AMK Sportsman

Relative Recoil Between Cartridges

CycleFishHunt

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Nov 15, 2020
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76
Location
Denver, CO
I am new to both hunting and shooting, and in the market for a big game (elk/deer) rifle. As I am new, I am looking for a rifle I can spend some time with to improve my accuracy, and not have it totally kick my butt. (Side note: I have a .22LR that I practice with too.)

To find out what I am comfortable with I am trying to get my hands on rifles chambered for various cartridges. But, as I have little experience shooting rifles I am hoping some of you can help tell me if my experience matches their own.

To date I have shot a .308 Win, a 7mm-08, and a .30-06. Both the .308 and 7mm-08 had extremely manageable recoil, and I did not find them uncomfortable to shoot, even after 20 or so rounds.

The .30-06 however felt like getting kicked by a mule. After two shots I had the flinches, and after another shot or two I stopped. It was a decidedly unpleasant experience.

My question is this: is the difference in recoil between these cartridges generally this great, or was it the gun I was shooting?

I know the gun itself can make a big difference so it’s worth noting that the .308 and 7mm-08 were newer guns likely manufactured in the last 10 years, and the .30-06 was my friend's grandfather's 1940s era gun.

I also have a 12 GA, and have shot others and have no problems there either.

Thanks all for your help.
 

Dougfirtree

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Jul 27, 2016
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Adirondacks
Too many variables to really answer your question. Did that '06 even have a recoil pad? There must be a bunch of modern 30-06's in your area. See if you can shoot one. The .30-06 does kick more than the other two, so some increase is very real, even if it's not a huge difference.
That said, a .308, or 7mm-08 is going to serve you very well, so dont worry about just picking one of those. They'll kill any critter in Colorado inside reasonable hunting ranges.
 

D_Walt

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Apr 15, 2020
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with the same weight bullet a 30-06 will have slightly more recoil than a .308 but it’s a small increase and the way the particular rifle stock fits you will be a bigger factor then the difference between the two rounds. There is no elk within 400 yards that will know the difference in being shot with any of the three calibers you listed. Put it in the lungs and they’ll die.
 

elkduds

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Jan 22, 2016
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CO Springs.
If you shot your 12 off a bench you would feel more recoil from it. Beware the flinch, much harder to stop than start. Hearing protection reduces most shooters' sense of recoil on the bench.
 

VikingsGuy

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Aug 2, 2017
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Twin Cities
As said, bullet mass, powder mass, bullet velocity, rifle weight, rifle fit, butt pad, layers of clothing, technique, muzzle flash, etc all factor into sense of recoil. But yes, all things being equal a 30-06 will have 10-15% more recoil as the long action cartridge burns more powder (and it exits faster than the bullet so has a greater effect on recoil. Since you already know two great elk cartridge work and you have questions on the third, the obvious choice is get a 7mm08 or .308. The .308 will give you more common access to factory ammo options, but the 7mm bullets will be a bit lower recoil and have better ballistics. From what you described I don't see how you can go wrong with the .308.
 
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EastTNHunter

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Jun 13, 2018
Messages
679
My dad has a Browning Xbolt Stainless Stalker in 338WM. Fairly light rifle, but ergonomics make recoil more manageable than I expected. I’ve shot some rifles in much lesser calibers that did not fit me well and that had poor recoil pads that hurt me far worse.
 

Bambistew

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Dec 10, 2002
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6,229
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Chugiak, AK
As mentioned stock fit and recoil pads make a big difference. I have a 7lb 375H&H that is not terrible to shoot at all. Has a good stock and recoil pad.
 

Don Fischer

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Jun 27, 2017
Messages
1,475
Worst recoiling gun I ever shot was a 30-06 from the mid 1960's. Shot it and form tears instantly! Love the 308 and had a 165gr load that was great. Decided to take it fishing up in Alaska so loaded up some 200gr bullets in it and recoil went through the roof. I used it anyway as I shot lot in those days and could handle the recoil. The 200gr bullet for a bear up close was definitely a better choice of bullet's but it will show you that simply increasing bullet weight certainly increase recoil!

You might want to start with something quite a bit smaller. If your really going to hunt elk, smallest cartridge I'd suggest is something like the 260 Rem or 6.5 Creedmoor. They are both more than good enough with the right bullet well placed. You could start out using for deer and then when your ready for elk try something bigger, say a 308 with a 165gr bullet. More than adequate for an elk if you do your part placing the bullet! I don't recall what is legal for elk in Colorado any more. I lived there long ago.

Starting out, don't handicap yourself with recoil. Get something adequate and learn to use it.
 

F250

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Dec 9, 2011
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Vermont
Regarding the 7mm-08 and .308 that you have fired and enjoyed, were they the same make and model ? If not, which one did you like the most. You may have already answered your own question. Certainly either of those cartridges would be suitable for hunting in the lower 48.
 

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