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Discussion Starter #1
Just checked out Wolff's site to see about possibly replacing springs. I'm a bit confused. Asked simply: the recoil spring in a full size is 16 lbs., factory. To lessen the felt recoil, go in the 18 lb. direction, or the 14 lb. direction? Or, am I just completely out of whack, and this has nothing to do with it?

Thanks, Mikey
 

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Steelharp,
Generally speaking, going from a 16 lb recoil spring to an 18 or 18.5 lb recoil spring will do very little to the overall recoil. Most people change recoil spring weights according to the load they shoot (i.e. lighter spring weights for lighter loads). For 230 grain loads you would want anything between 16-18.5 lbs. The heavier spring will slow the cycle rate down somewhat and may prove to be a little easier on your slide over time. Hope this helps.

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Yeah, this is confusing.

The recoil spring is in the gun to make it function; not to reduce recoil. But there are strong opinions in both directions regarding spring weight. Given the work that must be done to absorb the recoil and function the gun, I don't really see how recoil can be reduced going up or down in spring rate. The same amount of work has to be done for a given round. Perhaps perception is all that matters.

Much of what I have read indicates that you should run the heaviest spring that will function in your gun to ensure operation and protect the gun. That's not what I'm doing right now.

I compete in IPSC and fast, accurate double taps are the Holy Grail. To achieve this I bought a light spring recoil kit (about 6 springs) and went to the range. I started double tapping a target with special attention given to the vertical spread of the two hits. I reduced spring weight until the hits were nearly always doubles.

I don't think there is a real difference in recoil I felt. I do know that the gun stays much flatter at the lower springs rates based on the double tap speed and spread. It appears that the heavy springs rock the gun back (and forward on return) at a much greater amplitude than the light weight springs. But the light springs give a recoil spike as the slide hits the buffer.

It could be that you would personally be more sensitive to the gun torquing rearward than you would be to a short duration buffer impact, or vice-a-versa. You would have to determine that for yourself.

Wow, that doesn't help much.


FWIW, I'm currently running a 13 # spring. I will go lighter if I can find a buffer that will stand the punishment. My best double taps were with a 9 # spring (I didn't have an 8# to test) but the gun munches the buffers pretty quick at that rate. I think I'm about to figure out why some of the hot shots lighten their slides.



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It may have been a Ball yesterday, it might be a Ball tomorrow, it might even be a Ball later on tonight, but right now I say it's a Strike and YER OUT! - Unknown offical officiating a popular game.

[This message has been edited by WalterMitty (edited 11-03-2001).]
 

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I'd think that a stronger spring would "soften" the recoil by extending it over a longer period of time. Sort of like the way gas operated shotguns work. Stay safe, Gary

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What I want most from the government is to be left alone. GWT
 

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Originally posted by Gary W Trott:
I'd think that a stronger spring would "soften" the recoil by extending it over a longer period of time
It also slams the slide forward that much faster and harder.
 

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WalterMitty,

Is that a compensated gun you did your testing with? And what caliber? I found my gun, noncompensated 45 ACP, did not recoil as sharply with a 18.5# spring as it did with the 16# spring.

I had a comp gun for awhile and it was definitely faster with the lighter spring. I believe that was due to the comp action effect on the barrel and slide unlocking differently.

Just curioso.
 

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Walter Mitty is right on. I use 12# springs with hard CP shock buffs in 45's to keep the muzzle down and cycle the gun quicker. Also helpful are heavy bullets and a heavy tungsten guide rod. IMHO recoil in 45acp is not bad at all. Practice can overcome the recoil issue. More important is speed and accuracy. Must be the IPSC influence.

Now if I used a 1911 45acp as a carry gun I would stay closer to factory specs.

ED.
 

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Steelharp,
Recoil springs do not affect total recoil to any great extent. They can prolong (heavier spring) or shorten (lighter spring) the cycle time of the slide. This in effect alters the way recoil is perceived by the shooter but does not change the total recoil. The easiest ways to decrease total recoil are to add more weight to the gun, lighten your loads, add a compensator, and/or port the barrel and slide. Many of these features are found on "race guns" where the name of the game is speed. Hope this helps.

