Thursday, February 14, 2008


For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
~~~Sir Issac Newtons third law of motion~~~

That's what recoil is all about. Shoving that bullet at hundreds or thousands of feet per second results in you and your gun being pushed backward equally. Since that bullet only masses a very small fraction of your body mass and the mass of your gun, the results are mostly tolerable and there are things that can be done to lessen the effects of recoil.

There are two types of recoil, actual and perceived. Actual recoil is a constant and can only be changed by lessening the weight or velocity of the bullet. Perceived recoil can be changed in many ways and is what I will concern myself here since firepower is our concern.

We can increase the mass of our gun. Less recoil is felt by using a larger gun, (i.e. longer barrel or heaver frame and grips.)

We can wear a padded shooting glove, but we can't do that unless we know before hand that we are going to shoot.

We can go to more resilient rubber grips which will help take the sting out of the recoil.

We can use a gun that has been "ported", where small slots or holes are machined into the end of the gun barrel which re-direct part of the escaping gasses slightly to the rear and upward. This works extremely well. I have a couple of weapons that have been ported or have a muzzle brake attached which does the same thing.

One is the .44 Magnum that AOW fired. She is just a small thing and the revolver would have tore itself from her hands or flipped up into the air if it wasn't ported. She was sitting down and I stood right behind her because I knew that it would push her back. As it was, although the first shot startled her, she was pushed back but retained control of the gun. It didn't hurt her at all.

From the previous post:

"I don't like SemiAutomatics because I'm afraid of a jam when I need to fire... I prefer revolvers. Any advise if we just consider revolvers? I should have said that before... When we were getting our CWPs, two applicants had semi-automatics jam during the target portion of the test."

Semi-autos are prone to jamming for many different reasons, dirt in the gun, under powered ammo, mismatched gun and ammo (some will simply not function except with certain specific types of ammo, many are prone to jam with hollow point ammo), over-strong springs or worn parts in the pistol.

One cause of jamming is an insufficiently tight grip on the pistol. A semi-auto pistol is operated by recoil. A loose grip can absorb the force of recoil that is required to load the next bullet.

My wife is incapable of firing a semi-auto without it jamming simply because her hands are too small.

"My husband has a Browning 9mm SA - I haven't fired that one yet. Would it have greater recoil than my .38 revolvers? I like the SAs because they carry more bullets, but the jamming thing has me worried."

I wouldn't call semi-automatic pistols SAs. That's a designation that gun people have used for the "single action" pistol or revolver since the late 1800s to differentiate it from the DA (double action) pistol.

Try it out and see. Semi-autos feel totally different than revolvers. In the case of your PPK, the gun is so small that the recoil is greater and the design isn't ergonomic. Hence, it stings your hand.

"a new higher 'power' and/or larger bullet would be for home protection and firing range."

In that case I'm going to recommend you look for a .357 magnum with at least a 4" ported barrel. Use it with 125 gr jacketed hollow point ammo for home defense or a .44 special which is ballistically similar to the .45 Colt. Possibly a ported .44 Magnum from which you may also (or only) shoot .44 specials.

Remember, you should only fire jacketed bullets through a ported pistol.

I'm not going to recommend a .45 Colt Most of the revolvers its offered in are single action only and the double action offerings are extremely expensive. There are only a couple of different bullet loads available for it also. You would be better off shooting .44 specials through a .44 Magnum revolver.


Eyes said...

Hi Warren,

That was very helpful! I investigated the .45 Colt online and found out exactly what you said - they're almost all Single Action. I say 'SA' because that's the designation on our CWPs. You can qualify for 'Semi Automatic' or (if revolver) NSA.

We can now carry and protect ourselves against attackers in our home, car and business here in Texas. Obviously a CWP covers all other situations with a few exceptions.

I was wondering if maybe the jams I witnessed at the range that day were because both guns had never been fired before. I bet you are right and the amo wasn't the best choice also - although it was the right caliber, for sure. What do you think? Is jamming more common when a gun is being broken in? We've since put a couple hundred rounds through the Browning and I don't recall it jamming since.

Now I'm leaning toward the 357 Magnum... :>D

You sure know a lot about guns!

QunQat said...

A little clarification on the SA (single action) designation.

As Warren explained SA and DA refer to the trigger mechanism. In the original revolver the trigger mechanism will release the striker, or hammer. The new fangled types had additional mechanism that would also cock the hammer AND ROTATE THE CYLINDER bringing the next round into firing position. This makes for convenience, but, can interfere with that crisp, smooth trigger pull that is good for accuracy!!

Historically semi-autos had to be manually cocked for the first round. In the older ones there was usually a hammer similar to revolvers. In later combat pistols someone came up with the idea of using the DA (Dual Action) mechanism from the revolver. This allows the hammer/striker to be de-cocked when not in use WITHOUT the necessity of manually cocking it by manipulating the slide or a cocker.

Browning Automatics originally were not DA. When they started making a version that was they applied the SA label to the original to clarify the difference.

Generally target pistols will be SA due to the extra work required to make the trigger work extremely well. Combat pistols will be DA to allow quicker deployment from a SAFE carrying posture. Additionally the DA will allow a retry on a round that does not fire without having to re-cock the pistol.

Just to make it interesting some people contract semi-automatic to SA also. In some cases, like the Browning SA, you are left guessing as to whether they are actually referring to the original Single Action version or to the Semi-Automatic pistol group!!


Eyes said...

