Auto-loader vs Revolver recoil...

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Kentucky Rifle, Mar 6, 2004.

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  1. Kentucky Rifle

    Kentucky Rifle Member In Memoriam

    Dec 23, 2002
    Louisville, Ky.
    I was just reading the article about S&W's "Pug" in the Feb '04 issue of "Guns and Ammo" and began to wonder something. (Yes, I realize that the "Pug" is lighter. :) ) However, when you shoot a .45ACP from a 1911, it's pretty comfortable. If the "Pug" weighed as much as a 1911, I wonder if recoil would be about the same--or more? After all, no slide is moving on a revolver to act as a shock absorber. In equal caliber and weight guns, do you think the difference in recoil would be much different in a revolver and an auto-loader?

  2. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

    Dec 30, 2002
    Deep in the Ozarks
    "Recoil" is complex.

    Strictly speaking, recoil is based on equal and opposite reaction. So TOTAL recoil is simply (mass of ejecta X velocity of ejecta) = (mass of gun X recoil velocity of gun.)

    "Ejecta" is everything that comes out the muzzle -- both bullet and propellant gas. And the velocity issue is complex -- some gas will move faster than the bullet (but soon slow down in the atmosphere.)

    TECHNICALLY, you could expect a revolver to have LESS "recoil" since some of the gasses are expelled to the side.

    However, there are other factors -- one of them being the TIME in which recoil is expressed. A pistol like the M1911 spreads recoil out over time -- because the frame and slide do not recoil at the same rate.

    Another point is the lever arm (how far above the point of rotation the barrel is.) A gun with the barrel lying lower in the hand will seem to recoil a bit less, while one with the barrel quite a bit above the hand will tend to rotate and "kick back" more.

    By and large, when it comes to felt recoil, an M1911 design will have less felt recoil than a revolver of equal weight when firing the .45 ACP cartridge.
  3. jar

    jar Member

    Jan 17, 2003
    Deep South Texas!!!!!
    Actually, I find the felt recoil of 45acp to be a lot less in my wheelguns than in my 1911s. I often wondered about that and my best guess, and it is a guess, is that the revolver's center of mass is far forward when compared to the semi. You have the weight of the ammo and that nice big cylinder, as well as the barrel sitting further forward than in the semi.
  4. Dave Markowitz

    Dave Markowitz Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Plymouth Meeting, PA
    Grips also have a lot to do with felt recoil. E.g., I think a revolver in .45 ACP with grips identical to a Ruger GP-100 would be extremely comfortable to shoot, since they soak up recoil so well. In contrast, the issue grips on a S&W M1917 let the gun squirm in your hand and do little to absorb recoil.
  5. Boats

    Boats member

    Dec 29, 2002
    My only observation is that my .357 Magnum kicks no worse than my shorter slide 1911s all the while pounding out a third more muzzle energy per round.

    However my 5" 1911 kicks less. My guess would be a .45ACP revolver with good grips will subjectively recoil less than a 1911. Of course the revolver will tend to weigh a little more too.
  6. antediluvianist

    antediluvianist Member

    May 16, 2003
    another view

    An engineer told me that - eveything else being equal (mass of guns same and same cartridge etc.)- the revolver will recoil less because the entire mass of the revolver furnishes inertia-resistance, whereas in an auto-loader the slide slams into the frame at the end of its rearward cycle (at explosion, low-mass bullet goes forward very rapidly, higher-mass barrel plus slide combination goes backwards more slowly but still fast , then barrel disengages and slide keeps going to end) . His point is that the slide transfers the force into the frame at the end of its rearward movement, and the frame only has about one-half of the entire mass of the whole gun.
    Whereas the entire mass of the revolver resists rearward motion in a revolver.
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