Q: I just bought a new Savage Model 116 Bear Hunter in .338 Win. Mag. which has a muzzle brake. I have found the brake reduces recoil noticeably on the range, but I find the “kick” unpleasant when shooting the gun in the field with the brake turned off. Is there any solution other then wearing earplugs whilst hunting?
– Harold Kirkwood
A: A muzzle brake is undoubtedly the most effective way to reduce recoil punishment – nobody likes to be kicked more than he has to be. With a good brake even women can shoot light, powerful magnums up to .300 calibre and beyond. Brakes can control jump completely on all faster calibres – which alone is of great value not only on the range and in varminting but in quick recovery afield, particularly when going after dangerous game. Properly made and fitted, a brake will invariably make groups more uniform and often will tighten them. And it will increase velocity in spite of a shortened rifled bore due to integral construction. Through controlled multiple small jet porting, (like that on the Savage brake), noise and blast are held to levels that come well within the tolerance of the majority of shooters. Your problem is a common one: if you use it with the brake turned off the recoil is bothersome, but if you leave it open the inner shock wave from brake escape flows back and assaults your eardrums and may eventually result in hearing loss. If you want to use the brake hunting, the best solution is to get a set of earplugs molded to fit your inner ear and wear them in the field. You’ll still be able to hear normal conversation, but they’ll shield your ears from the muzzle blast and reduce felt recoil.