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Article 7 – 2018 (August)

person aiming shotgun at target range

Russell Mark

Australian Shooter Magazine, Question and Answers

Article 7 – 2018 (August)


Question: I have a 12 gauge Harrington and Richardson side-by-side shotgun that I have owned since I was a teenager. It is very light and because of this I love taking it quail shooting, but occasionally I have a crack at some clays just for fun. This shotgun has always bruised me and to combat this I have recently put an expensive rubber recoil pad on the stock, but it still hurts me. A friend told me that the ammunition I have been using (Winchester) has fast burning gunpowder in it and I should swap to a load with slower burning powder to reduce recoil. What are your thoughts?

Kyle Hill, Richmond, NSW


Answer: I know of only four ways to reduce the recoil in your side-by-side shotgun Kyle. Take careful note; 1) add weight to your shotgun, 2) use a slower velocity shot shell, 3) use less shot in your shot shells and finally; 4) sell the gun.

If the last option does not appeal to you then only the first three will work in reducing “actual” recoil. Adding weight may upset the balance of the gun so the easy way to cure the issue is either through reducing the velocity or the weight of the shot. Fast or slow burning powders are not a factor in Sir Isaac Newtons, first, second and third laws of inertia, momentum and conservation of momentum. Now I completely understand that in gun club car parks across the country we have many very well educated, competent and widely experienced ballistic technicians that believe they are more knowledgeable than the genius 17th century English physicist, but trust me they are not. They, like your friend, are wrong. End of discussion.

I have covered this topic many times in the past. This phenomenon is often started by someone (usually a shot shell and firearm importer or a prospective sponsored competitor) with a new brand of shotgun coupled with a “magic” shot shell that they believe is going faster than the speed of light, but recoils less than that of a .410 gauge shot gun. They are confusing “perceived” and “actual” recoil.

A great way to explain this would be if you were given two identical shotguns and two identical shot shells to fire through each gun. Assume you are right handed and the first firearm was bent to the right or cast “off” therefore suiting a right-handed shooter. The recoil from the ammunition would probably feel quite normal. Now take the other identical shotgun except this one it is cast “on” for a left-handed shooter. Even though the ammunition you are going to use is exactly the same the gun will feel like it “kicks” or recoils considerably more because the inertia has now been redirected through your face because the stock does not fit you. The “actual” recoil is exactly the same, but the “perceived” recoil becomes considerably more.

When I was shooting clays regularly with the same shotgun and ammunition for many years I often found the amount of red wine I consumed the night before directly correlated with how I performed and also how I “perceived” the recoil the following morning. The “actual” recoil never varied and remained a constant factor in this simple ballistics equation with only three variables.


Question: I recently bought a second hand Perazzi MX8 Sporting shotgun and it is in its original condition. I could not be happier as I find this firearm a fantastic gun to shoot with. I am interested in putting a curved recoil pad on the end of it to help me mount the gun more consistently. Is there any brand of curved pad you recommend?

Jonathon Croft, Henley Beach, SA


Answer: My favourite curved recoil pads are the ones that I can easily sand down the tops and the bottoms of the pad with an angle grinder and make them flat!

I am curious about this. I have tried curved recoil pads, but have always gravitated back to the flat version. You state that your shotgun is in its original condition and that it is a “fantastic gun to shoot”. Why on earth would you want to change the pad?

The two world leaders in competition shotguns, in my opinion based on total Olympic Medals won, are Beretta and Perazzi. Neither of these manufacturers offers a shotgun from their factories with a curved recoil pad. Why do you think that two of the worlds leading shotgun companies don’t offer this? It’s certainly not because they can’t. They don’t offer this because they believe their shotguns perform better with straight flat pads that fit the greater majority of the world’s male and female shotgun shooters perfectly.

If you are mounting the gun correctly under your eye and in the inner part of your shoulder / breast muscle region that entirely fits the pad against your body, with no part of the recoil pad exposed, then a flat pad should suit you far better. A curved pad will promote you mounting the gun further out on your arm therefore the rounded part of the pad wrapping around your curved upper shoulder muscle. This technique is fundamentally incorrect and will lead to many other mounting and realignment issues particularly when a reactive fast and instinctive second shot is needed.

My advice is to stay with your current set up that feels “fantastic”. Danielle Perazzi knew what he was doing when he designed your shotgun many decades ago. He designed it with a flat recoil pad for a reason.

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