I find the lowly
recoil pad is one of the most commonly over-looked aspects of good
shooting. A good recoil pad serves three main purposes: 1) Facilitates
a smooth, drag- free gun mount. 2) Keeps the butt in place, once
mounted, and absorbs recoil. 3) Protects the wood at the butt from
damage. Recoil pads can also add an aesthetically pleasing touch
to a fine gun, as do leather-covered recoil pads.
The first thing to consider when
having a pad installed on your gun is your ideal length of pull
-the distance from the first trigger to the center of the butt,
and the proper pitch -- the angle of the butt in relation to sighting
plane or top rib.
These can be found by trial and error,
but a more efficient and cost-effective way is to get a proper gun
fit from an experienced gun fitter. Remember that the measurements
will be slightly different for O/U's and SxS's. A good fitter can
give you both measurements without too much trouble.
Various kinds of pads facilitate
a clean gun mount and absorb an acceptable amount of recoil in a
variety of different ways. One of the most common designs is a hard
rubber horseshoe-shaped insert at the top of the pad, rounded and
polished smooth so the pad is snag-free during the mount. The main
body of the pad is usually made of a soft recoil-absorbent material.
Another pad design is made of soft material with
the heel of the pad clipped off at an angle to keep it from catching
on the mount. Other pads are made of a somewhat harder rubber and
are less sticky than the above-mentioned pads. These pads do well
on a hunting gun where recoil is not as big a concern.
One other type of pad that deserves
mention is the leather-covered recoil pad whereby a recoil-absorbing
pad has a thin layer of leather stretched over the pad and glued
on. This pad is the best of both worlds - good recoil absorption
and a totally snagfree surface. Also, if well done, they are very
handsome. Leather-covered pads do cost more than a regular pad,
but many shooters feel the extra cost is worth it.
Regarding the fit and finish - a
welldone pad should maintain the heel and toe lines of the stock
(These are referred to as the "Corporal lines").
The pad should be very slightly proud of the wood, about .005in.
or about the thickness of two sheets of paper. This prevents the
end grain of the wood from snagging or chipping The pad should
be polished smooth with no visible grinding marks and should look
like an extension of the stock.
There are other ways to end the
butt of a shotgun, such as heel and toe clips and steel or horn
butt plates. While these have their place on certain guns, but
most shooters will be best-served with a good recoil pad.
There are many makes and models
of pads out there to choose from. An appropriate pad can be found
for virtually any gun, and any good gunsmith will be able to you
some samples for you touch and feel to decide which is best for
you and your gun.
There can be "No butts about it"
a good recoil pad set at the proper length of pull and pitch will
make you a better shooter.
Del Whitman is the Master Gunsmith of D. C. Whitman Custom Gunsmithing.
8455 Maple City Hwy.,
Lake Ann, MI 49650
231-632-0845 or 231-275-0140 or