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How Handgun Marksmanship Overlooks Recoil - AllOutdoor.com

HANDGUN RECOIL IS RARELY ADDRESSED

Over on The Arms Guide, there is an interesting article that talks about how certain things affect handgun marksmanship. As usual, one main factor that is often overlooked is how recoil affects accuracy.

As recoil goes up, accuracy goes down, period. Or rather, as the shooter anticipates recoil, accuracy goes down.
I am sure this will start a flame war about how shooters can learn to deal with recoil through training, and they for the most part can. However, the average shooter is not going to invest the time, money and effort to live at the shooting range.

The handgun accuracy argument does not take into account calibers that are unpleasant to shoot. For the average person, no amount of training will help someone who cringes every time they pull the trigger.

Also, how many gun owners make it to the range monthly? How about yearly? The vast majority of deer hunters only shoot their rifles or shotguns just a few times a year. The average hunter may shoot once or twice in the summer, and once in the fall to make sure their firearm is sighted in.

Let’s get back on the topic of handguns.

This is the diagram most shooters are taught to use to diagnose accuracy issues.



Where is excessive recoil to the shooter addressed in this picture? Rather than saying, “Maybe you do not need to be shooting a 40 S&W”, instructors tell the shooter not to do this or that.

Why do you think the popularity of the 40 S&W is fading away? To me, the recoil of the 40 is too harsh, and that is why I do not use it.

Somewhere around 1992, I bought a Ruger P91, which is chambered in 40 S&W. Even though I had been shooting handguns for years, right off the bat, I did not like the snappy recoil. Every 40 caliber handgun I have ever shot has been very unpleasant.

I ended up letting that Ruger P91 go, and good riddance. Chances are I will never buy another 40 simply because the recoil is too harsh.

Let’s go back to the chart. Nowhere on the chart are my issues with the 40 addressed.

Some people may say jerking is a direct result of recoil, and they may be right. However, If the shooter feels the recoil is excessive, chances are they may never overcome trigger jerk.

What is the answer? How about we stop forcing calibers upon shooters who do not like them? When I express my disgust with the 40, people look at me like I am crazy. How could you not like the 40? It is the perfect solution to the 9mm vs 45acp debate.

Rather than accepting what I do and do not like to shoot, I have had people try to change my mind by saying stuff like “You must be holding the handgun wrong!” That type of argument harms otherwise good shooters by forcing them to try and use a caliber they do not like.
 

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I agree that the .40 is very snappy. I don't use the caliber but no one is forcing it on me! I have a friend who shoots only .40 and he shoots it very well. To each his own. Recoil doesn't affect the accuracy of a pistol. The anticipation does.
 

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For the average person, no amount of training will help someone who cringes every time they pull the trigger.
Say what now? That is one of the most absurd things I've ever read on a gun forum, and I've read some doozies. So only special elite people can be trained not to flinch, the average guy is SOL and "no amount of training will help?" :huh: What a load...

The article, if you can call it that, reads like someone claiming they were bullied into shooting .40 and never learned to properly control it so that means no one else can either. It makes no argument based on anything except the authors dislike of .40.

Not to mention the article doesn't have any conclusion, it just stops like someone cut off the remaining paragraphs.
 

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On your diagram, the errors at 11:00, 12:00, 1:00, and 6:00 can all be attributed to recoil anticipation.
 
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Folks, I didn't write the article, nor do I necessarily agree with it.

I put it out for discussion and consideration only.

I have met people who are recoil sensitive and have never gotten past it, though, so I think it's all possible, especially for people who don't shoot all that often, just as the article states.
 

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I agree with you about those that do not shoot that often but I have seen a whole bunch of them flinching with 9MM too. I am betting a lot of people do not go to the range much because they want a gun but don't really want to spend much on ammo practicing with it or they never see themselves improving as in they see themselves shooting just as poorly today as they did six months ago. Of course very very few people seek out any sort of one on one instruction shooting either and as a result have poor technique and skills.

