Recoil in a 45


March 16, 2009, 05:43 AM
My buddy was wondering about something
What is gonna have worse recoil a heavy 230gr bullet or a light 165+p bullet
Preferably speer gold dot JHP 230gr vs corbon powrball ammo which is +p

I dont know so I figured I would ask.It is gonna be coming out of a 5 inch govt 1911

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March 16, 2009, 06:47 AM
What do you mean "worse."

Are you afraid of the .45 in any of its configurations?

All .45 ACP rounds have very light recoil.

Work on your grip strength.

March 16, 2009, 07:29 AM
the 165gr p+ load will have a more recoil.

quick math:

165gr +p: ~11.4J of free recoil energie @ ~4.8 meters per second
230gr non p+: ~9.5J of free recoil energie @ ~4.4 meters per second

March 16, 2009, 08:18 AM
The thing about an autopistol is that you don't feel the actual recoil from the firing of the cartridge the way you do with the fixed breech revolver. There isn't a solid connection between the gun...slide and barrel...and the frame. What you essentially have is two closed systems operating in quick succession, while the revolver only has one.

The first part comes from the rapid compression of the recoil/action spring. When the slide starts moving and compressing the sets up another, separate action/reaction event between the slide and frame. The spring is now a vectored force that pushes forward on the slide and backward on the frame.

The..."explosion"...of the powder causes an action/reaction event between the bullet and the slide.
The hand "feels" it as a push instead of a punch.

In a revolver, that pulse is immediately transferred to the frame and to the shooter's hand.

As the slide moves, further compressing the spring...the vectored force gets stronger...then the impulse that we truly feel as rcoil occurs when the slide hits the frame and causes the muzzle to flip.

Using a stronger action/recoil spring increases the primary impulse...pushing harder on the frame and hand, but tends to soften the secondary impulse when the frame hits the slide. Most people...myself included...find that the stronger the spring, the snappier the felt recoil...and vice-versa.

As far as the bullet weight/mass depends greatly on the rate of bullet aceleration and the level of force required to accelerate a bullet weighing X grains as opposed to the force required to accelerate grains. Force forward equals force backward. Whatever force is delivered to the base of the bullet is also delivered to the breechblock. It's possible to generate more actual recoil with a lighter bullet...but that isn't always the case, and...because an autopistol's design doesn't transfer the impulse immediately...the harder-kicking light bullet ammunition may acually feel like it generates less recoil.

In a fixed breech weapon, the light bullet generates a quick slap, while a heavier bullet's impulse is slower and lasts longer...moving the shooter farther, and giving the impression that it "kicks harder" when it actually doesn't.

March 16, 2009, 08:35 AM
Very good explanation of what causes recoil. The only thing that I might add is the weight of the firearm. The lighter firearms will produce more felt recoil than the heavier ones.

Hungry Seagull
March 16, 2009, 08:53 AM
That is one of the reasons I picked a semi with a slide. I can handle the bigger loads well this way.

If I had to use a revolver, it would have to be either BP or a smaller less powerful charge in a modern gun.

March 16, 2009, 11:05 AM
Hey, 1911Tuner, you failed to mention
* In part A of the Action movement, besides the recoil/action
spring, the slide is being retarded also by the cocking of the
hammer/compression of the Main Spring (23 lbs stock, many
gunsmiths replace with a 19 lb. MS for trigger/action jobs ) but in
* Part B only the Recoil/Action spring is controlling/the return to

* Also, to further make more clear of Light versus heavy bullet
the heavier bullet takes longer to travel the barrel length because
it takes just a bit longer to get the heavier object moving.

I shoot a full size 1911 5" Bbl. S&W, with standard springs as S&W
specs at 39 oz. empty, as well as a 625 5" Bbl. full under lug at 45 oz.
empty. The 1911 with the forward return of the slide sort of gets the
muzzzle back onto the original position, whereas as stated with the
revolver, upon firing the recoil is transmitted directly to the shooters hands,
but the big N-frame's barrel axis is higher in relation to the shooters
hands and has more leverage but recovery or Part B it's on the shooter
to align the sights/muzzle

At the range last saturday, I shot 54 rounds of WWB 230 gr. FMJ & JHP
then switched to some 200 gr. SWC leadhead I have loaded to just over 1,000
FPS 2 cyl. full, and then Double Tap 200 gr. Gold Dots rated at
1125 FPS. The hot 200 gr. - both had more recoil to ME. in the 625


March 16, 2009, 06:28 PM
Beechnut, for those of us that love "the shove" of a 45acp, there is no such thing as "worse". No disrespect intended. My first experience with a 45acp round was in a Sig Sauer P220. I held on for dear life :eek:, expecting I don't know what. Surviving that first round, I was positively giddy. :D I made my plans that very day to acquire a 45acp. It dispenses big pills. :cool:

March 16, 2009, 06:32 PM
Why get a .45 to shoot a pathetic little bullet, though?

