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Rifle Recoil Table

A Guide to Rifle Recoil Energy, Velocity and Level

Recoil (often referred to as "kick") is the force a rifle exerts against the shooter when it is fired. As a rule of thumb, the heavier a rifle the lower the recoil. However, perceived recoil -- what the shooter feels -- is influenced by several factors including the powder load, bullet mass, projectile speed and stock shape. Recoil is measured by free recoil energy, and recoil velocity. Selecting the correct rifle and cartridge combination ensures that a shooter can shoot accurately without discomfort.

Rifle recoil not only impacts how accurately you shoot, it can also determine how many shots you can shoot in a day, and simply how much you enjoy using your rifle. You’ll want a lower recoil rifle for shooting practice, so that you can shoot for longer periods of time. You’ll also want lower recoil when you’re hunting over long days. If you’re hunting game where you’ll just need one well-placed shot, and you’re able to maintain your aim through the heavier recoil, a more powerful rifle with heavy recoil may be right for you.

The following chart provides a rifle's recoil level based on its recoil score*.

Recoil Score* Recoil Level
1-2 Low Recoil
3-4 Moderate Recoil
5-10 High Recoil

The following table provides rifle recoil energy, recoil velocity and recoil score of various rifle cartridges based on respective projectile weight, projectile velocity, powder charge and rifle weight.

