“Controllable” vs. “Low Recoil” – What Do We Really Mean?

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We hear a lot of talk about how some firearms are “controllable”, while others are not. The word “controllable” or “manageable” is often used in gun reviews to describe the recoil characteristics of a gun, even though without additional context or clarification it tells us very little. I want to talk very briefly about what the word “controllable” means in the context of firearms, and how it actually relates to a firearm’s recoil characteristics.

Simply put, I would say that whether a firearm is controllable or not is a separate but connected issue to that of how much recoil it has. Recoil is an easily quantified element of the firearm system; the rifle can be hung in a cradle and hooked up to accelerometers to determine how fast and how far it moves when it fires, which gives you various different quantities of recoil, such as recoil energy, recoil velocity, and recoil impulse. Controllability, however, is a much more complex issue, having to do with the rifle’s ergonomic characteristics, layout, and fit to the shooter, as well as his size and skill. Let’s make clear the difference between these two elements using an example:

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“Old Sparky”, we called it.

 

That is a seven pound piece of Dutch-made hardware, capable of firing all twenty 7.62x51mm rounds in its magazine in less than two seconds. The lightweight construction, high rate of fire, and powerful ammunition make the original select-fire AR-10 a beast of a gun to shoot. If I had to describe it, I would say it was like riding the lightning – the experience closest in my mind to shooting that AR-10 would be when I was (voluntarily) tased during a police department equipment demonstration I attended years ago. So fierce is the torrent of recoil of that firearm, it is enough to knock a grown man backwards… Yet I would describe the AR-10 as controllable. Some of you (including some who have shot the same gun or ones of the same basic type) must be thinking I am insane; I just said the recoil was torrential, so how can the rifle be controllable at the same time?

In my experience, holding the muzzle of the original AR-10 more or less level in full auto isn’t as much of a challenge as I expected it to be. The straight line stock assists the shooter in absorbing the recoil straight back, allowing the muzzle to stay straight and level with the point of aim. I realize extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, so here it is:

IMG_8686 IMG_8709 IMG_8719 IMG_8720 IMG_8722 IMG_8723

In these shots, I am using the sling to help support and control the rifle, which certainly helped a lot, but more important was the straight line stock and some skill at concentrating with a fully automatic weapon in your hands. When I say the rifle is “controllable”, that’s not because I think anyone can control it, but to illustrate the difference between what may be an entirely controllable weapon for some shooters, like that AR-10 (go to 7:48 in this video for an excellent example of that), and one that thanks to its low recoil is easily managed by anyone with basic skill, like its close cousin, the M16:

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So what’s the takeaway? It’s that recoil is a set of easily measured quantities that help give us an idea of how a firearm will act when we shoot it, but that controllability is a subjective element that will differ from gun to gun (even within the same caliber) and from person to person. Quantifying controllability therefore presents a problem: Depending on the shooter, his technique, and how much he is willing and able to put up with in terms of recoil, a weapon could earn the label “controllable”, when just as easily one could fairly categorize it as a method of cruel and unusual torture.

Postscript: After I wrote this article (but before it was published), Ian McCollum released a Forgotten Weapons video on a select-fire Chinese Type 56 AK that is going up for auction with James D. Julia. That video is embedded below, but I wanted to take a moment to add a little bit extra to this discussion about controllability and recoil. In the text of the article above, I linked to another Forgotten Weapons video, where he shoots the exact same fully automatic AR-10 that I did. This gives us an interesting opportunity to compare how the AR-10 (which is considered by many sources to be “uncontrollable”) and the classic milled AK (which is considered almost by definition to be “controllable”) compare in terms of controllability, with the exact same shooter. I’d recommend my readers check out the AR-10 video, as well as the video below, before continuing.

In the AR-10 video, Ian notes that the rifle – which has horrendous recoil – pushes the shooter straight back. In the Type 56 AK video above, you can see that the stock’s cant actually makes it more of a challenge to keep the AK’s muzzle level, even though recoil is not nearly as harsh. This then strikes at the central point of this article: That the ergonomic and technical design of a rifle is just as important as the power of ammunition it fires!



