Tested: Recoil reduction products

Fitness guru Ethan Lowry takes a closer look at how recoil reduction products can help your shooting and your health

There are many methods to reduce the recoil of a firearm. However, none of these methods will compete to a proper stance and shooting posture

One of the main reasons shooters are at such a risk of shoulder problems is due to the recoil and kick experienced when a firearm is discharged. The average 12-bore shotgun with a typical 11/8 ounce load will produce approximately 20 foot pounds of recoil. There are so many variables to calculating the expressed recoil of a firearm it would be a lie to say that this is an industrywide standard, but with that being said, the most common variables include: material of the stock, weight of gun, load of shell used and type of shotgun.

There are many methods to reduce the recoil of a firearm. However, none of these methods will compete to a proper stance and shooting posture: if these aren’t correct, no product will help you.  However, in recent years we have seen a large influx of new recoil-reducing products that continue to surprise us in their ability to take the pressure off our shoulder and I have been given access to two of the most popular brands in today’s market: Kick-eez and Limbsaver.

In testing various products, it is important that there were no other variables to influence the results. In keeping with this goal, the exact same ammunition and firearm were used throughout. The Revo Premium Game shotgun was an unconventional, but reasoned choice. It is sold by many country sports shops as a good hybrid-starter gun for clays and game, it weighs 8lb and provides notable recoil. Eley Hawk Olympic Blues 7.5, 28-gram cartridges were the chosen ammunition as we wanted to avoid lower load ammunition that may give us a false positive in testing our chosen products.

Limbsaver Protective Shoulder Pad

This product is visually noticeable. It is obvious that someone is using it, which among amateurs may not matter an awful lot, but among the elite shooters, knowing that your opponent may be nursing an injured shoulder might give you a confident boost. Its ability to reduce recoil is a hit or miss. The rubber absorbs the recoil and it slips into a sleeve in the fabric.

The problem, however, arises when the shooter raises their gun: the shoulder pad, along with the rubber inside it moves, but not always in keeping with how you’re moving your gun. This was off-putting in a Sporting situation and was enough to throw you off.

It was exacerbated when multiple layers of clothing were worn. If, however, the shoulder pad accommodates your movement and was sitting flush with your body it reduced the recoil, but not by much.

Limbsaver Standard Recoil Pad

Slipping neatly over the butt of the stock, you could sometimes question why the shoulder pad even exists. There is absolutely no effort in fitting it, or if you are sharing a firearm, you can just as easily slip it back off.

I found this product tremendous value for money for the amount of recoil it reduces. Limbsaver claim 70 percent reduction in recoil, and while I would argue that the actual felt recoil is slightly lower, it functions well and costs relatively little in comparison to other accessories. Keep in mind that it changes the shape of the stock as it slips on like a sock on a foot and widens the width of the stock slightly.

Limbsaver Airtech Recoil Pad

Much like the classic Limbsaver pad, this one slips on with ease. Following Limbsaver’s advice, I removed the existing factory recoil pad from the end of my firearm. The difference between this model and the classic are the advanced, atmospheric chambers (air pockets) that absorb the recoil.

In comparison to the standard version I found that the recoil was distributed more evenly across the entire pad. I would argue that this transpired into a further reduction in felt recoil experienced by myself. Furthermore, the Airtech model seems to be more streamlined: it was less bulky and slightly thinner yet this did not compromise the reduction of recoil. Upon further research various shooters have preferred the Classic to the Airtech and vice versa, therefore, it leads me to believe that the difference is entirely subjective.

Kick-eez Grind-to-fit Sorbothane Recoil Pad

Much like its rival from Limbsaver, Kick-eez has an equally excellent product. Also featuring a grind-to-fit application we again saw a flush fit with the existing stock. The Sorbothane of the Kick-eez pad felt denser and harder. I thought this may translate to a poorer ability to reduce recoil but that was not the case. It felt like an equal competitor to the Limbsaver Grind-to-fit but in my eyes had a slight advantage. Because of the increased density of the Sorbathane the Kickeez pad had a shallower depth, which meant that it sat closer the skin. I found this lessened the feeling that there was something between you and your firearm, which was a nuanced experience across all the products.

Limbsaver Grind-to-fit Recoil Pad

This was the first product I had used that required altering the shape of my gun stock, which, I was a tad apprehensive about. But after searching the internet I found a plentiful of guides and tutorials that made the task easier.

The first thing I noticed was how inconspicuous this product is. Secondly, because of the grind-to-fit application the pad sits flush with your own stock, which means the shape is changed to an absolute minimum. However, in comparison to the slip-on products, I didn’t actually feel much of a difference in the pad’s ability to reduce recoil in comparison to some other products. You have to modify your gun slightly, but if that doesn’t bother you, this is an excellent choice.

In comparison to the standard version I found that the recoil was distributed more evenly across the entire pad. I would argue that this transpired into a further reduction in felt recoil experienced by myself. Furthermore, the Airtech model seems to be more streamlined: it was less bulky and slightly thinner yet this did not compromise the reduction of recoil. Upon further research various shooters have preferred the Classic to the Airtech and vice versa, therefore, it leads me to believe that the difference is entirely subjective.

Conclusion

Felt recoil reduction is entirely subjective. What may feel like an 80 per cent reduction to me might only be a 40 per cent to you. This fact makes choosing a product important.

Doing certain things personally will help with recoil, such as developing a consistent gun mount and having your shotgun fit to suit your body shape and size, but if you are looking for a short-term fix, one of these products will be a useful addition. Thankfully, each of these products is available for between £40-45  andnone of them are extortionately expensive so there is some room for trial and error.

The main point here is that all these products do work to a degree. The next stage is figuring out what works best for you and your choice of shotgun and ammunition. That will then hopefully reduce the side effect of spending too many hours in pain or discomfort when you are breaking clays.


This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Clay Shooting magazine. For more great content like this, subscribe today at our secure online store www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk

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Posted in Advice and tips, Coaching, Reviews

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