Note: Bw = Bullet Weight; Mv = Muzzle Velociy; Rw = Rifle Weight
Cartridge (Bw;Mv;Rw) Recoil Energy (ft-lbs) Recoil Velocity (fps) Recoil Score*
.17 HMR (17; 2550; 7.5) 0.2 1.5 1.02
.17 Hornet (20; 3650; 8.5) 0.6 2 1.08
.17 Rem. (25; 4000; 8.5) 1.6 3.5 1.24
.204 Ruger (33; 4225; 8.5) 2.6 4.4 1.38
.218 Bee (45; 2800; 8.5) 1.3 3.1 1.20
.22 LR (40; 1165; 4) 0.2 1 1.00
.22 WMR (40; 1910; 6.75) 0.4 1.5 1.04
.22 Hornet (45; 2800; 7.5) 1.3 3.3 1.20
.222 Rem. (50; 3200; 7.5) 3 5.1 1.45
.223 Rem. (45; 3500; 8.5) 2.6 4.5 1.38
.223 Rem. (55; 3200; 8) 3.2 5.1 1.46
.223 Rem. (62; 3025; 7) 3.9 6 1.57
.223 Rem. (70; 2900; 8) 3.6 5.4 1.52
.224 Wby. Mag. (55; 3700; 10) 3.6 4.8 1.49
.22-250 Rem. (55; 3600; 8.5) 4.7 6 1.65
.22-250 Rem. (60; 3500; 12.5) 3.1 4 1.41
.220 Swift (50; 3900; 10.5) 3.7 4.8 1.50
.220 Swift (55; 3800; 8.5) 5.3 6.4 1.72
.223 WSSM (55; 3850; 7.5) 6.4 7.4 1.87
5.6x50 Mag. (60; 3300; 7.5) 4 5.9 1.58
5.6x52R (70; 2800; 7.5) 3.7 5.7 1.54
5.6x57 RWS (60; 3800; 7.5) 6.9 7.7 1.93
6mm BR Rem. (80; 3100; 8.5) 5.2 6.3 1.71
6mm Norma BR (95; 2914; 8.5) 5.9 6.7 1.80
.243 Win. (75; 3400; 8.5) 7.2 7.4 1.95
.243 Win. (95; 3100; 7.25) 11 9.9 2.43
.243 Win. (100; 2960; 7.5) 8.8 8.7 2.16
6mm Rem. (100; 3100; 8) 10 9 2.29
.243 WSSM (100; 3100; 7.5) 10.1 9.3 2.31
.240 Wby. Mag. (100; 3406; 8) 17.9 9.7 3.09
.25-20 Win. (86; 1460; 6.5) 1.3 3.5 1.21
.256 Win. Mag. (75; 2400; 7.5) 2.4 4.5 1.36
.25-35 Win. (110; 2425; 7.5) 6 7.2 1.83
.25-35 Win. (117; 2230; 7.5) 7 8.3 1.97
.250 Savage (100; 2900; 7.5) 7.8 8.2 2.04
.257 Roberts (100; 3000; 7.5) 9.3 8.9 2.22
.257 Roberts (120; 2800; 8) 10.7 9.3 2.37
.257 Rob. Imp. (115; 2900; 8) 10.8 9.3 2.38
.25 WSSM (120; 2990; 8) 13.8 11.1 2.75
.25-06 Rem. (100; 3230; 8) 11 9.4 2.41
.25-06 Rem. (120; 3000; 8) 12.5 10 2.58
.257 Wby. Mag. (100; 3602; 9.25) 15.8 10.5 2.92
.257 Wby. Mag. (115; 3433; 9.25) 17.7 11.1 3.13
.257 Wby. Mag. (120; 3300; 9.25) 15.1 10.3 2.84
6.5mm Grendel (120; 2600; 7.5) 8.9 8.8 2.18
6.5mm Grendel (123; 2590; 8) 7.9 8 2.05
6.5x54 M-S (140; 2400; 7.5) 11.1 9.7 2.43
6.5 PRC (143; 2960; 6.1) 15.7 11 2.93
6.5x55 Swede (129; 2700; 8) 12.5 10 2.58
6.5x55 Swede (140; 2650; 9) 10.6 8.7 2.34
6.5x55 Swede (140; 2735; 8.5) 12.1 9.6 2.52
6.5x55 Swede (160; 2300; 8) 12.7 10.1 2.60
.260 Rem. (120; 2860; 7.5) 13 10.6 2.65
.260 Rem. (140; 2360; 8) 9.5 8.8 2.23
.260 Rem. (129; 2900; 8.25) 12.5 9.9 2.57
.260 Rem. (140; 2750; 8.25) 11.9 9.7 2.51
6.5x57 (140; 2700; 8) 12.5 10 2.58
6.5mm-284 Norma (140; 2920; 8) 14.7 10.9 2.83
6.5mm-06 (140; 2800; 8) 13.9 10.6 2.74
