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Rifle Recoil Table

By Chuck Hawks


For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction; that is one of the physical laws of our universe. This means that the momentum of a rifle's reaction will exactly equal the momentum of the bullet and powder gasses ejected from the barrel. In the shooting sports we call that reaction recoil or "kick." It can be measured or computed empirically and has been for this recoil table.

Do not forget that rifle weight is a crucial factor in the recoil equation, inversely proportional to recoil. Increase the gun weight by, say, 25% and the recoil goes down by 25%. In the real world, firearms chambered for less powerful cartridges are typically built lighter than firearms chambered for more powerful cartridges. Violate this principle by, for example, chambering a lightweight, short action rifle for a powerful Magnum cartridge like the .300 WSM and the result will be a dramatic increase in kick. Just because it can be done does not mean it makes sense, despite what you might read in advertising copy. Choose a rifle weight appropriate for the loads you intend to shoot.

However, perceived recoil, what the shooter feels, is a highly subjective matter. In addition to gun weight, it is influenced by many factors. One of the most important of these is the fit and shape of the rifle stock. A good recoil pad can help soften the blow to the shooter's shoulder. Gas-operated semi-automatic actions reduce apparent recoil by spreading it over a longer period of time. These sorts of things cannot be accounted for in a recoil table. Also, please understand that there are dozens of loads for any given bullet weight in any cartridge that will produce the same velocity, but a different amount of recoil. So the figures in any recoil table should be taken as approximate. Never-the-less, the table below should give a reasonably accurate comparison of the recoil of most popular rifle cartridges.

It is worth remembering that the majority of authorities agree that recoil of over twenty foot pounds will cause most shooters to develop a serous flinch, which is ruinous to bullet placement (the prime component of killing power). Fifteen foot pounds is probably about the maximum recoil energy most shooters feel reasonably comfortable with, particularly at the shooting range, where most serious marksmanship practice occurs.

While recoil energy determines how hard the blow to the shoulder feels, recoil velocity determines how abrupt the blow to the shoulder feels. My subjective impression is that, with a well designed stock, recoil velocity above about 10 fps begins to feel like a sharp rap on the shoulder rather than an abrupt push.

I estimate that fifteen foot pounds of free recoil energy and 10 fps of recoil velocity represent the approximate upper limit of the comfort level. Above that recoil becomes increasingly intrusive. Also, the effects of recoil are cumulative. The longer you shoot, and the harder the rifle kicks, the more likely you are to flinch. These are good things to remember when comparing rifle cartridges, and at the range.

In the table below rifle weight is given in pounds, free recoil energy is given in foot pounds, and free recoil velocity is given in feet-per-second. All recoil values have been rounded off to one decimal place.

The recoil energy and recoil velocity figures are taken from various sources including the recoil nomograph in the Handloader's Digest 8th Edition, various online recoil calculators, the Remington Shoot! program or calculated from the formula given in the Lyman Reloading Handbook, 43rd Edition.

For an expanded version of this table showing more loads, including British, European, wildcat, obsolescent American and proprietary calibers, see the "Expanded Rifle Recoil Table" on the Tables, Charts and Lists Page.


