One of my favorite topics !

The number one selling ammunition in the world is 22 rimfire.

Why do we shoot so much of this stuff?


Sure that is a big factor but if we were trying to save money, we wouldn't shoot at all.

I contend that the real reason is the low noise level and abscence of recoil. You can stand there all day and blast tin cans, paper or whatever and the recoil never comes to mind.

I stood and watched a buddy of mine shoot weeds with a Marlin lever action 22. No joke, he would point out the weed and then saw it in half with a little 40 grain bullet. These weren't big fat weeds either but more like tall grass. Did I mention this was with open sights? Now this guy no doubt was an excellet shot. He knew how to do it, not from shooting competitions or from lots of trial and error but from years of shooting a rimfire.

If I were a deer, I would be more concerned about this guy hitting me at 75 yards with a rimfire than I would be about the average guy at the shooting range with his "deer rifle".


Because this guy can put the bullet in the "clean kill zone."

My point is that confidence and comfort with a rifle go hand-in-hand with bullet placement. And bullet placement is what seperates the men from the boys. Anyone can get out there and throw lead in the air and compensate for poor bullet placement with brute force but where's the challenge and humanity in that?

If you insist on the need for a large caliber rifle with brute force and knock down power, learn to shoot it well. The animal deserves that and so does the sport.

Rifle Weight Recoil    
22 Rimfire 6 pounds Less than 1 pound    
Average Deer Rifle 8.5 pounds 14 pounds    
Light accurate flat shooting caliber 8.5 pounds 8 pounds    


Recoil is a result of a combination of things, with probably the two most significant factors being volume of powder charge and bullet weight.

Other factors include rifle weight, velocity, and powder velocity.

The formula in it's self is complex and beyond my comprehension, but here it is .( ref Lyman 45th edition).

Wg Vg = W1 Vp + W2 Vc

Where: Wg = Weight of gun (lb )
W1 = Weight of bullet (lb)
W2 = Weight of powder chg (lb)
Vg = Recoiling velocity of gun (fps)
Vp = Muzzle velocity of bullet (fps)
Vc = Effective velocity of powder charge

Maybe to you this is simple. I will just let the computer do it for me, thanks.


In the fall of 1997, I convinced my dad to drop back to 150 grain bullet in his 30-06. The results, a 3.9 pound reduction in felt recoil, now around 15 pounds with 100 yd energy at 1639.

This was a good improvement and he is shooting better at the range. Now I have to work on 30 years of flinch with him.

My project for the summer is to do some extensive testing with 130 grain bullets, maybe even less bullet, if I get the time. Expected recoil with 130 is around 9 lbs.

Simply reducing the bullet weight but leaving velocity high can still leave recoil high. By reducing the bullet weight and velocity, recoil is lighter at the expense of down range energy loss.

Before you decide that you can't accept reduced energy, consider that improved bullet placement greatly compensates for lower energy. We have all heard the stories of killing large game with a rimfire, not to say that it can't be done, but this is a realistic approach.

The goal here is to reduce recoil so that you enjoy practicing. If you enjoy practicing, you will practice more. Come next fall, you should be able to drive nails with that old deer rifle that you just can't give up.

My father has since passed away but the last deer he shot (1999) was a 1 shot kill. 130 grain Sierra bullet fired from his 30-06. I was not there to see it unfortunately but he called me that evening and was as excited as a kid at Christmas. A phone call from him I will never forget.


Some Video My brother shooting his 30-06

An article at Chuck Hawks Site


Caliber Bullet Lbs of Recoil 9.5 lb gun Lbs Recoil 8.5 lb gun Velocity Energy at 100 yards
243 70 6 5.5 3398 1426
243 100 5.9 6.6 2717 1328
25-06 87 8.2 9.2 3359 1750
25-06 120 10.9 12.1 3047 2015
270 90 9.1 10.1 3391  
270 130 12.6 14.1 2947 2021
308 110 9.6 10.7 3130 1850
308 150 12.4 13.9 2814 2150

This chart assumes the "lightest" bullet in it's class on the light bullet and "typical" bullet on the heavier bullet.

You can see that the weight of the gun is just about a pound for pound trade on recoil.

I knew I should not have started this because my brain goes into overdrive with "what ifs".

