Rifle Recoil Table: Updated for 2024 with all popular cartridges

I have spent literally hundreds of hours collecting the information in this blog post. I created it because other recoil databases I found online are dated and do not have the depth of research to truly compare cartridges apples-to-apples.

For those of you who are new to firearms, let’s discuss the basics of what recoil is before we look at the data.

Recoil is the force of a gun pushing back against the shooter when a bullet is fired. It is commonly called a gun’s “kick.” More recoil is created when more powerful powder loads and lighter-weight firearms are used. Recoil is measured by free recoil energy, and recoil velocity.

Selecting a rifle and cartridge combination which does not produce too much recoil for the shooters is critical to being able to shoot accurately without developing a flinch.

A Quick Guide to Understanding Free Recoil Energy

  • Over 30 ft-lbs – Massive recoil that can be difficult for even seasoned shooters to shoot accurately.
  • Over 25 ft-lbs – In a lightweight rifle, even experienced shooters can struggle to shoot more than 15 rounds without pain or developing a flinch, UNLESS a muzzle brake, suppressor, or heavier rifle is used.
  • Over 15 ft-lbs – Begins to be very difficult to spot the bullet impact on target through the scope because of the recoil.
  • Under 10 ft-lbs – Even newer shooters can easily spot impacts through the scope during recoil. Ideal for youth shooters.
  • Under 4 ft-lbs – Feels more like a vibration than a “push.”

If you want to reduce the recoil of your rifle, consider upgrading your gun with a Backstop Recoil Pad. It can cut your recoil level dramatically, and also improve your ability to spot your impact through the scope. Also, consider adding a muzzle brake or a silencer.

CartridgeFree Recoil Energy (Ft-lbs)Recoil Velocity (FPS)Avg Bullet WeightAvg Muzzle Velocity
.378 Weatherby Magnum60.6819.382933,040
.30-378 Weatherby Magnum45.7818.392053,205
.458 Win Mag55.5717.955002,135
.416 Ruger52.7217.563882,528
.416 Rigby52.4917.524002,412
.416 Remington Magnum50.4617.184002,401
.338-378 Weatherby Magnum45.4016.952562,974
.300 RUM34.9716.072053,017
.375 Ruger41.6716.062932,713
.300 Weatherby Magnum33.1815.652053,002
.300 PRC32.4215.472103,021
.338 RUM37.8015.462562,872
.338 Lapua Magnum37.7015.442562,920
.375 H&H Magnum38.2815.392932,650
.340 Weatherby Magnum36.8815.282562,866
.30 Nosler31.5815.272053,009
.300 Winchester Magnum29.9914.882052,903
.325 WSM28.9514.802042,817
.28 Nosler28.2714.721673,152
.45-70 Govt30.8114.683312,065
.33 Nosler33.9114.652582,892
7mm Weatherby Magnum26.0714.131683,055
7 STW25.9114.091683,044
.300 WSM26.5414.002052,861
.27 Nosler25.2813.931593,157
9.3 x 62mm Mauser30.7213.822772,555
7mm PRC25.213.41753,000
6.5-300 Weatherby Magnum24.7213.791383,325
.338 Win Mag29.9013.752562,705
.270 Weatherby Magnum23.2513.361443,154
7mm Rem Mag23.1513.321632,937
7 WSM22.5013.131623,008
.35 Whelen27.1413.022252,805
.26 Nosler21.4512.851283,312
.270 WSM21.2412.771493,050
.300 Ruger (RCM)21.6012.631952,613
.30-06 Springfield21.3412.552052,646
7 SAUM20.5312.541622,890
6.8 Western23.6131752,835
6.5 Weatherby RPM19.9312.381433,123
.450 Bushmaster22.2212.272682,175
.257 Weatherby Magnum19.1312.181113,294
.444 Marlin22.9912.162662,278
.280 Ackley Improved19.2912.161632,834
.338 Federal22.8412.022392,510
.50 BMG83.1711.917242,799
.280 Remington18.3511.851602,848
.264 Winchester Magnum17.6811.661383,002
.270 Winchester17.6411.641492,944
.308 Winchester18.2711.622022,491
6.5 PRC16.2711.191422,972
7mm-08 Remington14.8810.681602,672
6.5-284 Norma Match14.4810.561432,782
7mm Mauser13.2410.071602,565
.25-06 Remington12.699.921112,988
.260 Remington12.569.831432,673
.240 Weatherby Magnum12.069.701013,063
6.5 Creedmoor11.879.561382,695
6mm Creedmoor10.899.221053,022
6.5 x 55 Swedish Mauser10.909.161392,532
6mm Remington10.368.991032,919
.22 Creedmoor9.158.60653,500
.30-30 Winchester9.978.581632,320
.243 Winchester9.228.481032,922
.220 Swift8.548.30553,794
.204 Ruger6.187.37383,963
6mm BR6.927.35853,011
.22 Nosler6.527.25653,342
7.62 x 39mm7.117.241372,303
6.8 Remington SPC6.797.221102,579
6.5 Grendel6.186.891252,283
.224 Valkyrie5.516.67713,095
.223 / 5.565.486.65693,122
.350 Legend7.086.611732,231
.222 Remington4.005.69543,124
.300 Blackout4.025.451921,530
.22 Hornet1.373.32502,469
.17 Hornet1.233.31233,527
.17 WSM0.762.60212,903
.17 HMR0.251.50172,520
.22 WMR0.261.44401,761


