Do Shotguns Make Your Head Hurt? 5 Methods To Handle The Recoil Of A 12ga Shotgun.

          I for one have spent a lot of time behind 12 gauge pump-action shotguns and as you know, they produce a ton of recoil. The common payloads are massive at around 1oz (437 grains), plus shotguns are usually pretty light. A Mossberg 500 Persuader comes in at just 6lbs 10oz. A 28″ barreled Mossberg pump action shotgun in a “hunting” configuration scales in at 7lbs 3oz. In addition to the low weight and larger cartridges, pump guns don’t have an action that dampens recoil. You can’t cycle the bolt rearward soon enough to slow down the recoil of the shot like with a gas-operated semi-auto.

          This recoil jars the body, particularly the brain, which is pretty sensitive to shock. I’m not a chunky guy so I get beaten up a little. After 100 rounds of birdshot or so, my head will have a very dull pain in it. This is annoying and disheartening so I decided to do some troubleshooting and test out some ways that I know will work in order to solve this issue. Despite 12 gauge pump-shotguns being very prolific America, particularly in the Midwest, they seem to get used very little and I can only imagine that this is due to their powerful recoil. Anyways, I came up with 5 ways to better handle recoil without going with a lighter load or dropping down to 20 gauge. These apply to all types of 12 gauge shotguns.


How To Manage Shotgun Recoil

Method 1: Shoulder Gap – This method is a little cheap but I’ll tell you it anyways. Leave a gap between the buttpad of the stock and the area on your shoulder in which you usually place the buttpad. This will give time for the gun to decelerate before it hits your body and jolts your neck and head. You should hold the gun very firmly in order to slow it down more.

Method 2: Forend Push When actually done correctly, this method really stunts recoil. With your non-dominant hand (the one grabbing the forend) you will push the gun forward/away from your body. With your trigger hand, you will pull the gun tight into your body. Chris Baker with Lucky Gunner describes this as pulling the gun apart. This is a smart way to describe it because it really feels that way.

Method 3: Get A Gas Gun – Gas-operated, semi-automatic firearms lessen recoil by way of slowing down the recoil process. The acceleration is nearly the same but instead of a stationary bolt, which the recoil of the shell is directed into, the bolt moves backwards soon after the shot leaves the barrel. It’s basically like the difference between jumping off a 1 story building and landing on a trampoline versus landing on the immovable ground.

Method 4: Pectoral Stock Placement For this one you just move the butt of the stock closer to the middle of your body. This means the gun will be stocked onto your pec rather than the shoulder pocket. The gun will have a hard time moving during recoil as it will be impacting a very rigid part of your body.

Method 5: Heavier Gun Simply adding more weight to the gun will make its recoil more tame. This could mean just adding wood furniture, which is denser than the standard polymer furniture that is included with a lot of shotguns. You could also add slings and sling swivels, an extended magazine tube, a thicker walled barrel, side saddle, etc…


          After reading this article, I hope you will be able to handle heavy recoil better now that you know a thing or two. After testing these methods, especially Method 2, I look forward to getting out with my pump gun more often. If you have any questions, comments, or criticisms go ahead and let me know. I will answer any questions you have in a timely manner.