Article 3 – 2015
Question: I am only a field shooter that fires off no more than five hundred rounds a year at local vermin, but I do want to participate a lot more. My problem is after a couple of shots I really feel the recoil of the shotgun on my face. I get bruised on my shoulder sometimes also. I have a field model 56 Beretta in its original condition that was passed down to me from my late father. It has a lot of sentimental value so I really would like to keep the firearm and eventually pass it on to my son. I was told there is a device called a “recoil reducer” that simply fits in the bolt hole in the back of the stock under the recoil pad. Can you tell me anything about this and where I may get one?
Alan Hamilton, Townsville QLD
Answer: Recoil reducers were a fad in the 80’s. The two most famous were the spring loaded “Edwards” reducer and the mercury filled “Bear Trap” device. At one stage in my career my father had tried both on me. I was his guinea pig for any new gadget on the market. In my honest opinion the Bear Trap was the better of the two. It worked twice as well, but it appeared twice as heavy. And there lies the answer. The mathematical equation of recoil only has three variables. In shotgun shooting these are the weight of the shotgun, the amount or weight of the payload of your shotshell and finally the speed that payload is being forced out of the end of your barrel.
Your model 56 Beretta is a notoriously light weight field gun. It was designed this way to be carried all day in a quail paddock or duck swamp. The benefit of the shotguns minimal weight is offset by the use of heavy and fast field shotshells. I am cringing thinking about shooting 36 gram 1300 feet per second loads through it. Either of the recoil reducers will help negate the actual effects of recoil, but in my honest opinion a 250 gram lead fishing sinker will do exactly the same thing. Alternatively a slower shotshell or one with less shot will also work.
The disadvantage of adding weight to your stock is it will significantly change the balance of your shotgun. A few hundred grams added to the rear of your stock will make the barrels at the other end of the shotgun feel like feathers. This may not be so important in field shooting, but for competition the results would be disastrous.
As to where you can purchase a recoil reducer these days I am not really sure. I would try online first of all as I am sure both of those companies flooded the market a few decades ago and their devices were solidly made and would not wear out too quickly. They were American inventions (as are most gimmicks in shotgun shooting) so I would start there.
Your model shotgun from memory had a solid plastic butt plate on the end of its stock. A helpful tip may be to spend a hundred dollars and get a rubber recoil pad fitted to it as this will certainly help lessen the perception of recoil on your shoulder.