How Rifle Recoil is Calculated

The formula for determining the free recoil energy of a firearm is (Rifle Weight in Pounds/64.34) *(Recoil Velocity in FPS^2). This formula relies on the formula for recoil velocity, which is simply (Bullet Weight In Grains * Muzzle Velocity in FPS + Powder Charge in Grains * Muzzle Velocity * 1.75)/(7000 * Rifle Weight in Pounds).

The trouble with this formula is that most people don’t know the powder charge unless they hand load their own ammunition, and all of the other number depend on several factors. This makes it tough to figure out the recoil of a rifle unless you look up a lot of other information first.

After shooting a lot of different rifles and cartridges, I have found that recoil velocity number accurately predicts how much pain you’ll feel, and the recoil energy predicts how much you’ll get rocked back and thrown off your target in the scope. Why? I’ll explain.

Suppose a giant, heavy semi-truck is parked in front of you with your shoulder on the bumper. Now that truck creeps forward and pushes your shoulder at a speed of 2 inches per second. Because it’s giant and heavy, it’s going to move you significantly, but it won’t really hurt at all since it’s moving slowly.

Instead, imagine a baseball traveling at 25 inches per second that hits your shoulder. It would hurt much more than the semi-truck.

The same is true with guns. Some people look at the recoil energy of a 50BMG and think they will be KILLED by 83.17 ft-lbs of free recoil energy; however, the 50BMG is a physically heavy gun (usually over 30 lbs), so the recoil moves slowly (also because of the muzzle brake). People who have actually shot a .50BMG usually report mild recoil similar to a .308 Winchester. The recoil VELOCITY number of the .50 BMG is similar to a .308. Just recognize that it’s going to push you a lot–even though it won’t be painful.

About Backfire’s Rifle Recoil Table: How we perform calculations

  • Analyze over a dozen models of rifles chambered in each cartridge to determine the average rifle weight to put in the formula. If you’re shooting a particularly light or heavy firearm, you’ll need to do a separate calculation, but this will be a fair comparison of what the rifle weight normally is. Most recoil tables simply use a 9 lbs firearm for all calculations, but this leads to crazy results for the lightweight 22lr and the heavyweight 50BMG. Also, we include scope and other common accessories to get a realistic field rifle weight.
  • Normalize powder charges within each caliber to make a fair comparison. You can load a 7 Rem Mag with Retumbo or H4350, but the amounts will be different. We keep powder charges consistent to reality within each caliber of firearm.
  • Average over 6 common loads for each cartridge to determine realistic muzzle velocities to include in the formula. Most recoil tables take the muzzle velocity on the box at face value, but we all know that’s rarely accurate–especially if you shoot a shorter barrel length. If you see our recoil numbers are usually just a little less than what you see elsewhere on the web, it’s likely because we’re using more precise averages of muzzle velocities across a variety of common loads for each cartridge.
  • Consider multiple loads for each cartridge to determine a fair average of bullet weights for that cartridge, and caliber.

