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jim boyd's picture
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Joined: 07/06/2010
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Rifle Stocks - "Felt" Recoil

I was talking to a buddy about rifle recoil the other day and he made an interesting comment… he stated that certain rifle stock styles greatly contributed to “felt” recoil…

 He cited a Ruger M77 as being one of the worst and that the design of stock created a situation where the bulk of the recoil was transferred directly backwards toward the shooter…

He also stated that a Monte Carlo type rifle stock reduced felt recoil – is this the case?

I have read about Monte Carlo style stocks and just thought they were the “fancy” versions of a regular stock. 

Can one design of stock help reduce the recoil of a rifle over another type stock?

Tndeerhunter's picture
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Felt recoil is a highly subjective and quite controversial subject. I've known Buddies who claimed that the worst recoiling rifle they owned was a 30/30 carbine! Of course, stock design does have a significant effect on felt recoil, but all stocks don't fit all hunters the same so, to me even stock design becomes somewhat subjective rather than objective. Roy Weatherby made a point to design some feathres of his stocks to help with felt recoil, such as a descending monte carlo (descending torwards the front of the rifle).

This was supposed to help because your face moves forward as the rifle recoils so less wood there means less slap to your face (hopefully!). I shoot a good number of stiff recoiling rifles and although I'm not a nut who enjoys getting punched repeatedly, I don't mind it all that much, especially if I take some precautions before actually dropping the hammer.

The most important thing IMO, is good hearing protection! This is paramount as a loud noise will startle most, if not all people and you do not need that added problem as you try and concentrate on squeezing off a shot. Utilizing some type of cushion is another good idea. Heck, I normally simply use a folded towel between my shoulder and the rifle's butt to help with that.

Best thing? In my opinion using a good rest, such as a Lead Sled for prolonged shooting sessions or shooting sessions involving a couple of big bangers. Using a lead sled will open anyone's eye's as to what recoil free shooting is like (or nearly so). I am convinced that precautions at the range allowing low felt recoil matter a LOT, because personally I have yet to remember feeling bad recoil when shooting in the field. Even those times when I got scope rash! lol

As far as a Ruger 77's stock, I've never felt them to be (pun intended) particularly bad, recoil-wise and I own several. But, perhaps those stocks fit me well. Most all my 77s seem to have pretty straight combs, and that should help somewhat with felt recoil. One Ruger rifle that would have pretty fierce recoil, however, would be one stocked in their old synthetic "boat paddle" stock which was completely devoid of any recoil pad. Having, instead a ribbed hard plastic butt. Heck it hurt to look at it! 

Don Fischer's picture
Location: Antelope, Ore
Joined: 03/24/2005
Posts: 3213
I have forgotten most of what

I have forgotten most of what I knew about stock's that recoil to hard. As I remember stocks with to much drop at heel were reciolers. Also stocks to short or long are going to hit you pretty good. A good stock should deliver the recoil straight back into your shoulder. If it doesn't come straight back but rather up and back, the butt rolls on your shoulder and the cheek piece slaps the heck out of your chin. Wish I could better remember how that all worked.

I have owned two ruger mod77's, both old tang safty models. One in 7x57 from their first run about 1972 and the other a 338 Win Mag. That 338 waqs the second I'd owned and the easiest recioling. In fact recoil was less with it that most 300mags I've shot.

As for shooting off a bench, get the stock up so that when you shoot your sitting with nyour back straight. You can raise the bags some and lower the seat. If you don't and you scrunch down into the stock, your back will bend into the stock and your shoulder will take a beating rather than rolling with the shot. With a straight back, the recoil will push you back and giving more with the shot lessens felt recoil. Imagine laying prone and shooting a hard kicker. Then imagine sitting and shooting one. In the sitting position your body rolls with the punch, in prone it doesn't. Sitting with a straight back your body rolls with the punch much better.

groovy mike's picture
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it can make a difference

