What is recoil?
When you fire a handgun, equal and opposite energy — and motion — are created as the bullet leaves the muzzle (i.e. the end of the barrel). When the powder in the round is ignited, explosive gasses are released. This force, or recoil, is transferred straight back along the barrel and frame of the gun. This recoil also has the effect of causing the muzzle of your gun to rise — or buck — and requires you to re-acquire your sight picture before accurately firing your next shot.
Anticipation of recoil can also cause you to move your gun and be off target before you even pull the trigger. Managing recoil is vital to maintaining accuracy so that the gun barely moves and remains on-target as you pull the trigger.
Let’s look at some keys to managing recoil:
Your dominant hand should be placed as high on the grip — and the backstrap of the grip — as possible. If your gun has a beaver tail, the web of your hand between your thumb and trigger finger should be pressed tightly against it as high as it can go. Note: Never place any part of your hand above the beaver tail.
Your non-dominant hand should be placed on the other side of the grip so that the entire surface of the grip is covered, its fingers overlapping the fingers of your dominant hand as high as possible under the trigger guard. Grip your gun firmly, more so with your non-dominant hand. Having your hands high, as close to the line of the barrel as possible, allows you to counter the opposing motion of the gun as the bullet leaves the muzzle. If your hands are too low, the motion of the gun causes the muzzle to rise and move off target.
There are several stances that provide a solid platform to address your target(s). The key to managing recoil is to adopt a shooting stance that provides both balance and stability. With feet shoulder width apart, you should extend your arms and lean slightly forward with knees slightly bent. Don’t stand up straight — and never lean back. A slight forward lean puts you in position to best absorb the energy of your gun and manage its recoil.
As a general rule, the larger the caliber the larger the recoil. The mass of the gun also figures into the equation as larger, heavier guns tend to absorb the energy of the explosion as the bullet leaves the muzzle. Choose a caliber — and gun size — that allows you to effectively manage recoil. Some can handle larger rounds like .45, .40, .357 magnum and .38 special calibers. However, we believe that 9mm ammunition provides an effective defensive capability in an array of speed, bullet design, and weight configurations. You may also prefer .380 defensive rounds as a way to best manage recoil and ensure the greatest accuracy. Finally, though it is not exactly a preferred defensive round, if .22 caliber ammunition is what you can most confidently use to manage recoil and achieve the greatest accuracy, use it! A gun loaded with defensive .22 caliber ammunition is better than a gun/caliber you cannot effectively use — or no gun at all.
Whatever your gun and caliber you choose, it’s important that you are the master of your gun and it is not the master of you. Find the gun and caliber of ammunition that fits you, your strength and your skill level, and practice. Then, practice some more. Only then will you develop the confidence necessary to defend yourself and your loved ones.
You can learn basic gun safety and concealed carry basics, and receive your Tennessee Concealed Carry Permit in just 90 minutes at getyourcarrypermit.com.