Unless, however, we’re just fond of being pounded repeatedly, we have all sought some type of relief from the recoil of a shotgun or high-powered rifle. Early recoil pads were not much more than lumps of some type of rubber substance that over time, became as hard as the wood to which they were attached. Then came the “strap-on” pads that were cumbersome, constantly slipped out of place and in general weren’t very effective. All types of “recoil reducers” were developed that fit in or on your gun, some filled with mercury and some using mechanical or pneumatic devices. Some of those worked but all of them effect the balance and the weight of the gun.
A few gun makers also got into the act of trying to reduce the recoil of their hard kicking guns by porting barrels and utilizing other devices that would reduce the “perceived recoil” of their products. Some shooters swear by these devices and some swear at them.
A few years ago, several companies started making recoil pads that either replaced the factory original pad or slipped over the factory pad. Many of these pads were made of some type of “gel”. Some also incorporated air chambers to further cushion the blow. These pads added little if any additional weight and have been regarded as the state-of-the-art material for recoil reduction for the past several years.
Recently, I was asked to test a new product that takes a different approach to the reduction of recoil. It uses a process that the manufacturer refers to as “Dispersion Technology” or DSP. These folks utilize a patented .25” thin, lightweight composite material that custom forms and permanently hardens to your body. This maximizes surface area protection, forcing the impact to disperse across all layers.
This product has many applications and you can read all about the technical side of it at http://www.allsportsarmour.com/default.asp The focus of this article is how this product, called the evoShield performed in my tests of recoil reduction.
evoShield is a product of All Sports Armour, Inc. which is located in Watkinsville, Georgia. Their national representative contacted me in September of this year and asked that I test his new product. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the testing procedures of http://www.allaboutshooting.com a bit of explanation is necessary.
I started allaboutshooting as a source of information for shooters and hunters. There was and still is so much information and misinformation that it is very difficult for most shooters to find out what really works and what does not. I decided that I would confine my area of study to a very small niche of activity. Since I’d been a shotgunner and turkey hunter for many years, I elected to confine my activities to those areas. I also decided that I’d try to purchase products, from retailers, just like the average shooter could and compare one with another. I began to build a good bit of information up that I could use as a basis of comparison. Still target shooting also allowed me to meet many other shooters and learn more about what worked and what did not in that sport. That exposure, over several years, lead to my being contacted periodically to test new or existing products for various shooting related companies.
Here’s my disclaimer. I don’t claim to be a scientist. I do claim to have shot guns of various kinds for most of my life. I have the resources to independently test products the way that most folks would. I find out if they work as claimed, if they are priced to make sense and if the manufacturer is responsive to the consumer. I insist on being independent and test on my terms under “real life” conditions. If a product lives up to its claims, I may recommend it to my readers. I also test some products strictly on a contract basis. I perform whatever independent tests that a manufacturer requires. I do not publish the results of these tests and deliver that information to the manufacturer only.
Finally, when approached by a company to test its products and publish the results, the company understands and agrees that I will publish all my results, the good the bad and the ugly. I also insist on purchasing products that I test in this manner.
I was a bit skeptical of the claims made for this product both on its site and by its representative but I have known the individual who referred the company to me for many years, so I agreed to the test.
The evoShield arrived a few days after my second conversation. The “package” consisted of a compression shirt (evoShirt) and a separate foil envelope that contained the still pliable, recoil shield. The instructions were very clearly written and there were accompanying pictures to make the fitting process easily understood.
You can read all about the process that’s used to make the recoil shield at the site and how it forms to fit your body but essentially what happens is that the soft pad cures when exposed to the air. When pressed next to your body, it moulds to the contours and forms a piece of “armor”.
After I read the instructions, I put the recoil shield in the pocket of the shirt, put it on and wore it for 30 minutes. During the first 10 minutes, following instructions, I shouldered a shotgun for about 10 seconds every minute or so. After that, I hung the shirt up and left it overnight. The next day I had a pad that fit the contours of my shoulder area and had a depression in it for the butt of my shotgun.