The worst recoiling rifle I ever had was my very first one.  And that’s not because I was inexperienced.  I still have the carbine and its still kicks hard!  It’s a Lee Enfield number 5 Jungle Carbine model of world war two vintage.  It’s chambered in .303 British which is not an especially fiercely recoiling cartridge.  But there is something about that carbine’s hard rubber butt pad that just snaps sharply into your shoulder.  Perceived recoil with that carbine is far worse than when firing identical ammunition from another model chambered in 303 British.  My World War One era Number 1 Mark III Lee Enfield is a full stocked rifle chambered in the same cartridge.  It is a heavier rifle than the number five carbine, but I think a bigger factor in the lower perceived recoil is the wide brass butt-plate that covers the entire rear edge of the butt-stock.  The stock itself is a little straighter than that of the jungle carbine but the butt pad on the carbine – is smaller.  So while you would think that rubber would feel softer in recoil than brass, the brass on the full stock spreads the recoil over a larger surface area than the rubber on the carbine’s smaller stock so perceived recoil is less from the brass fitted rifle.        

groovy mike's picture
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yes indeed


I recently bought a second Winchester model 70 in 375 H&H.  My original has a straight stock and is a pleasure to shoot.  The second has a stock with a lot of drop in it and kicks so hard that I have trouble holding onto the rifle.  Same action.  Same ammo.  But  HUGE difference with a stock change.

Joined: 01/24/2010
Posts: 57
TNdeerhunter.......I bought a

TNdeerhunter.......I bought a lead sled II last summer to help with recoil on my 300 WSM on the range.  Previous to getting this, I was using good quality sand bags and was getting pretty good groupings at 100 and 200 yds.  I felt good about my new gun, scope, and load.  When I used the lead sled, my groupings went to heck on me.  They were consistently higher, and spread on me. Have you or anyone else seen this with the lead sled II?  I stopped using mine and after spending $200 was very disappointed for this reason.

As far as felt recoil and stock type is concerned, I am more inclined to the believe fit and shooting style affect felt recoil, than I am about stock style.  One stock may work better for you, but the same stock may not work at all for me.  Not sure if rifle recoil is the same as shotgun recoil, but I do know that slight adjustments to the length of the butt stock can have a dramatic affect on felt recoil (and sore shoulder), and can affect your shooting results as well.  

JackHamr''s picture
Joined: 10/15/2007
Posts: 54
Don is correct . The more

Don is correct . The more inline the bore is with the butt ( a straight stock more or less ) the less "felt" recoil .. 

See how straight my CZ 458 Lott's stock is .. (ya hafta click the pic and it'll go fullsize)

Ruger No1 and the Ruger all weather with that synthetic black stock are wicked ..


The 30-30's buttstock is much lower than the centerline of the bore , and I have shot some that were pretty wicked feeling


Lott.jpg26.68 KB
Location: Colorado Springs
Joined: 02/23/2009
Posts: 188
I don't get it

I don't get it fella's.  I don't know much about recoil, I usually just check the recoil tables but then again, I don't have anything bigger than a 25-06 right now.  I have a 12 ga., but it never bothers me when shooting it, either slugs, buck shot, or BBB.  Why would a 'straight stock' reduce recoil?  My limited knowledge on energy leads my to believe that the heavier a stock or longer stock, the less felt recoil. ::confused2   I'd love to be educated on this so when my girls start shooting, I'll be able to outfit them better.

Joined: 02/09/2011
Posts: 35
The recoil from a straight

The recoil from a straight stock is transmited straight back into the but pad and your sholder.  This alows more of your body to absorb the shock.  The more drop, the more th force is transmited up and the more your hands and face get wacked.

Realize also that the heavier the gun the less felt recoil because the gun moves slower from the inertia of the shot.

Heavy gun and  thick but pad help but if your realy serious about reducing recoil get a muzzle break installed.

Location: Colorado Springs
Joined: 02/23/2009
Posts: 188
Thanks, that makes sense. 

Thanks, that makes sense.  Thumbs up

2506deerslayer's picture
Location: Nebraska
Joined: 12/24/2002
Posts: 118
I'm not real sure how that

I'm not real sure how that works, but my rem 700 cdl in 264 win mag is the funnest magnum I've ever shot, it is a new gun that has a pretty nice pad on it from factory and looking at it the stock is pretty straight, although if you run a straight edge down the centerline of the bore there is about a one inch drop to the top of the recoil pad. I checked on several of my rifles and that was pretty constistant in most of them. Some more and some less. I would say the kick pad is a lot like the limbsaver pads I have looked at. That also makes a huge difference. I would say if you have a hard kicking gun a limbsaver or a kickeze pad would make a big difference. I have shot some ruger and I do agree that they kick a little.

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