Does your rifle bite? Part 1
I am not sure where the rifle came from. The gun belonged to my father and I happened to come upon it. It was a 7mm Remington Magnum. I don’t recall what the circumstances were, but I took the gun out to shoot it. Up to that point in my life, it would have been the largest caliber rifle I had ever shot.
I honestly can’t even remember who was with me or where we were shooting. One thing I can tell you for sure is that you can be certain that my father did not know I had taken the gun out to shoot it. It was a different day back then. Guns were not kept in safes or behind lock and key. They were displayed in gun cabinets with glass doors to enable viewing. They were stashed under beds or in closets. This gun was in a closet, so the journey from the closet to my car was an easy one.
I wish I could remember who was with me but we were excited to be toting such a powerful firearm that was capable of knocking down one of our most coveted game animals on the planet, an elk! The only thing I remember about the incident was that I took the first shot. It was probably good that I did because of what happened next. The rifle had a scope mounted on it. This was the heaviest grain bullet I had ever shot in a rifle. My previous rifle experience had been with .22 Long Rifle and a .243 Winchester. What I was about to experience is what is known as recoil.
Recoil could be defined as the rifle being propelled in the opposite direction of when the bullet is exiting the barrel of the gun upon ignition of the cartridge. As you will recall in your high school physics class, for every action there is an equal opposite reaction. The heavier the bullet and the faster the bullet exits the firearm, the more recoil will be produced in the opposite direction.
The .22 Long Rifle and .243 Winchester are smaller calibers with lighter bullets and slower velocities exiting the end of the barrel. With that in mind, you can know that the recoil will be light and hardly noticeable. This is not the case with the 7mm Remington Magnum cartridge! It has a heavier bullet and greater velocity, and will generate a lot of energy in both directions.
Being young is a great thing, but being young and ignorant is a dangerous thing. Ignorance was about to jump up and bite the person holding this potent rifle in his hands. I put my eye to the eyepiece of the scope and sighted in on the target. I don’t even remember what I was shooting at, but it was probably a can or something similar.
I pulled back on the trigger and the explosion went off. I refer to it as an explosion because that was what it felt like at the time. The gun went off and the recoil sent the rifle back into my small and frail body. I had my eye too close to the scope, and when the rifle lurched back into me the eyepiece of the scope proceeded to hit me in the forehead above my right eye. It hurt! I had just experienced what is known in the gun world as being “scoped.” The blood flowed.
Within a few seconds, a nice knot began to form around the eyebrow. The shooting session was over. I had just had my first real experience with rifle recoil, and I did not handle it properly. I have never forgotten that little episode, and I always remember it when I put my cheek to the stock of a rifle that will produce substantial recoil.
There are several ways to combat recoil. The heavier the weight of the rifle the more energy is absorbed before it pushes back into your shoulder. Lighter bullets and slower velocities also will reduce that rear directed energy. The latest trend to come out to combat this phenomenon known as recoil is to put suppressors or muzzle brakes on the end of the rifle barrel. Do they work and are they worth it?