During a visit to a local gun shop I overheard a fellow ask about the availability of a light-kicking rifle such as a .243 Win. or .257 Roberts. "My daughter's only 12 years old," he said, "but she really enjoys deer hunting and shooting." The girl was standing beside her dad, and I could see she was disappointed when the clerk said he didn't have any small-caliber deer rifles, either new or used.
Since I happened to know the father, I suggested a couple other gun shops that carry such rifles. I also told him to check out Federal and Remington's new reduced-recoil hunting ammo. Available in several popular cartridges, this ammo is intended for recoil-sensitive shooters of all ages and sizes, as well as anyone of slighter stature, such as young hunters and women.
I had the opportunity to shoot Remington's reduced-recoil ammo at the last SHOT Show in Las Vegas. I was particularly impressed with the company's Managed Recoil shotgun slug and buckshot loads. The Remington representative loaded a short-barreled Model 870 pump with alternating Managed Recoil and standard loads.
We shot offhand at 30-yard targets and the recoil reduction was significant-I knew immediately that this stuff really works! And as a bonus, I shot more accurately when I wasn't getting punched on the shoulder by the lightweight shotgun.
WHEN LESS IS MORE
I recently obtained a supply of Federal Low Recoil and Remington Managed Recoil ammo so I could learn more about its performance. Essentially, the two companies have reduced recoil in two different ways. Federal, which offers its Low Recoil ammo in .308 Win. or .30-06, has maintained bullet weight and reduced the powder charge.
The 170-grain .30 caliber soft-point bullet in these offerings is also used in its standard .30-30 Win. load, and the resulting velocities in the Low Recoil ammo are very similar to those of the .30-30 Win.
Remington, on the other hand, chose to keep velocities higher in its Managed Recoil ammo so it reduced the weight of the bullet. This makes for less recoil while still keeping flat trajectories and excellent terminal ballistics. Remington offers three calibers in its Managed Recoil line: The .270 Win. uses a 115-grain Core-Lokt Pointed Soft Point, the 7mm Rem. Mag. uses similar 140-grain bullets and the .30-06 load has 125-grain bullets. All this ammo is designed for deer-killing performance, and I'm very impressed with the accuracy I obtained in a variety of rifles.
Besides accuracy and velocity, I was intrigued with the challenge of determining just how much recoil reduction actually occurred. I happen to have some buddies who enjoy my various shooting "projects," so we sat down and bounced ideas around as to how to compare recoil in a shooting experiment. I wanted to determine three things: accuracy, velocity and recoil reduction.
The first two are easy-shoot through an Oehler chronograph and get a printout of velocities and also measure group size on the target. Recoil reduction, however, was another challenge. We considered rigging a recoil scale or measuring the depth of gun stock impact into a block of clay, but decided we needed something simpler. Finally we came up with the idea of dragging a constant weight attached to a gun during each shot, then measuring how far the weight moved after firing various types of ammo. It sounded good, so we headed to the range.
Our technique evolved into a very effective test after a few practice shots. We tethered a 5-pound lead weight to a gun's trigger guard, then dragged the rifle with the attached weight several inches along the bench top to put a constant "load" on the nylon cord that attached the weight to the rifle. The rifle was supported upright by a Harris bipod and the bottom tip of the recoil pad. The toe of the butt was placed on a line drawn on the tabletop, and we fired the rifle with a gentle pull of a string.
At each shot, the rifle moved straight back in a remarkably smooth movement. We fired five shots in a test string, measuring and recording the gun movement distances. We shot three different types of ammo in our .308 Win. and .30-06 rifles. Then we set up the Oehler 35P chronograph and shot several groups to record velocity and accuracy data.
Let me emphasize that these are not laboratory findings. I simply wanted to show a difference in how a rifle shot using reduced-recoil ammo vs. standard ammo. As the test results show, each rifle moved significantly less when shot with the reduced-recoil ammo.
This test had a special significance for Wayne, one of my hunting partners, because several weeks prior he'd had eye surgery. He'd been under strict orders not to fire a rifle for fear of damaging the results of the delicate surgery, but his doctor had just given him clearance to shoot again. Wayne decided to take it easy by shooting the reduced-recoil ammo initially. He proved he hadn't lost his touch by firing five Federal Low Recoil 170-grain .308 Win. rounds into a 0.482-inch group at 100 yards! We also shot this ammo in two Remington M-700 rifles with consistent sub-minute results.
The .30-06 Federal Low Recoil ammo also shot very well, with groups averaging 1-1 1/4 inches. We all agreed that with this ammo, the Remington M-700 was the most pleasant shooting .30-06 we'd ever fired.
Bullet drop at 200 yards was only 3 inches, and we kept all our bullets in a 4-inch-diameter circle. This compares to almost 6 inches of drop at 200 yards with the Federal 170-grain reduced-recoil ammo in the .308 Win..
THE BOTTOM LINE
Unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to hunt with this new ammo, but I'm confident both brands will kill deer cleanly out to 200 yards. The manufacturers say recoil reduction is 35-50 percent (depending on what ammo you normally shoot), and I have no reason to doubt those claims after my test. The reduction is significant, period. Shotgun shooters will particularly appreciate the recoil reduction as you can actually see the difference in recoil movement (barrel jump) between reduced-recoil and standard shotshells.
Low Recoil, Managed Recoil or reduced recoil-whatever words you use-I believe this ammo is a great idea. Recoil-sensitive shooters can shoot standard-weight hunting rifles more comfortably, and with the recent focus on super-lightweight rifles, this ammo won't punish the shooter. And the biggest benefit is more new shooters will enjoy our sport and hopefully become successful hunters.
REDUCED-RECOIL AMMO TEST
Test #1: .308 Win., custom Remington M-700 rifle Standard ammo: Remington Express Core-Lokt 150-grain Soft Point Average velocity: 2,881 fps Average five-shot group at 100 yards: 1.22 inches Rifle recoil distance: 3.5 inches
Standard ammo: Winchester Supreme 168-grain Ballistic Silvertip Average velocity: 2,667 fps Average five-shot group at 100 yards: .89 inches Rifle recoil distance: 3.12 inches
Reduced-recoil ammo: Federal Low Recoil 170-grain Soft Point Average velocity: 1,997 fps Average five-shot group at 100 yards: .77 inches Rifle recoil distance: 2.25 inches
Test #2: .30-06 Remington M-700 BDL factory rifle
Standard ammo: Black Hills Gold 150-grain Ballistic Tip Average velocity: 2,850 fps Average five-shot group at 100 yards: .88 inches Rifle recoil distance: 2.66 inches
Standard ammo: Black Hills Gold 165-grain Ballistic Tip Average velocity: 2,627 fps Average five-shot group at 100 yards: 1.10 inches Rifle recoil distance: 2.85 inches
Reduced-recoil ammo: Remington Managed Recoil 125-grain Soft Point Average Velocity: 1,526 fps Average five-shot group at 100 yards: 1.57 inches Rifle recoil distance: 1.10 inches