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Green Hell

    In Battlefield games “contolable” gun means you don’t have to deal with bullshit horyzontal recoil, and just push your mouse/right stick down while shooting to compensate for vertical recoil.

  • PK

    The inline stock really does matter for controlling a firearm under recoil, as does a well placed pistol grip. Out of curiosity, have you ever directly compared a MG or SMG with and without a vertical forward grip? It seems to make as much of a difference, for me, as having an inline stock does.

    • Henry Reed

      Can’t wait for my KAC MOD 2 to be finished, I’ve been itching to shoot perfection.

    • micmac80

      That in line stock argument is false to large degree as bore axis to support axis varies greatly troughout the shooting positions. Very few rifles or shotguns utilise this kind of straight line concept for a varieties of reasons and even thos that use straight line (tubeguns) end up having shoulder pads in below bore positions like most other guns.

      Full auto is not controlable in 99,999% of guns if you want to hit anything beyond couple of feet

      • Straight-line stocks are used all the time, and I know plenty of full auto guns that are controllable and accurate in that mode out to beyond 100m.

        • micmac80

          Look at the points of contact in shoulder .When standing kneeling or prone shoulde rcontacts different points of stock and its not always in line with bore.
          All guns designed for standing shooting have a comb , if there was any gain for inline configuration it woud be used in many more guns.

          Only reason stocks in new gen military rifles are are raising up is the optical sights ,The original AR15 fu*kup is now kinda usefull .But still most new guns are below AR15-10 line as they avoid the buffer tube system that dictated it all.Not the straight line for any control issues

          • There are loads of counter-examples to that. FN SCAR has a lower bore axis than the AR-15, and the Tavor has an even lower bore axis than that. In fact, we see a lot of guns (like the Tavor) coming out that are not compatible with AR optics (not without a spacer anyway) that have even lower bore axes. I would be more inclined to argue the exact opposite of what you said, in fact: It seems that bore axis is getting lower in general, not higher.

            I also disagree that 5.56×45 cannot be controlled beyond 2 or 3 rounds. In fact, it seems that accuracy improves after round 3, it does not degrade!

          • The USMC’s project manager for the M16A1 PIP, Dave Lutz, mentioned that he would have pushed for Colt’s experimental 6-round burst cam if he had only known it existed.

          • Kivaari

            Once you get passed the initial shove, those first couple of rounds, the guns become controllable.

          • One of several reasons why (aside from pretty much the case deflector, handguards, and barrel twist), I find the M16A1 superior to the M16A2.

          • claymore

            You must not have spent much time around trained shooters.

      • AC97

        So what you’re saying is that submachine guns were a bad idea because they’re uncontrollable? Yeah… no, you need to lay off the crack pipe, because that is a pretty damn retarded misconception.

        • Kivaari

          I found the MP5 and M1A1 were quite controllable SMGs. Once the initial push hits, the gun can be controlled and sprayed like a water hose. I grew up with stories of the TSMG simply climbing high right (right hand shooter) and not being controllable. Except when I started shooting them, and found them to be very controllable. It take just a little bit of training to overcome the recoil.

        • I used to make tin cans dance at about 50m with Stens, Sterlings, Thompsons, etc. Most controllable SMG I’ve shot yet was a Beretta M38… bloody thing didn’t seem to move any more than a semiauto 10/22… M16 wasn’t bad, but the FNC was better, AKM and FALs sucked.

          Of course, if you’re going to shoot an M16 in auto (for example), you *don’t* use the modern technique of having the just toe of the stock in the pocket, as that defeats the entire purpose of the straight line stock design. (Go figure, use equipment in a way contrary to why it was designed, and it doesn’t function as well as designed…)
          I had no problems with GPMGs and LMGs, either, but I don’t think they are fair comparisons, as I wasn’t generally firing them offhand.

      • claymore

        Full auto is completely controllable in a trained persons hands. The main problem is operator error.

        Note in the proliferation of videos demonstrating full auto fire and you will see trained operators use the bladed, bent forward knee, shooting position and control is obtained.