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My reply above was based on a limited class P16-40. (40 S&W) I'm making major power factor with 180 grain bullets.

I ran the same drill in the wife's Para Open gun in 38 Super. I settled on a 9 pound spring for now in that gun.

TiroFijo, I think we're telling the same story, but I'm doing the math impaired version.
You propose that the recoil spring consumes only a small amount of recoil (<20%?) with the bulk of the force transferred to the frame when the slide impacts it.

I would suggest that the spring "absorbs" less than that because the energy is still being transferred to the frame through the spring while it's being compressed. You may be able to have an effect on the slope and duration of the recoil curve, but all the energy has to go somewhere, and ultimately it has to go into your hand.

This is why I said in my earlier post that I couldn't see how spring rates could actually (in a practical sense) effect recoil. Given the forces involved and the speed of the event I wouldn't expect humans to reliably determine spring rates by feel in a double-blind test. However, I'm not interested in debating the issue with someone that is convinced they can feel a two pound difference in spring rates. As I posted, I don't think I can tell the difference going from 16.5#'s to 9#'s in the same gun on the same day with the same loads without the benefit of seeing the holes on paper.

What I think is happening at the lower spring rates is that the slide is returning to battery with less force. This reduces the amount of muzzle down flip. At heavy spring rates the second shot in a double tap is well below the first shot. As spring rates are decreased the gap closes to virtually zero.

I will hypothesize that the rearward rotational movement of the gun is slightly reduced with reduced recoil springs to the extent that more recoil force is applied to the frame in a shorter time period. Since the duration of the recoil spike is reduced I would think it should take more force to overcome the mass of the gun to make it move. Where would the "extra" force go? After seeing some of my recoil buffers at the very low spring rates, I speculate that it is being converted to heat through shearing action in the buffer.


Anybody else:
I'm not here to slay any sacred cows and mean no offense to anyone. I'm just talking out loud and making observations because, as I have been working on my shooting education, answers are hard for the average Joe (or Steelharp) to get.

If you believe you can feel a recoil reduction with a spring rate change of +/- 2#'s I won't argue. However, I have a hypothesis that in a lab setting I could mix a dozen 14, 16, & 18 pound springs, and with the same gun and identical loads your correct identification of spring rates would be something less than the accuracy of a coin toss. Which is to say, while there may be an effect, it would be insignificant (statistically) for the vast majority of people.

Therefore, my selection of recoil spring rates is based strictly on the requirements of gun function and its intended use; not felt recoil reduction.

To reduce felt recoil you can, um, reduce recoil (by downloading). Increase the weight of the gun (bull barrels, tungsten guide rods, full length dust covers, etc), or install true compensators that use muzzle gases to pull the gun down range.


[This message has been edited by WalterMitty (edited 11-04-2001).]
 

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Walter, thanks for your excellent comments!! The recoil spring does not "absorbs" any energy by itself and volatilizes it into thin air (heat losses are small). The spring does "takes away" some energy of the recoiling slide (...slows it down), but of course this means that while doing so this energy and momentum are merely being transferred to the hands via the frame. Same for the recoil buffer. All the extra momentum and energy that remains in the slide at the end of the rear stroke is taken by the hand in a small period of time when the slide hits the frame, this is long after the bullet has left the barrel and it is when about 80% of recoil is felt.
The slide bounces back from the frame and is helped by the compressed spring force to pick up a bullet from the mag and lock up again.
Everything most people say about how the gun "feel" with different springs is very subjective, and I fully agree with you that +/- 2 lbs. would be very difficult to notice.
Walter, did you take a look at "A reflection on "mechanical accuracy" by Metal Smith": http://www.1911forum.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/003937.html ?
Sight setting measurement in your pistol can be a hint of how much recoil the hands gripping the gun take at the moment of firing.
 

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I have read it, but I have not given it much thought. On first review I am less than convinced. All other factors (trigger jerk, trembling, flinch) even in small doses have a huge effect on bullet impact. To mitigate those factors a solid rest would have to be used.

