Handgunning: The Recoil Effect


You’ve heard the adage, “You must suffer for your art,” right? Well, sometimes you must suffer for knowledge. This column began when G&A editor Eric R. Poole read a long-ago Guns & Ammo column by Col. Jeff Cooper. My predecessor commented on the marking on some new revolvers. “Not for use with bullets less than 120 grains,” he wrote. The reason? Bullet pull. Lightweight revolvers can have the last bullet in a cylinder “grow” in length, as the bullet is pulled more and more out of the case for each preceding shot.

The cause is simple: inertia. Newton’s Third Law states: “For every action, there will be an opposite and equal reaction.” When we fire a handgun, that reaction is felt recoil. When the bullet moves forward, from the moment it starts moving, it generates recoil.

If that’s the case, then why doesn’t a heavy handgun cause bullet pull the

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