Recoil, also known as kick or kickback, is the backward momentum of a gun when it is fired. Many beginners are very concerned about how much recoil a gun is going to produce when it fires. That is completely understandable because if you’ve never shot a gun before, you don’t know what to expect. What is surprising to me is number of husbands who send their wives to the range with a large caliber gun for their first shooting experience. I’m not saying that women can’t handle the larger caliber guns, but giving a brand new shooter a .38 Special snub nose revolver or a .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol to learn with might be setting them up for failure, or at least an extreme dislike of shooting.
If you are a first-time shooter, why not set yourself up for success by starting out with a smaller caliber, such as a .22 pistol? As you can see from the pictures below, the muzzle barely lifts up when the shot is fired. The minimal recoil will help you get past any anxiety or nervousness during those first shots. It will also allow you to focus on the fundamentals of shooting, rather than stressing out about the recoil of the gun with every shot.
The next set of pictures show the recoil of a .380 caliber pistol. The .380s are popular with many people who carry concealed because they are so small. The .380 cartridge is smaller than a 9mm cartridge and therefore slightly less powerful, but due to the short barrel length of the pistol you will experience some recoil. All that energy has to go somewhere, so it goes towards “open space” (where your hands are not gripping the gun), which is up and back if you have a solid two-handed grip.
The 9mm cartridge is powerful enough for self-defense use, but it is smaller than a .40 or .45 cartridge. This means that the recoil of a 9mm pistol will be lighter than those calibers, but you are going to feel more recoil than the .22 and .380 pistols. The pistol being fired below has a compact 3.8” barrel. As mentioned before, the shorter the barrel, the more recoil. A 9mm pistol with a longer barrel might not recoil as much as the one in this picture.
Now, let’s take a look at the recoil of a .40 caliber pistol. If you’ve never shot before, you’re nervous and a little scared, and you don’t know how to properly grip a pistol, do you think a .40 caliber pistol would be a good one to start with? I sure don’t!
The .45 caliber pistols have quite a bit of recoil, too, but they are generally larger and heavier so the recoil doesn’t feel as harsh as you might expect. There is still quite a bit of kick, as you can tell by this picture.
These snapshots were taken from this short video of one of our female employees shooting a variety of semi-automatic pistols ranging from .22 to .45 caliber. You can check out the video here: http://youtu.be/_nVdAlg0htw.
At BluCore, we want new shooters to get a “kick” out of their first shooting experience and have it be a positive one. We wrote this blog and made this video to showcase the recoil of the most popular calibers of semi-automatic pistols. Sometimes more experienced shooters forget what it’s like to shoot a gun for the first time and they try to get others to start with gun that is “too much” for a beginner. Why not give new shooters the best chance for success by starting them out with a lower caliber pistol so they can get comfortable shooting and work on their fundamentals? Once they have the confidence and skills, they will be more than ready to take on the big guns.