Crunching the numbers, I discovered that only in the 243 shooting the lightest bullet, actually reduces recoil and increases bullet energy at 100 yards. In the chart above, the 2 bullets listed for the 243 produce 1426 lbs and 1328 lbs of energy at 100 yards respectively. Obviously, the 30 grain drop in bullet weight combined with a huge increase in velocity attribute to the gain in energy. Still it is interesting and for me, just one more reason to love the 243.


So further discussion on recoil and accuracy.

Cartridge Bullet Charge Velocity Recoil (lbs) BC 100 yd Energy
243 100 34.5 2845 7.1 357 1432
260 100 43.7 3126 9.4 346 1760
25-06 100 52 3202 11.1 336 1869
6.8 SPC 100 28.5 2794 6.1 201 1337

243 100 2845 5690 1432 5728 quad
    4267   2864   50%
    3556   2145   25%
    3200   1790   12.5%

Doubling Velocity quadruples Energy

Where Doubling Weight only Doubles Energy


September 2004

Rifle Recoil

In 2002, I purchased a Ruger Compact in 308. The more I shoot it, the more I like it. My brother Kyle fell in love with it the first time he saw it. Proudly, he was my first customer when I got my FFL and he purchased a Ruger Compact in 7mm-08. He bought the stainless laminated model which weighs 1/2 pound more than my blued model with walnut.

When Kyle showed the -08 to his buddy up the street, his buddy promptly ordered a twin 7mm-08.

This really isn't about the Ruger Compacts but working with them prompted a brief study in recoil and velocity. I knew going in that I would not load heavy bullets in my .308 and started with 125 grain bullets. Killed 2 deer with it in the fall of 2003 using the 125's and worked with 110's this summer.

The 110's shoot very nicely and I will hunt with them for the 2004 season.

Just for point of reference, the stats on the Ruger Compacts:

Blued/Walnut 16.5 inch barrel 5.75 pounds
Stainless/Laminate 16.5 inch barrel 6.25 pounds

Scope and rings, swivels and sling, and loaded rounds in the magazine bring my blued Compact to just a shade over 7 pounds.

When chronographing my .308, I was happy to find that I was not losing tons of velocity with the short barrel. I have always heard and used as a rule of thumb, 75 fps loss per inch of barrel. More accurately, 25 fps loss at least in the .308. We have not chronographed the 7mm-08 yet but expect a similar loss.

So as a means of "Fair" comparison, I put together this table and used as level a playing field as possible.

This data comes from a major reloading manual. All calibers with the exception of the 7mm-08 used a 26 inch test barrel, the 7mm used a 24 inch.

All data used the same powder and the load listed was maximum charge with the given bullet.

Bullets selected were Smallest Middle & Largest for each caliber.

Not really anything we didn't already know but in the table, you can easily compare side by side recoil and velocity.

Recoil was calculated using "Load From a Disk Ballistics Software" which I reviewed on my site back in 1998.
I guess this product is no longer available but I'm sure there are plenty out there to choose from.

Weight of Firearm
16.5 inch Barrel
24(7mm) 26 inch Barrel
Velocity 7 LB 7.5 LB Velocity 7 LB 8 LB 8.5 LB
243 Win
      3773 6.9 6 5.7
      3309 7.8 6.8 6.4
      2869 8.3 7.2 6.8
      3632 9.8 8.5 8
      2994 9.6 8.4 7.9
      2789 11.4 10 9.4
      3427 13.3 11.7 11
      3030 15.3 13.4 12.6
      2631 17.7 15.5 14.6
2762 11.4 10.6 3012 12.8 11.2 10.5
2580 12.3 11.5 2830 14 12.2  11.5
2142 12.3 11.5 2408 14.6 12.8 12.1
2767     3017 11.9 10.4 9.8
2698     2942 17.1 15 14.1
2219     2469 17.8 15.6 14.7
      2492 7.5 6.6 6.2
      2145 8.6 7.5 7.1
      2054 9.7 8.5 8
      3257 14.5 12.7 12
      2932 18.5 16.2 15.3
      2457 21.3 18.6 17.5

My philosophy is give me a fast light bullet and I'll give you something to butcher. I have this belief because of comfort at the target range and confidence built at the target range. If it's not beating you to death accuracy will follow. The recoil numbers are explanation enough for me.

Bill Wade

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