Seriously: the reason I got a .45 is to shoot heavy bullets, since I've seen what heavy bullets do.

March 16, 2009, 06:40 PM
A full-size steel frame 1911 with any load shouldn't bother anyone.

About fifty gazillion solders were able to shoot them in U.S. service over the years with very little training, or prior shooting experiance of any kind.

You can hold one with the thumb and trigger finger, the other three fingers off the grip, and empty the magazine as fast as you can pull the trigger.

It certainly isn't going to hurt anyone with normal hand strength.


March 16, 2009, 08:01 PM
If the recoil from a .45acp botheres you put a heavier recoil spring in it. Just fire it to make sure it works with your ammo.

March 16, 2009, 08:30 PM
If the recoil from a .45acp bothers you put a heavier recoil spring in it.

That'll just make it worse. Shoot a 5-inch 1911 with a 14-pound spring and then switch to a 20-pounder. The difference is unmistakeable.

magnum loader
March 16, 2009, 08:40 PM
Beechnut, I've just moved up from a S&W model 627 in 357 mag. to the new S&W M&P 45 full size & I would concur with the other posters comments on this round.
For me my hot 357 reloads recoil much harsher than any factory 45 rounds I've been pushing thru this new 45. I am not new to the auto pistol but am new to this larger calib. I am almost ready for my home reloads in 45 acp.

March 16, 2009, 08:55 PM
I didn;t know if any round stood out as having the most recoil.I should of worded it different then worse.
Sorry about that.I shot some round thru mine which were 230gr blazer brass and it was nice.

The recoil felt softer out of the RIA 1911 then it did out of a glock 17 9mm.

March 16, 2009, 09:58 PM
As a rule whatever load has the higher muzzle energy rating will also have the higher recoil when fired from the same firearm.

March 16, 2009, 10:57 PM
1911Tuner, I respect your opinion, but in my case I find the recoil or perceived recoil was reduced when I went to a heavier recoil spring. What is the standard spring rating for a full size 1911 for ball?

I have to tell you in all honestey that I installed a heavier spring when my kids were younger so they couldn't rack the slide. By the time they were able to pull it back all the way they were young men.

Funny thing. One of my boys perfers a revolver and the other a bottom feeder. Go figure.

March 16, 2009, 11:03 PM
When Tuner speaks, I listen.

It's odd that it's the opposite from bolt rifles. Shoot a very light -06 load, and then shoot a 180, and feel the difference.

I was surprised to feel that a .45 has a ....sluggish recoil, I suppose because the bullet is moving so slowly. Every time I've fired similar guns in .40 and .45, the .40 was snappier.

March 16, 2009, 11:47 PM
Pay attention to what Turner and RC say and you'll be heading in the right direction.

Guns - out

Semper Fi

March 17, 2009, 06:09 AM
1911Tuner, I respect your opinion, but in my case I find the recoil or perceived recoil was reduced when I went to a heavier recoil spring.

I 'preciate that, but it's not opinion. It's simple physics. Force forward equals force backward.

At full slide travel, a nanosecond before the slide hits the frame...a 14-pound spring is exerting 14 pounds of force on both the slide and opposite directions. A 20-pound spring exerts 20 pounds. That's the simplified explanation. Slide velocity rearward plays a part in that.

Your perception is influenced by the fact that the heavy spring softens the slide to frame impact, producing a little less muzzle flip...essentially trading one impulse for another. Most people find that using a heavier spring tends to tire their hand earlier in a session. Muzzle flip can be consciously controlled with grip and technique to the point that it's almost non-existent.

If you really want to soften the felt recoil in a 1911, use an EGW firing pin stop with the bottom corner just barely broken. Install a 23 or 25-pound mainspring to delay and slow the slide...and a 14-pound recoil spring. You'll think somethin's wrong with your ammo.

What is the standard spring rating for a full size 1911 for ball?

In recent times, the accepted standard has long been 16 pounds...but in truth, there never was a "pound" rating in the original design. Only a specified wire diameter and number of active coils. Compairing that (.043 inch and 32.5 turns) to a modern Wolff 14-pound spring works out to about 14.5 pounds at full compression as installed in the gun. Later, Army Ordnance revamped that to .0445 diameter and 30 turns...which compared to a Wolff 16-pound spring again closely approximates 14.5 pounds.