        With the forward knee bent and not locked and aggressively pushing the body (and firearm) forward the balance point is forward of the bent knee and forward of the point of neutral resistance causing much of the recoil to be expended overcoming this forward over balanced position and not rearward causing rise and uncontrollablity.

        Note the less trained and novices standing straight up and how easily their bodies are pushed rearward.

        Very easy to demonstrate this phenomenon using a thoroughly cleared and checked EMPTY chamber and no mag rifle. Or if you prefer a broom stick or piece of wood.

        Assume the standing straight up non bent knee shooting position, you or an assistant push on the rifle or broom rearward and slightly upward like a fired rifle will do. Note the amount of force needed to move the person and or rifle in this position.

        Then assume the bladed bent forward locked knee position and repeat the same test and you will find it takes a substantial more amount of force to move the firearm and or person to overcome the over balanced position.

  • Sasquatch

    Perfectly explained my man.

  • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

    Uh Oh the AR vs AK can of worms has just been opened. Cue the AK fanboys saying “My AK is just as controllable as your AR” in the next few hours…

    • Major Tom

      Well it depends on context and which AK/AR you’re talking about. Yes an AKM is less controllable than an M16A1 but that’s because the M16A1’s M193 ammunition produces less recoil than 7.62 Soviet M43 on the AKM. But if we were to compare say an M4A1 or HK416 to an AK-12 or A545, then it’s more or less identical with controllability limited strictly to the skill of the shooter and the rate of fire on the gun. (If all four were stacked up in a line with a 30 round full-auto magdump the AK-12 on account of its lower fire rate would be the most controllable of them assuming all four shooters are the same skill level. The HK416 and A545 would be the worst owing to their very fast rates of fire. Though some variables may exist, I’d have to wonder what the balance action system on the A545 would do to such a test.)

      • F for Falafel

        No. A545 should not be on this list at all. It has no recoil. Balanced action is similar to the AK107 which we have seen on Youtube. No recoil.

        • Major Tom

          In chambered weapons there’s no such thing as no recoil. Sure some of them might have negligible recoil, but they have recoil nonetheless.

          For example, any rifle in .22LR is of negligible recoil. The round produces very little impulse. On the flipside, the M2HB Browning .50 cal produces very little recoil when on a very sturdy mount. Yet that round produces in excess of 200 fl/lbs of impulse per shot.

          Very few things are truly recoilless. And none of them fire conventional cartridges.

          • F for Falafel

            Balanced action is different.

            “Balanced recoil system works by shifting mass toward the muzzle of the rifle as the bolt and bolt carrier recoil rearward by way of a counter-weight that negates the impulse of the gas piston and bolt carrier.”

            You have seen that AK107 video, right?

    • Bjørn Vermo

      The G3 is a good example of “not controllable”. Two round bursts are fine, three is workable and anything more is just fireworks.

      • d_grey

        Isn’t that also applicable on the FAL?

      • I think it depends on the person. I didn’t have too much trouble with the G3, and I felt like it was only a little worse than a full auto AK. Of course, that might have been because I had just shot that AR-10…

        http://i.imgur.com/s9AQC29.jpg

        • Bjørn Vermo

          Nobody in my company hit in the black with more than maximum four shots auto from standing position. Many were very good marksmen and did quite well in the Stang program. Our guns were rather old, though, so it might depend on the combination of person and gun. Besides, we were not trained using the combat rifle in full auto, we had a medium MG per eight man squad for that purpose.

          • That does not surprise me. Full auto shooting takes training/experience, and even if you have it, you might not be that accurate.

            I would try to push my overall point away from “look how controllable these 7.62 full auto rifles are” and more towards something like “AKs, etc are a lot less controllable than people think”.

      • iksnilol

        If you use the bipod from the prone it is very controllable from what I’ve seen. Otherwise stick to bursts.

      • Anonymoose

        A G3A3 is still better than a FAL or M14 when it comes to controllability though. Theoretically you could also pop in an S-1-2-F or S-1-3-F trigger pack from an MP5/HK53 in a G3, too.

    • Sasquatch

      In semi auto yes full auto no.

