I had a Glock 23 which is a 40 and I have a Glock 36 which is a 45. I would rather shoot the G36 than the G23 even though the G36 is lighter. Now a 40 in a Berreta 96 is another story. The extra weight tames the 40 snap down considerably.
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Barrel length and gun material play the most important role in recoil.
Heavier = less felt recoil
Longer barrel = less felt recoil
- Steel is heaviest and best for controlling/managing/handling recoil.
- Alloys are typically lighter, only in rare pot metal cases do you find heft equal or greater than that of steel, due to increased material thickness to compensate for reduced structural quality.
- Polymer is the lighest and most felt recoil, although slides are still steel and help to provide top heavy recovery from the recoil, which also accounts for the longer barrel theory.
Is there a noticeable difference in recoil between a .40cal and .45cal? And does barrel length and what the weapon is made out of play a role also in the recoil?
Assuming you meant the .45 ACP vs the .40 S&W, yes, there is a noticeable difference. The .40 S&W tends to flip the barrel up and to the side while the recoil from the .45 ACP is more raise the barrel straight up. Depending on the fit of the firearm to your hand one or the other will probably be uncomfortable. I suggest you test fire different firearms to see which one works best for you.
I have two .40S&W pistols (both H&K, polymer frame) and several .45 ACP pistols, mostly Colt Government Models.
According to the calculations, the H&K .40 recoils more. However, the only way I could really identify that was to shoot them both - well, one at a time - and compare them. As mentioned, the .40 S&W is a bit snappier; that is more abrupt and sudden. Neither is what I think of as abusive.
The biggest factor of recoil is the ratio of bullet momentum to pistol weight. Essentially, the more the pistol weighs, the less recoil is noticed. However, as mentioned prior, the 'flex' of a polymer frame probably 'masks' some of the recoil; like a shock absorber. Longer barrels give more weight, and therefore reduce recoil, however in some instances a longer barrel gives enough higher velocity to provide more energy (momentum) to the bullet and raise recoil impulse.
All that to say this: It does not boil down to an equation on paper. As mentioned, find a place where you can try out what you're considering and compare them. That will tell you much more than any formula and all the advice you can get on the internet - or gun shop sales room.
I have a 1 full sized 1911 in .40 and others in .45. .40 feels different, perhaps even a bit odd in comparison. Aside from "harsher," it's hard to describe in useful terms, kind of a "broken bat single" kind of feel. Both are quite manageable though.
Worth noting: much in the way of "feel," depends a lot on ammo choice.
IMHO, .40 in smaller guns gets tiresome quickly (I also have an XD40SC,) when compared to my CCO .45.
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