Lightest Recoiling Firearms for Deer and Elk Hunting

After surveying the Backfire audience, we found that 96% of shots on big game are taken within 500 yards. So in the below table, we look at the rifles and their recoil sorted by recoil velocity (the pain it will inflict) from most to least.

Then, look in the three right columns to make sure it has enough power to kill the animal you’re hunting. For deer-sized game, it is recommended that you have at least 1,000 ft-lbs of energy, a Hornady HITS formula ranking of at least 500, and at least 1,900 fps of velocity.

For elk-sized game, it is recommended that you have at least 1,500 ft-lbs of energy, a Hornady HITS score of at least 900, and at least 1,900 fps of velocity.

CartridgeFree Recoil Energy (Ft-lbs)Recoil Velocity (FPS)500 Yard Energy (ft lbs)500 Yard FPS
.378 Weatherby Magnum60.6819.382,1881835
.30-378 Weatherby Magnum45.7818.392,5012346
.458 Win Mag55.5717.951,4891158
.416 Ruger52.7217.561,6841399
.416 Rigby52.4917.521,5731331
.416 Remington Magnum50.4617.181,5561323
.338-378 Weatherby Magnum45.4016.952,3382027
.300 RUM34.9716.072,1792191
.375 Ruger41.6716.061,7161625
.300 Weatherby Magnum33.1815.652,2002201
.300 PRC32.4215.472,2382193
.338 RUM37.8015.462,1501944
.338 Lapua Magnum37.7015.442,2371982
.375 H&H Magnum38.2815.391,6641601
.340 Weatherby Magnum36.8815.282,1381938
.30 Nosler31.5815.272,1632182
.300 Winchester Magnum29.9914.881,9962096
.325 WSM28.9514.801,7601971
.28 Nosler28.2714.722,0872374
.45-70 Govt30.8114.68589895
.33 Nosler33.9114.652,2081962
7mm Weatherby Magnum26.0714.131,9512287
7 STW25.9114.091,9362278
.300 WSM26.5414.001,9302061
.27 Nosler25.2813.931,7972258
9.3 x 62mm Mauser30.7213.821,4421531
6.5-300 Weatherby Magnum24.7213.791,9192500
.338 Win Mag29.9013.751,8831819
.270 Weatherby Magnum23.2513.361,6282258
7mm Rem Mag23.1513.321,7252183
7 WSM22.5013.131,8132245
.35 Whelen27.1413.021,2171561
.26 Nosler21.4512.851,7642488
.270 WSM21.2412.771,6142210
.300 Ruger (RCM)21.6012.631,4861855
.30-06 Springfield21.3412.551,6511907
7 SAUM20.5312.541,6552145
6.8 Western23.6131,6002106
6.5 Weatherby RPM19.9312.381,7252330
.450 Bushmaster22.2212.27421842
.257 Weatherby Magnum19.1312.181,1932200
.444 Marlin22.9912.16467889
.280 Ackley Improved19.2912.161,6322122
.338 Federal22.8412.021,5981736
.50 BMG83.1711.918,4792296
.280 Remington18.3511.851,5602098
.264 Winchester Magnum17.6811.661,5262229
.270 Winchester17.6411.641,4072064
.308 Winchester18.2711.621,4011767
6.5 PRC16.2711.191,5292204
7mm-08 Remington14.8810.681,2831903
6.5-284 Norma Match14.4810.561,3292044
7mm Mauser13.2410.071,1941836
.25-06 Remington12.699.929731987
.260 Remington12.569.831,2131952
.240 Weatherby Magnum12.069.709372046
6.5 Creedmoor11.879.561,1911969
6mm Creedmoor10.899.229462016
6.5 x 55 Swedish Mauser10.909.161,0401834
6mm Remington10.368.998561931
.22 Creedmoor9.158.607242240
.30-30 Winchester9.978.587431434
.243 Winchester9.228.488621938
.220 Swift8.548.304211853
.204 Ruger6.187.372631766
6mm BR6.927.355481704
.22 Nosler6.527.253801623
7.62 x 39mm7.117.245791382
6.8 Remington SPC6.797.226031571
6.5 Grendel6.186.897071596
.224 Valkyrie5.516.674221631
.223 / 5.565.486.653381483
.350 Legend7.086.614541088
.222 Remington4.005.692461436
.300 Blackout4.025.454271001
.22 Hornet1.373.321291075
.17 Hornet1.233.31831288
.17 WSM0.762.60511038
.17 HMR0.251.5021750
.22 WMR0.261.4482961