Okay, how’d it perform in reducing recoil? Most of my guns already have Limbsaver recoil pads attached but I usually slip a Shooter’s Friend Recoil Pad over those when I test turkey shotshells. For these tests, I did not use the Shooter’s Friend. I started by testing a 20 gauge 870. Frankly, I did not feel any recoil at all, just a bit of push. I graduated to a 12 gauge 11-87 and felt no more recoil than with the 20 gauge 870.
Next I tried a 12 gauge 870 which felt about the same as the other guns. Finally, I got out a 12 gauge Savage 210 bolt gun and finally a very light weight Mossberg SSI-One with a hard plastic butt and no recoil pad. I frankly felt no more recoil with either of these “hard kickers” than I did with the other guns.
How comfortable is this shirt with the hard recoil shield? I was very conscious of it for some time at the bench. I decided that I’d just continue to wear it when my tests were completed to see if I got used to it. Frankly, I did not. I called the representative and told him about the positive test results but that after wearing it for a while, I was still conscious or at least aware that I had it on. His response was immediate, “You have a shirt that’s too large.”
Now, it’s time for my confession. He’d earlier stated that I should order a medium but I thought it would be too small. It wasn’t. I wear a 44 sport coat but in these “compression shirts” I wear a medium. When that shirt arrived, it felt much better. (If you order one of these, try a shirt size smaller than you usually wear.)
I wanted to shoot a round of sporting clays to see if after firing 100 rounds and walking a 10 station course, the recoil shield and evoshirt were comfortable.
I had to cut that test a bit short but after just a few rounds, I was unaware of the presence of the recoil shield. More importantly, I did not have any sensation of recoil at all. The medium size evoshirt also fit much better than the large one.
This recoil shield really does form to fit the contour of your shoulder area and just becomes a part of your body after a while. The evoshirt has a better feel than a cotton undershirt and seems to wick away perspiration. All in all I think it’s a good product that does what it says it will do.
I should add that Doris also tried one of these products. We ordered a small for her. This highlighted one difficulty in fitting a woman for the recoil shield. In order for the pad to form to fit the contours of the body, it must be held very tightly to the area shoulder area. That’s the reason for the compression shirt. Since women are built quite differently from men (and I’m very happy about that) shirts need to be more narrow in the shoulder area, fuller in the bust area and then narrow at the waist. The small shirt is just a reduction of the larger one designed for men. I’ve discussed this with the manufacturer and they have already begun to design shirts to fit women. At this writing we’ve not tried one of those.
Doris did try the small shirt with the pad and although it did not fit perfectly, she was pleased with the reduction of recoil. She also liked the way the gun fit into the recoil shield. She was very careful in the fitting process to really force the gun butt into the recoil sheild as it cured and she had a much better fit than I had on mine. I’d recommend that anyone using this product pay special attention to fitting that gun butt to the recoil shield. It really helped the fit of the gun.
This is not an inexpensive product. It retails for $79.95. That price includes the evoshirt and the recoil shield.
To compare prices of comparable products, I looked at a popular compression-type undershirt in a retail sporting goods store and saw them priced from $39.95 - $49.95. A Limbsaver Recoil Pad is about $34.95 and that will only fit one gun, so the combination of a shirt and recoil pad that can be used with any gun for $79.95, does not seem to be out of line.
Lastly, recoil does effect all of us, even if we don’t immediately feel the effect. If you shoot 3” or 3.5” turkey loads you already know that or you will at some point. The cumulative effect of hundreds or even thousands of rounds of comparatively mild sporting/trap/skeet loads also takes a toll on shooters, witness reverse triggers and mercury recoil reducers.
I also work with shooters who’ve had surgery or some debilitative illness that just does not allow them to absorb the full effect of recoil anymore.
When we introduce youngsters or ladies to the shooting sports, recoil is the first concern and many times the first complaint. Any product or combination of products that helps to alleviate or eliminate the effects of recoil is worth considering.
Based upon my tests and evaluation, I’d recommend the evoShield to anyone looking for a solution to easing the effect of recoil.