Best Low-Recoil Firearms: Defensive Firearms For The Everyday Shooter

The 2nd Amendment is for everyone, and the idea of everyone includes folks who might not be the strongest or mightiest. In fact, it’s arguable that those folks need a defensive firearm more than the rest of us. The vast majority of firearms are seemingly made for adult males without any disabilities. This excludes a lot of folks who need a means to defend themselves. Some folks might fall into that petite category, others into disabled, or they could have arthritis, weak hands, and other afflictions. 

For those folks, what are their options? With that in mind, I’ve gathered several different firearms to cover concealed carry, home defense, and everything in between. Here are the best low-recoil defensive firearms. 

The Best Low-Recoil Defensive Firearms 

Mossberg 590 .410 

Shotguns aren’t totally off the list for low-recoil home defense. Mossberg has made the famed 500 model in .410 forever, but they’ve recently pushed it into the defensive world. The Mossberg 590 in .410 is a new take on Mossberg’s famed fighting pump gun. I have a tough time suggesting the .410 over an intermediate rifle or pistol caliber carbine (PCC), but it is a shotgun option. 

The Mossberg 590 in 410
The .410 chambering of this 590 is light and low recoiling.

In states that make it difficult to own semi-auto rifles, it might be a simple solution. Not only is the Mossberg 590 in .410 low recoiling, but it is also lightweight. The little .410 has some good defensive options but, sadly, they can be tough to find. From this smooth bore, I’d suggest the Remington HD Home Defense rounds. They found a way to load four pellets of 000 buckshot into a 2.5″ round shell and five pellets in a 3″ round shell. 

The Mossberg 590 loaded with any buckshot won’t present any major challenges to the shooter. Recoil will be light and easily controlled. The 590 design is more than proven to be reliable and easy to use. Adding accessories and optics isn’t hard, either. It can be turned into a pint-sized powerhouse quite easily. 

S&W Equalizer 

If you want a micro-compact option, the S&W Equalizer gives you all the low recoil benefits of the EZ series with the capacity of the P365. The S&W Equalizer combines several modern features to provide a fairly low recoiling 9mm, micro-compact design. Low recoil doesn’t usually apply to guns roughly this size, so a full-sized Glock 17 may recoil less than the Equalizer. 

S&w equalizer
The S&W Equalizer is the softest recoiling micro-compact in the market.

However, in my experience, the Equalizer seems to have less felt recoil than the P365 and similar guns. It’s just a little bigger than most and helps displace recoil a little better. This translates to being a little less snappy and one of the comfier 9mm micro-compacts. The Equalizer is also easy to rack, which needs to be mentioned because people who are recoil-adverse tend to have strength issues all around. 

Capacities range anywhere from 10 to 15 rounds. The gun is optics-ready and even has a small rail to accept accessories. The grip safety and manual safety are also present. Essentially, it’s the EZ with nearly double the capacity. 

CMMG Pistol Caliber Carbines

Recoil references the rearward force generated by a gun firing. People who are recoil adverse also tend to be muzzle rise adverse and concussion adverse, which tends to make the AR-15 in 5.56 a bit intimidating to fire. Most PCCs using the 9mm cartridge are blowback, which generates a violent recoil impulse. The CMMGs Banshee and Resolute PCCs with the radial delayed blowback solve both problems. 

Cmmg banshee
The Banshee series in 9mm, 10mm, .45 ACP, and more are great low recoiling PCCs.

Recoil shcmecoil. The Resolute and Banshee series in 9mm has a little puff for recoil and not much else. They manage to take the sting out of a blowback system with the radial delayed design. Using a 9mm cartridge results in less ballistic capability but a whole lot less noise, concussion, and muzzle rise than a 5.56 caliber weapon. At the end of the day, a 9mm round fired through a rifle is still just a 9mm round. 

With that in mind, the low recoil, low muzzle rise, and ease of use make it very easy to put multiple rounds on target. A shooter with a radial delayed PCC from CMMG won’t have problems controlling the weapon. Plus, these rifles are very reliable, accurate, and modern. You can add weapon lights, optics, and more with ease. Everything about the gun comes with a high level of quality. It also comes with a fairly high price. 

Ruger LCR in .327 Federal Magnum 

If you want a small, concealable revolver, I have an interesting option for you. The Ruger LCR in .327 Federal Magnum gives you a very lightweight, polymer-reinforced revolver design. It’s your standard snub nose type revolver, but since it uses a .32 caliber round, you can fit six rounds into a weapon that usually holds five rounds. The .327 Federal Magnum delivers excellent ballistics, but it’s not the lightest recoiling option. 

Ruger LCR 327
A .327 Federal Magnum is a soft shooter when you use .32 H&R magnum.

There are lots of .32 caliber revolver rounds, and the LCR can chamber quite a few. This includes the .32 H&R Magnum. Magnum doesn’t mean what you think in this regard, and you get a very soft shooting and ballistically capable round for self-defense. From a small revolver, the little run runs soft and keeps your hands from getting beat up by recoil. Even some .38 Special loads can be hand slappers. 

The LCR also delivers the best double-action triggers on the market. A lot of folks who are recoil-adverse have poor hand strength, so I rarely recommend revolvers due to their heavy double-action triggers. The LCR defies those expectations with a very smooth and solid double-action trigger pull that most shooters can master. 

Walther WMP 

The Walther WMP came out of nowhere. The last gun I expected from Walther was a .22 Magnum semi-auto pistol with four magazine releases. The Walther Magnum Pistol delivers hardly any felt recoil while firing a hot little .22 caliber round. The wee little .22 WMR can punch pretty deep with the right ammo and delivers recoil akin to the impact felt by catching a loofa thrown by a toddler. 

Walther wmp 22 magnum pistol
The Walther WMP is a fun gun that’s also capable for self-defense.

The WMP holds 15 rounds of .22 Magnum, which puts it up there with most modern handguns. The slide is very easy to rack, and the gun itself is quite lightweight. Impressively enough, the Walther WMP delivers the famed ergonomics for which Walthers is well known. The Walther WMP has a very PPQ design about it, making it very comfortable for shooters of all sizes. 

It’s modern and has the ability to add optics and a weapon light easily. This allows it to keep up with the contemporary 9mm market and provides Home Defender with that much-needed white light option. The pistol is light enough for concealed carry but a bit big for most of those shooters. In the home defense world, it really shines at providing an option that barely moves when it fires. 

Taming Recoil 

Recoil is nothing to be trifled with. Not everyone can handle the power of a twelve gauge or even the recoil of something like a 5.56. Recoil can be a serious concern, and that concern can be mitigated by doing a little shopping around. There are plenty of great choices that are easier on recoil without sacrificing their effectiveness.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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