Reduced recoil ammo: when just enough is just enough.

Author:Petty, Charles E.

Where is it written that we must punish ourselves to be a successful hunter? Actually it isn't, but if you look at the choices many make, you'd think so. I don't think there is anything hard enough to kill east of the Mississippi to justify the use of a magnum. Of course there are those who'd mention long ranges, so I'm willing to concede there might be circumstances where flatter trajectory would be nice--if we didn't know how to sight in our rifle. Most of the popular cartridges like the .30-06 or .270 can easily be sighted in to give a maximum point blank range of 300 yards or so. Most hunters shouldn't shoot at game beyond that range and in the east you'd have to work hard to find a shot that long anyhow.

But our ammo choices are almost always predicated on maximum velocity loads. And of course maximum velocity equates to maximum recoil. For some hunters that is of little consequence but for our wives and kids it may be a very big deal and once you see the deer is every bit as dead when shot with some mild load, maybe it would be worth a try. I've always felt that our fascination with magnums and maximums is from the belief that power is needed to assure clean, humane kills. Believe me there is nothing more frustrating than seeing a game animal run off after you've shot it. But many times it isn't the fault of the ammo but of the hunter himself whose marksmanship may have been marginal. Even though it may be against the code of the modern male to admit it: recoil is not our friend.

Recently, there have been some quiet moves within the industry to acknowledge this without ruffling too many feathers. Federal first did it with some handgun ammo in their "Personal Defense" line that had lighter bullets at relatively fast velocities to give less recoil without sacrificing effectiveness. Then along came Remington with their "Managed Recoil" line of rifle ammo soon followed by Federal's "Low Recoil" ammo.

Less Is Enough

The two companies took very different routes to arrive at a similar goal. The three main elements of recoil are the weight of the gun, plus weight and velocity of the bullet. The weight of the gun is up to you. Remington used considerably lighter bullets while Federal chose to keep bullet weights close to normal while reducing velocity. Neither is right or wrong, just different means to a similar end.

I should hasten to point out that the calculation of free recoil is not what you and I would get (that is felt recoil for which...

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