Shotgun Action Types - Long Recoil and Short Recoil Autoloaders

The Seven Steps of Operation for Firearms

There are seven steps of operation for any firearm, regardless whether it is a rifle, shotgun or pistol, and the steps are the same. The action or mechanism of any firearm is to perform these seven steps, either mechanically or by hand - whether in the order below or in another order:

1. Firing - when the trigger is pulled it releases the hammer or striker and the shell in the chamber is fired.

2. Unlocking & Primary Extraction - during firing, the breech is securely locked and after firing the first operation is to unlock it. When the action is done manually it is with a bolt handle or slide handle. Autoloaders complete this action using gas pressure and an operating rod. Primary extraction is the loosening from the chamber walls of the case, wad and powder, done mechanically as the action is unlocked.

3. Extraction - the case is either partially or fully removed from the chamber.

4. Ejection - the case is removed from the gun after extraction, either by hand or by the ejector.

5. Cocking - As the hammer/striker is drawn back the hammer spring is compressed and held back by the sear. This is when the gun is cocked.

6. Feeding - a fresh cartridge is put into the chamber, either by hand or by the forward movement of the bolt.

7. Locking - the bolt is locked closed and the gun is now ready to be fired again.

Depending upon the type of action utilized by the specific firearm, the seven steps of operation are accomplished in the order specific to that firearm. Careful observation of shotgun mechanisms will display this operation system. The action types of the vast majority of modern shotguns are autoloading action, pump action and the break action (single shot and double barrel).

Long Recoil and Short Recoil Operations by John Browning

John Browning designed the long recoil operated, short recoil operated and gas operated autoloading actions and the Browning Firearms Company has made all three of these types of actions. The most well-known long recoil action is the Browning Auto-5 that was produced by Remington as the Model 11, by Savage, and by others.

Long Recoil Action

In order to achieve the seven steps of operation, a long recoil action uses the force of recoil. The barrel and bolt are locked together and must travel toward the rear for a distance a little longer than the length of the cartridge before it comes to a halt in order for the fired shell to be extracted and ejected. The barrel then unlocks from the bolt and returns to the battery. The bolt follows a little later and strips a fresh shell from the magazine, putting it in the chamber on its way back to the battery. Springs that have been compressed in the backward movement push the barrel and bolt to the battery. The jolt that is the result of the heavy barrel-bolt assembly arriving at the end of its backward travel right after the recoil of the cartridge firing gives the long recoil gun a "double shuffle" kick. Some shooters find this aspect disconcerting at best.

Short Recoil Action

The short recoil shotgun employs the recoil energy for power, but the distance the barrel and bolt are locked together is very short, less than ½ inch. After firing the two are separated and the barrel returns to the battery by a spring while the bolt keeps going backward to eject the fired case. Another spring forces the bolt forward when it hits the end of its journey, strips a fresh round from the magazine and loads it as it returns to the battery.