How much Muzzle Flip to expect?


February 29, 2008, 06:48 PM
I've noticed in some youtube videos by good shooters that there's very minimal muzzle flip in their shooting with what appear to be plain jane 1911s (.45, I'd definitely assume).

Looking back on my own, I notice that I'm getting about an inch rise on the muzzle with my 9mm 1911. I've also noticed this on people who have way more training than I do. I do have what appears to be the understood correct grip and I am "pushing" straight out with my dominant hand and "pulling" back in with my weak hand. My instructors have said that my grip was ok.

I'm not a big guy and I would definitely say that I've got weak hands. My wrists are only 7.25" in circumference to give you an idea of how small my forearms are.

So the question is, based on what I've said, does it sound like it's a matter of incorrect technique, or a matter of a lack of strength?

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February 29, 2008, 07:23 PM
I, personally, have found the recoil on a 1911 45 to be very forgiving. My 40 cals always had more flip, but I've only had one 9mm, and it was a long time ago. Maybe someone will chime in that has both calibers in 1911's.

Mad Magyar
March 1, 2008, 08:25 AM
youtube videos

I only have one .40 to compare to numerous .45's, and I detect no differences.
Don't be misled by "trick pistols", "soft-ball loads" on many of these videos.
Watching Todd Jarrett shoot (.38 Super?) where there isn't a fraction of a rise on his string of shots is laughable...His strength & technique is not better than many of us & he cannot fool Mr. Newton....:)

March 1, 2008, 09:10 AM
An interesting subject, and one that's commonly misunderstood.

If I may...

Felt recoil in an autopistol is a different animal than it is in a fixed breech revolver. You feel very little, if any, recoil impulse from the explosion of the powder charge and the ensuing action/reaction between the bullet and the breechblock. The breechblock...essentially the slide...moves on rails with minimal resistance.

If the rails were 30 feet long, and there was no recoil spring to impede its could fire a round like the .500 S&W Magnum and literally feel nothing beyond a light disturbance...until the slide hits the impact abutment in the frame. This is where the actual muzzle flip comes from. The actual shock coupled with the altered center of gravity.

The majority of the impulse that you feel in your hand comes from the sudden compression of the spring. The faster it's compressed, the sharper the recoil.
The heavier the spring...the sharper the recoil.

To understand it better, consider that the autopistol...whether straight blowback or recoil comprised of two separate closed systems, each with its own action/reaction pair of objects, and each with its own force vector.

The bullet, chamber, breechblock and the burning powder charge make up the primary system. The slide, frame, and recoil spring make up the second.
We understand how the first one works. Bang. Force forward on the base of the bullet equals force backward on the breechblock. Both start to move at the same instant.

The second is a little more tricky.

With the slide static, a 16 pound recoil spring offers about 9 pounds of resistance to the slide. On firing, the slide moves nominally 1/10th inch...and the bullet exits. At that point, all recoil from the primary system is over, and the slide continues on the momentum that it conserved during that 1/10th inch of travel. The bullet is gone, and can no longer have an influence on the slide.

As the spring is compressed, its resistance to being compressed increases, and...because force forward equals force backward...the force that it imposes on the frame does likewise.

Moreover...The slower that the slide accelerates, the lower the felt recoil...because the slower it moves, the slower it compresses the spring, and felt recoil is spread out over a longer duration of time. This is why reduced velocity ammunition produces reduced recoil. It simply causes the slide to be driven more slowly...not because its pressure is lower, though that does factor in. More pressure results in more force and more force results in faster bullet acceleration, and faster bullet acceleration results in faster slide acceleration.

Conversely...Bumping the powder charge into the +P category causes the slide to accelerate faster, and because force forward equals force backward...the frame is likewise pushed backward more violently.

Muzzle flip and felt recoil from the spring's influence occur so close together and so quickly, that it's hard to tell the they're often confused or considered to be one in the same. A heavier spring reduces the one and increases the other...and vice-versa.

March 1, 2008, 11:07 AM
Them shooters on YouTube, might be shooting light target loads, with 11Lb recoil springs:D

Higher pressure dosen't always equal higher velocity. A faster burn rate powder, along with a heavier bullet, can have a dangerusly high pressure peak, with low velocity & recoil.

March 1, 2008, 11:39 PM
So it's neither technique nor strength, but different equipment???

March 2, 2008, 01:14 AM
So it's neither technique nor strength, but different equipment??? Given equal power loads in the same platform, technique will make all the difference in the world.

March 2, 2008, 01:59 AM
hey there:
1911 tuner has got the best story . I have found that in general 9mms recoil more. Anyway, The springs do have a lot to do with the recoil. Stance has a lot to do with it also. Try not extending fully and stay back toward your chest just a little till you find the sweet spot. Shoulders slightly forward like you are leaning into it just a little. Not so much that it looks or feels wierd.
If your gun has been altered or is older and may have a weak spring this can and likely will cause some extra muzzle flip. Normally too weak of a grip and you may find un reliable function. Shock buffers can also help soften some felt recoil and help save wear on the parts. I gave my son a Browning High power 9mm and that thing recoiled more then any of my 1911 .45s......
Just a few Ideas. have fun with it.

March 2, 2008, 06:46 AM
Fit and grip make a large difference in muzzle flip, also power of the round.

March 2, 2008, 07:20 AM
also power of the round.

Actually has little to do with recoil impulse except as a function of action/reaction. Neither does muzzle velocity.

Power as defined by bullet energy can be high with low recoil, or high with low recoil. The .308/150/2800 fps produces more muzzle energy than the .45-70/405/1200 fps round...but fired in rifles of equal weight, the big bore provides the more punishing recoil.

Heavy recoil can come with low velocity. (.45-70/405/122 fps)
Or light recoil with high velocity. (.22-250/45/3700 fps)

Total muzzle velocity has little to do with it, though it's involved.
About 90% of the total recoil impulse comes within the first half-inch of bullet travel in a pistol cartridge...and probably within the first two inches in a centerfire rifle. It's not how fast the bullet is moving when it hits the air...but how quickly it's accelerated from the start.

Quick-burning powder can be completely consumed before the bullet makes it to the muzzle. If it does, the bullet will actually slow down from the maximum speed it reached in the barrel due to the frictional drag. So, a fast powder and high bullet mass can produce a heavier recoil impulse at a lower muzzle velocity than the same bullet with a powder that keeps accelerating it until it exits.

Something to consider:

If the rule of thumb of 35 fps per inch of pistol barrel gained or lost is accurate...and it pretty much is...and the barrel is 4 inches long, not including the chamber...and the muzzle velocity is 1,000 fps...140 fps is obtained in the barrel. That leaves 860 fps unaccounted for.

March 2, 2008, 02:08 PM
So it's neither technique nor strength, but different equipment???

Not at all. It's technique. A stable, consistent, and neutral shooting position is what allows the IPSC and IDPA masters to shoot like greased lightning. Strength doesn't play much part in it, because these guys aren't trying to fight the recoil. They do use light springs and such but the equipment is only to give an edge to their technique.

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