Since the introduction of the Gordon Hull in the early 1990s, its recoil reduction has been greatly appreciated by shooters and hunters alike.
It has represented a major innovation in how to soften the recoil caused by the energy unleashed when firing a cartridge.
What is the Gordon Hull?
The Baschieri & Pellagri Gordon Hull is recognizable by its unique, shock-absorbing base wad.
The base wad closes the bottom of the shell casing while at the same time anchoring the end plug tube and serving as the primer seating.
Together with the metal end plug it creates a solid structure that resists the shock of the firing and extraction phases.
In addition to this, however, and unlike other paper or plastic base wads the Gordon shell casing also absorbs recoil.
To understand this better, let’s start with how and felt recoil works and feels
In a physical sense, recoil is a consequence of the third law of dynamics which states that to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
In the case of a firearm, the gas pressure generated by the gunpowder ignition propels and accelerates the bullet or pellets along the barrel as they exit the muzzle.
This, in turn, creates an equal and opposite force in the shell casing against the breech of the firearm and the shooter’s shoulder or hand. The force produced by this energy is called technical recoil.
So, technical recoil is the result of this expended energy and is what causes the classic kick to the shoulder.
Technical recoil depends mainly on two factors:
- The cartridges: The pellets’ weight and speed must be taken into consideration. These two factors determine the kinetic energy generated by the cartridge which will, therefore, also affect the firearm’s recoil.
The weight of the shotgun: The weight of the shotgun opposes the energy generated by the shot. The greater the weight of a firearm, the smaller its recoil will be. This explains why target shotguns generally weigh more than hunting shotguns which are designed to be carried longer and shot less. The reason is again due to the laws of physics-- simply stated, the opposite force towards the breech of the firearm needs to move a greater weight (that of the shotgun).
This is the technical recoil of a firearm. But how is this different from felt recoil?
Even though the energy of the recoil is equal to the kinetic energy generated by the shot it is however possible to manage how this energy is distributed and absorbed by a system combining factors comprised of the shooter, the shotgun, and the cartridges.
In fact, felt recoil refers to how the shooter literally physically feels the energy that is discharged into their hand or shoulder and the body during the recoil of a firearm.
What is the underlying implication of felt recoil?
Taking into consideration the shotguns and cartridges, the energy of the technical recoil cannot be canceled out. How it is absorbed can however be managed, thus changing the shooter's perception. In this case we are talking about felt recoil.
How the Gordon Hull acts at the time of the shot
As soon as the shot is fired, the gunpowder inside the cartridge becomes high-pressure gas.
Due to the radial resistance of the steel barrel this gas can expand only axially, that is to say forward onto the pellets and backward onto the shooter’s shoulder.
The wadding acts on the energy released onto the pellets
The force on the pellets is effectively dampened by the springiness of the wadding, which acts as a shock absorber that collects the impulse and distributes it not only over a longer time, thus slowing it down. It also is affected by a larger uniform surface (the whole section of the barrel), thus decreasing the impulse on the pellets. In this manner the pellets are deformed much less.
The Gordon Hull acts on the energy directed towards the shooter's shoulder
With a conventional shell casing there is nothing to absorb the backward force of the gases, so the impact on the shoulder is perceived in all its violence.
When using the shock-absorbing Gordon Hull together with an active base wad, the impact of the gases in the direction of the shooter’s shoulder will be in part absorbed by the shock absorption of the Gordon Hull and in part by the springiness of the wadding. In this manner it offsets this force and thus generates a much smaller recoil effect.
That is why we discussed felt recoil before!
What is the final result?
If you have ever fired cartridges with a Gordon Hull, you probably already know the ultimate feeling of shooting softness and comfort even with large shot weights such as 28 grams in skeet shooting or 38-42 grams for hunting.
These Gordon Hull cartridges are specially designed to minimize the recoil felt by the shooter and are unique in offering two distinct dampening systems in two different sections of the cartridge.
In one direction the Gordon Hull acts on the perceived pressure to the shooter's shoulder and in the opposite direction, thanks to the wadding, there is less strain on the pellets which allows them to better maintain their roundness. The result is in a more compact and uniform shot pattern and better penetration.