  • BrandonAKsALot

    The muzzle rise on a full auto AK is no joke.

    • Yep. I think it’s interesting that you’ll see History or Military Channel programs talk about FALs or M14s going into anti-aircraft mode, but then talk about how children can use AKs. Definitely gives me the impression that the speakers have never fired an AK in fun mode.

      The AKM with the straight stock is quite a bit better, but they didn’t achieve full auto nirvana until the AK-74. Mmmmmm…

      • Nashvone

        My first thought after flipping the giggle switch on an AK was that they must have some bada$$ kids in those third world countries.

      • BrandonAKsALot

        The one I fired had an ace skeleton stock on it and was pretty straight. My first burst had me pointing to the ceiling. I’m dying to shoot a full auto 74.

        • I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun with a full auto than when I fired my first RPK-74. Wheeeeeee!

  • derfelcadarn

    What is required in a rifle is adequate power delivered in a precision manner, individual shoots accurately placed for out perform low energy rapid fire. Determined, contolledand precise fire makes a rifleman, spray and pray is a ghetto thug mind set that relies upon luck rather than skill.

    • Semi and full auto are useful for different things. Even the US Army circa 1940, which was at the time one of the most marksmanship focused armies in the world, recognized this and began increasingly integrating full auto capability into the squad.

      • Tassiebush

        That brings up a question. When does full auto start to displace semi auto in usefulness? Where is/are it’s niche/s?

        • Major Tom

          Three main scenarios:

          1) Massed attacks, groups of targets. If you have more guys in your line of fire than your trigger finger can put out per second, it’s time to switch to Fun Mode.

          2) Suppressive fire. A quick magdump or controlled but significant burst of Auto can make all but the most stalwart and/or stupid foes take cover. Assuming you don’t hit them that is.

          3) The dreaded “Oh sh*t!” moments that are at really close range firefights.

          • Related to what you said: Fire superiority at close range.

        • Another common use is “sterilizing” an area (placing a burst into an area where your beaten zone doesn’t leave room for a man to “walk through the raindrops”). Like that really dark hallway behind the door you just blew open with a stand off munition, just before you enter. You don’t *have* a target you can see and individually target, but you *do* have an *area* you can target,

    • iksnilol

      Eh, full auto has its uses. Otherwise it wouldn’t be banned by most countries.

      • Wolfgar

        The people in power that ban full auto fire tend to be the least educated in it;s capabilities or lack there of. Thus the desperate need to ban dangerous items such as pistol grips, telescoping stocks and the dreaded flash hider.

        • iksnilol

          With flash hiders one can assault from a distance without being seen.

      • Yup. The uses are fairly specialized — but hard to substitute for when required.

        “One shot, one kill” is great for long and medium range stuff, but sometimes you just need to suppress an area — or “sterilize” a smaller one you really can’t see into. Full auto bursts work better than semi or mechanically governed bursts for either.

  • claymore

    Awesome piece of analysis Nathaniel “Gets it”

    • Thanks, claymore! That means a lot coming from you!

  • Bradley

    The mechanics of the moving parts cycling has an effect too I believe. I had a vz58 which has a more dramatically angled stock than the ak, but it had a lot less muzzle rise. In fact if it weren’t for the extra recoil I doubt it would have much more than an ar15. Actually the ak seems to me that it has some twist or diagonal movement during recoil. My guess is that it has to do with the way the bolt rotates. The vz58 uses a tilting locking block and the bolt and carrier move straight back. It’s a very nice rifle to shoot in my opinion.

    • Bradley

      I would also say there is most likely a difference between the way short and long stroke piston operation feels.

    • Hinermad

      Re: twist – I’ve wondered if the torque generated by spinning up a projectile as it passes through the barrel might be causing that twist. I hadn’t though about a rotating bolt causing it.

      • roguetechie

        So did Russell S. Robinson, one of the greatest gun designers no one has ever heard of!

        After world war 2 he spent several years working on a semiautomatic and full automatic capable pistol for the British MOD.

        The pistol he developed was known as the model 11 and the results he achieved before the program ended really haven’t come close to being challenged even today.