6.5mm Rem. Mag. (120; 3100; 8) 13.1 10.3 2.65
6.5mm Rem. Mag. (140; 2900; 8.5) 13.9 10.3 2.73
6.5x68 S (140; 2990; 8.5) 16.8 11.3 3.05
.264 Win. Mag. (140; 3200; 8.5) 19.2 12.1 3.32
.26 Nosler (129; 3400; 8.5) 23.9 13.5 3.84
6.5-300 Wby. Mag. (140; 3395; 9.5) 21.1 12 3.50
6.8mm Rem. SPC (115; 2625; 7.5) 8 8.3 2.07
.270 Win. (120; 2675; 8) 10 9 2.29
.270 Win. (140; 3000; 8) 17.1 11.7 3.10
.270 Win. (150; 2900; 8) 17 11.7 3.09
.270 WSM (130; 3275; 8) 18.7 12.3 3.28
.270 WSM (150; 3000; 8) 18.9 12.3 3.30
.270 Wby. Mag. (130; 3375; 9) 21 12.3 3.50
.270 Wby. Mag. (150; 3000; 9.25) 17.8 11.1 3.14
7x57 Mauser (139; 2700; 8.75) 11.7 9.3 2.47
7x57 Mauser (140; 2660; 8) 13.5 10.4 2.69
7x57 Mauser (145; 2725; 8.5) 13 9.9 2.62
7x57 Mauser (175; 2500; 8) 15.5 11.2 2.92
7mm-08 Rem. (120; 3000; 7.5) 12.1 10.2 2.55
7mm-08 Rem. (140; 2860; 8) 12.6 10.1 2.59
7mm-08 Rem. (150; 2750; 7.5) 13.9 10.9 2.75
7x65R (175; 2600; 8) 17.1 11.7 3.10
.280 Rem. (140; 3000; 8) 17.2 11.8 3.11
.280 Rem. (150; 2900; 8) 17.4 11.8 3.13
.280 Rem. (160; 2800; 8) 17 11.7 3.09
.280 Ackley Imp. (150; 2930; 8.5) 16.3 11.1 3.00
7mm Rem. SAUM (160; 2931; 8) 21.5 13.2 3.59
7mm WSM (140; 3200; 8) 20.7 12.9 3.50
7mm WSM (160; 3000; 8) 21.9 13.3 3.63
7mm Rem. Mag. (139; 3100; 9) 19.3 11.8 3.32
7mm Rem. Mag. (140; 2700; 8.5) 15.5 10.8 2.90
7mm Rem. Mag. (150; 3100; 8.5) 19.2 12.1 3.32
7mm Rem. Mag. (154; 3035; 8.5) 20.3 12.4 3.44
7mm Rem. Mag. (160; 2950; 9) 20.3 12 3.42
7mm Rem. Mag. (175; 2870; 9) 21.7 12.5 3.58
.275 H&H Mag. (160; 3050; 8.5) 19.5 12.2 3.35
7mm Wby. Mag. (140; 3300; 9.25) 19.5 11.7 3.33
7mm Wby. Mag. (160; 3200; 9) 25.6 13.5 4.00
7mm STW (160; 3185; 8.5) 27.9 14.6 4.27
.28 Nosler (160; 3200; 8.5) 29.4 14.9 4.43
.30 Carbine (110; 1990; 7) 3.5 5.7 1.52
.300 Blackout (135; 2085; 8) 3.32 4.95 1.47
.30 Rem. (170; 2120; 7.5) 9.8 9.2 2.28
.30-30 Win. (125; 2175; 7.5) 6.6 7.5 1.90
.30-30 Win. (150; 2364; 8) 9.4 8.7 2.22
.30-30 Win. (150; 2400; 7.5) 10.6 9.5 2.37
.30-30 Win. (160; 2400; 7.5) 12.7 10.5 2.62
.30-30 Win. (170; 2200; 7.5) 11 9.7 2.42
.307 Win. (150; 2600; 7.5) 13.7 10.9 2.73
.308 Marlin Express (160; 2660; 8) 13.4 10.4 2.68
7.5x55 Swiss (150; 2800; 9) 12.9 9.6 2.60
.308 Win. (125; 2675; 8.75) 9 8.1 2.16
.308 Win. (150; 2800; 7.5) 15.8 11.7 2.97
.308 Win. (165; 2700; 7.5) 18.1 12.5 3.23
.308 Win. (180; 2610; 8) 17.5 11.9 3.15
.30 T/C (150; 2900; 8.5) 13.9 10.3 2.73
.30-06 Spfd. (150; 2910; 8) 17.6 11.9 3.16
.30-06 Spfd. (165; 2900; 8) 20.1 12.7 3.43
.30-06 Spfd. (180; 2700; 8) 20.3 12.8 3.46