I have to marvel when at the range when I see a couple guys setting up a large target at 15 feet and then blasting away with shots all over the target including at every corner like a shotgun was fired at it at 30 yards, then commenting on how sweet a shooter their pistol is, and finally well "that guy would be dead". :rolleyes::rolleyes:
 
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When I first started shooting handguns seriously I started with a .22 and shot A LOT getting the fundamentals right. Then I moved up in caliber and power. I'd recommend this to any new handgun shooter. Even shooting small framed .357 revolvers, I can't say that I enjoy it but I don't flinch.
 

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When I first started shooting handguns seriously I started with a .22 and shot A LOT getting the fundamentals right. Then I moved up in caliber and power. I'd recommend this to any new handgun shooter. Even shooting small framed .357 revolvers, I can't say that I enjoy it but I don't flinch.
Yep. Even blowback-slide CO2 pistols can be used to introduce the concepts of sight alignment and proper trigger press.
 
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I agree that the .40 is very snappy. I don't use the caliber but no one is forcing it on me! I have a friend who shoots only .40 and he shoots it very well. To each his own. Recoil doesn't affect the accuracy of a pistol. The anticipation does.
I think it depends on the platform. In the Glock 22 or the P229 I think the .40 is perfectly enjoyable to shoot, sometimes even less harsh than some high pressure 9mm rounds, and I am pretty accurate with these guns. In the Glock 23, not as much fun for me, and I'm inherently less accurate with it; however, while recoil may not affect the accuracy of a gun, I do believe recoil affects the accuracy of a shooter. Skill, training and experience typically determines the difference, not the gun. YMMV :cool:
 
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I've only been shooting for a few years, so I consider myself a green student of the sport. I flinched with my 9mm when I first started, but following wise advice from this forum, I practiced frequently and overcame the issue. I strongly believe in four elements in shooting handguns;1. Empty handguns kill 2. All handguns are loaded 3. Practice is absolutely necessary 4. Shoot the gun/cal that you are comfortable with. (Just my 2 cents)

Thank you for sharing Flash
 

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Certainly, anticipation of "unpleasant" recoil is more likely to result in a flinch, especially on the part of a new shooter. I have to admit that I still have a difficult time tuning the recoil of full-loads of 357 Magnum out of my head.

As for .40 S&W, I did find it rather "snappy" when I first shot it, and was not very accurate with it, even though I had shot a good bit of 9mm Luger, 38 Special, and .45 ACP in various handguns. I really liked the first .40 caliber pistol I bought, however, so I stuck with it, improved my grip, and as I gained experience with the recoil characteristics, my accuracy with it became pretty good. There is no question that the pistol has a big effect on perceived recoil. I have always advised anyone considering a .40 S&W pistol who had not shot one to try to experience the recoil first. And it might not be a great choice for those with arthritic conditions of the wrists or hands.

Now when I shoot handguns I am typically shooting 9 mm Luger, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP at the same session, and sometimes 357 SIG, 38 Special, and 357 Magnum as well. Among the pistol calibers, I really don't appreciate much difference in the recoil these days unless I focus on it.
 

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Sorry for the late post but this issue or something similar has been bugging me lately as I'm looking at another purchase and torn between 9/.40.

I'm a new shooter, my first pistol was a Sig SP2022 in a 40. I wanted 9, 40 was a good deal and the state mag capacity restriction made the 40 moot (due to 10 round mags by design).

It sat for a few years after moving to another state and picked up shooting recently. Trying to introduce the gf to shooting, I bought a 9mm barrel put it in the 40 before getting her her own and in the fun of shopping picked myself up a P320 in 9mm.

I've shot about the same amount of rounds of 40 and 9 (though the 40 is exclusively in the SP2022) and I am still more accurate with the 40. Found a local range with steel targets-- estimated at 6" plates at 10 yards. I still shot better with the 40. My old shooting buddy suggests maybe I'm just a 40 guy. I found myself flinching with the 9s even with dry-fire practice, penny on front sight, etc.

