Ever wonder why one shotgun kicks like a mule? Or maybe why one might be more accurate than another?
Several of my friends have single-shot, break-action 12 gauges. We don't shoot them much anymore. They aren't very accurate and the recoil is enough to leave you sore and bruised after one shot. This old gun had me wondering why that was the case, and what could be done about it.
The short answer, since I'm not a gunsmith, is "nothing." On the other hand, I do know a gunsmith. So, if you're like me and might be looking to take your gun to a gunsmith, ask about lengthening the forcing cone. It will most likely reduce recoil and cause the shot to pattern better.
Looking into the inner workings of the gun, there is a section of the gun called the forcing cone. This area is in the barrel of the gun, just in front of the chamber. The forcing cone has a slight taper down to the rest of the bore and is normally less than an inch in length. Its job is to force the shot down to the size of the rest of the bore. As you may guess, depending on the distance, this can be a relatively sharp angle.
There is a correlation between forcing cone length and recoil and accuracy. The forcing cone is meant to catch stray pellets and bring them back into the pattern. Lengthening the cone and changing the angle will also prevent the pellets at the back of the shot from being pushed down. With a gradual slope, the shot can condense at a slower rate, resulting in a tighter shot pattern.
Now the recoil. It is simple physics: remember how every action has an equal and opposite reaction? That's true when shooting. All the compressed gasses from the shot hit the step angle in the forcing cone and then go right back into your shoulder. By smoothing this out and making a more gradual compression, more of those gases go out the front of the barrel. The gases that do bounce back are spread out over a longer distance, forcing the recoil to hit in an altering time frame, and resulting in a lessened sensation of recoil.