Same Table As Above, But Now at 300 Yards

CartridgeRecoil Velocity (FPS)300 Yard Energy (ft lbs)300 Yard FPS
.378 Weatherby Magnum19.383,3562273
.30-378 Weatherby Magnum18.393,2382670
.458 Win Mag17.952,4231477
.416 Ruger17.562,7781797
.416 Rigby17.522,5941709
.416 Remington Magnum17.182,5691700
.338-378 Weatherby Magnum16.953,2162377
.300 RUM16.072,8452503
.375 Ruger16.062,6472019
.300 Weatherby Magnum15.652,8482504
.300 PRC15.472,9212505
.338 RUM15.462,9742286
.338 Lapua Magnum15.443,0852328
.375 H&H Magnum15.392,5501981
.340 Weatherby Magnum15.282,9602281
.30 Nosler15.272,8252494
.300 Winchester Magnum14.882,6192401
.325 WSM14.802,3742289
.28 Nosler14.722,6382669
.45-70 Govt14.681,0801212
.33 Nosler14.653,0472304
7mm Weatherby Magnum14.132,4812578
7 STW14.092,4632569
.300 WSM14.002,5372363
.27 Nosler13.932,3772596
9.3 x 62mm Mauser13.822,2271902
6.5-300 Weatherby Magnum13.792,4282812
.338 Win Mag13.752,6112142
.270 Weatherby Magnum13.362,1512595
7mm Rem Mag13.322,2062469
7 WSM13.132,3122535
.35 Whelen13.022,0102006
.26 Nosler12.852,2342801
.270 WSM12.772,1182532
.300 Ruger (RCM)12.631,9792140
.30-06 Springfield12.552,1712186
7 SAUM12.542,1212428
6.8 Western13.02,0832402
6.5 Weatherby RPM12.382,1992631
.450 Bushmaster12.278171173
.257 Weatherby Magnum12.181,6742606
.444 Marlin12.169441263
.280 Ackley Improved12.162,0762393
.338 Federal12.022,1732025
.50 BMG11.919,9712490
.280 Remington11.852,0112383
.264 Winchester Magnum11.661,9542522
.270 Winchester11.641,8942395
.308 Winchester11.621,8672040
6.5 PRC11.191,9602495
7mm-08 Remington10.681,7032192
6.5-284 Norma Match10.561,7182324
7mm Mauser10.071,5782111
.25-06 Remington9.921,3732360
.260 Remington9.831,5762226
.240 Weatherby Magnum9.701,3162425
6.5 Creedmoor9.561,5442242
6mm Creedmoor9.221,3302391
6.5 x 55 Swedish Mauser9.161,3622098
6mm Remington8.991,2122299
.22 Creedmoor8.601,0532700
.30-30 Winchester8.581,1031748
.243 Winchester8.481,2172304
.220 Swift8.307852529
.204 Ruger7.375342516
6mm BR7.358942176
.22 Nosler7.257162226
7.62 x 39mm7.248761699
6.8 Remington SPC7.229141934
6.5 Grendel6.899531852
.224 Valkyrie6.677332151
.223 / 5.566.656502055
.350 Legend6.617601409
.222 Remington5.694872019
.300 Blackout5.455841171
.22 Hornet3.322581520
.17 Hornet3.312042022
.17 WSM2.601191589
.17 HMR1.50441079
.22 WMR1.441231177

How Much Recoil Is Too Much Recoil?

