Taming recoil key to greatly improved shooting

By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer

There’s nothing more important to good shooting than being comfortable with the firearm you’re using, and reducing the recoil may be the best step one can make in that direction.
For rifle shooters of every age and experience level, reducing the amount of felt recoil can make a big difference in accuracy, not to mention in the simple enjoyment of shooting. Habitual flinching, the act of snatching the trigger at the last second or moving your body in anticipation of the kick that’s on its way, is reliably caused by heavy recoil. Until the use of muzzle brakes on sporting rifles became common practice, there was not much one could do beyond adding a simple pad to the end of the stock, but some clever mechanical engineering has changed all that.
After-market muzzle brakes, those built by a reputable company and installed by a custom gunsmith, can reduce recoil by 50 percent or more, sometimes much more. Though results vary by caliber and model, many stout-kicking rounds can have their punishment to the shooter virtually eliminated altogether, and with no reduction at all in the velocity or accuracy of the projectile they fire.
A muzzle brake, mounted on the end of a rifle’s barrel, redirects the torrent of expanding gas that pushes then follows the bullet out of the muzzle and uses its kinetic energy to offset the rearward-travel the firing of the round initially created. Vents in the muzzle brake point the escaping gas to the sides and the rear, and the force those gasses exert against the muzzle brake itself when that happens cancel out much of the energy that first pushed the rifle the other way. This typically causes the sound of the shot to be somewhat louder to the shooter’s ears, but no anything the hearing protection the shooter should be wearing anyway can’t handle.
Aftermarket brakes vary in quality and effectiveness, but the price of one whose performance is truly outstanding can still be surprisingly low. David Carr, of Carr’s Guns and Ammo in Saltillo, has been installing the muzzle brake made by J.P. Enterprises of Hugo, M.N., for quite some time and has been impressed with its effectiveness, mentioning one customer whose .35 Whelen and .300 Winchester Magnum, both so outfitted, can be now fired with effectively no recoil whatsoever.
“They let the shooter be a lot more confident because they don’t have to worry about flinching,” Carr says. “It makes for easy, pleasant shooting.”
The brakes Carr installs retail for around $120, and installation runs an additional $40 or so.
“The threading of the outside of the barrel the brake goes on needs to be very precise, as does the hole the bullet will travel through,” Carr said. “It’s well worth the time and effort, though.”