To me, 7mm mag has a different kind of recoil. A usual rifle kick is more sharp, but to me a 7mm mag kicks about like a shotgun. It is more of a push than a jarring feeling. It's definitely a more noticeable kick, but not terrible. It does tend to give me a headache after 10-15 shots though!
There are two ways to minimize the recoil of the 7mm Mag that come to mind.
The first is one of the recoil pads made from space age Sorbene rubber like Kickeze or Pachmayr Decelerator Recoil Pad. They only fit well when they are ground to fit the stock. It is a task better left to a gunsmith. There are slip on versions too as well as a strap on shoulder pad made of the the same rubber (by Past).
Second would be getting a semi-auto gun like the Browning BAR. Mine does not kick all that much more, if any more, than a 30-06 bolt gun.
Having said all that, I have a 7mm BAR and would not agin buy any high power belted case gun. If you are a reloader then 7mm Mag is tough on cases. If you reload in a regular manner you may only get a couple of reloads out of a case before you get a head separation right above the belt. Most 7mm chamber are cut with a generous amount of room for the shoulder of the case as the case head spaces on the belt not the shoulder as do all beltless rimless cases. When fired the shoulder moves forward stretching at the junction of the belt and the case body with the eventual head separation if you are not on top of case inspection after every firing. Belted cases for a reloader are a pain. The solution is to adjust the sizing die to not move the shoulder back during sizing or at least not more than a few thousandths. If you only shoot commercial ammo none of this is a problem as you'll throw the cases away (or recycle the brass).
Have two Ruger M77's, one on 30-06 and the other with 7MM Rem Mag. Both are fun to shoot but the 7 has more of a punch. A box of shells is plenty for one session but the accuracy of the guns makes me ignore it till after the guns are put away. I consider it noticeable but not objectionable. I may not be a good objective observer though since I find my 300 Wby and my 10 gauge fun to shoot too.
Ballistically (at least to 300 yards or so) the 30-06 in a comparable bullet weight is very similar. I have two 7mm rem mags--a #1 and an A-bolt--and they feel, to me, just like an -06.
As to case life; a competent handloader can get up to 10 reloads from brass handled properly. I have yet to have a case separation in my Browning 7mm rem mag. The #1 suffers from a common failing in that platform that requires it to be neck sized, which gives me as many reloads out of the brass as my Browning. The belt is an anachronism and is really not necessary anymore, but there it is.
The only 7mm Mag I have is a Browning BAR and with full length sizing it gets head separations after a couple of reloads if I don't catch that the case is stretching. I now size the cases to allow the case to try to headspace on the shoulder or nearly so, to minimize the case stretching and the case head separations.
The belt is necessary IF the gun is set up (and the industry standards say it would be) to head space on the belt. If the belt were not there then and the chamber were done per the standard then the case might seat too far into the chamber and stop on the shoulder, making it hard to get the firing pin to get a good strike. Until the industry removes the belt and starts head spacing on the shoulder, the belt is necessary. The new cartridge and chamber would no longer be 7mm Mag but re-named something else.
The history of the belt comes along with much older cartridges that had very shallow shoulders or none at all and those shoulders were inadequate to hold the case in place when the firing pin hit the primer. Because rimed cases are hard to feed without the rims colliding in the magazine a rimless solution was thought necessary. Hence the belt on a rimless case. There also was a bit of advertising hype since the belt made a case look stronger as did the Magnum names.
A modern large capacity case does not need the belt and some don't have it. Those that don't have a belt have a pronounced shoulders for head spacing rather than the earlier design shallow angle shoulders used over a century ago.
Indeed the fix for reloader is easy as I explained earlier if you: know you need it and know how to adjust the sizing die to achieve it. So it is worth mentioning for reloaders. When adjusted for a shoulder head spacing, the case failure mode is burned through necks, eventually.
I agree with Chuck Hawks, as the table shows the two are very comparable overall.
As a shooter of the .338 W.M. and being of smaller stature (5'9" and 165#), I personally believe MOST 'felt' recoil is in the shooters head.
To me, the recoil of the '06 is nothing, quite pleasant in fact.
Howdy I agree with zane 714.If your having a problem with recoil you might want to check out Sims vibration recoil pads. Personaly I use the slip on type and the grind to fit work well.Sims claim that they can reduce recoil by 75percent. I dont know how they come up with that number I just know they work. Over the last 10 years I have had neck surgery 6 times front and back. when I started using the sims pad in 2005 I was able to shot my 3006 agian. with no pain. Last August I put the newest recoil pad they make on my 300WM. Its great on my first trip to the range I shot 10 rounds no problem. Well thats my 2cents worth. Have fun!!!
I don't neck size only but move the sizing die up in the press to the point where the shoulder is not moved after firing. This, in effect, moves the head spacing point from the belt to the shoulder and minimizes the stretching of the body at the belt. That stretching causes head separations minimizing the number of reloads you can get out of these belted cases. The case failures then end up being a burning through of the case in the neck area but only after several more reloads.
I have only the one belted magnum cartridge gun. I would never buy another belted magnum. There are better choice with bigger case volume than 30-06 based cartridges, especial in some of the African cartridges. But I have given up on those bigger cartridges as the guns are a lot more expensive as is the cost of reloading. Besides my vintage 45-70 and 348 Winchester lever guns, I have a Remington pump in 35 Whelen which is big enough for me for a hunting style gun. The 35 Whelen is a real thumper to shoot.
Now, if I want big then I drag out the 50 BMG based 50 DTC single shot conversion on my AR lower. That is a real thumper and very loud.
Many things affect apparent recoil. A light rifle with a small buttplate will have more apparent recoil than a heavier rifle with a wide buttplate. I have a Ruger 25/06 that is very accurate, but also very uncomfortable to shoot. I also have a .375 H&H that weighs almost 10 pounds that is more comfortable to shoot that any 30/06 I own. I've learned that stock shape and fit are very important in reducing apparent recoil.
ok, so you are using a regular Fl sizing die?.. just backed out a bit so as not to push the shoulder?.
I have a few belted mags.. but don't shoot them as much.. same with some non belted but big thumper guns as you put it..... shoulder don't take it. few shots are fine.. but no more 'all day at the range' like when i was younger.
I think i like my 375H&H better than 416 rigby, 458 wm/lott and the 300 weatherby and 7mm rem mag are ok.. but the 300 is a bit stiff still for everyday shooting.
I havn't started reloading my 7mm rem mag yet.. but do have the dies ( ended up with 2 sets due to a box buy at a yard sale.. ).. and have been saving my brass.. will file this note away in my die box about watching out for pushing the shoulder..e tc.