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Thread: Shooting a 338 after shoulder replacement surgery?

  1. #1
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    Default Shooting a 338 after shoulder replacement surgery?

    I had full replacement of my right shoulder last Thanksgiving and I'm just now starting to return to the ordinary things like starting a chainsaw as well as splitting wood. Hard to believe that my shoulder socket is a piece of high density polyethylene and the ball is highly polished alloy. My surgery was done at Mayo Clinic and they did a wonderful job. No pain at all anymore in that shoulder and range of motion is fine. My left one is in bad shape and will need replacing also. Strength is returning. I asked the surgeon if I would be able to shoot a centerfire rifle and his response was "yes" but he had only heard the question from another patient the day before and I didn't go into any detail as I had lots of other things to ask before having saws chisels and hammers as well as scalpels used on my shoulder.

    I haven't been able to find any useful information from people who've actually had the experience and I sure don't want to screw up my shoulder.

    I'm able to use my 65-year-old 257 Roberts without a problem since the recoil is low, but that caliber is not exactly a bear/moose gun and long ago I went up the ladder through 30-06 to 338 and haven't looked back. My favorite rifle is a Browning BAR 338. I also have a model 70 Winchester. If I ever manage to find any Hodgkin 4895 powder, I'll be able to load 60% reduced loads for the bolt action and i'm hoping I'll be able to shoot the Winchester with reduced but still useful loads. Since I stopped handloading, I've been using Federals with 250 grain Nosler partition bullets and been very satisfied with those. Since the BAR won't work with reduced loads, I'm assuming that even with a great recoil pad (I have a really good ones), the BAR will be a wall decoration but I would like to find out from someone who has had shoulder replacement what their experiences have been with shooting centerfire rifles and what limitations can I expect for the long run. Simply switching to shooting left-handed is not the solution since the left shoulder is pretty banged up and I'm attempting to leave as much as possible of the socket on that one so the surgeons can do full replacement of the socket and not just grind it down some.

    After that long preamble, my question is directed to anyone who has had shoulder replacement surgery: what have your experiences been and what are the limitations with regard to shooting centerfire rifles?

  2. #2

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    I'd check local shooting sources to locate a doc who actually shoots and talk it over with him.

    In my case, I developed elbow issues with fly fishing and got the total runaround about it until I found a doc who fly fished. And by coincidence he'd been through the same thing himself. No surgery, no drugs, no BS, he showed me some stretching and strengthening exercises that sorted it out in about a month. That was after two years of bouncing between friends and docs that all speculated, but didn't know their hineys from hot rocks.

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    Member ak_cowboy's Avatar
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    I had a pretty extensive surgery on my right shoulder in 2008, 12 months of recovery and still have 2 titanium screws in it. With a good recoil pad and a jacket I can shoot my .338 or .458 well enough to sight it in. After about 20 rounds of .338 I'm feeling it, but nothing terrible.Do the physical therapy and keep up on the stretches. You should be fine. But if it starts hurting, stop!

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    Recoil reducer in the stock and maybe a muzzle break? I hate breaks but they have their place.

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    Member LOCALAK907's Avatar
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    I know Wild West Guns in Anchorage,AK offers recoil reduction packages.

  6. #6

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    Had my shoulder completely rebuilt the end of October, 7 anchors, torn rotator, two tears to the labrum, over half inch of bone ground out of clavical. Shot my 375 Ruger to take a bear, didn't hurt at all. I was very concerned to say the least. My Doc who is a big hunter stated I should be fine to shoot but I was still was hesitant. Work your way up slowly, you should be fine.

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    Listen to your doctor, listen to your body, do the therapy. Start out shooting a low recoil & work up.

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    Might rethink the reloading or find someone that YOU TRUST to load some "soft" 200 grain loads to work your way (more powder and bullet weight) to your max. comfort level. I couldn't find Hor. 200 grain bullets for some time, but lately every time I go to my local SHWs they have a box or two on the shelf; $38.99 a box here. If I haven't shot the .338 for a while (like now) I start out with light 200 grain loads and work up.