        Later prototypes did even incorporate an ingenious method for neutralizing the twisting force. It did this by having the barrel rotating in the opposite direction of the rifling!!

        But if this isn’t awesome enough he actually spun the barrel at precisely the rotational velocity needed to bring the barrel rotation to a halt as the bullet exits the barrel!

        That man was a genius of gun design unequaled to this day really…. However most people have never heard of him because the couple times his designs almost got their chance to shine NIH syndrome and spite over a rejected employment offer resulted in his amazing design being reworked and “fixed until it was well and truly broken”

    • vz. 58s are more pleasant than 7.62×39 AKs on semi, but their stock cant makes them very challenging on full auto. You can even get a sense of this by double tapping on semi with a non-NFA variant, their muzzle rise is severe. It’s just that they’re light and recoil isn’t bad, so on semi they are nicer to shoot and return to target pretty quickly.

  • Sasquatch

    Also I wish they would import that seven pound piece of Dutch hardware into the us.

  • Unless you are shooting a target you can not judge the controllability of a weapon. Video might show that the gun’s muzzle might not rise much but if you are not hitting its not controllable. My machine gun collection is built around the some of the most controllable LMGs. I enjoy shooting them at long ranges hitting 3 rnd burst on man sized steel targets. That is how I decide if a machine gun is controllable and just shooting w/o a target will not tell you much.

    • PK

      This is a good point, although both could be described as referring to the controllability of a system. One is much more practical with the target to verify, and one is more about how much the muzzle moves from the alignment with point of aim. There needs to be some sort of distinct term for each scenario, and there probably is, but I’m unaware of what that term might be.

      Also, your videos are always great to watch. Your collection is enviable!

    • This is certainly a valid point, however I think you will agree that if this is the standard, then a large number of guns considered “controllable” by general consensus cease to qualify.

      Also, as you surely know (I am saying this for others’ benefit) the dynamics of full auto shooting can be strange. It’s not uncommon to see, for example, a 25% hit percentage with a 4 round burst, yet get a 50% hit percentage with 8 round bursts from the same weapon. Some guns have a tendency to”settle down” in the middle of a longer burst as the shooter adjusts to the recoil.

      • Not sure if this is disagreeing with you but a machine gun that “settles down” is just the shooter actually gaining some control over the weapon. The physics of the recoil and mechanism operation does not usually change as the burst commences and thus I would never consider a gun that the shooter can wrangle into control on a long burst to be a controllable gun. It might be considered more controllable that one that has so much recoil impulse that they are never able to control it. I think a good example is the full auto FALO (heavy barrel FAL). The gun is not controllable in short burst for most shooters but under long burst, many shooters are able have a bit more control. It is still an awful weapon for its intended purpose compared to many other magazine fed LMGs like the Bren, ZB series, etc.

        I believe system dynamics plays much more into controllablility that even the cartridge. Obviously weight plays a significant factor as well but light LMGs like the Stoner 63A and the Ultimax are very light and also very controllable. The RPK 74 in 5.45 is not nearly as controllable as either of those yet weighs nearly the same and the cartridge energy is pretty close. The M249 is terrible weapon to control even though its twice the weight of the Stoner and Ultimax. So bolt run out and cyclic rate can contribute more to control than simple bullet energy and weapon weight. I would consider a Bren in 303 more controllable than the M249 even with the difference in energy.

        How do you quantify the controllablilty of a weapon? I’m not sure how you would do it with pure test equipment with out some serious design in that equipment to mimic human anatomy. You would need to set a standard range layout and determine how many hits per a set number of shots in a given time period. I can shoot a gun and say its controllable based against another gun but how to quantify that? I have no idea what would be meaningful to some one else that did not respect my opinion. Military testings answer for controllability seems to be based on a control weapon and the test weapons against it. This at least gives you a standard that is reasonable for an outside observer to gauge the test weapons against a known standard. Since the subject shooting the weapons varies per test at least you have the control weapon to gauge the test. It is much like testing suppressors, in that a test at one time usually has difficulty being compared to a test at another time due to shifting conditions. This makes the machine gun hobbyist frustrated in that the military will rarely if ever compare weapons no longer in production against new designs (though I think they might be surprised how much better some of the older stuff will out shoot the newer weapons).

