Shooting is supposed to be fun and relaxing, but if you're struggling with recoil, it can make a day out at the range extremely frustrating or even painful. If you're using the right backstrap for your hand size and you've tried several shooting techniques to reduce recoil with no luck, you may think that you're out of options.
Not so! There's something else that you can do that can make a big difference in felt recoil and it only takes a little research, a simple calculation, and a quick trip to the gun store. Choosing the right ammunition can reduce the amount of recoil you feel and make your range trips more fun and less exhausting!
How Ammunition Affects Recoil
Ammunition is made up of a few simple parts - the case, the primer, the bullet, and the powder. While the case and primer don't have an effect on recoil, the combination of the bullet weight and powder can have a huge effect.
Almost every brand and product line of ammo you see on the shelf is manufactured with different combinations of bullet weights and powders, and that rule is the same for all calibers. One box of 9mm could be VERY different from the one next to it when it comes to the amount of recoil you'll feel when you shoot it.
What is Power Factor?
If you're a competitive handgun shooter, you're probably familiar with the term "Power Factor". In action pistol shooting, all competitors are required to meet a minimum ammunition power factor to make sure that no one is using underpowered loads and gaining an unfair advantage.
Why would that be an unfair advantage? Because the lower the power factor, the faster it is to recover from a shot and take the next one. While going under minimum power factor is a no-no in competition, this is EXACTLY what you are looking for when you want to make shooting more fun and easier on your hands!
The Magic Formula: Finding the Power Factor of Ammunition to Reduce Recoil
To find the power factor of any ammunition, you're going to need to do some research and a tiny bit of math (we promise it's simple!).
Here's the magic formula:
Bullet Weight x Muzzle Velocity = Power Factor
It's really that simple! Finding bullet weight is easy, it's going to be right on the box. For 9mm, the most popular bullet weights are 115 grain, 124 grain, and 147 grain. The most reliable way to find the muzzle velocity (bullet speed) for any ammunition is to jump on the internet and type in the brand and caliber of the ammunition. You'll almost always find the number under the Specs or Product Data.
For example, let's say that you want to find out the power factor of Federal's American Eagle 9mm with a 115 grain bullet. Find the Federal website, look for the product on their site and scroll down to the Specs section. They list the muzzle velocity as 1180 (that's FPS - feet per second). Now that you have the muzzle velocity and the bullet weight, do the calculation:
115 x 1180 = 135,700
Most people drop the last 2 or 3 numbers when calculating power factor, so that makes American Eagle's 115 grain 9mm a 135.7 power factor.
Repeat the process with different brands of ammunition until you find the lowest power factor, then go give it a try!
Calculating the power factor of ammunition is a quick and easy way to figure out if the ammo you are using is contributing to your recoil issues. The weight of your gun is also a factor in how much recoil you feel, so if you choose a heavier handgun AND a lower power factor ammunition, you can expect to feel a noticeable difference!
If you have any questions about calculating power factor or choosing the right ammunition for your gun, please get in touch with us!