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July 02, 2008

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Calculating Flinch Factor

In my accuracy extravaganza in the July issue, the promise was made (not by me) that we would reveal the formula for calculating how much a flinch can throw off your bullet. Here it is:

Distance off = L * 0.0014706 

What you need to know in order to understand this gibberish is that the rifle is assumed to be 42.5 inches long, that L equals the distance the bullet will go wide, and that the asterisk means multiply. (Apparently mathematicians no longer use X for that purpose, although it did perfectly well for many centuries.)

So, if you want to calculate how far you will miss by at 200 yards you would multiply 200 by 0.0014706, which would give you 0.29412 yards or 10.59 inches.

Now if any of you who scored 800 in your math SATs would like to quibble, you can do so with each other. Feel free. I am not going to get involved.

The only things you really need to know about recoil are: a) it will make you miss for seemingly inexplicable reasons, since no one admits they do it, because b) it casts serious doubt on your manhood, and c) it can be cured by getting a much less powerful gun.


And a further note on the accuracy piece. In the summary of how the Winchester Model 70 shot, I said it performed like an old Model 70. I've learned that's because it was an old Model 70 that looked like a new gun, but was actually assembled from leftover parts from the New Haven plant. I was sent the same rifle, yet again, for an upcoming piece on the ups and downs of the Model 70. I am told that I will get a real, honest-to-God new rifle in late July. We will see.


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From The Shooting Wire:
"David E. Petzal, a 36-year veteran of the Field & Stream becomes the full-time rifles editor, effective July 28, 2008. Petzal will continue to author the magazine's monthly rifles column, contribute weekly to the Gun Nut blog, oversee all of Field & Stream's firearm related product testing, and contribute to feature stories."

Congratulations, Dave.

jersey pig

congrats on the promo.

and of course no one ever admits to flinching, it questions your testicular fortitude. if you dont believe me go to a police range and watch the guys who only shoot every 6 months at qualifications. they flinch like hell half the time and it's so obvious its comical but you absolutely cannot tell them that because cops don't flinch.


Since we are playing with formulas:


Use this formula to find the variables where

P is pressure in Pascals
V is volume
n is moles of gas
R is the Ideal Gas Constant
T is Temperature in Kelvins

R is 8.314 kPA*L/mol*K

Dan R.

Dave, is there some way we can screen the content of posts? (See Lucas Winters post above)I don't think this contributes to an intelligent or useful discussion of firearms; and it certainly does not do anything to improve the public image of firearms owners.

Tory Wickham

He says the Feds fear him: http://nimbusters.org/forum/forum.php?board=8

Jim in Mo.

I did not understand one bit of this fomula. You left something out. I am not going to miss by 10" at 200 yds. unless a bee stings me in the ass as I'm pulling the trigger.


anyone who says recoil doesnt bother them is lying . the only thing to do is shoot big rifles alot and practice good technique. Maybe not too much shooting at one time, just shoot often.

Tommy Nee

Dave congratulations it was an old piecemeal model 70 on the accuracy test. can you let me know how the new model 70 by browning is. I am interested in purchasing one. thank you Tom


Ouch, math hurts my head.

P.S. Dave; speaking of F&S articles, exactly which caliber would you suggest if one ever had the opportunity to hunt Megaloceros? You never know when such information might be valuable...

Del in KS


Not on subject but, the boys at Ultracoatingsinc have some new products. There is a new formula for Ultraborecoat that does the same job of bore protection but does not stain and only takes 3 or so shots to cure. I have used this stuff in bullet molds (makes bullets release and fall out of the mold better)and In-line breech plugs(keeps the plug from seizing up after a few 3 pellet shots). It even makes the bolt in my bolt guns work slicker. There is a new product called Ultragunshield. When applied to any metal part it will not rust even in a salt spray. This product was developed for duck hunters to protect shotguns from water damage but will work on any metal. Once applied the only way you can tell it is there is the metal surface feels a little slick. Tests have shown this product protects color case hardened metal from fading-I have it on the receiver of my Sharps. Unlike gun oil or WD-40 this stuff lasts the life of the gun or until scratched off. Mack's Prairie Wings has all the Ultracoatingsinc products in their new fall catalog.

Jim in Mo.

Jo Bear,
Why the hell do you think we'd care about your plight? Apparently you brought it on yourself. Many of us are veterans, not overthrow the government type people. You came to the wrong site for sympathy.

I thought this blog was about shooting! The long rambling about Horn shouldn't be there. I also don't understand the product plugs and the wierd overthrow thing. I think it is time to kick the klan members and terrorists off this site.


Gosh, Del. I can't tell you how much I am affected by your obviously unsolicited testimonial on behalf of Gun Miracle or whatever it is. You are without doubt simply a satisfied customer and in no way a paid spokesman for Gun Stuff. Your sincerity shines through, and I am certain to rush right out and buy a pallet full of Gun Crap. Keep up the good work.

As to the racist: brevity, boy. Brevity.

More importantly: Dave, you are absolutely correct about recoil affecting shots, and about recoil being a taboo subject among us testosterone-fueled he-men. I don't shoot anything bigger than a .30-06, because I can't shoot anything bigger without a flinch with a capital FLIN. Perhaps with enough practice I could touch off a "real" rifle and do it accurately, but the deer here don't seem to require the level of killing that attaches itself to the big ol' magnums. I guess I'll keep on shooting the 6.5x55 and making one-shot kills and pining away for the manhood necessary to shoot a .416 Rigby.