Cartridge (Wb@MV) Rifle Weight Recoil energy Recoil velocity
.17 HMR (17 at 2550) 7.5 0.2 n/a
.17 Rem. (25 at 4000) 8.5 1.6 3.5
.204 Ruger (33 at 4225) 8.5 2.6 4.4
.218 Bee (45 at 2800) 8.5 1.3 3.1
.219 Wasp (55 at 3300) 8.5 3.2 4.9
.219 Zipper (55 at 3400) 8.5 3.4 5.1
.22 LR (40 at 1165) 4.0 0.2 n/a
.22 WMR (40 at 1910) 6.75 0.4 n/a
.22 Hornet (45 at 2800) 7.5 1.3 3.3
.22 PPC (52 at 3300) 8.5 3.0 4.8
.221 Fireball (50 at 3000) 8.5 1.8 3.7
.222 Rem. (50 at 3200) 7.5 3.0 5.1
.223 Rem. (45 at 3500) 8.5 2.6 4.5
.223 Rem. (55 at 3200) 8.0 3.2 5.1
.223 Rem. (62 at 3025) 7.0 3.9 6.0
.225 Win. (55 at 3700) 8.5 4.4 5.7
.224 Wby. Mag. (55 at 3700) 10.0 3.6 4.8
.22-250 Rem. (55 at 3600) 8.5 4.7 6.0
.22-250 Rem. (60 at 3500) 12.5 3.1 4.0
.220 Swift (50 at 3900) 10.5 3.7 4.8
.220 Swift (55 at 3800) 8.5 5.3 6.4
.223 WSSM (55 at 3850) 7.5 6.4 7.4
.224 TTH (80 at 3550) 7.5 10.2 9.4
5.6x50 Mag. (60 at 3300) 7.5 4.0 5.9
5.6x52R (70 at 2800) 7.5 3.7 5.7
5.6x57 RWS (60 at 3800) 7.5 6.9 7.7
6mm PPC (85 at 2800) 7.5 5.3 n/a
6mm BR Rem. (80 at 3100) 8.5 5.2 6.3
6mm-223 (75 at 2950) 7.5 4.6 n/a
6mm Norma BR (95 at 2914) 8.5 5.9 6.7
6mm Lee Navy (112 at 2650) 8.5 6.5 7.0
.243 Win. (75 at 3400) 8.5 7.2 7.4
.243 Win. (95 at 3100) 7.25 11.0 9.9
.243 Win. (100 at 2960) 7.5 8.8 8.7
6mm Rem. (100 at 3100) 8.0 10.0 9.0
.243 WSSM (100 at 3100) 7.5 10.1 9.3
6mm-284 (105 at 3000) 7.5 10.9 9.7
6mm-06 (105 at 3000) 8.0 10.2 9.1
.240 Wby. Mag. (100 at 3406) 8.0 17.9 n/a
.25-20 Win. (86 at 1460) 6.5 1.3 3.5
.256 Win. Mag. (75 at 2400) 7.5 2.4 4.5
.25-35 Win. (117 at 2230) 6.5 7.0 8.3
.250 Savage (100 at 2900) 7.5 7.8 8.2
.257 Roberts (100 at 3000) 7.5 9.3 8.9
.257 Roberts (120 at 2800) 8.0 10.7 9.3
.257 Rob. Imp. (115 at 2900) 8.0 10.8 9.3
.25 WSSM (120 at 2990) 7.25 13.8 11.1
.25-06 Rem. (100 at 3230) 8.0 11.0 9.4
.25-06 Rem. (120 at 3000) 8.0 12.5 10.0
.257 Wby. Mag. (100 at 3602) 9.25 15.8 10.5
.257 Wby. Mag. (115 at 3433) 9.25 17.7 11.1
.257 Wby. Mag. (120 at 3300) 9.25 15.1 10.3
6.5mm Grendel (120 at 2600) 7.5 8.9 8.8
6.5x50 Arisaka (140 at 2600) 8.0 10.0 n/a
6.5x52 M-C (140 at 2200) 8.0 7.8 n/a
6.5x54 M-S (140 at 2400) 7.5 11.1 9.7
6.5x55 Swede (129 at 2700) 8.0 12.5 10.0
6.5x55 Swede (140 at 2650) 9.0 10.6 8.7
.260 Rem. (120 at 2860) 7.5 13.0 10.6
.260 Rem. (140 at 2750) 8.25 11.9 9.7
6.5x57 (140 at 2700) 8.0 12.5 10.0
6.5mm-284 Norma (140 at 2920) 8.0 14.7 10.9