Just seeing a list of recoil numbers is helpful, but it can still be difficult to know what that feels like in reality. Hopefully, the following comparison of some of the most popular cartridges today will be helpful.

In general, most large-bodied and experienced adult shooters can comfortably shoot a rifle with a recoil velocity of under 13.5 fps without developing a flinch. Many smaller-bodied or inexperienced adult shooters begin to experience flinch at approximately 11.75 fps of recoil velocity.

  • The.243 Winchester’s recoil produces 9.22 ft-lbs of energy at a recoil velocity of 8.48 fps. That amount of recoil is low enough that even youth shooters have no problem shooting the cartridge. It feels more like a sudden vibration than actual kick.
  • The 6.5 Creedmoor produces 11.83 ft-lbs of energy at a recoil velocity of 9.54 fps in an average-weight rifle. It is considered to have very mild recoil, which many youth shooters and all adult shooters can generally shoot without any flinch or pain.
  • The 6.5 PRC generates 16.27 ft-lbs of energy at a recoil velocity of 11.19 fps. Its recoil is noticeable, but most adult shooters consider it sufficiently mild as to not require a muzzle break or suppressor. It has very similar recoil to the 7mm-08, and slightly less than the .270 Winchester.
  • The .270 Winchester’s recoil produces 17.64 ft-lbs of energy and 11.64 fps of recoil velocity. Most people consider the .270 a moderate-recoiling cartridge that can push the shooter off target during the shot, but is not enough to cause pain in the average adult shooter.
  • The 7mm-08 Remington’s recoil produces 14.88 ft-lbs of energy at a velocity of 10.68 fps. Because of its mild recoil, it is often recommended as a good hunting cartridge for youth and small-framed shooters.
  • The 7mm Remington Mag generates significant recoil of 22.15 ft-lbs at 13.32 fps. Smaller-framed or young shooters generally consider the cartridge as having high recoil, but its recoil is manageable for experienced large-framed shooters to be able to shoot it regularly.
  • The .28 Nosler produces a sharp, powerful recoil which most shooters find to be too much unless they shoot with a muzzle break or suppressor. It produces 28.27 ft-lbs of recoil energy at a velocity of 14.72 fps. Because of its recoil, a .28 Nosler should generally only be shot out of heavier rifles, coupled with a brake or suppressor.
  • The .30-06 cartridge has a strong but not particularly sharp recoil. It generates 21.34 ft-lbs of energy at 12.55 fps. In a well-designed rifle and stock, the .30-06 recoil is acceptable for most adult shooters, but in many older rifles with poorly-designed stocks, the recoil can feel too powerful.
  • The .50BMG produces a tremendous amount of recoil, measuring at 83.17 ft-lbs of energy. Although the recoil energy is significant, it moves relatively slow at 11.91 fps. Additionally, the .50 BMG is almost always shot with a massive muzzle brake which can reduce the recoil by 50%.

Reducing the Recoil of Your Rifle

I have tried many different methods for reducing the recoil of cartridges that are too powerful. The most common method that shooters choose is to simply add a muzzle brake. This can reduce the recoil between 30% and 50% depending on the size and effectiveness of the brake. While the lighter recoil on the shoulder can help a shooter to reduce flinch, adding a brake often backfires and makes a shooter flinch even more because it is so much louder–even when wearing hearing protection.

For most shooters, a silencer is a better option. It cuts the sound dramatically, and reduces the recoil.

Another option is to pick up a Backstop Recoil Pad. This pad uses advanced lattice structures that crush during recoil to significantly slow the rifle’s recoil impulse. It is, by far, the highest-performing recoil pad on the market.

Another great way to reduce recoil is by adding a silencer (suppressor, if you will). A silencer can reduce a firearm’s recoil up to 45% while also making the gunshot quieter. While I still use hearing protection with a silencer, it makes the sound more tolerable.

An additional method to reduce the recoil of a firearm is to use “downloaded” rounds. Handloaders can simply put less powder in the cartridge, but even those who purchase factory ammunition can often find “reduced recoil” loads which can reduce the recoil by approximately 10%.