Pistol Grip Shotguns Bad For Wrists?
December 24, 2007 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Can someone share their experience with firing a pistol grip shotgun? I've been seeing a lot of these recently and I can't believe that your wrist would ever be the same after pulling the trigger. Now I'm kinda curious, but I thought I'd ask before I tried it...
posted by tkolar to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you don't brace your arm up against your body and get a firm grip (as in try and lock your wrist in-line with your forearm), the whole thing's gonna jump up out of your hands. Lets just say the attraction is compactness, not comfort and control.
posted by pupdog at 12:44 PM on December 24, 2007

I have a 410 Snake Charmer. It is a nice light weight one about 15 years old. Use it for small vermin around my place. You need to brace against your side well but other than that you should not have a problem with it.
posted by bjgeiger at 1:22 PM on December 24, 2007

Best answer: Nearly a month ago I was shooting a 12 gauge short barreled shotgun not unlike the Serbu Super-Shorty (except that it didnt have a vertical front grip). Rather, it had a traditional pump action forearm. The very first thought that crossed my mind after the KA-BOOM was... "%$#!@, I just broke my hand". To make a long story short, it isn't broken but I do have at least a seriously sprained thumb and perhaps some ligament/tendon damage. Time will tell.

Anyway, I've fired pistol gripped short barreled shotguns before without problems. It turns out that in this case I didn't pay as much attention as I should have to the load I was shooting.

Many variables play a role in the felt recoil of a firearm. Using an online recoil calculator, the load I was using (bullet weight of 1.5 ounces [658 grains], 1400 ft/sec velocity, 40 grains of powder, 3.2 lb firearm) generated more than 100 foot/pounds of force on my hand - which turns out to be *roughly* equivalent to shooting a military .50 BMG from one hand. The fact that the shotgun was pump action means, too, that no recoil was absorbed by the action. Gas operated shotguns are much more comfortable to shoot since part of the energy is converted to the operation of the action.

What I should have been shooting was a reduced recoil load. For example the following load (bullet weight of 7/8 ounces [383 grains], 1100 ft/sec velocity, 20 grains of powder, 3.2 lb firearm) only generates 25 foot/pounds of recoil.

25 ft/lbs of recoil into your hand/wrist still isn't a pleasureable experience, but it's not something that would ordinarily injure you.

The shotgun you have pictured has a full length barrel, and so it will weigh more than the one I was using, which will lessen the recoil. Beside the weight of the firearm, the variable that will have the greatest effect on the recoil is probably the projectile weight. An extreme example - Imagine the projectile weight approaching that of the firearm. Both would have equal velocities in opposite directions.

In the end, what matters most is that you understand the firearm, the load you are using and their intended purposes. Mix and match inappropriately and things tend to go south.

Like the above comments, hold on tight with both hands and try to distribute the force equally over them both. I wouldn't brace against my body as that tends to direct the force into a stationary hand rather than one that is free to recoil a bit.
posted by whatisish at 1:28 PM on December 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've shot one. It's not that bad -- firing it from waist-level, you aren't very likely to actually hit anything (I missed the tin can at maybe ten yards, and with buckshot at that), but it isn't going to go flying through the air or break your wrist, either. To me, shotguns have a more "dull" sort of recoil, as compared to the "sharp" recoil of a rifle -- a "thump" rather than a "crack" -- so the recoil feels more like a firm shove, rather than like someone hitting you with a hammer. A couple of hundred rounds with a 12-gauge, like from an afternoon shooting skeet or trap, will leave your shoulder a bit sore, but nothing like the bruising that can come from shooting a large-caliber rifle.
posted by Forktine at 1:28 PM on December 24, 2007

For what it's worth, this rifle recoil table might help get a better comparative understanding of what 25 v 100 ft/lbs of recoil feels like.
posted by whatisish at 1:39 PM on December 24, 2007

The trick to firing one of those is to try and keep your wrist as straight as possible. It's a lot like doing a bench press: your wrist can withstand a lot more force when it's straight (think punching) then when it's bent (pushing a door open). You basically grab the pistol grip and then tuck your hand up close to your shoulder, keeping your wrist as straight as possible and your forearm going straight back. If you do it right, most of the recoil is absorbed in your arm and shoulder, not into your wrist.

The main problem of this type of weapon IMO is that if you try to aim down the barrel and don't have a firm grip (in particular, if your wrist is bent down, so that the gun jumps up), it's possible to take the butt of it to your face and give yourself a black eye. I've seen it happen.

Personally I don't think this is a very practical configuration -- I'd much prefer a standard stock-and-pistol-grip (AR-style) -- but I think the draw of them is that they're easier to store vertically in a car, next to the seat. Some people in fact call them "cruiser grips." In actual use, I think a weapon with a stock, on a 3-point sling, is a lot more useful.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:10 PM on December 24, 2007

I own a 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun with a short barrel and a pistol grip (like this) and the trick, as others have said, is to ensure that your wrist is locked straight, usually to the side, with your elbow at a 90-degree angle such that your forearm is parallel to the ground. In such a stance, your shoulder will rotate with the recoil, and as long as you're prepared, the jolt is easily absorbed. To put that into perspective, I (and my shoulder) would much rather shoot my 12-gauge with the pistol grip than my father's 12-gauge with a normal stock.
posted by namewithoutwords at 5:29 PM on December 24, 2007

Also, if you see people shooting these in movies with the greatest of ease, don't feel too bad. The rounds are most likely seriously down-loaded, containing well below the standard level of propellant. Also, the fact that no projectile is emerging from the barrel lessens the recoil even more.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 6:42 PM on December 24, 2007

An insane friend of mine had an illegal modified 12 gauge (pump, but I don't recall the make). I was able to shoot with piss poor accuracy without breaking my wrist, but barely. An idiotic friend of mine didn't grok the whole posture needed, and decided to aim it holding it about head high, like if it was a normal stock with an imaginary line connecting it to his shoulder. Of course the recoil took it out of his hands and into his face. Fucked up some of his teeth.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:12 PM on December 24, 2007

Firing it a couple of times isn't too bad. But its not fun either. Prolonged shooting can really make your hand and wrist sore. I used to have a pistol grip stock on my Remington 12 gauge. It wasn't all that great to shoot, so I've since changed it out. What was really insane was firing 00 buck Nitro Magnum 3 1/2 inch shells in that thing--with the pistol grip. That will definitely punish your hand.
posted by anansi at 7:49 PM on December 24, 2007

Also, any weapon that isn't comfortable to shoot is one you won't shoot much. This means you won't practice. This means you'll never get that comfortable or proficient with it.

Since the only real benefit is compactness, get a folding stock.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 10:39 AM on December 26, 2007

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