        • Tassiebush

          Thankyou I really enjoyed that insight!

        • I agree completely. 🙂

        • 2805662

          I’ve seen trials specifically structured to avoid “old versus new” comparisons. Especially if the new project includes optics. “Hey, let’s try out the new ancillaries on the old rifle!” (Best Lana Kane tone) “Noooooope.”

  • Wolfgar

    Comparing the lower powered but over gassed AK to the heavy recoil but light AR-10 was a great comparison Nathaniel. Cyclic rate, weapon layout, BCG weight and length of travel, power of the cartridge, the amount of gas used to cycle the whole process determines recoil impulse and controlability. Firing the AK-74 with muzzle brake would have shown a different outcome for different reasons. Shooting a custom AR to a standard AR is night and day difference. Competition has brought much of this debate to the forefront of weapon design and function. Getting the perfect balance with dependability and reliability is the key to any firearms success and much internet debate. Another great article Nathaniel.

  • Porty1119

    I hadn’t really given this much thought, but yes! Recoil and controllability are two completely different variables. I find carbine-length ARs to have next to no recoil, but to be very difficult to control due to the over-gassed “bounce”. While a .30-30 or shotgun, for instance, while having more recoil impulse, is not nearly as “bouncy” and can be brought back on target almost immediately after the action has been cycled. I think it may be the difference between pistol-grip and semi-pistol-grip stocks speaking.

    • JSmath

      Controllability really isn’t a different variable. Controllability is absolutely dependent on recoil, but other factors as well.

      What you are describing are two different aspects of recoil. Recoil velocity vs recoil force. Carbine ARs don’t have much recoil force, but they are perceived to “snap” quite a bit due to their recoil velocity. The mass of a rifle or shotgun is what reduces the perceived recoil “bounce” (velocity), and it’s one of the first things people learn about Newton’s second law of motion:
      F=m*a

      If two weapons produce the same force, F, out their barrel, then the one that has more mass will proportionately have less recoil acceleration (velocity^2). I would have been using acceleration this whole time to get that point across, but several of the experts and publications I’ve read reference recoil velocity when comparing the characteristics of various firearms and calibers and I wanted to stick with that.

  • Devil_Doc

    I’ve fired a full auto G3, and that was a wild ride. Is the AR-10 worse than that?

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      Much worse.

    • PK

      In terms of cyclic rate, you bet! The AR10 is substantially faster, about 40% faster, than the G3. It may be in-line and well designed, but that’s a whole lot of relatively high recoil impulses, closely spaced, out of a relatively light system.

      • micmac80

        In line stock gain is a more of a myth than fact as shooting posiitions for most of the time do not allow for the inline support that is why very few guns follow that patern.

        • roguetechie

          No it’s not a myth at all, and you keep bringing up shooting position somehow making any benefit moot anyway…

          Have you ever stopped to consider that maybe YOU and not the gun is the problem?

          Because with everything you’ve said in this thread and the way you’ve made such blanket definitive statements that are in direct contradiction to decades worth of consistent scientific evidence as well as the personal experiences of myself and other posters…

          Why is it that you think we should ignore all the studies done and our own personal experiences based on your say so?

        • Uniform223

          do you know what physics is?

    • Yes, much worse.

    • Gary Kirk

      Try an m14

  • SlowJoeCrow

    Since recoil can be measured with a scale or load cell measuring force applied to the butt plate, what about measuring muzzle climb and possibly rotational torque as indicators of controllability? There is precedent for measuring muzzle up or down pressure, as in Andrew Tuohy’s AR muzzle brake tests, and given the AK’s known tendency to move diagonally, hence the angled compensator, some measurements of lateral and rotational force is important. Between rearward, upward and lateral/rotational forces it should be possible to develop a “controllabity index” to quantify why some guns are more controllable on full auto than others. We may need a vector value as well, to show the benefits of straight line stocks.