March 17, 2009, 02:32 PM
Thank's for your input. I'm leaving the heavy spring in as I feel it "enhances" relailability especially when stripping ctgs. from the mag. I also feel it lessens slide/frame battering.

March 17, 2009, 02:43 PM
I am fairly new to .45s myself (about a year now). I was very happy to find no discernable difference in recoil between that and any 9mm I have fired. My .38 642 has much more felt recoil with either .38 or .38+P as far as I can tell.

I agree with a post above...I gotta a .45, I am shootin' 230 grains!

March 17, 2009, 03:26 PM
I'm leaving the heavy spring in as I feel it "enhances" relailability especially when stripping ctgs. from the mag. I also feel it lessens slide/frame battering

As you wish...


You're trading one aspect of reliability for another. Overspringing the slide is the leading cause of that ol' debbil "Limp Grip" malfunction, with can cause failure to eject and failure to feed. It can also lead to Bolt-Over Base misfeeds...aka "Rideover if the mag spring isn't up to par.

As long as you have a solid, two-handed grip on the gun, the first two will probably never be an issue, though the risk of a Bolt-Over misfeed remains.


If the day ever comes that you can't get that solid hold, and you're forced to claw for the gun inb a panic and shoot one-handed with your wrist may well become a problem.

If the gun is right, it will strip, feed, and return to battery with a 10-pound spring. Whenever I tune a pistol for feed reliability, my litmus test is to remove the recoil system, and feed a magazine full through it by pushing the slide to battery with the tip of one finger. If it fails even once...I know I've still got tweakin' to do.

A heavier recoil spring also stresses the slidestop crosspin, lower lug, and the slidestop pin holes in the frame. Whenever I see a modern 1911 with egg-shaped holes in the frame, I know that either the gun has been badly oversprung, or it's just flat been shot to death. It might be well to note at this point that I have a pair of early 1991A1 Colts that have logged nearly 340,000 rounds collectively....and the holes are still round.

To respond to a PM that I just got on the subject...the spring does buffer the slide to frame impact to a degree, but it does so at the expense of the above-mentioned areas and parts. Simply put, you're not preventing the gun from're just changing where it will break. The impact abutment in the frame was designed to absorb it, and modern steel frames will take it for a long, long time.

John Browning and a team of Colt's top engineers burned a lotta midnight oil figurin' the spring rates for that achieve a balance. I gotta accept that they probably had a pretty good handle on what they were doin'.

Not bustin' your chops. Just a FYI/Food for Thought.

March 17, 2009, 05:32 PM
Again I appreciate your input and no chops busted. What would be a good spring to install for self defence & ball ammo? I have a full length guide rod which I'm thinking of taking out as soon as I can find a plunger. I can't believe I can't find a plunger. Guess I'll have to order one. I have an aftermarket recoil spring retainer which has a heavy spring inside. It came with my first 1911 many years ago. I'm thinking of putting it in my gun when I find a plunger.

My first 1911 was truly a masterpiece. I bought it used and shot it so much that the poi started changing requiring me to file the front sight down from time to time. Finally I took it to a 1911 guy and he told me that a new bbl., link and bushing would take care of the problem. It didn't and the gun still shot low requiring me to file the newly fitted front sight. I finally sold it as I figured the lugs in the slide were probably wore out causing the bbl. to cant down. The gun was so well fitted that it would feed and eject spent shells all day long and was the most accurate pistol I ever owned.

Thanks again for your input.

March 19, 2009, 04:08 PM
351...ZFor a 5-inch pistol with ball or any 230-grain bullet...stick with the engineered balance that was designed into the pistol. No more than 16 pounds on the recoil spring.
Use a 23-pound mainspring. The square EGW stop is optional but recommended. It really changes the recoil characteristcs of the gun.

Brownells has the standard recoil systems for just a little cash outlay. GI guide rod and plug for about 25 bucks, or you can order either one separately. They've got Ed Brown's name on'em, and it's a nice set.

I bought it used and shot it so much that the poi started changing requiring me to file the front sight down from time to time. Finally I took it to a 1911 guy and he told me that a new bbl., link and bushing would take care of the problem.

While the barrel and bushing was probably a goodidea, fiddling with diffrent links to change point of impact isn't. The link's only function is to disengage the barrel from the slide at the right time. Changing the on-center length between holes is a good way to get into barrel timing problems...sometimes destructive problems.

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