but a good fitting grip can offset that.

The secondary hit of the 1911 slide can make the recoil seem longer, but a high thumb position on the safety can also help offset that.

For me it's pretty much a toss up, but if I had to choose, I'd say the revolver has less perceived recoil. The double action trigger is the difference. In addition the grip being your main "interface" with the gun, the trigger is also a secondary point. A long 9# double action trigger pull gives you more to "hang on to" than a short 4# pull.



August 10, 2006, 12:09 PM
My perception is that it is a wash between my 4" 22-4 and my Colt Combat Commander. My 5" Sistema "feels" a bit softer in the recoil department than either one of them, but only slightly. With the same loads, my SA Ultra Compact is slightly harsher for recoil, but still manageable.

August 10, 2006, 09:19 PM
I have to agree with the people who say "it depends".;)

In my case, the 5" Gov't model is much more comfortable than any .45 ACP revolver I have ever fired. This is not to say that the revolvers are abusive, (though my M1917 Colt with its original grips is a handful), but that the autos are more comfortable to shoot than the revolvers.

Yes, I have chronographed a variety of both, and in my limited experience, the 5" autos produce the same velocity with the same 230 grain ball as the 5 1//2" guns. My 625-8 5" is a tad slower, and a 4" I got to play with was slightly slower still. I tend to think of the 5" and 4" wheelguns as Commanders ballistically. Yes, I know that my sample is limited. Yes, I know some of you have .45 ACP wheelguns that out perform your Gov't models. I still believe the trend is for the 5" Gov't models to produce slightly more velocity.

As far as perceived recoil, the wheelguns outkick the Gov't model, for me. Others tell me that I am crazy. My Colt is almost uncomfortable with the original grips, but much more comfortable with Pachmayr's. The S&W M1917s are also uncomfortable with the original grips, but more manageable with more modern grips.

All of my above statements are inconsistent with some of the loads I used to enjoy shooting out of a Charter Arms Bulldog. Now, I shoot a S&W 696 and barely enjoy shooting loads I would have once considered wimpy out of the Charter, which is weighing almost half as much.:what:

Age brings on many changes.:D

August 10, 2006, 09:28 PM
When I pick up my new 625JM from the gun shop tommorow, I'll let you know...:D :D :D :D :D :D :D

Is it tommorow yet?

August 10, 2006, 09:45 PM
Added a Taylor grip adapter so the triggerguard stopped bashing my knuckle.:D Got a non-1911 .45 ACP = recoil is not a factor:cool:

August 10, 2006, 10:02 PM
I guess I'm jut the odd man out once again.
I find the S&W Model 25-2 to be more comfortable to shoot than my Colt Government.
My old cut back to 3" S&W 1917 was even slightly lighter in felt recoil than my Commander.

Maybe I'm just so used to shooting magnum N-Frames that they just feel more normal to me.

However I think that proper fitting grips can drastically alter the felt recoil of any revolver.

Dave Markowitz
August 10, 2006, 10:23 PM
My 5" S&W M-625 is more pleasant to shoot than my Springfield Loaded M1911A1. My Ruger P-90 is somewhere in the middle. All the .45 ACP I shoot is 230 grain Ball.

Recoil perception varies a lot between people, so YMMV.

August 11, 2006, 06:04 PM
Given the same cartridge, and guns of the roughly same weight (and the weight makes a big difference, typically the revolvers are heavier) the revolvers will typically feel as though they recoil more for the following reasons...

Revolvers higher bore axis = more muzzle flip
Pistols slide movement = takes away some recoil.

However, revolvers are often notably heavier and heavier = less rcoil. Also they loose some pressure, though very very little) out the cylinder gap.


August 12, 2006, 01:44 PM
Folks, frankly, the recoil of a handgun firing a .45ACP round ain't very much!

NEITHER is very harsh, IMHO . . . and the differences are slight too, between the S&W .45ACP revolvers and the 1911 autos.

Either way, it's just a heavy, firm push that shouldn't have much "bite" to it. My favorite handgun of any type or caliber is this Model 25-2 .45ACP S&W Target revolver . . . with it's 6 1/2" barrel chopped to 3 1/4."

And, my .45ACP CCW tote gun is a Kimber 3" barreled Custom Shop CDP Ultra.

Here's a photo of both, along with my little Kel-Tec .32ACP "bug."

No one should fear the recoil of the .45, once you learn to grip it properly. It is a very pleasant centerfire round to shoot!!!


Double Naught Spy
August 12, 2006, 05:11 PM
I think TSH77769 is right in that the slide and recoil spring takes up some of the recoil for the shooter, something a revolver does not do. Basically, the semi-auto setup provides a shock absorber type of situation. I would rather hit a bump with my car that has shocks versus one that does not.

Peter M. Eick
August 13, 2006, 04:05 PM
I agree it depends. I find that "for me" my Pre-25 with a 230 grn fmj and 4.9 grns of bullseye is a sharp snap on firing, while the exact same ammo out of a Baer PII is more of a rolling push. I think it matters how the slide in the 1911 tends to spread the recoil pulse out over time vs. the revolver.

August 14, 2006, 11:04 PM
The recoil is subjective, as others have described. Another thing in which the revolver differs is the report. For whatever reason, the 5"-6.5" revolvers have the most satisfying CRASH of a report. Probably has to do with the B/C gap and all.

August 15, 2006, 10:36 AM
I have owned several .45ACP pistols and revolvers, and it depends. With my all-steel guns I don't notice the difference that much. But I also own a S&W 1911SC and a 4" 325PD, both having Scandium frames. The 1911SC handles recoil very nicely, and it feels about the same as a steel 1911. The 325PD on the other hand absorbs very little of the recoil, so the "kick" feels much greater. In any case, it has always seemed to me that revolvers transfer more of the recoil directly to the shooting hand whereas with semi-autos some of the recoil is absorbed by the auto-loading action.

Bullet Bob
August 15, 2006, 10:56 AM
Well, it is perceived, but to me the revolver recoils less. YMMV.

By the way, even with the barrel/cylinder gap, the revolver may still have more velocity than the same length auto - there are several factors that affect this.

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