How to Stop Flinching With a 44 Mag.


November 6, 2006, 02:25 PM
Hey all. I canít seem to break myself from yanking the trigger in my 44 mag, 6Ē Smith 629. Iíll admit, I do the same with my 357 on the first cylinder, but I settle in pretty good with that gun. The more I shoot, the better I settle in, but then there is that cylinder where I put holes all over the target at 25 yards. After about 50 rounds, my hands start to sting a little and then the groups go wild again. I use a two handed hold with the right arm locked. Donít even ask about DA groups. Iím using 240gr cast bullets punched out with 22g of IMR 4227. Not a hot load. This has to be a mental thing. Any advice? Or just keep firing away?

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November 6, 2006, 02:28 PM
I would suggest shooting some 44 spl in it until you get real comfortable then start with 44 mag in 1 cylinder in 3 and see if this will help.

Smith & Wesson Man
November 6, 2006, 02:32 PM
Go to a lighter load for awhile. That helped me. I remember having this problem a few years ago. Once in awhile don't load all six chambers, and don't pay attention to the cyclinder then go shooting. You can see real quickly if your jerking or not having good trigger pull. Do you feel tired after that many rounds? I usally only shot about twenty rounds of 44mag or so then take a break. Maybe shoot something else that is lighter like your smith in 38 special. When your arm gets tired or hands start to hurt your shots won't be as good. It can be a mental thing. Don't worry about the recoil, just focus on your target and squezze:) This is my two cents

November 6, 2006, 02:38 PM
Work your way up. Start off with a lot of .44 Special, then light .44 Mag loads (like those bulk LSWC, 240 grain @ 1000-1100 fps), then go to the mid-range magnums.

Personally, I'm going to stock up on the light .44 Magnum loads from Cabela's and Georgia Arms and use those the most. Plenty of power, but doesn't beat you up too much.

November 6, 2006, 02:50 PM
Another way to solve or see when you are flinching is to only put a few rounds randomly in the cylinder or have your buddy do that for you and single action all the rounds. The idea is that you need to make every shot individual and every shot fired a surprise. Dry fire can be good for this (probably should use snap caps, some guns dislike being clicked to death). What you are looking to do is be able to squeeze the trigger and have every shot be a surprise. One good way to teach yourself where the shot will break is to cycle (with an empty gun) the cylinder and just before the hammer breaks, release pressure on the trigger so you can see where the edge of the sear is. The reccomendation of firing lighter loads is important also. I started shooting handguns with a 357 magnum GP100 and a 30-30 Winchester Contender. I had fun for a lot of time but couldn't get any better. I had developed a nasty flinch. After that the only ammo that I would fire was mouse fart 38 specials, and lots of them, so that I could get properly used to my gun and not be afraid of the recoil that was pounding me before. I got to a point where accuracy was pretty good, I then increased the power of my loads a bit, fired those for a while, and on and on.

It will take a very long time and quite a few rounds to break that flinch. It took me about 3-4 years. If I'd not started out firing magnums, and started light, it would have been easier to shake bad form and I would have been better faster.

Between my 3 revolvers, I've probably fired 90 to 100 thousand rounds since I turned 21 (um.. 18 years ago). 40k with my 610 (12,000 this year alone, did I mention I shoot IPSC/ICORE with it?). I was firing full power 40 caliber loads yesterday (IPSC PF about 185, 140 gr bullet @ around 1325 fps) and the few times I did a "click" on round 7 that of course wasn't there, I asked and was told that no, I did not flinch, but I did cuss and reload at the same time... :D

The best advice I can give is to not shoot full power stuff to start, but if that is too late, to go through something similar to what I have. It'll take time and you'll be discouraged, but keep at it, it is a solvable issue.


November 6, 2006, 03:11 PM
My problem is I know Iím flinching. I fired 50 rounds and walked down to the house and posted the message. I just fired 45 more. Iím trying to work on a better technique. Use only the tip of my finger to pull the trigger. That seems to help tighten the groups. The load Iím using is the lightest load listed in the 2nd edition of the Sierra book. The gun doesnít kick that bad, but the grips suck. A two piece design with an open back. It will pinch your hand on full throttle loads. I have a new set of grips ordered. Like I said, me thinks it is a mental problem. That will be hard to break. I keep worrying about controlling the gun versus where the bullet is going. I havenít shot this gun in over 10 years. I donít think I was that good with it back then. I guess itís gonna take practice, practice, practice.

