No Shame in Using Low Recoil Ammo

Stop beating yourself up. New reduced recoil ammunition from Hornady joins other popular offerings from Remington and Federal to make shooting fun. In fact, even lightweights like me can handle it.

Hornady has introduced a new line of reduced recoil ammunition, called Custom Lite, which promises good performance with 25-43 percent less kick. The new easy-going ammo is loaded with either the well-proven SST or very excellent RN Interlock bullets, and all are on the light side of the bullet weight range.

Custom Lite is available in .243 Win., .270 Win., 7mm-08 Rem., 7mm Rem. Mag., 30-30 Win., .308 Win., 30-06 Springfield and .300 Winchester Magnum—all popular deer cartridges.

Federal Fusion Lite reportedly knocks recoil down up to 50 percent.

Federal Fusion Lite reportedly knocks recoil down up to 50 percent.

Of course, low recoil ammo isn’t a new concept. Remington’s Managed Recoil has been around for a spell, and even I could handle shooting Federal’s Fusion Lite, which reportedly slashes recoil up to a whopping 50 percent. Wisconsin-based Nyati makes a variety of dangerous game chamberings in low recoil, too, allowing you to practice shooting the really big stuff without dislocating your spine or popping your eyeballs out.

As far as I’m concerned, this is very good news. Now, apparently some shooters don’t mind getting whacked, but not me. I have my reasons.

Like the time I shot an exceptionally lightweight rifle chambered in the big, bad 7mm Remington Magnum.

It was as much fun as getting struck head-on by a rushing 300-pound NFL linebacker. It felt as if my brain had just bounced like a handball off a gymnasium wall, while my shoulder sat there trembling and looking like something resembling moldy cottage cheese.

OK, that was a slight exaggeration. But it was sure no fun.

Physical pain isn’t entirely bad (I guess). After all, it is a built-in defense mechanism: the body’s way of telling you to avoid unhealthy things—like playing chicken with dump trucks, or chewing on broken glass.

But some people never learn. Like that one friend we all have who, after studying the little trajectory graphic on the side of his ammo boxes, becomes a ballistics expert once a year, usually right before the deer season. “This here is the flattest-shooting cartridge money can buy,” he declares. “See, only drops 54 inches at 550 yards!”

“Shouldn’t you learn how to hit a paper plate at 50 yards first?” your other buddy says.

The ballistician accepts the challenge. With some duct tape and a few broken sticks, the paper plate is propped up at 50 paces—and proudly hammered into submission, shredded with all the ferocity of the fiercest magnum you’ve ever seen.

“Dat’ll kill a deer,” he says. “Good enough.”

But what are we really talking about here? How much recoil is too much?

Hornady's new Custom Lite reduced recoil ammo is available in a number of popular big game hunting calibers.

Hornady’s new Custom Lite reduced recoil ammo is available in a number of popular big game hunting calibers.

That depends on a lot of things, including the individual, but generally recoil energy in excess of 20 foot pounds (7mm Rem. Mag., for example) will make most shooters uncomfortable. Recoil energy in excess of 40 pounds (.416 Taylor, .416 Rem. Mag. etc.) can leave mere mortals quaking in fear and flinching at every shot. And anything over 60 foot pounds (.470, or 600 Nitro Express) will definitely, in the immortal words of Austin Millbarge, suck the paint off your house and give you a permanent orange afro.

Even a gun chambered in the mild-mannered .30-06 can kick like a deranged mule if it is too lightweight—that is to say it lacks the mass—and can’t overcome the recoil velocity of the cartridge. That’s no fun.

To control recoil you can have a gunsmith add weight to the stock. Install a muzzle brake on the barrel. Or err on the side of caution and do what I do: Happily suck down an entire box of Keeblers while watching reruns of I Love Lucy from the relative safety of the couch.

Low recoil ammo is another trick that tends to work well.

If you do even half as much shooting as I do (not a hard thing to accomplish, since ammo doesn’t qualify for low income assistance) you can think of situations where light recoil ammo would have come in real handy. I’m thinking young shooters. Female shooters. And dudes built like Pee-Wee Herman.

Every shooter has a limit to what they can tolerate. Mine happens to be embarrassingly low. Thanks to modern reduced recoil ammo even I can shoot guns that used to wreak all kinds of havoc, but now are just plain fun. You have to admit: it sure beats chewing on broken glass. What could be better than that?


Cartridges of the WorldEditor’s Note: Want to learn practically everything there is to know about virtually every conceivable cartridge known to man? If so you must do yourself a favor and check out the latest edition of Cartridges of the World. It’s truly top shelf, second to none. – Corey

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