AR’s dish out a distinctive type of recoil to the shooter, and most AR’s still operate using the original, direct gas-impingement system. Love it or hate it, it’s a simple, reliable system with a minimum of reciprocating parts, which should minimize perceived recoil. Yet, for the size of the cartridge being fired, the AR designs leave me with the impression recoil is somewhat sharper than firing the same cartridge in a bolt gun of the same weight. This is particularly true of AR’s chambered for the 7.62×51/.308 Win cartridge, which necessarily operate with heavier reciprocating bolts and bolt carriers.
In my experience, the only exception to that generalization is DPMS’s new GII .308, which, while weighing only 7-1/4 pounds, recoils less than any .308 AR I’ve ever fired. The GII design uses a lighter bolt and bolt carrier and an advanced muzzlebrake.
Just introduced to smooth out and soften AR-generated recoil is a series of AR-sized recoil pads from LimbSaver. LimbSaver is no stranger to the shooting community, offering a complete line of recoil pads, barrel dampening donuts and slings.
Their proprietary secret has been NAVCOM, a tacky, rubber-like compound first used to reduce noise and dampen the shock absorbed by the limbs of compound and recurve bows, hence “LimbSaver.”
The AR pads are more sophisticated incorporating “collapsing air chambers” and upper and lower “impact pillars,” which even out recoil impulse while contributing to “controlled force direction” to minimize muzzle jump.
The new AR pads come in two sizes. The one pictured on the 3-position Vltor Modstock of a Colt 7.62 AR is called a “Tactical Snap-On Recoil Pad.” It neatly slips over and envelops the buttplate while adding about an inch to the length-of-pull. It’s a general use, non-specific pad adaptable to a variety of 3- and 6-position, AR stock models.
The other LimbSaver model carries the moniker “Tactical Pre-Fit Recoil Pad” and is specifically dimensioned to fit a variety of Magpul buttstocks.
LimbSaver claims their new pads reduce felt recoil by up to 70 percent and reduce muzzle-jump.
I’ll let the muzzle-jump claim slide, but the LimbSaver pads definitely dampen the unique recoil sensation dished out by AR’s.
The other quality I like about the pads is they add a non-slip surface to the steel buttplate of an AR. When you rest a LimbSaver fitted AR down butt-first, it stays and doesn’t slide down the wall or skate across the floor.
By Holt Bodinson
Sims Vibration Laboratory
50 W. Rose Nye Way
Shelton, WA 98584