November 6, 2006, 03:17 PM
Get a .22 of the same basic configuration. I flinch after a couple cylinders of .44mag from my Super Blackhawk, once I know I'm doing it, I fire my Single Six .22 until I "unlearn" my flinching.
.44mag is my upper limit, I have no desire to go higher in power. I can get about 3 cylinders through it without it becoming a chore and needing reeducation.
I like the .22 since I flinch with it too at first (after the .44, I'm not that big a wimp), and at .22 prices, who cares about the price?

Dark Helmet
November 6, 2006, 03:19 PM
If it's a Classic, try a Pachmayr Compac for a K/L roundbutt on it. :D

November 6, 2006, 03:41 PM
Shoot single action, forget about the trigger, focus on the front sight.

Trigger break should be a surprise. If you are flinching, it isn't a surprise.

November 6, 2006, 04:03 PM
Another 50 rounds. But this time I decided to use a table. Tighter groups, but they are about 8Ē high. That tells me Iím definitely pulling the trigger. Plus Iím not sure about my reloads. Seems to be 3 or 4 shots close together and the others waaay out there. I can make the water fly on a pond thatís about 250 yards away.

Chuck Dye
November 6, 2006, 04:31 PM
I agree with all of the above advice about modifying behavior, especially the idea of the surprise trigger break, however, Dark Helmet is correct about grips. Part of a flinch is the negative reinforcement of the discomfort you describe, much of which can be removed by acquiring better fitting grips. My Redhawk is fitted out with the Pachmayr rubber until I finally send some loot to Herrett for custom grips. The biggest thing the Pachmayrs do for me is extend the full width, or height if you wish, of my hand, actually sticking out top and bottom. Not only is recoil spread over a greater surface area, the taller grips engage the meatiest part of my hand, something the stock grips do not.

November 6, 2006, 04:31 PM
I agree with :
`Learning to shoot with a .22 revolver Double Action only.
`Having a .22 revolver as close a can to center fire guns.
`Putting a dime on front sight and focusing on correct basic fundamentals of sight alignment, and trigger pull, and not having the dime fall off. I mean run the whole cylinder in dryfire and not having the dime fall off.

These same principles will transfer to other handgun platforms as well. Meaning, learning to shoot handguns this way, (revolver) will allow one to be a better shooter with semi-autos as well.

November 6, 2006, 04:33 PM
You have two choices. One is to simply drop caliber of ammo and work your way up to 44mag. The other is to load random charge holes, give your cylinder a little spin or something so you don't know when you'll be firing and when you'll be hitting an empty chamber. Just focus on holding that gun still as a follow-thru (the same way you think about a follow thru on a baseball, golf or tennis swing... it isn't at the forefront of your mind, but then again you don't simply stop working once you hit the ball, either). What you will see is how much you are taming that flinch as you hit empty chambers. At first you'll be jerking the gun with no shots fired. That will prove to you that it is a mental block and you can work thru it.

Dark Helmet
November 6, 2006, 04:51 PM
The ball and dummy drill will certainly help get rid of a flinch, it'll sure show you that you're doing it! Also it seems to help reduce the anticipation of recoil. P.S. do you use a good set of hearing muffs and/or earplugs?

November 6, 2006, 04:57 PM
Well crap, my day is done. Went to shoot the last 50 rounds and the screw fell out of the rear sight. Sight flew off and hit me in the glasses and nose. I have a nice little red ďchipĒ on the side of my nose now. I found the sight in the grass, but Iíll never find that little screw. Anyone know where to get another screw? Or what size it is? Seems like Iíd have to put it in a vise to get it back in.

November 6, 2006, 04:57 PM
After about 50 rounds, my hands start to sting a little and then the groups go wild again.

All the retraining tips are important.

However, I'd also suggest simply limiting practice sessions to 50 rounds of .44 Magnum. Then switch to a .22LR pistol or something, if you want more practice or fun.

In the weight room and on the athletic field, athletes are told to stop practicing when their form breaks down. This can happen due to muscle fatigue, neurological fatigue, or pain in some cases like contact sports. Once one or more of these factors take over, you are teaching yourself bad habits and imprinting them on your nervous system. Only teach yourself good habits; whatever you do when you practice becomes a neuromuscular "computer program" that can be hard to break.

Shooting is an athletic activity. The same rules about practice apply to shooting a handgun as they do to batting a baseball.

November 6, 2006, 05:10 PM
Different grips and/or a glove of some kind may help somewhat. And there are are a lot of recipes for much lighter target loads. I use a thin pair of fingerless driving gloves brcause regular shooting gloves are to bulky and mess up my grip on the gun but my son uses a Past shooting glove and likes it. Also might keep the number of heavy loads down to 18 or 24 at a time rather than just keep on getting beat up which will definitely cause flinching.

November 6, 2006, 06:42 PM
Shoot a S&W 340PD with full house .357 rounds. You'll never flinch shooting another firearm again!