6.5mm Rem. Mag. (120 at 3100) 8.0 13.1 10.3
6.5mm Rem. Mag. (140 at 2900) 8.5 13.9 10.3
6.5x68 S (140 at 2990) 8.5 16.8 11.3
.264 Win. Mag. (140 at 3200) 8.5 19.2 12.1
6.8mm Rem. SPC (115 at 2625) 7.5 8.0 8.3
.270 Win. (130 at 3140) 8.0 16.5 n/a
.270 Win. (140 at 3000) 8.0 17.1 11.7
.270 Win. (150 at 2900) 8.0 17.0 11.7
.270 WSM (130 at 3275) 8.0 18.7 12.3
.270 WSM (150 at 3000) 8.0 18.9 12.3
.270 Wby. Mag. (130 at 3375) 9.0 21.0 12.3
.270 Wby. Mag. (150 at 3000) 9.25 17.8 11.1
7-30 Waters (120 at 2700) 7.0 10.0 9.6
7x57 Mauser (139 at 2700) 8.75 11.7 9.3
7x57 Mauser (145 at 2725) 8.5 13.0 9.9
7x57 Mauser (160 at 2600) 8.0 14.3 n/a
7x57 Mauser (175 at 2500) 8.0 15.5 11.2
7mm-08 Rem. (120 at 3000) 7.5 12.1 10.2
7mm-08 Rem. (140 at 2860) 8.0 12.6 10.1
.284 Win (150 at 2860) 7.5 17.4 n/a
7x64 (154 at 2850) 8.0 17.9 n/a
7x65R (175 at 2600) 8.0 17.1 11.7
.280 Rem. (140 at 3000) 8.0 17.2 11.8
.280 Rem. (150 at 2900) 8.0 17.4 11.8
.280 Rem. (160 at 2800) 8.0 17.0 11.7
7x61 S&H Mag. (154 at 3000) 8.5 18.4 11.8
7mm Rem. SAUM (160 at 2931) 8.0 21.5 13.2
7mm WSM (140 at 3200) 8.0 20.7 12.9
7mm WSM (160 at 3000) 8.0 21.9 13.3
7mm Rem. Mag. (139 at 3100) 9.0 19.3 11.8
7mm Rem. Mag. (150 at 3100) 8.5 19.2 12.1
7mm Rem. Mag. (160 at 2950) 9.0 20.3 12.0
7mm Rem. Mag. (175 at 2870) 9.0 21.7 12.5
.275 H&H Mag. (160 at 3050) 8.5 19.5 12.2
7mm Wby. Mag. (140 at 3300) 9.25 19.5 11.7
7mm Wby. Mag. (160 at 3200) 9.0 25.6 13.5
7mm STW (160 at 3185) 8.5 27.9 14.6
7mm Ultra Mag. (140 at 3425) 8.5 25.3 n/a
7mm Ultra Mag. (160 at 3200) 8.5 29.4 n/a
.30 Carbine (110 at 1990) 7.0 3.5 5.7
.30 Rem. (170 at 2120) 7.5 9.8 9.2
.30-30 Win. (150 at 2400) 7.5 10.6 9.5
.30-30 Win. (160 at 2400) 7.5 12.7 10.5
.30-30 Win. (170 at 2200) 7.5 11.0 9.7
.30-40 Krag (180 at 2430) 8.0 16.6 n/a
.300 Sav. (150 at 2630) 7.5 14.8 n/a
.307 Win. (150 at 2600) 7.5 13.7 10.9
.308 Marlin Express (160 at 2660) 8.0 13.4 10.4
7.5x55 Swiss (150 at 2800) 9.0 12.9 9.6
.308 Win. (150 at 2800) 7.5 15.8 11.7
.308 Win. (165 at 2700) 7.5 18.1 12.5
.308 Win. (180 at 2610) 8.0 17.5 11.9
.30-06 Spfd. (150 at 2910) 8.0 17.6 11.9
.30-06 Spfd. (165 at 2900) 8.0 20.1 12.7
.30-06 Spfd. (180 at 2700) 8.0 20.3 12.8
.300 Rem. SAUM (180 at 2960) 8.25 23.5 13.6
.300 WSM (150 at 3300) 8.25 22.5 13.3
.300 WSM (180 at 2970) 7.25 27.1 15.5
.300 WSM (180 at 2970) 8.25 23.8 13.6
.308 Norma Mag. (180 at 3000) 8.5 25.9 14.0
.300 Win. Mag. (150 at 3320) 8.5 23.5 13.3