  • MPWS

    AFAIK the ‘controllability’ means one thing: how quickly I am able to realign sights (if I have to) to produce a rapid succession shot. If I do not have to, my goal is satisfied (and I fuss with this subject for some 30 years).

  • Bill

    IMHO, not enough attention is paid here to human factors, such as stance, technique and build. This comes from a background not in FA weapons, but in teaching hundred pound cops to effectively use shotguns, rifles and handguns. What’s low recoil to one person is high to another, and the same issues apply to controllability.

    But that’s just me.

  • clampdown

    I’ve never shot any gun on FA, and I’ve only shot an AR once and don’t remember much about it. I can, say, however, than even on semi, a 7.62 AK’s muzzle lift is bothersome to me. SKS is more controllable with that round. I guess weight and short vs. long piston might come into play, but the SKS seems to push straight back moreso than the AK.

    • Gary Kirk

      It’s more or less stock design that comes into play there.. The sks is a lower bore axis to comb drop than the AK.. The sharp drop of the AK stock compiles to more leverage for the recoil to act on.. whereas an AR, being inline recoil is much less likely to push off target.

  • iksnilol

    Didn’t think about recoil vs controlability. I mean, a suppressed 6.5mm rifle is basically the definition of low recoil, but has a bit of jump (fired out of a bolt action rifle). Whilst an AKM has less jump (i at least imagine it would have less, this being due to not having access to an FA 6.5x55mm to compare with).

  • micmac80

    One question was a paper target actualy used to give some measurable the resoults? You tube operators and quasi gurus all end up shooting up at targts literaly couple of feet away most of the time the other pupular variation seem just to be shooting up some imaginary space on the range and then present some conclusions ….LOL

    • In this case, we are mostly concerned about whether the muzzle stays level or not. I am not at all suggesting that this is the final conclusive test on controllability in full auto, rather I just wanted to highlight the obvious difference that human factors makes.

    • Gary Kirk

      Don’t believe the article was about accuracy.. So targets wouldn’t matter in the least, framed film of different shooters firing said arms would be more conditional (lack of word) to this experiment..

  • An interesting test for controllability on full auto would be to use a laser attachment combined with either a optical sensors in the target, or high speed photography to document the path of the laser as the gun is fired in full auto.

    This would provide a more detailed “controllability map” then simply marking hits and misses, as the laser is constantly on, where there are gaps in the weapons fire as the bolt cycles.

    The gun with consistently the least dispersion of the laser would be the most controllable.

  • Gary Kirk

    Cyclic rate also comes into play at an exponential rate in this thought process. The higher the cyclic, the easier it is to pull back to target. But that’s with sustained fire, burst fire comes into recoil distribution into the shooter, and recoil impulse/ weapons design.. Wanna show a direct comparison? Do a video comparison of that AR10 against an M14 (without laying on top of it on the bipod, best example I can think of for “uncontrollable” auto fire)..

  • Harry’s Holsters

    Agreed my buddies Browning Buckmark has much less recoil than my Glock 19. But I achieve better accuracy with lower splits with the Glock 19 even though I can put rounds on top of each other with the buckmark at 10 yards with slow fire.

    Recoil or lack there of doesn’t equate controllability.

  • LazyReader

    It means either will give you PTSD if you work for the New York Times.

  • Veteran Gunsmith at large

    It is difficult to quantify the subjective. Controllable recoil/manageable recoil seem to be more up to the individual to decide. There is some degree of measurable energy in the physics of firing a weapon, but how manageable or controllable it is depends on the build and tolerance of the shooter.

  • That tracer action was glorious.

  • That really is ridiculous. Suppressed weapons have a great deal less recoil than non suppressed guns of any type or caliber. Today I shot .308, 338 Lapua magnum, 300 Win mag and some wildcat calibers and they all had reduced recoil by a good 70%.

    • JSmath

      Say what you want Phil, there are several videos and articles available online of people testing bare muzzles vs suppressors vs flash hiders/compensators. Suppressors are a step up from bare muzzles, but against most comps on the market, suppressors will tend to have a higher recoil force.