I set zero on all of my firearms from a solid bench rest. I have not observed a consistent different point of impact between bench and offhand shooting (if I do my part).

Neither have I observed a different point of impact when shooting strong hand or weak hand only (again if I do my part).

But since I'm not really into bullseye pistol shooting (all my precision work is done with rifle) I am no expert. For my close-in speed game, a theoretical muzzle rise that occurs within the first 5 inches of flight for a projectile that leaves the muzzle somewhere around 930 feet (11,160 inches) per second is the least of my worries. Let's see, aren't we talking about an effect that would have to be complete within 0.000448 seconds after primer ignition?

Heck, I'll get more muzzle movement from drinking a Mountain Dew before I shoot!
 

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In auto pistols this muzzle climb effect while firing is not very important, and they are more forgiving of grip. Of course, you won't notice it at 50 yards. But take a 454 casull loaded with heavy bullets (notice the big difference in front and rear sight heigths above bore line), zero it for yourself and give it to somebody else, POI is rarely the same. I'm talking about precision shooting at 100+ meters, of course.
 

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TiroFijo,
I can tell from the threads that you directed me to that you like formulas. There is a formula for measuring recoil but I can't seem to locate it from my sources. It isn't too much different from the Kinetic Energy formula from your thread. As a long time shotgun shooter, I can tell you that I have tried everything imaginable to reduce recoil (both total and perceived). Especially after shooting 250 rds of 12 Ga ammo (200 rd match + practice) in a day. As you may already know, an auto will shoot softer than a revolver provided that all other things are equal (load and weight). That is why some shooters are returning to autos in favor of the heavier recoiling over-unders The spring absorbs more of the recoil (but changing to a different weight spring in the same auto will yield little to the total recoil). Most shotgunners increase the weight of their gun by adding lead or mercury filled tubes to the stock, magazine tubes, and barrels. The difference is noticable but the negative is that it makes the gun heavier. Many shooters lighten their loads and this has as great of an effect as adding weight in many cases. Porting seems to decrease muzzle rise more than it attenuates recoil but it does provide some relief. It allows the excess gases to escape sooner and it's major negatives are some loss in speed and increased noise. It's effect in shotguns is only about 10 percent but can be upwards of 30 percent on rifles with muzzle breaks. To summarize, I stand behind my earlier comment. The easiest ways to decrease felt and total recoil are to add weight, decrease loads, porting-comp-muzzle break as it applies to the gun. Good Shooting to you.

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I use a 14 lb. recoil spring with a 17 lb. mainspring in my .45. I like a 11 lb. recoil spring with the same mainspring in my .40 Kimber. Both guns use a .200" Hiett buff. I load both guns to a 170 PF. Muzzle movement is significantly reduced with these setups. My unscientific method was to reduce recoil spring weight until the buff's life span shortened then go up a lb.
 

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The actual recoil from different spring rates are the same. The difference is in the impluse of the recoil. With a lighter spring, the impulse is shorter. It will feel sharper and snappier. With a heavier spring, the impulse is longer and will feel more of a push and the percieved recoil will be more. Most will find snappier guns easier to shoot.

I run a 11# spring in my Para P16-40 Limited with 185 gr bullets at 170 pf.
 

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I would be very nervous about frame battering with an 11# recoil spring in a P1640. I don't know the exact weight of the one in mine, but if feels like about 18#. I have a 12# in my 9mm 1911 which is what the factory recommends. Using a light spring will greatly increase the shock in the slide frame impact. I hope you are using Shok-Buffs.
 

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I've been wanting to try a lighter recoil spring in a single stack 1911 for IPSC Limited 10. However the lightest spring that I can use and still get all the rounds to feed is 16#. When I move to 15# or lighter I start seeing rounds nose-dive into the feedramp. I've duplicated this on two guns, and using both RN and LSWC bullet profiles.

What are the tricks to making a gun feed reliably with these light recoil springs?


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Byron Simpson
 

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There's one shock buff in there. It was way oversprung with the stock spring. Tried a 13# and it was still oversprung, gun dips when it goes into battery. 11# was just right. After 3K-4K the shock buff had just a small tear in one corner.
 
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