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Beginner’s Bench – Checking Out Recoil Pads

By Bob Brownell

When you just leafed through the Brownells catalog, you may have noticed we seem to carry lots of pages recoil pads. I’ll admit, when I was younger and not all that interested in gunsmithing or tools, recoil pads seemed to me to be nothing more than some kind of generic product, about as exciting as shopping for shoes. One size fits all so to speak. Well, after really taking a close look at the huge variety of recoil pads that Brownells sells, I was very wrong in my assumptions.

Brownells sells a large variety of recoil pads for virtually every commercially available rifle and shotgun. And, most of these can also be "modified" to fit a variety of other custom and out-of-production models. Others simply slip on and off depending on the type of shooting a person is doing or the desire to permanently change the gun. Plus greatly cutting down on the amount of time and work it takes to install a permanent recoil pad.

If you’re looking for some pretty simple to install and very functional recoil pads, I checked out several that looked promising. One of the first pads I checked out was the Leather Lace-On Recoil Pad that simply slides right onto the end of your stock and laces up tight. These are handy little units, very light and made out of smooth, tanned cowhide. I was surprised at the amount of padding as well, nearly half an inch of comfort. In all, a very nice setup for those of you who want to throw a recoil pad on quickly and easily with no alterations to do on the stock. For those of you who like the cowboy look on your guns, this setup will give your rifles and shotguns that “old west” look.

The Slip–On Recoil Pad from Pachmayr is another great recoil pad. As the name says, it slips right on over the butt of your stock. These come in three sizes and you can choose between brown and black. They’re also made to fit snugly on the stock so you don’t have to worry about it sliding around while your shooting and messing up your shot. Again, these recoil pads require no fitting or alterations to be done to the stock. They're very economical and extremely well made, and I was really impressed with both the quality and the price!

Another neat set-up I examined was the Slip On Recoil Pad and Comb Raising Kit, which also allows you to install the pad without altering the stock. This set is rubber-backed with neoprene pads and comes with foam spacers in 1/4”, 3/8”, 1/2” and 5/8” sizes to allow you to get just the right stock length that you’re looking for. This recoil pad also fits snugly on the stock and has a small slot for a sling swivel. The Comb Raising Kit allows you to convert your stock to a Monte Carlo-style stock easily without alterations. With an extra neoprene pad and some more foam inserts, you can adjust everything to get a good cheek rest height (which is nice because it cuts down on those bruised cheeks after a hard day of shooting.) These recoil pads and the kits come in black, brown, and Mossy Oak camouflage.

While slip-on recoil pads are very useful and economical, a lot of people prefer a more permanent solution for the guns they shoot. With so many different types, sizes, and manufacturers of recoil pads, the possibilities for finding exactly what you want and one that fits your personal preferences isn’t all that hard to do. Since I’ve been doing some basic gunsmithing recently, I thought that doing some work on recoil pads would be a great thing to try out. As with the slip-on models I mentioned, you can also buy recoil pads that come pre-fit for your particular gun and are pretty easy to install. I checked out some of the Pre-Fit Recoil Pads from Pachmayr to see what would be involved in replacing a recoil pad on an old Marlin 336 that belongs to a buddy of mine. I simply typed in “Recoil Pads” in the search engine on the Brownells website and scrolled down through the results that I got. Clicking on the link above gave me exactly what I was looking for.

After getting the recoil pad for the rifle, I did a little reading on the installing procedure, and decided it looked a little intimidating. So, I decided to save the actual installation for a future article

I also checked out some of the Kick-Eez Colored Recoil Pads that Brownells carries. These are very nice recoil pads made from a material called Sorbothane which is very soft and springy but also extremely durable. One of the unique selling points of these recoil pads are the screw hole plugs that come with them and give your new pad a smooth, finished look. These come in a variety of different colors for those of you who want to dress up your firearms with some non-traditional looking recoil pads. International Safety Orange is a great way for hunters to get just a little more safety when out in the field. A great idea in my opinion. These also come in a brilliant light red color that really sets off the appearance of shotguns and rifles, both match and varmint. The 201 Series Sporting Clays have a diagonal cut at the heel and won’t catch on your clothes which makes it a lot easier to shoulder your shotgun quickly when shooting clays. The 301 Series Solid pads have a leather grained, flat face, and the 401 Series Trap models have a curved, ribbed face.

I know a lot of folks who have been seriously bitten by the AR bug and I’ll admit, I’m one, too. The AR-15/M16 Rubber Recoil Pad come in a good assortment of choices for everything from AR’s, M16’s, M1 Garands, and even 10/22’s and Mini 14’s. These are nice for those of you who have fixed stocks and want a little more length and a lot more comfort. These are easy to change out with factory recoil pads and you’ll have no alterations to do to the stock. Made from black Polyethylene rubber with a serrated face, you can be sure that you’ll stay on target with no slipping and sliding.

I’ve seen many very cool guns in my lifetime that people have restored after spending many hours and many dollars in the process. Factory Logo Recoil Pads make your restoration jobs accurate and valuable. These red-brown rubber pads are exact reproductions of those used in the early 1900’s. These are nice pads that even come with the original “Made in the U.S.A.” and trademark logos on them. A must for those of you restoring your old Hawkins and Winchesters to their “new” state.

I was even surprised to find a little recoil pad for the trigger finger. The Finger Eez is a handy little item made of leather and lined with soft Sorbothane. It’s designed to cushion the impact of triggerguard against your middle finger when you’re doing a lot of shooting or using magnum loads. I would have never thought about something like this before but it really is a great idea and beats the heck out of wrapping your fingers with sticky white tape.

Also from the folks at Kick-Eez is a lubricant called Slick-Eez. If any of you have ever been out trap shooting and gotten the recoil pad on your shotgun snagged up in your clothes when you bring the gun up, then this stuff is for you. I’ve seen a lot of people over the years who’ve wrapped a perfectly good recoil pad with duct tape or electrical tape because they get so darned frustrated with the recoil pad “catching” on them. One application makes your rubber recoil pad extra super slick for faster gun mounting. It goes on easily and dries to frictionless clear film that won’t wear off too soon (and won’t stain your shirt either.)

If you decide that you’re going to install or replace more than one or two recoil pads you may be interested in the Pad Pal Recoil Pad Jig. This multi-purpose, aluminum jig makes it easy to drill, sand or grind recoil pads for a professional installation job. This jig has a heavy base which holds the entire unit down when you’re shaping recoil pads and also has guide holes for exact marking and drilling of screw holes. An angle finding feature allows the jig to be used as a setup gauge for correctly angled buttstock cuts.

As I was writing this, I spoke with John Feeley, the head of our Purchasing Department. I asked how many different recoil pads Brownells sold and how many suppliers we carried. After some legwork, he got back to me and said that we have a bunch of them. But, boiled down, we carry 76 different recoil pads from over a half-dozen suppliers. This doesn’t include all the models, colors, or other unique little features within these 76 offerings. On top of this, we also carry many, many more factory pads which increases the number significantly. Whew! I had no idea about any of this when I started the research for this article, but I’m really glad I did it now. It seems to me that if you need a new recoil pad, chances are we can probably find you the right one. Or, one can be modified to fit whatever firearm you have - whether it is a brand new Remington 700 fresh out of the box or an old shotgun handed down from your granddad.

Remember, recoil pads are an important piece of equipment for anyone who shoots. Let us know what you need and we’ll do our darndest to set you up. Actually, I’ve got to replace a couple of recoil pads pretty soon myself, spring, warmer weather, and going out to the range are all coming up. Keep shooting and save your shoulders!