.300 Win. Mag. (165 at 3110) 8.0 26.2 14.5
.300 Win. Mag. (180 at 2960) 8.5 25.9 14.0
.300 H&H Mag. (180 at 2920) 8.5 23.1 13.2
.300 Dakota (180 at 3100) 8.5 28.3 14.7
.300 Wby. Mag. (150 at 3400) 9.25 24.6 13.1
.300 Wby. Mag. (180 at 3240) 9.0 31.6 15.0
.300 Ultra Mag. (180 at 3230) 8.5 32.8 15.8
.30-378 Wby. Mag. (180 at 3300) 9.75 42.6 16.8
7.62x39 Soviet (125 at 2350) 7.0 6.9 8.0
.303 Savage (170 at 2170) 7.5 10.3 9.4
7.65x53 Mauser (180 at 2500) 8.0 15.4 n/a
7.62x53R Finn (150 at 2800) 9.0 13.1 9.7
7.62x54R Russian (150 at 2800) 9.0 13.1 9.7
7.62x54R Russian (174 at 2600) 9.0 15.0 10.4
.303 British (150 at 2700) 7.5 14.2 11.0
.303 British (180 at 2420) 8.0 15.4 11.1
7.7x58 Jap (150 at 2700) 9.0 11.9 9.2
.32-20 Win. (100 at 1984) 6.5 3.3 n/a
.32 Spec. (170 at 2250) 7.0 12.2 10.6
8x56 M-S (170 at 2260) 8.0 12.4 10.0
8x57 Mauser (170 at 2400) 8.0 13.6 10.4
8x57JS Mauser (150 at 2900) 8.0 17.1 11.7
8x57JS Mauser (195 at 2500) 8.0 18.5 12.2
.325 WSM (180 at 3060) 7.5 33.1 16.9
.325 WSM (220 at 2840) 7.5 37.5 17.9
8x68S (150 at 3300) 8.5 25.3 13.9
8x68S (200 at 2950) 9.0 29.1 14.4
8mm Rem. Mag. (200 at 2900) 8.5 32.9 15.8
.33 Win. (200 at 2100) 8.0 13.9 10.6
.338-57 O'Connor (200 at 2400) 8.0 19.2 12.4
.338 Marlin Express (200 at 2400) 8.0 16.2 11.4
.338 Marlin Express (200 at 2600) 8.0 22.0 14.0
.338 Federal (200 at 2600) 7.0 22.2 14.3
.338 Federal (210 at 2630) 8.0 21.9 13.3
.338-06 A-Square (200 at 2800) 8.0 23.9 13.9
.338-06 A-Square (250 at 2500) 8.5 28.2 14.6
.338 Win. Mag. (200 at 2950) 8.5 32.8 15.8
.338 Win. Mag. (225 at 2780) 8.5 35.2 16.3
.338 Win. Mag. (250 at 2700) 9.0 33.1 15.4
.330 Dakota (250 at 2878) 8.5 40.5 17.6
.340 Wby. Mag. (200 at 3100) 10.0 29.6 13.8
.340 Wby. Mag. (250 at 2941) 9.0 43.4 17.6
.338 Ultra Mag (250 at 2860) 8.5 43.1 n/a
.338 Lapua Mag. (225 at 3000) 9.5 37.2 15.9
.338-378 Wby. Mag. (250 at 3040) 11.75 41.1 15.0
.348 Win. (200 at 2510) 8.0 23.7 n/a
.357 Mag. (158 at 1650) 7.0 4.7 6.6
.35 Rem. (200 at 2050) 7.5 13.5 10.8
.356 Win. (200 at 2400) 7.5 17.5 n/a
.358 Win. (200 at 2490) 8.0 20.9 13.0
.358 Win. (250 at 2260) 7.66 23.0 13.9
.35 Whelen (200 at 2675) 8.0 22.6 13.5
.35 Whelen (225 at 2525) 8.0 25.0 14.2
.35 Whelen (250 at 2400) 7.5 27.9 15.5
.350 Rem. Mag. (200 at 2700) 8.5 22.3 13.0
.350 Rem. Mag. (225 at 2550) 8.5 24.2 13.5
.350 Rem. Mag. (250 at 2500) 8.5 29.0 14.8