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    Since everyone is a bit different when it comes to healing and injuries it would make more since to start with a low cal and work your way up to ladder.
    Frankly the 338 maybe your favorite cal but it has a re-tarted recoil that hurts to shoot (I have one) I have a break on that gun now and it reduces some of it.... so if you are insistent on carrying it that might be something you should look at. When it comes to reloading different loads to reduce the recoil of a cal then why not just go to a smaller cal. Meaning if you take a 338 and soften the recoil then you are reducing the energy of the load, now when you do that you have taken away the reason to carry that 338 so instead of doing that drop to a lower recoiled rifle that still has the energy needed to get the job done.

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    Best bet is most likely a brake and a slip on limbsaver recoil pad. Brakes maybe stupid loud but they work, the limbsaver pads are ugly as home made soap they work good too.
    If you love your 338 a little extra work will keep her your favorite rifle and you'll be able to enjoy it. No sense in owning something you can't enjoy.

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    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
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    A quality pad and something like this.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Andy
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    Not tell you to replace a gun, but if your .338 doesn't work out well and you like that caliber, consider the .338 RCM. It uses much less powder and produces less recoil. Still very powerful - within 10% of what you're shooting now maybe? I love mine and like you I have some physical issues that prevent any/all heavy-recoil weapons firing.

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    A lead sled may be a good investment also. I shot 40 rounds through my 375 H&H last weekend, no bruising, sore shoulder or anything afterwards. It was a pretty good investment for testing lots of handloads in my magnum rifles.
    Some people call it sky busting... I call it optimism
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    Thanks for the helpful suggestions. I'm not going to do any shooting with serious recoil loads until I talk further with a surgeon who knows calibers and recoils. I am doing physical therapy religiously and will work up from the 257 Roberts recoil using greatly reduced loads in the 338. I have everything I need to handload 210 grain loads except Hodgkin 4895 powder. Getting powder these days isn't quite as bad as getting 22 Long rifle's but it's still not easy. (I have plenty of 22 Long rifle ammunition if anybody's interested in swapping that for 4895 powder.) That specific powder is apparently the only one that is safe to load at 60% of the max and will reduce muzzle velocity to substantially under 2000 ft./s and consequently greatly reduced recoil energy. I have the thickest Pabst recoil pad and a Limb Saver on my rifle. i'm also going to check on muzzle brakes. I never thought I'd want one because the noise but they're starting to sound better!

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by duckslayer56 View Post
    A lead sled may be a good investment also. I shot 40 rounds through my 375 H&H last weekend, no bruising, sore shoulder or anything afterwards. It was a pretty good investment for testing lots of handloads in my magnum rifles.
    What he said...................LEAD SLED!
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    Muzzle brakes are not all the same, in fact there is a very noticeable difference between muzzle brakes. Noise is a common complaint about muzzle brakes but, here again, they are not all the same. Recoil reduction is the reason that most people have brakes installed and there is a huge difference in effectiveness between different styles and brands. Here's a video of a very effective one both in terms of sound and recoil reduction.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=327beJrl5vU

    Gus

  17. #17
    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    start shooting with your opposite shoulder and eye. that's what I plan to do should my right shoulder start acting up.

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    I can't take score of the ages of the commenters to this thread but I suspect many are not as "aged" as the poster - it is easy to be "stubborn" when the body is still willing to back it up - I've lately been contemplating much the same dillemna - Given the fact that all too often when the shoulders go the knees are not far behind (or they're already being dealt with) my favorite 6lb 7mm Remington Mag shooting 160's hits me pretty hard so I've been thinking that a 5lb 7 mm-08 launching 140 premiums might be a better "old fart" fair compromise - modern bullets have changed the game considerably

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    start shooting your opposite shoulder AND eye ??? ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ........ "great post" ..... NOT !!

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    thanks for the blessings back country. I'm a weird one, in that I'm right eyed dominant, but left handed. Just out of curiosity, I've practiced shooting left handed, It was slightly foreign for the first few rounds, but still effective.

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