.30-06 Ackley Imp. (180; 2985; 8.5) 23 13.2 3.74
.300 RCM (180; 2900; 8.5) 22.3 13 3.66
.300 Rem. SAUM (180; 2960; 8.25) 23.5 13.6 3.80
.300 WSM (150; 3300; 8.25) 22.5 13.3 3.69
.300 WSM (180; 2970; 7.25) 27.1 15.5 4.23
.300 WSM (180; 2970; 8.25) 23.8 13.6 3.83
.308 Norma Mag. (180; 3000; 8.5) 25.9 14 4.05
.300 Win. Mag. (150; 3320; 8.5) 23.5 13.3 3.79
.300 Win. Mag. (165; 3110; 8) 26.2 14.5 4.10
.300 Win. Mag. (180; 2960; 8.5) 25.9 14 4.05
.300 H&H Mag. (180; 2920; 8.5) 23.1 13.2 3.75
.300 Dakota (180; 3100; 8.5) 28.3 14.7 4.32
.30 Nosler (180; 3112; 9) 26.9 13.9 4.15
.300 Wby. Mag. (150; 3400; 9.25) 24.6 13.1 3.89
.300 Wby. Mag. (180; 3240; 9) 31.6 15 4.65
.300 Ultra Mag. (180; 3230; 8.5) 32.8 15.8 4.80
.300 Norma Mag. (180; 3317; 8.5) 35.5 16.4 5.09
.30-378 Wby. Mag. (180; 3300; 9.75) 42.6 16.8 5.80
7.62x39 Soviet (125; 2350; 7) 6.9 8 1.95
7.62x53R Finn (150; 2800; 9) 13.1 9.7 2.62
7.62x54R Russian (150; 2800; 9) 13.1 9.7 2.62
7.62x54R Russian (174; 2600; 9) 15 10.4 2.84
.303 British (150; 2700; 7.5) 14.2 11 2.79
.303 British (180; 2420; 8) 15.4 11.1 2.91
.32 Spec. (165; 2410; 7.5) 13.2 10.6 2.67
.32 Spec. (170; 2250; 7) 12.2 10.6 2.57
8x57 Mauser (170; 2400; 8) 13.6 10.4 2.70
8x57JS Mauser (150; 2900; 8) 17.1 11.7 3.10
8x57JS Mauser (195; 2500; 8) 18.5 12.2 3.26
.325 WSM (180; 3060; 7.5) 33.1 16.9 4.88
.325 WSM (220; 2840; 7.5) 37.5 17.9 5.35
8mm Rem. Mag. (200; 2900; 8.5) 32.9 15.8 4.81
.33 Win. (200; 2100; 8) 13.9 10.6 2.74
.338-57 O'Connor (200; 2400; 8) 19.2 12.4 3.33
.338 Marlin Express (200; 2400; 8) 16.2 11.4 3.00
.338 Marlin Express (200; 2600; 8) 22 14 3.67
.338 Federal (200; 2660; 8.5) 19.3 12.1 3.33
.338 Federal (210; 2630; 8) 21.9 13.3 3.63
.338-06 A-Square (200; 2800; 8) 23.9 13.9 3.85
.338-06 A-Square (250; 2500; 8.5) 28.2 14.6 4.30
.338 RCM (200; 2800; 8) 26.1 14.5 4.09
.338 Win. Mag. (200; 2950; 8.5) 32.8 15.8 4.80
.338 Win. Mag. (225; 2780; 8.5) 35.2 16.3 5.06
.338 Win. Mag. (250; 2700; 9) 33.1 15.4 4.82
.338 Lapua Mag. (225; 3000; 9.5) 37.2 15.9 5.24
.338-378 Wby. Mag. (250; 3040; 11.75) 41.1 15 5.58
.340 Wby. Mag. (200; 3100; 8.5) 29.6 13.8 4.41
.340 Wby. Mag. (250; 2940; 9) 43.4 17.6 5.91
.38 Special. (158; 1100; 7) 1.7 4 1.27
.357 Mag. (158; 1650; 7) 4.7 6.6 1.67
.357 Mag. (180; 1550; 6.5) 5.5 7.4 1.79
.35 Rem. (200; 2050; 7.5) 13.5 10.8 2.71
.358 Win. (200; 2490; 8) 20.9 13 3.52
.358 Win. (250; 2260; 7.5) 23 13.9 3.77
.35 Whelen (200; 2675; 8) 22.6 13.5 3.71
.35 Whelen (225; 2525; 8) 25 14.2 3.97
.35 Whelen (250; 2400; 7.5) 27.9 15.5 4.31