Jim in Mo.
Couldn't agree with you more. Sometimes it just makes me shake my head wonder if there's any intelligent life left on earth,especially after the posts on Horn and JoBear's.

In my mind anyone trying to overthrow our government, is no different, morally, than those guys trying to kill our soldiers in Iraq & Afghanistan.

I do NOT understand the people who think we live in anything less than the best country in the world. I have been to other countries where people would have given their left arm to have our freedoms.
If people don't like it here, I invite them to leave, I hear Zimbabwe, Angola, or Burma(Myanmar) are all really nice this time of year. You know, AK-47s as an alarm clock, RPG's, the smell of cordite in the morning. They don't know what they're missing.


Also: not to quibble, but L seems to be the distance at which you are shooting, rather than the distance the bullet will go wide. But, hey, I don't want to quibble.

And: I was a chemistry minor, and the PV=nRT formula causes me nightmares and cold sweats. Thanks. Thanks a lot.


Dave congratulations! This was an enjoyable forum until Mr. Lucas Winters was given a stage to spout his racist stupidity. Unfortunately, giving audience to such ignorance will not be tolerated by me. Therefore I must bid this blog farewell.


Unfortunately your leaving will increase the depth of personal satisfaction that these rascist losers experience in their pathetic, little, hatefilled lives.

Dave, can these be screened? Not only are they disturbing and morally repugnant, they are sucking the brains out of my head


Chuck, Thanks.

You're absolutely right. "I" would be the one losing out on a wonderful Blog and this A**HOLE IS NOT indicative of the fine people who frequent it. I will not let this bastard steal my joy.

Blue Ox

I believe if you obtain a large caliber firearm, and flinching is a problem, just keep shooting it (if you can) until you are accustomed to the recoil. That way, when you touch off a round, you'll know what to expect and the flinching should (in theory) cease to be a problem. I'm not saying this will work for everyone, but it's how I learned to deal with recoil.
3.5" turkey loads won't even phase me anymore.
Them's just my 2 cents.

I'd still like to squeeze off a couple rounds from that 577 Tyrannosaur, just for shits & giggles.


stop feeding the trolls


Flinching is only part of the problem that a shooter can inflict upon his rifle. Yanking the trigger , closing your eyes before the shot, anticipating the shot, laying your finger against the stock as you pull the trigger. The list go on and on as to what you can do to screw up your shot. So 10 inches at 200 yards is not out of the question. As they say practice practice and practice. The men and women that will shoot in the Olympics this summer did not become the shooters that they are over night. Remember, Breath, relax and take your time, do not slap the trigger but nice gentle squeeze, your should never know when it is going to fire and Follow through keep your eye looking at your target through the sights.

Tom the Troll

Mike Reeder

There's a great way to tell if you're flinching, although I can't take credit for it. Jack O'Connor was the first person to recommend it as memory serves and I'm sure it was being used long before he wrote about it. Simply have someone else load your gun without you watching and then hand it to you to fire from the bench. Somewhere along the line he should simply work the action without loading a round and hand you an empty rifle. If you've been flinching you'll know about it, no matter how much you might not want to admit it.
Also to David P., let me throw in my two-cents (actually four-cents, since I've mentioned it once before)about the need to block some of the racist and various other filth the site is being spammed with. It may be one or two disturbed individuals but it's more likely a group of anti-gun people or PETA types trying to scare people off the blog. Pretty revolting stuff, which I know must be as infuriating to you as it is to the rest of us.


I love this blog but that entry by Lucas Winters...I have to agree with Dan R.


Enjoyable, as always except till I got to the trash written by Lucas Winters.
Somebody please delete this, it has no place in anything Fileld and stream puts out!


From someone who is in Iraq right now, let me sound off! Racist and government overthrow types are exactly like the enemy we fight here today. Even when the people here get a taste of freedom the only type of government they’ve known has been oppressive, so they are reluctant to allow many freedoms.
The US is the finest, most free society in the history of the world. You know that because every time populist/progressive politicians, (leftists, socialists, communists or democrats) get to run things, they always try to change that, to make us like somewhere else. "Look at Europe", they say, "They've had universal health care for decades". "Look at Canada", they say, "They have universal handgun control”. “Look at Sweden. Everyone gets 8-weeks paid vacation every year". What they don't mention is that everyone in that type of society who produces is taxed, heavily, 50% or more, to pay for the “less fortunate” who actually are pretty fortunate because they live well and yet don’t produce anything. These are not countries we want to be like. We live in the finest nation ever founded on the earth, let’s keep it that way.

I don't like recoil; I'm 6'2" and 240 lbs, and have plenty of hair on my chest, but I don't like recoil. I sometimes shoot a 338 Win Mag and a 45-70 Guide Gun with Buffalo Bore loads. Both of those rifles hurt me a lot but are necessary for some of the game I hunt (big bears) and places I like to hunt (Alaska). If I shoot a whole box of ammo in either rifle in one range session I can't even change the TV channel without flinching. Recoil is something you have to condition yourself to tolerate, but only if you need big guns for a reason. I like my .260 Remington best. I'd like to get a 308 at some point too. That will do everything a person needs to do.
You keep sending us the Iron; we’ll keep it flying until we win!

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