Understanding Gun Recoil

You may not remember it well today, but during your younger years, your science teacher sure had taught you about Newton’s third law of motion. This principle simply dictates that forces always come in pairs. As you comfortably sit in your couch, for instance, your body exerts a downward push on the couch while the couch pushes your body upwards.

Because this principle holds true for any objects interacting with each other, you can just imagine how powerful the opposing forces are when a bullet flies out of the gun. As the hammer strikes the bullet’s primer, it creates a massive chemical reaction which propels the bullet out of the barrel. But as Newton’s third law of motion dictates, every action has an equal and opposite reaction, which means the amount of force that projected the bullet forward also pushed the gun backwards. This is commonly known as recoil.

But if the force that sends the bullet out of the barrel is so powerful that its speed ranges between 550 m/s and 1,250 m/s, why do people still manage to hold the gun after each shot without having it getting ripped from their hands? This is simply because guns are way more massive than bullets, which means its recoil is small. In fact, you will only feel a minimum amount of recoil force, called the felt recoil, when you fire a weapon.

Most enthusiasts believe recoil should never be a problem if you hold the gun correctly. However, the website of Suppressed Weapons Systems says that recoil can cause handling problems, and may even result in a miss, especially among certain types of ammo. For instance, rifles with traditional thread-on suppressors are less likely to reduce recoil compared with integral suppressed rifles. This could be because some thread-on suppressors are designed in a way that increases back pressure when fired, slightly amplifying the recall.