What is a Recoil Lug? (A detailed guide)

The purpose of the recoil lug is to hold the barreled action in proper alignment with the stock.

The use of a recoil lug eliminates the need for bedding pillars or blocks between the action and free floated barrel.

This contributes to accuracy because it allows even distribution of stress throughout the action/stock/recoil lug system during firing.

remington recoil lug

The recoil lug—in addition to providing a stable platform for the action and barrel assembly during firing—also helps to align the barrel with the receiver when installed correctly.

A quality recoil lug is critical to proper functioning of any precision bolt action rifle.

The recoil lug has three main sections:

1) The front section attaches to the bottom of the stock and holds it up against the receiver.

2) The middle section is what actually connects to the receiver.

3) The rear section prevents any vertical movement of the rifle (called “muzzle rise”).

A recoil lug is a steel extension of the rifle’s receiver that serves to spread out the force of the spent shell casing gasses after they have exited the firearm’s muzzle.

The force of these gasses can be enough to push the rifle away from the shooter and make accurate follow-up shots impossible, particularly in high-recoil situations such as shotgun or magnum rifle cartridges fired from a lightweight, short-barrel firearm.

What is a recoil lug?

A recoil lug is a device used to resist the movement of the rifle action in the face of the force of recoil when firing.

It takes the form of a metal plate attached to a barrel or action by screw threads, swedging, or other means and projects outwards beyond the muzzle so that it can engage with a recess or bedding block in the stock of the rifle.

When a gun recoils after firing, this energy is transferred to the stock of the gun through friction between the barrel and receiver.

This friction causes wear on both surfaces and may eventually lead to inaccuracy.

Purpose and uses

The primary purpose of a recoil lug is to provide a smooth sliding surface for this contact and thereby decrease friction, enhance accuracy, and extend barrel life.

A well-designed recoil lug will prevent any movement of barrel/receiver with respect to each other (the barrel/receiver are made one piece).

uses of recoil lug

A secondary purpose of a recoil lug is to provide an attachment point for either a set trigger mechanism or a sling swivel stud.

The term “action lug” is sometimes used synonymously with “recoil lug”, but properly refers only to that part of the recoil system which transmits recoil from the rear of an action (or breech) area directly.

What does a recoil lug do?

What does a recoil lug do

A recoil lug is a part of the barrel assembly that interfaces with the action and helps locate the barrel in relation to the receiver during firing.

Recoil lugs are integral with the barrels themselves, but they do not contact the action.

They typically consist of a machined piece of steel, although they can be made completely from metal or plastic.

The lug is attached to the barrel with a threaded fastener such as a set screw, roll pin or bolt and nut.


recoil lug function

There are several things that can cause problems if you don’t have a good recoil lug. The first is excessive muzzle jump.

If there’s not enough force transferred from the barrel into your shoulder, you can get an unpredictable muzzle jump when you fire.

This can throw off your aim or even cause you to flinch while shooting. The second is excess felt recoil.

If there isn’t enough force being transferred from the barrel into your shoulder, it can feel like there isn’t much force pushing back on you

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What is bedding recoil lug?

What is bedding recoil lug

A properly bedded recoil lug also serves to further secure the receiver in place during firing and helps to prevent excessive movement between the two components.

Without a quality recoil lug, accuracy and reliability can suffer, especially in heavy-recoiling firearms.

A proper bedding job will make action lug unnecessary, as it is supposed to do. A proper bedding job will also eliminate the need for pillars, as they are supposed to do.

Most importantly, a proper bedding job will keep your stock firmly against the action while still allowing free travel of the barrel during its cycle.

If your rifle has a properly bedded action and it’s still moving around under recoil, then you have other problems with your bedding job.

What is an action lug?

What is an action lug

The action lug is a recoil lug, but not all recoil lugs are action lugs. The term “action lug” refers to the recoil lug on a bolt-action rifle.

Action lugs are found in varying degrees of prominence on bolt-action rifles, from small lugs that do little more than keep the rifle from flying open to large lugs that offer significant recoil reduction. Action lugs may be flat or concave.

Action Lugs are used in bedding actions to substantially improve accuracy by reducing the effects of recoil on the action.

Action lugs are usually made of aluminum or steel, and can be fixed or removable.

An action lug is a heavy steel bar that is attached to the underside of a bolt action rifle’s receiver. It also serves as a mounting platform for the stock.

Action lugs are often used for heavily-recoiling rifles such as .375 H&H Magnum and .416 Rigby.

They enable the stock to be solidly mounted to the receiver, which results in more consistent shot placement during firing.

An action lug prevents excessive movement from the stock when fired and limits stress on the rifle’s components.

A well-designed action lug should not be visible from above, but rather “disappears” into the contour of the stock.

It should also extend slightly past the rear of the bolt so that it can be aligned with the bore axis when properly installed on a barreled action.

Action lugs can either be fixed in place or they can be removable, allowing them to be adjusted as needed. Fixed lugs are easier to install since they do not have to fit over a barrel.

An action lug is designed to transfer recoil energy to the stock (or bedding block) by a process of friction welding.

This reduces stress on the receiver and internal parts of the rifle, particularly on actions with large bolt lugs that protrude into the action body, which could be overstressed by high-power loads.

The most common type of recoil lug is a “V” shaped lug machined into the bottom of a rifle’s action body.

The stock is also machined with a matching “V” shape, which fits over this lug when in use.

The bolt’s locking lugs are then machined such that their angle of engagement matches that of the action’s recoil lug.

This ensures that all available leverage is used to keep the gun locked during firing, resulting in greater consistency from shot to shot.

What is a Remington 700 recoil lug?

remington 700 recoil lug

A Remington 700-style barrel nut is an example of a typical two-piece type of recoil lug often found on modern bolt action rifles.

It is a large, flat concave lug that sits just ahead of the magazine well at the bottom front of the receiver.

The lug serves two purposes: It provides stability to the rifle during offhand shooting and it redirects any significant amount of force It is made up of a steel nut that screws into place inside of a softer aluminum tube that provides additional support for alignment purposes during assembly.

Tikka T3 recoil lug

Tikka T3 recoil lug

Tikka T3s have an integral recoil lug that fits into a corresponding hole in their stocks.

Savage arms also uses integral lugs, but they are smaller and more rounded than Tikka’s version.

Sporting rifles often use a larger, rounder lug that fits directly into a groove in their stocks.


Recoil lugs are a key component of the receiver on bolt-action rifles. They are specially designed lugs that connect the barrel to the receiver, which is critical when it comes to accuracy and consistency.

Many people believe that recoil lugs provide the main support for the barrel, but this misconception only exists because many recoil lugs are also used as a barrel support.

In reality, the main support for a barrel comes from its fitment on the receiver and its contact with the stock.

The lug itself provides stability during firing, ensuring that the barrel remains in place while under pressure.

The standard recoil lug is milled into the bottom of the receiver, usually at a 45-degree angle.

This makes it easy for manufacturers to produce multiple types of rifles with different recoil lug positions.

For example, you can easily swap out your recoil lug position by simply changing your stock or by adding an aftermarket option.

The most common types of recoil lugs include short action, medium action and long action types that help determine length of pull and overall rifle size. 


My first deer at the age of 45 I joined the deer hunting fraternity a little late, but the desire to hunt has always been there. I love hunting, so I often have to deal with hunting equipment.