.358 Norma Mag. (250 at 2723) 9.0 31.2 15.0
9.3x57 (232 at 2330) 8.5 19.8 12.2
9.3x62 (250 at 2450) 8.5 25.7 14.0
9.3x62 (270 at 2550) 8.5 33.3 n/a
9.3x62 (286 at 2360) 9.0 28.0 14.1
9.3x64 (286 at 2650) 9.0 36.5 16.2
9.3x74R (250 at 2550) 9.0 29.1 14.4
9.3x74R (286 at 2400) 8.25 34.3 16.6
.370 Sako Mag. (286 at 2550) 8.5 35.2 16.3
.375 Win. (220 at 2200) 7.5 17.1 12.1
.375 Ruger (270 at 2840) 9.0 41.3 17.2
.375 H&H Mag. (235 at 2700) 9.0 29.5 14.5
.375 H&H Mag. (270 at 2690) 9.0 36.1 16.1
.375 H&H Mag. (300 at 2530) 9.0 37.3 16.3
.375 Dakota (300 at 2600) 8.5 44.5 18.4
.375 Wby. Mag. (300 at 2700) 10.0 47.3 17.5
.375 Ultra Mag (300 at 2800) 8.75 53.2 n/a
.376 Steyr (270 at 2580) 8.0 39.0 n/a
.378 Wby. Mag. (300 at 2900) 10.25 71.1 n/a
.38-40 Win. (180 at 1100) 7.5 3.1 5.2
.38-55 Win. (220 at 1650) 7.5 10.1 9.3
.38-55 Win. (255 at 1415) 7.0 9.5 n/a
.450/.400-3" (400 at 2150) 9.0 51.0 n/a
.404 Jeffery (400 at 2170) 10.25 41.0 16.1
.405 Win. (300 at 2200) 8.0 30.6 15.7
.416 Taylor (400 at 2350) 10.0 47.8 17.5
.416 Rem. Mag. (400 at 2400) 10.0 52.9 18.5
.416 Rigby (400 at 2400) 10.0 58.1 19.3
.416 Dakota (400 at 2500) 10.0 59.2 19.5
.416 Wby. Mag. (400 at 2700) 10.25 83.0 22.8
.44-40 Win. (200 at 1200) 7.0 3.4 n/a
.44 Rem. Mag. (240 at 1760) 7.5 11.2 9.8
.44 Rem. Mag. (275 at 1580) 7.5 11.4 9.9
.444 Marlin (240 at 2400) 7.5 23.3 14.2
.444 Marlin (265 at 2200) 8.5 22.1 12.9
.45 Colt (255 at 1100) 8.0 4.0 5.6
.45 Colt +P (250 at 1500) 6.5 11.1 10.5
.45-70 (300 at 1800) 7.0 23.9 14.8
.45-70 (350 at 1900) 7.0 37.9 18.7
.45-70 (405 at 1330) 7.5 18.7 12.7
.450 Marlin (350 at 2000) 7.0 37.2 18.5
.450 Marlin (350 at 2100) 8.5 33.6 16.0
.45-120 Sharps (405 at 1850) 9.0 33.9 n/a
.450 N.E. (465 at 2150) 11.0 55.5 18.0
.458 Win. Mag. (400 at 2050) 9.0 41.7 17.3
.458 Win. Mag. (500 at 2100) 9.0 62.3 21.1
.458 Lott (500 at 2300) 10.0 70.4 21.3
.460 Wby. Mag. (500 at 2600) 11.25 99.6 n/a
.500/.465 N.E. (480 at 2150) 11.0 60.7 n/a
.470 N.E. (500 at 2150) 11.0 69.3 20.1
.470 Mbogo (500 at 2509) 11.0 83.5 22.1
.480 Ruger (325 at 1450) 6.25 16.4 13.0
.500 N.E. (570 at 2150) 12.0 74.5 n/a
.50 BMG (647 at 2710) 30.0 70.0 12.3
.577 N.E. (750 at 2050) 12.0 127.5 n/a
.600 N.E. (900 at 1950) 12.0 154.0 28.8



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Copyright 1999, 2013 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.


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