4 Gun & Optic Mods That Will Make You a Better Shooter

Here's Part II in our series on simple changes you can make to become a better marksman (or woman).

posted on September 9, 2018

Tweaking our firearms and optics to fit us better will help to lessen and control the effects of felt recoil, which contributes to accurately firing any firearm. Here are suggestions from what I do!

1. The Handgun:

What contributes to flinching and then missing has a lot to do with blast—not recoil. Therefore, to protect my hearing even when hunting, I use electronic muffs/plugs. Besides protecting my hearing, they allow me to hear much better and due to that, pick out game movement faster. Yet in reality, any hearing protection is helpful. Also, always protect your eyes by wearing good shooting glasses when firing anything (which for me includes while hunting). They become your security blanket to avoiding injury which allows one to concentrate on firing that shot accurately.

What can also help immensely to control recoil are grips that fit the shooter. What I prefer are grips fashioned out of rubber, except on big caliber single-action revolvers. On these, the handgun rolls upward in the hand and rubber prevents that natural slide, which for many becomes uncomfortable. Yet, they do work well on all revolvers if the barrel has been Mag-na-Ported or a screw on Mag-na-Brake has been installed...and in some cases with both added. Such devices keep the muzzle from violently rising and with that, felt recoil is drastically reduced. Yet on a Freedom Arms .454 Casull with a Mag-na-Brake, I do use rubber grips since the brake prevents much of the recoil from making the handgun hard to control. Just be aware that you get nothing for nothing—the noise is increased for the shooter when any porting or brake has been installed. To counteract that, simply use muffs or plugs when shooting. 

2. The Rifle:

Everything I said about the handgun applies here...but with exceptions. One such exception being that you must use a stock that fits: One that is not too long with a jacket on, and also not too short lest you get a scope between the eyes during recoil (more on that in a bit). Another question concerns what is better, a permanently attached pad or the slip-on variety. Today with many good slip-on pads of various length available, you can keep the stock on the short side for wearing a bulky cold weather jacket. Then, when it warms, you can just slip on a pad which also increases the stock's length so it again fits your build. With that the stock length is just right no matter the weather...and that contributes to less felt recoil and the firearm is easier to control because it fits you.

3. The Optic:

Now for another concern, optics! As you know, with many scopes the eye relief is not that long, and if you're using a short stock and you are in a bad position during the shot, it is easy to get hit between the eyes with the scopes eyepiece. Once that happens, many sufferers of this mistake have told me that it took a long time to stop flinching. To avoid that, one gentleman stated that he went back to open sights and that worked for him. 

Luckily today, we have another scope option. That is to use a Scout Scope with its intermediate eye relief, or even a handgun scope with its long eye relief—on a rifle. These permit the scope to be mounted around 10 or so inches forward of your eye if the scope rail is long enough, as per a good gunsmith adding a customized rail. For a factory option, look at the Ruger Scout rifle and others that take this into consideration. Another shooter I met told me that he always had trouble retracting the hammer below the scope on his single-shot T/C Encore rifle. To solve this inconvenience, he had a long scope base installed and then mounted a Burris 2 x 7 LER Handgun Scope. Later he purchased a Burris 2 x 7 Scout Scope and put it on and remounted his handgun scope to his T/C Encore handgun.  Now both this rifle and handgun in .338 Federal are his favorites for hunting. That works!

For another option to avoid scope bite, look at the various dot sights. These have unlimited eye relief and due to that, problem solved.

4. The Shotgun/Slug Gun/Turkey Gun:

When it comes to shotguns, again all that was previously stated also applies here. My wife and I shoot sporting clays in all kinds of weather and our over/under barrels have all been Pro-Ported. These also have barrels usually of 30 or 32 inches, since we do better with the extra barrel length and weight. Here is also when quick change recoil pads are appreciated.

Concerning equipment updates, we had the forcing cone lengthened and polished at the same time the barrels were ported, since this process reduces recoil due to a smoother transition of wad and shot. We have also had this done to our shotguns used for skeet and hunting so we can stay on top of our shooting games and hunting activities by simply changing chokes. Was it worth it? All I can say is that we both noticed less felt recoil once such modifications were made. If you have kids whom you are teaching, do not let recoil discourage them from learning to shoot safely and responsibly.

As I look back on the modifications mentioned, not everything is for everyone. Yet I would bet that there is something here that could help you shoot more...and better!


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