PrepperGuns 101: Dealing With Recoil, A Sometimes Brutal Necessity.

Last summer, I remember that I wasn’t looking forward to my trip to the range, because I knew what I had to do it…

Perfect day, high around 70, sun shining, white puffy clouds in the sky, low humidity… couldn’t have asked for better weather, but I would rather have been home washing dishes.


It was my monthly range day shooting one of my main carry guns, a Ruger LCR .357 Magnum (reviewed here).

The .357 LCR compared in sized to a (much beloved) Ruger Speed 6 .357

Great gun, light, accurate as heck (for a snubby), but MAN does it buck in your hand when shooting a defensive round.

There’s a price we have to pay for light but powerful handguns, and that price is paid with the brutilizing of the palm of our hands by these small, light hand cannons.

There’s a lot that goes into dealing with recoil, it all starts with having a gun that fits your hand well as well as good grip technique.

First, let’s take a look at one of Salty’s Glock 19 (Gen 3, custom color of Pink Panther) in Spices hand. 

Note how she’s keeping the hand as far up on the backstrap as she can? That gets the line of the barrel as close in a line to her arm bones as possible.

She grips the gun as tightly as she can with her “on” had, and normally she wraps the thumbs in a line with each other. In this case, however, she does her best but falls short in getting the thumb alignment done because this gun is too big for her hands. She shoots a 19, not a 17, it fits her better. We will do another full article on hand placement in the future, showing her with a gun that’s the right size… 

Hold gun strait so that the line of the barrel is parallel to the bones in your arm, as spice is doing here:

Sorry about the quality of the photos, it was freezing rain and we were shooting it on a porch. Her arm is actually a bit out of line because I was knocking about trying to get a shot and she couldn’t line it up with her eye.

This, however, is wrong:

To “deal with” recoil, grip the firearm FIRMLY, hold the gun properly (more on that later, it’s an article unto it’s self) high on the backstrap and the gun barrel parallel to your arm bones.

One of the things that comes into play with high-recoil self-defense small (or “mouse”) guns is that they don’t fit a lot of people’s hands well.

Salty with an LC9s

Keep the rules above in mind even with mouse guns, grip them tightly, keep the barrel parallel to arm bones and grip high on their backstraps.

I love to shoot… there’s pretty much nothing I would rather do (with my clothes on) than shoot, but the .357 LCR is one of those guns that is just is unpleasant to fire. My wife has shot it exactly one time, and that with some really light .38 special loads, just because we have a safety policy where we fire every gun we own that’s a shooter (I also have some antiques that we don’t fire, as well as a few commemorative never-fired guns)… 

The LCR isn’t that bad with .38 Specials, and when I work on accuracy/trigger control I generally load it with Sellier & Belot 148 grain wadcutters which is about as light of a felt recoil load as there is… but for actual “you need to be proficient with this gun” I generally use generic old 158 grain Blazer FMJ’s which kick like a sob in that little gun.

After a box of 50 of those out of the LCR, you KNOW you’ve been shooting. 

Worst mouse gun I ever shot, though, was a Kel-Tec PF-9 ❨click for my review❩.

I DESPISED that gun, not only was it ill-fitting to my hand, and not only did it have a lot of felt recoil, it did 2 other NASTY things… it snapped my finger against the trigger guard with every shot, which hurt… and my thumb with hit the stupid magazine release as I was hanging on to the beast trying to control it, more often than not popping the doggone mag out of it. Worst perfectly functional gun I ever owned, at least for me… I am sure it would be OK for somebody who’s hand it fit better. 

The difference between the LCR and the PF-9, though, is that I actually LIKE the LCR. Accurate, fits my hand, goes bang EVERY SINGLE TIME, great little carry gun… the PF-9? I traded it to somebody who loves it, and shoots it all the time, so that’s a win-win for me and for him.




  1. taurus pt-111, not a subcompact but small enough.
    This thing shoots like a dream. hardly any recoil, I do not need a smaller gun.

    • I’ve really liked the look of the PT-111 but I’ve never shot one. I’m afraid if I do I will end up buying it, and i’m trying to cut down on my gun buying… sharp looking rig though, compact but you can hang a laser or light on it… glad to hear you like it.

  2. I won’t shoot .357 out of mine anymore. I tore a muscle in my forearm and it put me out of action for almost a year. I could barely grip a pencil.

    I find the recoil is fine with 38 special. I had a heck of a time hitting anything with it at first. The rear sight is non-existent. Finally, after extensive dry firing, I am now proficient with the weapon.

    • I hear you on the rear sights! Mine has a laser grip on it (if you look REALLY closely at the picture you can see the activation button in the front of the grip), I’m not much of a fan of them but it has helped me learn how to aim it. The thing is just brutal with .357 rounds though, I also have switched over to .38 (Hornady Critical Defense is my go-to round with it, 110 grain).

  3. Shooters must train to not anticipate recoil. Concentrate your efforts on re-acquiring your sights and coming back on target as quickly as possible.
    Use this method: The shooter sights the UN-LOADED weapon and a second person tips the barrel of the weapon up suddenly to simulate the motion and force of recoil. The shooter reacquires his sight picture and comes back on target as quickly as possible. This should be a timed drill. No ammunition is expended so it makes it very cost effective.

  4. “To “deal with” recoil, grip the firearm FIRMLY”
    I’ve found that if I grip a small pistol too firmly I pull to the side. Better to keep the wrist a little loose when dealing with 9mm recoil in a 15 oz pistol.

    just my 2 cents

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