How To Reduce Recoil On A Handgun [Additional Improvements]

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Here is how to reduce recoil on a handgun. We will show you 8 ways in this guide, and you can go try them out for yourself:

  • Use lighter load ammunition
  • Mount gas peddle
  • Grip Stippling
  • Add compensator
  • Modify recoil spring tension or slide weight
  • Explore high tang grip pistols

Breakdown - Recoil Forces On A Handgun

fn 509 muzzle flip
  • The bullet exiting the barrel exerts an equal force in the opposite direction of the gun.
  • Slide movement
  • Bullet weight
  • Bullet velocity
  • Propellant charge weight

8 Ways To Reduce Handgun Recoil [+Pistol Upgrades]

It's always a good idea to master good pistol shooting fundamentals first before going crazy with parts modifications. One of the most important things is to grip the gun properly to manage recoil, trigger squeeze, and follow-through.

As the shooter gains more experience, other upgrades will add more improvements to the shooting skills.


Simply mount it to the firearm and connect it via Blutooth to your smart phone or tablet.

shooting error chart iron sight

If your gun shoots low left, low or high. The Mantis X10 will give you that feedback right away.

mantis x10 elite shooting tracker

The device can track the muzzle movement and records data in real time for incremental improvements. It's an amazing training tool for shooters at any experience levels.

Shoot Lighter Load Ammo

9mm winchester 124 gr

Shooting lighter load ammo will decrease felt recoil, and different ammo type exhibits different performance.

Each caliber type also has different load variations that directly impact the recoil performance such as:

  • Bullet weight
  • Bullet velocity (Also varies based on barrel length)
  • Load charge

For example, a 147 gr 9mm kicks harder than a standard 115 gr 9mm. Some 158 gr 9mm may feel like a standard 135 gr 40SW.

So it's all relative to what ammo is used, and how the shooter perceives it.

For most rimfire pistols, the recoil is very manageable for shooters of all skill levels. For centerfire ammo, the heavier the load, the more recoil there is.

However, lighter ammo may create cycling problems if there isn't enough energy to cycle the slide.

Shoot A Full-Size Steel Frame Pistol

kimber 1911 trijicon sro

A heavier gun can absorb some of the recoil energy before transferring it onto the shooter's hand. This is another reason why a subcompact gun may kick more than its full-size model while shooting the same ammo (Let's say 115 gr 9mm)

Example: A full steel frame 9mm Beretta M9A3 will have less felt recoil than a full polymer frame Glock 17.

The same gun model, but a longer barrel also reduces muzzle flip slightly.

Sometimes the snappy recoil vibration transfers over to the shooter's hand and gives that "slap numbing" feel. Most subcompact guns have that characteristics.

Grip Stippling 

grip stippling

Grip stippling helps increase grip surface friction so the the shooter can grip the gun tighter and not let it slip due to snappy recoil.

This requires custom modification, and it can be worked on with a soldering iron, or send it to a professional service.

Some newer polymer frame guns on the market already come with aggressive texture right out of the factory. 

Mount Gas Pedal

pistol gas peddle

The gas pedal provides a larger thumb rest area that helps control recoil. This works even when shooting the hottest loads or without strong hands. It also helps mitigate trigger jerks.

Many competition race guns have this feature, where the shooter can ergonomically position the support hand thumb to maintain a flat bore axis line during each shot. The shooter can maintain a rock solid grip without slipping for fast follow-up shots.

The best one we recommend is the Opposable Grip Concept

Add Barrel Compensator

Radian Arms RAMJET

A pistol compensator is a great tool to reduce handgun recoil and muzzle climb. If you're already a good shooter, this will be a performance multiplier.

The gas vent ports help push the muzzle down during each shot.

All you need is a threaded barrel to mount it.

Check out these 9mm pistol compensators here

Modify Recoil Spring Or Slide Weight

glock 17 recoil spring

A lighter recoil spring or a lighter slide can reduce overall felt recoil. However, this one requires more user testing to find the most optimal performance.

Slide lightening cuts helps reduce felt recoil by reducing the reciprocating mass of the slide.

true precision axion p365 optic cut slide

Getting the lowest recoil is good, but it's also important to make sure it doesn't compromise reliability.

Explore High Tang Grip Pistols

cz p10c trijicon rmr

High tang grip guns enable the shooter to place the web of the dominant hand high into the pistol tang to be as close to the bore axis, in order to create downward pressure on the gun to gain better recoil control.

The support hand grip pressure prevents the gun from recoiling in the direction of least resistance. Thumb forward technique works even better using a gas pedal so recoil doesn't break the grip.

Most striker pistols like Glock, M&P, HK VP9, Canik, IWI Masada, Walther PDP, and many others are great examples.

Low tang grip guns like the SIG P226, 1911, FNX 45 and similar guns offer faster sight alignment, but slightly optimal fast follow up performance.


Can adding weight to the front of the gun reduce recoil?

Adding weight to the front of the gun can reduce muzzle flip in theory, but it's not practical. The pros don't outweigh the overall performance.

Please learn more here

What's The Difference Between Muzzle Flip and Recoil?

In layman's term, muzzle flip refers to the barrel's tip rise up after firing.

Recoil is rearward energy generated when a projectile is discharged. It's a result of conservation of momentum (Newton's 3rd law - A directional force will generate equal and opposite reaction)

Learn their difference in details here