.350 Rem. Mag. (200; 2700; 8.5) 22.3 13 3.66
.350 Rem. Mag. (225; 2550; 8.5) 24.2 13.5 3.87
.350 Rem. Mag. (250; 2500; 8.5) 29 14.8 4.39
.358 Norma Mag. (250; 2723; 9) 31.2 15 4.61
9.3x57 (232; 2330; 8.5) 19.8 12.2 3.38
9.3x62 (250; 2450; 8.5) 25.7 14 4.03
9.3x62 (286; 2360; 9) 28 14.1 4.26
9.3x64 (286; 2650; 9) 36.5 16.2 5.18
9.3x66 (286; 2559; 9) 36.3 16.1 5.16
9.3x74R (250; 2550; 9) 29.1 14.4 4.38
9.3x74R (286; 2400; 8.25) 34.3 16.6 4.98
.370 Sako Mag. (286; 2550; 8.5) 35.2 16.3 5.06
.375 Win. (220; 2200; 7.5) 17.1 12.1 3.12
.375 Ruger (270; 2840; 9) 41.3 17.2 5.69
.375 Ruger (300; 2550; 8.5) 44.8 18.4 6.08
.375 H&H Mag. (235; 2700; 9) 29.5 14.5 4.43
.375 H&H Mag. (270; 2690; 9) 36.1 16.1 5.14
.375 H&H Mag. (300; 2530; 9) 37.3 16.3 5.26
.375 Dakota (300; 2600; 8.5) 44.5 18.4 6.06
.375 Wby. Mag. (300; 2700; 10) 47.3 17.5 6.29
.38-40 Win. (180; 1100; 7.5) 3.1 5.2 1.46
.404 Jeffery (400; 2170; 10.25) 41 16.1 5.62
.405 Win. (300; 2200; 8) 30.6 15.7 4.58
.41 Rem. Mag. (210; 1775; 7) 9.5 9.4 2.26
.416 Taylor (400; 2350; 10) 47.8 17.5 6.34
.416 Ruger (400; 2390; 9) 58.1 20.4 7.47
.416 Rem. Mag. (400; 2400; 10) 52.9 18.5 6.88
.416 Rigby (400; 2400; 10) 58.1 19.3 7.42
.416 Dakota (400; 2500; 10) 59.2 19.5 7.54
.416 Wby. Mag. (400; 2700; 10.25) 83 22.8 10.00
.44 Rem. Mag. (240; 1760; 7.5) 11.2 9.8 2.44
.44 Rem. Mag. (275; 1580; 7.5) 11.4 9.9 2.47
.444 Marlin (240; 2400; 7.5) 23.3 14.2 3.81
.444 Marlin (265; 2200; 8.5) 22.1 12.9 3.64
.444 Marlin (265; 2325; 8.5) 27.6 15.4 4.28
.45 Colt (255; 1100; 8) 4 5.6 1.56
.45 Colt +P (250; 1500; 6.5) 11.1 10.5 2.46
.458 SOCOM (300; 1840; 7.5) 20.2 13.2 3.46
.45-70 (300; 1800; 7) 23.9 14.8 3.89
.45-70 (350; 1900; 7) 37.9 18.7 5.42
.45-70 (405; 1330; 7.5) 18.7 12.7 3.30
.450 Marlin (350; 2000; 7) 37.2 18.5 5.35
.450 Marlin (350; 2100; 8.5) 33.6 16 4.89
.450 N.E. (465; 2150; 11) 55.5 18 7.11
.458 Win. Mag. (400; 2050; 9) 41.7 17.3 5.74
.458 Win. Mag. (500; 2100; 9) 62.3 21.1 7.91
.458 Lott (500; 2300; 10) 70.4 21.3 8.71
.470 N.E. (500; 2150; 11) 69.3 20.1 8.55
.480 Ruger (325; 1450; 6.25) 16.4 13 3.08
.50 BMG (647; 2710; 30) 70 12.3 8.29
*Recoil score is calculated as a function of recoil energy and recoil velocity using a weight average which is then normalized between 1-10. See below for a detailed explanation. Recoil energy and recoil velocity figures are taken from various sources including the recoil nomograph in the Handloader's Digest 8th Edition, online recoil calculators, or calculated from the formula provided in the Lyman Reloading Handbook, 43rd Edition.