Hi Warren, It looks to me like this one might be a good choice:

Taurus Tracker 627 357 Magnum 4" 7 Shot

What do you think?

Eyes said...

Hmmm, I just noticed Smith & Wesson has a new Lady Smith 0.357 Magnum... choices, choices...

Brooke said...

Warren, you are a fount of info. This was a great refresher; thanks!

Brooke said...

I also have to say that my hubby's SA Colt .45 fires (at least to my mind) a lot smoother than my own S&W J frame .38.

Of course, I am more than happy with the concealability (yeah, I mad that one up) of my Smith, and can deal with the recoil trade-off.

Warren said...

Eyes, let me clarify my comment about the .45 Colt. I think its a great gun and I would love to have one but I don't think its the best choice for home defense for the reasons I listed.

Yes, new pistols are more likely to jam. All the moving parts fit tighter and slow the action down.

I've always had a technical interest in firearms.

QunQat, I though I knew who that was but I wasn't sure. :^) Thanks for explaining the SA DA thing. I've been strapped for time lately.

Warren said...

Taurus Tracker 627 357 Magnum 4" 7 Shot.

I think that's a good choice. Taurus has really come up in the world.

Warren said...

BTW Brooke, I've heard that there is a manufacturers coupon for $50 off and two high capacity magazines for the Smith and Wesson M&P in 9mm.

Anonymous said...


I was referred to your blog by Cube. Good work.

I was going to point out the 9 mm in your response to Nanc as being short changes but then I saw your comment about the M&P deal S & W is offering. The hit on 9 mm as overpenetrating really only applies to ball ammo (nato or mil spec) as it must adhere to Hague or Geneva convention dictates. The ammo available to us as citizens is vast and its performance today is phenomenal. There are as many as 40 -50 different hollow point loads with weights of 110 to 147 grains from Federal, Remington, Speer, Winchester, Fiochi, Corbon, Hornady and on and on.

While you are right that Jams can occur due to ammo type, the stiffness of new guns as well as limp wristing and cleanliness issues the fact remains that revolvers can alo jam. Not often but it does happen. Poor bullet crimp can cause bullets to move far enough forward under recoil such that it is advised to check new ammo brands for this posibility before carrying as a defensive load. also dirt can bind up a revolver as well as an auto pistol.

All in all, it comes down to selecting a fire arm one shoots well, with ammo one can count on in that sideaarm and complete familiarity with the manual of arms for that weapon- things can go awry with any mechanism no matter how well made!

Two last things.
1)While I find most people enjoy the recoil attenuation of semi autos many people with hand strength issues who feel a revolver is thier only choice may consider the tip barrel pistols of Berreta as a good trade off. Easier to load a round into the chamber as well as clearing one from it with certainty.

2) Training classes beyond those required for CWP are great for developing the skills needed for clearing jams quickly, rapid reloads and shooting from positions your range may prohibit at the public line!

I like your Blog very much and would enjoy returning.



Brooke said...

Warren: I know.


Eyes said...

Hi Warren, I just posted something interesting about a gun my husband has that you might be interested in.. as a gun enthusiast:

QunQat said...

You are welcome Warren.

I don't get to talk weapons much here in SF!!!!!

The new id is because, after a short layoff, I could never get back in under my original blogger account, so, finally set up some new accounts so Google would not have direct access to any of my info!! I REALLY DISLIKE THEIR ATTITUDES AND POLICIES!!


Warren said...

Jeff, (if I may),
Welcome to my blog and you are always welcome here.

My dislike of the 9mm predates functioning hollow point ammo and non-military 9mm pistols. It dates from the time of 147 gr full metal jacket bullets that would penetrate the inner and outer wall of a house and hit someone on the other side. A time when the "new" hollow point ammo was too light to chamber reliably in that Hi-Power or just wouldn't chamber because the angle was wrong on the feed ramp. And then when the pistol manufacturers redesigned their guns, the hollow point ammo was worthless because it wasn't designed right and didn't expand.

Granted that all those problems have been addressed and the 9mm is now a formidable piece when its made right, the right ammo is used, and the person who owns the gun is moderately proficient with its care; it still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Although my dislike is outmoded at this point in time, its still there.

I don't begrudge anyone their 9mm, but when-ever I pick one up I have an uncontrollable urge to turn it sideways and "buss-a-cap". My son owns one, and even lives under the same roof, I still talk to him, (sometimes). ;^)

Seriously, I usually post a disclaimer about my dislike of the 9mm being a personal fluke but I figured everyone knew by now and "Eyes" asked me to make a recommendation in a revolver.

These were my last words in a post titled " Handguns, which one is right for me?":

The "best" is what's best for you, what fits your hand comfortably. I prefer the .45 ACP in either the larger or smaller frame models.

For personal protection, I recommend a medium caliber medium power weapon with experienced people using the magnum calibers if personally preferred. I recommend proven functional hollow point ammunition for 9mm pistols. (Not all semi-auto pistols will function with hollow points and some cheap hollow points won't function in any weapon at all).

Warren said...

Its good to hear from you.

Yea. I imagine that firearm talk raises a few pierced eyebrows in SF.


Support at google isn't worth a crap!

The Frank Family said...

For a home protection .357 Magnum I would suggest a Ruger Vaquero if single action didn't bother you or a Ruger Blackhawk if you must have double action. They are extremely well built and dependable.