The dimensions of well-designed, modern stocks will reduce felt recoil compared with old ones

Advanced stock design that tames recoil

Q: My grandfather just gave me his cherished Mauser sporter in 8x57mm equipped with a Hensoldt 4x scope. This is a very old rifle but it has seen little work and is in very good condition. 

The only problem is every time I fire it, my cheek gets bruised since it kicks like a mule. 

What can I do to tame the beast?

Kurt Schiemer

A: Recoil effect on the shooter is definitely a function of stock design and modern stocks allow more pleasurable shooting of rifles which, if equipped with pre-World War II stocks, both foreign and American, would punish the shooter unmercifully. 

Shooters can absorb a lot more thrust on their shoulders than they can tolerate on their faces, and straighter, modern stocks won’t upchuck to belt you up the chops like an old-time stock with excessive drop.

The small, narrow and excessively in-curved buttplates on early lever-guns would actually hurt the user of a .30-30. 

The regular, large, flat shotgun-type buttplate was a big improvement over the old crescent-shaped one, but the latest recoil pads found on factory bolt-actions take a lot of the curse out of a heavy kicker.

I’ll bet your Mauser has a short, skinny fore-end that’s hard to hold, too, which doesn’t allow you to take up some of the recoil with your leading hand.

How to soften the recoil short of a new stock? About all I can suggest is fit a new, thick buttpad, one that’s designed to reduce recoil, and raise the comb by using a lace-on Monte Carlo comb extension. 

Your gunsmith may be able to raise the comb by bending the butt upwards from the grip.

However, affordable replacement laminate stocks are available for your Mauser, and that’s what I’d recommend you get.




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.