Calculating Rifle Recoil

We're all familiar with Newton's third law which states for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton's third law explains why when you shoot a gun it kicks. The bullet explosion exerts an incidental force on the gun which in turn transfers a reciprocal force onto the shoulder. Mathematically, this relationship is explained by the equation F(i) = -F(r), where F(i) represents the 'incident force' (bullet force on the gun) and -F(r) represents the 'reciprocal force' (gun force on shoulder). This force is referred to as Recoil, or in industry vernacular "kick". How much kick a rifle generates when discharged is a function of two measurements: Recoil Energy and Recoil Velocity.

Recoil Energy

Recoil energy is the kinetic energy transferred to the shooter when a gun is discharged. It's the propulsive force generated when the powder charge within a firearm chamber combusts. Recoil energy is measured in Joules (J) but is more commonly expressed in foot-pounds of force (ft-lbf). Recoil energy is sometimes referred to as "free recoil". While similar, the two terms are different. Recoil energy is the measurement of gross energy produced by the discharge of a firearm. Free recoil is the measurement of net energy produced by the discharge of a firearm--or gross energy less recoil energy loss due to various energy transferring inhibitors such as recoil reducing butt pad; muzzle break; recoil suppression tube; recoil operated action vs gas operated action; etc. In other words, free recoil energy is the actual energy absorbed by the body of the shooter.

Each shooter perceives free recoil energy slightly different. Some of the factors that influence perceived recoil energy include but are not limited to: size of the shooter; shooting style and position; suppression equipment (as previously mentioned); firearm fit; and other environmental stressors. For example, a 240lb muscular man is not going to experience the same amount of perceived recoil energy when shooting a .30-06 Springfield rifle as will a 130lb woman with a smaller body frame and structure. This isn't because the woman is not as strong as the man, but simply because the same energy transfer is being met by the man's greater mass.

Rifle weight is also a very important factor in determining and managing free recoil. Rifle weight is inversely proportional to a rifle's recoil. All things being equal, the heavier the rifle the lower the free recoil energy. Inversely, the lighter the rifle, the greater the free recoil energy. Therefore, rifles that shoot heavier rounds are typically manufactured with more weight. If you purchase a lightweight rifle that shoots heavier rounds, expect it to pack a punch.

Recoil Velocity

Where recoil energy determines how big of a punch the shoulder will feel, recoil velocity determines how abrupt of a punch the shoulder feels. Recoil velocity is the speed at which the stock of the rifle impacts your shoulder. A rifle that produces high recoil energy, but low recoil velocity, is going to pack a large slow punch. Inversely, a rifle that produces low recoil energy, but high recoil velocity, is going to pack a small fast punch. Recoil velocity is measured in feet per second (fps).

Recoil Score

If you've never shot a rifle before, or have limited experience shooting rifles, it can be difficult to conceptualize based on Recoil Velocity and Recoil Energy measurements alone what it's going to feel like to shoot a particular rifle. In our opinion, rifles that generated over 20 lbs of recoil energy when discharged may cause shooters to develop a sore shoulder. A maximum 15 lbs of recoil energy and 10 fps recoil velocity is probably the most an average shooter can comfortably handle for long-term hunting or target shooting. However, it's the combination of both recoil energy and recoil velocity that generate the overall impact a shooter feels when shooting a rifle.

Recoil score combines recoil energy and recoil velocity measurements into a single value. While rifle recoil scores are subjective, they are useful for gauging the perceived "kick" of one rifle relative to another. If you've ever shot a .257 Roberts with a recoil score of 2.37 (low recoil) it's easy to conceptualize how it will feel to shoot a .338 Lapua Magnum with a recoil score of 5.24 (high recoil).

Recoil level is calculated as a function of the weighted average of recoil energy and recoil velocity at a ratio of 7:3, respectively, to generate a recoil score. The recoil score is then normalized between 1 and 10 using the normalization equation xnormalized=(b−a)*((x−min(x)/max(x)−min(x))+a where xnormalized denotes the measurement to be scaled, min(x) denotes the minimum of the range of the measurement, max(x) denotes the maximum of the range of the measurement, b denotes the highest value and a denotes the lowest value. Recoil level is than assigned on a scale from 1-10 with ranges of 1-2 (low recoil), 3-4 (moderate recoil) and 5-10 (high recoil).

Disclaimer: Sportsman's Warehouse assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions of the information on this page. Although we strive to provide the most accurate information as we can the information contained in this page is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness. There are many quantitative and qualitative factors that influence rifle recoil and how it impacts the individual shooter. Do not use this guide as a basis for purchasing a rifle. It is design for informational purposes only.