Tag Archives: Grizzly Bears

Hiking in Bear Country: Rotating Barrel Reduces Recoil

A good friend of mine recently went hiking in Colorado bear country. Hiking in regions inhabited by bears that can be aggressive in nature comes with risks. These more aggressive bears include Brown, Kodiak and Grizzly bears. It therefore pays to take precautions. Bear repellent sprays can certainly help. Many hikers also carry “bear pistols” designed to stop an attacking bear if needed. David’s painstaking research led him to write this article on firearms with a rotating barrel. I am sharing the article below with his permission. If you are planning on hiking in certain regions of the United States including Alaska, Colorado, Montana, Idaho, or Wyoming, you might find this interesting.

Loaded for Bear

rotating barrel

I have repeatedly noticed that my Grand Power 10mm auto loader has a surprisingly mild recoil.  This was true even with the high performance Underwood 140 Grain Xtreme Penetrator bear loads I shoot. These rounds have a muzzle velocity if 1500 fps and generate 700 ft lbs of muzzle energy. The Grand Power 10mm has a rotating barrel design which supposedly contributes to the reduced felt recoil. 

A Rotating Barrel?

The rotating barrel is not the reason I bought the gun. I bought it for the 10mm caliber, the 14 round capacity, double/single action trigger, and its safety features.  Also, its low weight of 27 oz. I discovered its felt  recoil is noticeably milder than my .357s (which only have 565 ft lbs energy). It was also much less than my heavier 44 mags, even when I load the 44 mag with 700-800 fl lb rounds.

So, I started reading more about the rotating barrel and turns out it absolutely reduces felt “kick.” The twisting of the bbl helps dissipate some of the would-be rearwards kick out to the sides, so you don’t feel it kick back into your hand back as much as with conventional “drop barrel” designs  such as Glock, Springfield, and most other current semi-autos. 

And, I’ve learned about some other advantages the rotating barrel has. It allows a lower bore (less muzzle flip), quicker re-acquisition of target for subsequent shots (due to lower recoil), and less flinch tendency (as compared to my 44 mag).

And, another big advantage I didn’t realize when I first bought the gun. The rotating barrel allows the barrel to have a “fully supported chamber.”  “Fully supported” means that the rear section of the cartridge has barrel all the way around it. The round is supported very close to the back rim. According to my research, this makes it be able to handle higher pressures more safely. This is important to me because I shoot the “over powered” Underwood ammo mentioned above.

rotating barrel

Bear Rounds

I’ve read a lot of gun enthusiasts blogs about “fully supported chambers.”  Most frequent shooter handgun folks agree that fully supported is better. Many shooters use the Underwood ammo, even in guns that might be of lower quality. I’ve only heard of one “mishap” with it. I’ve personally shot over 300 rounds of the Underwood 140 Grain Xtreme Penetrator thru my Grand Power with no issues.

Underwood’s website says, “Our 10mm loads are within pressure boundaries for SAAMI specs.”  You can read about this yourself to decide whether you are comfortable shooting upper-end power ammo in your particular gun.

So, if a rotating barrel makes a 10mm recoil as light as a 9mm, it should make a 9mm recoil as light as a 38 wadcutter … and so on I would think. If you search “does a rotating barrel reduce recoil”  an interesting bunch of articles pop up for further reading.

I’ve been thinking that the rotating barrel design might increase in popularity if more people experience the lower recoil. Unless, of course, there’s some downside that I haven’t discovered yet. A little more reading and I discovered that the Beretta PX4 Storm and maybe some other Beretta designs are also use a rotating barrel design. And now, even Glock is experimenting with a rotating barrel.    

David Smith
Tennessee