Do 40 guys exist? Or is it just a fit between the SP2022 and I? Or, an issue I've learned about lately from a recent purchase, a Shield 9mm-- is it a matter of trigger pull?

SP2022 Single Action 4.4lbs
P320 5.5lbs+?
Shield 6.5lbs+ (many measure higher than that, haven't measured mine).

The Shield-- 1st time I looked into modifying a gun in any way. I polished the trigger bar before considering an Apex sear for it next... Since the gf likes it, I'll be giving that to her and I'm stuck between the 9 and 40 since I may be a "40 guy"

A military guy last time at the range had a Shield 40 and it didn't have any worse of a snap than my 2022.
 

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The writer completely disregards the weapon any given caliber is used in. For example that .40 is definitely "snappy" in a compact polymer pistol, but the same cartridge fired in something like a Sig P226 SSE is not uncomfortable at all. So if you are sensitive to recoil, and aren't willing to put in the training time, pair your handgun to the cartridge.
 

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I always thought of going single stack/double stack subcompact in 9, compact in .40, and full size in .45. I'm not sure where .357 sig fits into that. So, I guess I'm saying I agree with pairing the caliber to the firearm.
 

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I also would like to point out that the average person is going to choose a caliber based on what they hear with minimal or no follow up. Like, for instance, it's well known that the only reason the .40 S&W exists is because the FBI like the weaker load of 10mm ammo S&W came up with and the FBI chose to replace their 9mm and .38 special firearms with those chambered in .40S&W. This is how the cartridge started becoming popular. 'If it's good enough for the FBI then it's good enough for me.' Again, I'm talking about the average person not the outliers. Anyway, with this said, then I surmise that the reason for the 'impending death' of sorts of the .40S&W can be directly attributable to the fact that in 2014 the FBI said the .40 was too snappy and that they were going back to the 9mm. So, now the 9mm is no longer the wonder caliber it once was and the popularity of the .40 S&W has waned a bit. Do I think it's as good as dead? No, the .40 has had to many solid years in the market to be dead. I think it will go the way of the 10mm and taper off until some genius finds a niche for it and then popularity will rise back to whatever its equilibrium is supposed to be.
 

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No, the .40 has had to many solid years in the market to be dead. I think it will go the way of the 10mm and taper off until some genius finds a niche for it and then popularity will rise back to whatever its equilibrium is supposed to be.

One ammo seller posted 21% of sales were 9mm, 7% were 40 S&W, 10mm didn't get mentioned and it is supposedly enjoying a resurgence.

Considering how wildly popular 9mm is currently, 40's selling 1/3rd as much is an indication that 40 isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

As others have noted, much depends on the pistol. If anything, my P229 40 (which was designed for 40) is "softer" shooting than the P938 9mm. I use the 80/20 thumbs parallel and forward and have no problem with either gun, though the P229 is my favorite.
 

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No, the .40 has had to many solid years in the market to be dead. I think it will go the way of the 10mm and taper off until some genius finds a niche for it and then popularity will rise back to whatever its equilibrium is supposed to be.

One ammo seller posted 21% of sales were 9mm, 7% were 40 S&W, 10mm didn't get mentioned and it is supposedly enjoying a resurgence.

Considering how wildly popular 9mm is currently, 40's selling 1/3rd as much is an indication that 40 isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

As others have noted, much depends on the pistol. If anything, my P229 40 (which was designed for 40) is "softer" shooting than the P938 9mm. I use the 80/20 thumbs parallel and forward and have no problem with either gun, though the P229 is my favorite.
A single stack is going to kick more than a double stack any day.
10mm is for Bear country and since there's not much of a need for that that would explain the low sales
 

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A single stack is going to kick more than a double stack any day.
Except for the day that I'm shooting a Glock 42 and my Glock 19...or when I shoot a Sig P220 or a 1911 and a Glock 27. :eek:
 
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