Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Gunday: Blowback vs. Recoil

I have been lax in my Monday Gundays.  This is partly because I've been concentrating my energy on helping fellow gunnie Squeaky Wheel, and partly because ammo is still expensive, and partly because it's Florida in the summertime and the temperature & humidity are, approximately, equal to Venus.

But today I learned something new about guns!  And since about half my audience aren't gunnies, I figure this will be of interest to some of you.

Up until today, I just assumed that recoil and blowback were synonyms. It turns out I was wrong, at least as how it applies to firearms operation. Fortunately, the good folks on the Book of Faces were able to set me right with a video that explains it all, with visual examples.

(For those of you who don't have the patience to sit through it:  in blowback guns, the barrel is fixed in place; for recoil guns, the barrel moves.You're welcome.)


  1. Walter Cronkite has the weather

  2. That's startlingly apropos. Especially since most of our thunderstorms seem to start around Jacksonville or Tallahassee and work their way down.

  3. Oh man, that first illustration.

    I had the "hypothetical aliens" book that came from growing up.

  4. They're Oucher-Pouchers! :D

    I first saw them in the Nat. Geo "Our Universe" hardcover book that came out circa 1979. I devoured that thing from cover to cover.

  5. There is one notable exception to your rule about recoil-operated guns, and that is the 'intertia' system, popularized by Benelli shotguns. In that example, the gun is still operated by recoil, but the barrel does not move. Instead, the barrel and stock move together against the shooter, with the bolt sort-of 'floating' with the use of a very stiff spring. Slightly more complicated, but it performs the same function, just with the shooter acting as part of the mechanical system.

  6. A better way to think about it is that there are two schools of semi-automatics. Locked breeches and blowback. Blowback the gun goes into battery with no positive lockup, and is held in place by spring tension alone.

    The world of locked breech guns is a massive rabbit hole of short recoil operation long recoil operation, gas operation ect. But overall all of them need some mechanical operation to unlock the bolt before the gun can begin its cycle.

    Cool stuff to learn.


The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License

Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to