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Recoil and Barrel Length

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Life During Wartime, Jun 20, 2013.

  1. Life During Wartime

    Life During Wartime Well-Known Member

    I think that a long barrel being heavier recoils not as much as a short snub nose, but I don't know since I have not shot a snubbie yet. I have shot a six inch .38 and loved its recoil and don't know how a snub would recoil.
  2. jmr40

    jmr40 Well-Known Member

    There is a huge difference in "felt" recoil and "actual" recoil. Actual recoil can be mathematically figured by using

    The bullet weight
    The powder charge
    The bullet speed
    The guns weight

    Longer barrels increase the bullets velocity, which could increase recoil. They also add weight, so that would decrease recoil. It would be splitting some mighty fine hairs to say which is going to change more.

    Felt recoil is different to different people. With 2 guns fairly close in actual recoil different people will perceive it differently. Short barrels cause more muzzle rise, and many would perceive it as more recoil when it may in fact be no different than a gun with a longer barrrel. The recoil may be more "comfortable", based on how, and where it impacts your hands.

    The shorter barrel will also be a lot louder, which fools your brain into thinking it is recoiling more than it actually is.

    Long way of saying that long barrels are more comfortable/pleasant to shoot than short barrels. At least to me, and most other folks. But the actual recoil is probably about the same.
  3. Life During Wartime

    Life During Wartime Well-Known Member

    Thank you! Well explained!
  4. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

    There are two recoils - actual and perceived. Actual, as mentioned, is a simple calculation based on mass of the gun, velocity, and mass of the ejecta (bullet and powder).
    Perceived, aka KICK, is how you sense it - and that depends on the grip shape, how you grip it, etc.

    While you can't change Newton, you can change the perceived through a heavier gun, better grips, using a better hold, lighter ammo, slower ammo, etc.
  5. RealGun

    RealGun Well-Known Member

    I don't think recoil and muzzle flip are the same thing. The flip part seems a function of the barrel length and mass. Your strong hand wrist knows the difference.
  6. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    A 6" .38 is going to recoil just a hair more than a .22LR. A >2" snubby is going to recoil a bit more firmly. A .357 round fired in the same gun might actually be painful.
  7. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Well-Known Member

    I have a 15 oz scandium J frame that is not particularly fun to shoot with 38's. Same load in my stainless steel 6" 686 Performance Center feels like a .22lr. Yes the longer the barre, the less recoil you will percieve. The weight of the gun, from size, or construction materials has a big effect on the recoil as well, as jmr40 pointed out.
  8. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Recoil isn't determined by muzzle velocity. It's determined by the rate of acceleration and the force requirement to achieve that rate of acceleration. The bulk of actual recoil occurs long before the bullet reaches the muzzle. With some pistol calibers, peak force forward/force backward occur before the base of the bullet gets into the rifling.

    Let's do a hypothetical. I've done this one before.

    Two identical revolvers, with the only difference being their barrel lengths. Let's call'em .44 magnums. One has a 10-inch tube and the other is a 2-incher.

    Let's assume that the two guns are of equal weight.

    Let's also assume that the respective powder charges won't blow up either gun.

    The long one is loaded with a 240-grain bullet and a slow powder...say 2400.

    The short one is loaded with an identical bullet and a fast powder...say Bullseye.

    Both guns produce 1200 fps muzzle velocity.

    Let's assume that the rate of acceleration is linear.

    In the long gun, the rate of bullet acceleration is 120 fps per inch, while the short gun must achieve a rate of 600 fps per inch.

    Which gun will produce the sharper recoil...in a purely physical, Newton 3/Action and Reaction sense?
  9. hariph creek

    hariph creek Well-Known Member

    Up to a certain point. It's muzzle blast, that makes me flinch. As opposed to actual "recoil."
  10. highlander 5

    highlander 5 Well-Known Member

    I have a Ruger Blackhawk in 44 mag that has a 4 5/8" barrel. In its original configuration it was a handful with full power loads. That same pistol now sports a Bisley grip frame,trigger and hammer and has been MagNaPorted and is a pussycat to shoot. I have a Ruger Bisley in 45 Colt 7.5" barrel that is also very comfortable to shoot because of the grip frame.
  11. CraigC

    CraigC Well-Known Member

    Longer barrels = less recoil is conventional wisdom but I don't agree with it. I have a matched set of custom Ruger Bisley .44Mag's. Everything is the same right down to the gripmaker and grip profile and I find the shorter barreled gun to be more pleasant to shoot.
  12. Life During Wartime

    Life During Wartime Well-Known Member


    I concur that better grip holds do decrease the recoil. hats a good point. When I first fired the gun I was holding it sort of low because I was more accustomed to semi-autos and then my dad showed me how to hold it correctly with a high grip and it decreased flip by half.

    @Sam1911 & kodiak
    when you say that the .38 recoils as much as a .22, do you mean newtonian recoil or the percieved recoil? I am surprised that a .22 would recoil that much :eek:
  13. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Perceived. As in "not much." Below a certain threshold the differences in perceived recoil are so slight as to be not worth much. Other factors ("snap", torque, "bark"/blast, etc.) seem to be more important for most people.

    In a 6" barreled .38 Spc., you don't have ANY of those perceived negative factors to contend with.

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