I recommend what essentially everyone else has recommended and work your way up.

Peter M. Eick
November 6, 2006, 07:30 PM
Shoot a lot of 38's and try to watch the front sight move during recoil. Your goal should be to never lose sight of that front sight. If you flinch, blink or whatever, try again. When you can do it with a 38, move up to the 357 Magnum. When you master the magnum, move to the Maximum. That is where I am right now. I have to say I have not progressed passed the Maximum yet (I only had it a few months now).

Standing Wolf
November 6, 2006, 07:56 PM
I've found it helpful to shoot ten rounds of .44 magnum, ten of .22 long rifle, ten of .44 magnum, et cetera.

November 6, 2006, 08:08 PM
The big Smith is perhaps th least comfortable .44 mag to shoot. With full power loads, it hurts! Different grips will help this. A shooting glove can help as well. The idea that you should be able to blaze away, boxes at a time, with the big magnums is a bunch of macho crap. Heavy loads are for hunting, and zeroing, and just a little practice. General practice should be done with less powerful ammo. Better on the gun, better on you.

Always check the screws on (especially magnum) revolvers. Every time. The screws loosen up under recoil. If you don't ever check them, eventually, they fall out. Sight screws, sideplate screws, grip screws, just check for tightness with a proper fitting screwdriver. You can also use a product like "Gun-tite".

Came home on leave one time, my brother was complaining about the accuracy of his S&W M29 (8 3/8th). I looked at his gun, the rear sight assembly was about to fall off. Tightened the mounting screw, and his accuarcy improved alot. A couple of the sideplate screws were also on their way out.

Grip frame screws on SA relvolvers come loose sometimes too.

November 6, 2006, 08:19 PM
Since it only hurts after you squeeze the trigger, you have to get yourself in a mental state in which you can concentrate on the front sight and keep your thoughts away from the blast. Easier said than done, I know, but you decide when the shot goes. If your front sight is wobbling, then don't shoot; don't wait for it to wobble into the correct picture.

Simply holding the gun will cause the shakes too if you hold it too long. Put it down if you find the front sight wobbling. Pretend you're shooting a .22. You might also want to steady the barrel on a steady rest.

November 6, 2006, 08:47 PM
Practice with lighter recoiling loads. I shoot lightly loaded .44s in my 629 95%+ of the time and shoot it better than just about any handgun I've ever owned, even when loaded to full-power.

Limit exposure to full-power ammo. 50 rounds of .44 Magnum at one sitting is ALOT of abuse and can really take a toll on you mentally, if not physically.

Dry-fire with the penny or dime trick. It helps. You won't batter your Smith dry-firing it, so don't be afraid of it.

Better grips. I find the N-frame fits me the best of any .44 revolver I've ever tried. My opinion is that the Smith is the smoothest shooting .44 I've ever fired, including Super Blackhawks and Redhawks. It's about fit more than anything. I'm going to actually be swapping my hard nylon grips out for a set of smooth wood ones after New Year's.

Practice with smaller guns. If you have revolvers in smaller, lighter calibers, shoot them more until you work the flinch back out. I only have the .44, so my option is to shoot lighter ammo, but the effect is the same.

And lastly, mental toughness. I do find firing my .44 to be kind of painful in places, especially now in the cold, over on the closely-confined covered firing point. But I just make up my mind I don't care, it won't hurt me (permanently) for half-a-box or so, and just focus on that front sight.

Oh yeah, sight picture and trigger control. Once those are taking up all of your attention, you kind of forget about the unpleasantness coming your way. At least, it works for me! :cool:

November 6, 2006, 09:59 PM
Actually, I was itching to shoot up this ammo so I could reload another type of bullet. I have 1000 rounds of plated bullets I want to try. 100 rounds through this gun doesnít bother me that much. Maybe the almost 200 rounds was pushing it too much. I will have to start checking screws. That rear sight hurt when it smacked me. That Gun-tite, is that a type of Loc-tite? Iíll get better at this one day. I canít wait until the new back ordered grips get in. I still have a red strap on my hand. I mainly shoot rifles but I love to shoot revolvers.

Dark Helmet
November 6, 2006, 10:10 PM
If you shot enough in one session to leave a mark, yeah, you shot a few more than you should have!

November 6, 2006, 10:13 PM
Unlock your right arm and your groups will likely shrink. Use the muscles in your arm to slow recoil rather than trying to stop it altogether by locking your elbow.

November 7, 2006, 03:22 AM
All good advice, start low, work up, etc. What I learnt off a vid of one of the go fast guys (skinny little guy, can't remember his name) was to watch the sights and watch they way the gun recoils. Most guns will generally return to the point of aim that you had before if you do not relax your grip. This is good to learn, but also gives you something to think about other then the impending recoil.

