Recoil Comparison : Revolver vs. Semi-auto


Kaptain Five
April 11, 2012, 10:17 AM
I've been thinking about this for a while, and figured i should just ask people who know far more than I do.
How can one accurately compare the recoil of semi auto handguns to revolvers?
Specifically, when firing a semi, does the change of center of gravity, due to the movement of the slide, affect felt recoil?
I have noticed that my 6" security six .357 mag "feels" like it recoils less than my uncle's 1911 .45acp.

Or did i just drink too much coffee this morning and over think everything? :uhoh:

Thanks in advance

If you enjoyed reading about "Recoil Comparison : Revolver vs. Semi-auto" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
April 11, 2012, 11:00 AM
The only real way to do a test like that would be to have a revolver and a semiauto chambered for the same round. But then you also have to think that recoil is different to everybody. Some people may just handle recoil out of a revolver better than others. By the way, your location looks like it says you live in the southwest northeast :D

April 11, 2012, 11:50 AM
I agree, you would need similar rounds in similar weighted guns to really tell.
The back strap on a 1911 is straight vs most 357s are arched near the top. The bore centerline on a revolver is generally higher on a revolver adding more pivoting up roll.
and of course the mass and momentum of the slide pounding back then fwd.
The mass of the slide has some significant effect as even when shooting my Ruger Mark iii, and with it's tiny bolt/ slide.. I can tell when it locks back on the last shot. It slamming FWD almost has more kick than the 22 pushing the gun back. :)

April 11, 2012, 11:56 AM
I have noticed that my 6" security six .357 mag "feels" like it recoils less than my uncle's 1911 .45acp.
I'm the opposite. After a box of 50, .357 magnum rounds through my S&W 686 (6" barrel) I've had enough.

I could shoot several hundred rounds out either of my .45ACP auto's without any problems. To me, the recoiling slide takes out some of the recoil pulse and the .45ACP is a much lower pressure round than the .357 Mag.

April 11, 2012, 01:34 PM
I regularly shoot a 1911 in .45ACP and a S&W 625 (revolver) in .45ACP with the same ammo, 850 FPS hardball. Both have 5" barrels. Usually shoot them back to back within a few minutes of each other. It always seems to me that the revolver has much less recoil.

I don't know the weights of the guns off-hand, I'd guess they're pretty close.

I guess that could also be because I'm also typically shooting a 629 in .44 Magnum during the same time frame, so possibly I'm sub-conciously comparing the .45 ACP revolver recoil to the .44 Magnum.

April 11, 2012, 01:39 PM
To some extent recoil is subjective. I shot a basic 1911 with thin wood grips years ago that felt perfect in my hand until I actually fired it and the jolt hit a nerve in my wrist & hurt like crazy. Same gun with wider grips felt like a cream puff.

April 11, 2012, 05:02 PM
I have noticed that my 6" security six .357 mag "feels" like it recoils less than my uncle's 1911 .45acp.

There is so many variables in this comparison that it's not simply apples to oranges. It's a veritable fruit salad that is so confused by the number of factors that it's simply not worth trying to compare the two.

I will say that having shot both options that I do find .357 Mag from either my K frame to be snappier than my 1911 in .45acp. But if I compare my N frame 28 with .357Mag to my 1911 it might be more of a toss up as to which hits harder. It would certainly be more close though. But from sitting here I suspect the nod for more recoil would still go to the .357 despite the weight of the N frame gun.

Since you feel that your Security Six has less felt recoil a whole lot of things come to mind. First off is familiarity with your own gun. Second is how well the grips on each gun fits your hand. THen from there you get into a whole lot of other differences between revolvers and semis.

April 11, 2012, 09:44 PM
I find the recoil on my 1911 to be much less than the recoil on a S&W M19 4". Not even close. For some reason the recoil on my 1911s seem tame compared to .40S&W and to 9mm pocket pistols like the Kahr PM9. I know the 38oz weight of the 1911 helps but I feel the .45ACP is more of a push than a snap with heavy muzzle flip. Of course, that's just me. Everyone is different.

April 12, 2012, 12:30 AM
I don't know about 1911's specifically...but....
I know my 4" GP-100 357 felt like it kicked a lot harder than my HK USP45.

April 12, 2012, 06:58 AM
It's subjective. I can shoot full horse .357magnum outta my 686SSR until the cows come home. I used to think that it had a fair amount if recoil until I touched off my .500!! Now .357 magnum feels like .38!!

April 12, 2012, 10:13 AM
Total recoil impulse can be computed using pretty basic physics. It's just weight of the stuff that comes out of the gun (projectile and gasses/powder) times the velocity of that stuff; then you look at the weight of the gun, figure out the velocity that it would have to be moving to have the same momentum as the other side of the equation, and you're done.

Felt/perceived recoil? Really complicated. Many, many variables, some of which vary by person. The way a shooter holds the gun and even how fast his brain processes visual inputs can all change how recoil is perceived. There's some interesting stuff about "flat" recoil on this blog: .

OP, it's entirely possible that you perceive less recoil from the .357 than the .45 in the named platforms. Recoil matters to two things in shooting: recovery time, and pain/flinch-inducement. Your own subjective impressions are good enough to assess the latter - if you don't think it hurts to shoot, and doesn't make you blink/flinch, then it doesn't. The former is easily measured with a shot timer. At the end of the day, despite the complexity of how recoil interacts with your body and brain, it's pretty easy to measure which gun effectively recoils less for you, even if it is difficult to predict before experimenting and measuring.

If you enjoyed reading about "Recoil Comparison : Revolver vs. Semi-auto" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!