RECOIL - When does a rifle kick

Any rifle will recoil in two stages. They are so close together that one can not feel the difference and it feels like one event.

Firstly there is the bullet and powder getting into motion and moving down the barrel. It is a closed system within which pressure is contained and the only difference is the the position of the bullet and powder within the system - the charge and bullet in the case and, then when the charge is spread out from case to muzzle with the bullet emerging from the muzzle.

Nothing much happens in this phase and the rifle probably moves 1/8" to 1/4" backwards because of the position of the bullet and charge.

Photo is courtesy of Bob ?

The photo above was taken at the moment when the bullet exited from the muzzle, the powder enveloped the bullet and before recoil and muzzle lift starts.

When the bullet unplugs from the muzzle, the rifle turns into a rocket that tries to fly away from the vent (gas escaping from the muzzle) and that is when it kicks.

Reduce the pressure that is residual at the muzzle (muzzle pressure) and recoil reduces. Another way is to redirect the gas that escapes from the muzzle and this is what a recoil brake does.

The mechanism through which one reduces recoil is to use a faster burning powder and lighter bullets. Faster burning powder is generally used with lighter bullets. Both have lower muzzle pressure than a slower burning powder and heavy bullets.