Also you have to get the mind set right. Tell yourself (verbalise in your mind or out loud if you are by yourself) something along the lines of 'this is going to bite a bit, but it is not really going to do any real damage! I can handle this!. Put in an empty one and spin the chamber (don't slam it shut like in the movies, it damages the crane). Do your verbalisation thing and after every shot LOWER the gun. This is very important. It relieves strain and allows you to gather yourself for the next shot. Once you lower the gun, think about how the shot went. When you hit the empty you will either not move if you are doing it right, or if you jump about, you will see exactly what you are doing and can adjust accordingly. Be brutally honest with yourself in this process. I shoot a lot of big bore stuff and get a bit raggy occasionally, but knowing how to work through the process, it doesn't take long to get back on track. Mick

November 7, 2006, 07:43 AM
I shot .44 Specials and Russians in my Ahrends wood-stocked 629MG for years before 'trying' those new Hogue .500 Magnum grips made for S&W. They really helped with the recoil of the UMC 180gr SJHP .44 Magnums I tried, some really hot rounds easily found for comparison. I bought a new 6" 629, SKU 163606, several months later just to use those grips (8/05). I replaced my MG with a new standard 4" - again, another one of those .500 Magnum grips - the best $35 you can spend on a hard hitting recoil - and they fit K/L, N, and X-frames... but they are only available from S&W Accessories. I did measure my trigger finger extension beyond the trigger guard when laid out alongside, in an attempt to determine the additional 'reach' required by the new Hogue's covered backstrap. My Ahrends square conversion f-g cocobolo stocks gave me nearly 3/16 inch more 'extension' than the Hogues. The wider smooth trigger of the 6" 629 (and 4" 629) make them feel comfortable with those new Hogues, as sad as that is to say for a wood stock person (Everything else I have has wood stocks!). My hands are medium in size, and those grips take the sting out, although, as you'd expect, the muzzle rise is still there.

Shooting milder loads may help, but shooting with your normal loads - and a few empties - in DA only - will give you more feedback. Have someone watch you, too... with good ear protection. You should 'know' when your DA hammer will drop... not so you can flinch, but so you will know what you are shooting. Practice this with your revolver unloaded, to determine the 'break'. Then, practice with real ammo. My personal 629 shooting included enough real Magnums to tell me I didn't 'need' them, having had my fill of launching high KE rounds with the .454 SRH I had for years. I now stick with 300gr LSWC's at 900 fps and 240's @ <1,000 fps for my high-end 'fun'... but I did buy the 6" 629 to replace a 6.5" 24 in .44 Special, anyway. The main goal here is to determine YOUR need - and work towards it.


November 7, 2006, 08:44 AM
is to shoot some hot Buffalo Bore loads- the regualr .44 mags feel like .22s.
Good luck.

November 7, 2006, 09:16 AM
I take the sage advice of Yoda and obie-wan-kenobi.

As obie-wan says. Be one with the trigger. Feel the trigger. Squeeze the trigger.
keep the elbow bent and don't fight the recoil

November 7, 2006, 09:31 AM
Everyone I have helped with flinching did so because their ears were hyper sensitive to the noise. It had nothing to do with the recoil. Revolver are among the worst due to the escaping gases between then cylinder and the frame. The blast of a .44 Mag. is massive!

Wear a good pair of soft ear plugs in your ear canal. Then, a good quality set of ear phones over those. That should cut your noise level to a very tolerable level. I know a couple of people who wear 3, yes THREE sets of ear plus, soft one in the canals, the soft type covering the outside of the ears, then headphones. I tried this one time and could barely even hear when the gun fired.

Give it a try. You will be surprised at just how little physical recoil firearms really possess.


November 7, 2006, 02:06 PM
I'm by no means an expert, but I've run into a similar problem. My issue wasn't a fear of any kind of pain, it was simply my body trying to anticipate and compensate for the recoil.

The way I work around this is the simple drill of only loading 5 in the cylinder, this seems the simplest way to show if you are indeed flinching, and also how you're flinching. Along with that, I just try to zone out and only concentrate on the front site, NOT the trigger pull. I find that as long as I concentrate on the site, my body compensates for the pull and the trigger break is not anticipated. Tough to explain, but it works for me.

Also, as stated, I find that if I forget my phones and only wear earplugs, my flinch is much worse...great hearing protection really seems to minimize the flinch in my case. Just a natural reaction, for instance I find that I can't stop myself from blinking anytime someone is hammering nearby. There's no logic to it, but it's an involuntary response...same as the body reacting to the anticipation of a loud noise.

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