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Testing a Rifle's Accuracy

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December 11, 2013

Testing a Rifle's Accuracy

By David E. Petzal

In one of the threads to my NFL post, I was asked if the Smith & Wesson Model 10 AR in .308 would make a good deer rifle, and how accurate was it? My reply was that any .308 makes a good deer rifle;  there are few cartridges that do so many things as well as a .308. As for the rest, it gets more complicated.

When I’m asked if a rifle is “accurate,” I have no idea what that means. If you’re going to use the Model 10 as a short-range deer-dumper it’s accurate if it shoots 2-inch groups at 100 yards, because that’s more than enough to do the job. If you’d like to take it to F-Class 600-yard rifle matches and shoot it in the Tactical Class, it better put five shots in ½-inch or less at 100 yards if you wish to avoid being humiliated, because that’s what’s required.
So “accurate” is relative. Indeed, when you think about it, the whole concept of gun “testing” is as full of shuck and jive as Obamacare. First, there is the statistical problem. Gun tests are based on someone like me getting one gun and seeing how well it shoots but, as the SEALs say, “One is nothing.” In order to have any kind of statistical validity, I would probably have to shoot 10 (or 20, or 50) different rifles of the same model and caliber, made days or weeks apart. This is because all rifles are individuals, and serial number 1999834 may be a marvel while 1999835 might be good only for propping open a door.

I can say that some rifles do shoot very well because I’ve had the chance to try out half a dozen and speak with people who have shot them, and form an opinion. Most Savages shoot well; the tactical and varmint guns really group. Everything I’ve had from Thompson/Center has done fine, and a couple of rifles have been astounding. All the Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 rifles have been great. All the Tikkas and Sakos I’ve shot in recent years have been very accurate and sometimes eye-bugging. Most of the recent Ruger 77s I’ve shot have been very good. But much beyond that it does not go. I work on Colonel Townsend Whelen’s principle that only accurate rifles are interesting, and it costs too much and takes too much time to fool with the ones that you know are going to be inaccurate.

Then there is the shooter. If I recommend a rifle to someone and he can’t shoot worth a damn he will buy the rifle and then blame me when it won’t group. Judging by what I see there are not all that many people who know how to shoot a rifle correctly, even from a bench rest. Nor do I have any control over what kind of ammo the rifle is fed. Are you going to load your new .30/06 with Federal Match or military-surplus ball that was made with mercuric primers and has been sitting in a warehouse in Trieste, Italy, since Elvis Presley started to make it big? The results will be quite different.

During this past week I was asked my opinion of a Remington 722 in .257 Roberts that had occupied the corner of a garage for years and was available very, very cheaply, and a Browning BLR 81 in .30/06 that was being used for close-range (100-150 yards) whitetail hunting in Missouri in a spot where most shots come fast.

To which I replied: If the 722’s bore is not rusted it will probably group at least well. It was an economy rifle, but shot quite nicely for the time. The .257 Roberts is one of our great hunting rounds, soft-kicking and very effective, but is badly underloaded by the companies who still produce it, and finding Roberts ammo can be both a problem and expensive. The last time I shot a Model 722 at length was probably 50 years ago, so I’m relying on memory, and you have to factor that in.

And about the BLR: It’s a handy, reliable, light rifle with a frightful trigger and odd looks that will handle close-range whitetail hunting in exemplary fashion. Will it be accurate? I have no doubt it will be accurate enough. And how can you argue with the .30/06? Again, I’ve probably not shot a BLR since the early 70s.

The point is that you can test only so many rifles, and that asking opinions, even of a person as old, wise, and experienced as myself, is like betting on horseraces. You can look at the bloodlines, and at past performance, and who the trainer is, and who’s up (which was trackspeak for who the jockey is), and at-the-track conditions but in the end it’s still gambling, and so it is with rifles. If such were not the case, this hobby would not be half the fun it is.

Comments (47)

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from Amflyer wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

DEP, just to clarify:

When you say, "But much beyond that it does not go" are you saying that your opinion does not go beyond the rifles that you list?

That's the way I read it, but then I am only fluent in the mellow language of Love, and find that English is a second choice for me.

Regards,

Amflyer Quixote

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntslow wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

Six Sigma is a very common technique for minimizing variance in manufacturing. It is all about data and sample size and can uncover many issues to be corrected. The sample size is never 1 is rarely less than 20. It is also possible that an manufacturer would send 1 to 5 guns to several different reviewers. Surprise! The evaluations are all similar but may not represent the "average" gun. That said, many years ago my cousin and I pulled some woodcutters out of a mud hole and they gave us a VZ24 Mauser based rifle. It was a military rifle re-barreled to 30-06 and the stock cut back. It turned out the bore was pitted badly but we cleaned it up and thought it might make a decent short range hog gun. To our surprise, after 3 "fouling" shots it seemed to fill the pitting and the next 5 shots were 2" groups. After that it shot patterns. Since we did not hunt where we got a lot of shots, it was accurate enough

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Trap12 wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

It seems to me that gun buyers today have it pretty good. Economy bolt rifles from Savage, Ruger, TC, Remington and several other manufacturers generally shoot as accurately or better than the high-end rifles made 25 years ago. As for AR's and other semi-autos, accuracy is a crapshoot, because each rifle feeds just a little differently, and the degree of bullet marring/distortion in the feeding process that can degrade accuracy varies from rifle to rifle.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

David,
Truer words never written by a gun writer! The unnamed range monkeys here sometimes spout that this rifle or that rifle won't shoot this group or that based on their experience (suspect at best) with one rifle with their handloads (also suspect). I read the freebore and accuracy discussion in the Answers blog and it was quite amusing.

Merry Christmas!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from davidpetzal wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

TO Amflyer: You read it with perfect accuracy.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from rackluster wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

here i thought the article was going to be at least partly about the Smith & Wesson Model 10 AR in .308. Instead, other rifles were discussed. I get the author's point but find it odd that the rifle in question was not discussed beyond the opening paragraph.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 1uglymutha wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

I have been through a good number of rifles through the years. Most have been sent to new owners. Those that I have kept are few but shoot very well. The guns I hunt with will ring eight inch steel to six hundred yards with boring regularity. But I have never had a factory rifle that will group into one half inch at a hundred yards. Nor do I need one. Custom rifle builders can produce such a rifle for those that feel the need.My girlfriend has a short barreled 7-08 that will consistently put three shots inside a dime at one hundred yards.She got lucky on the first rifle she ever owned. When you buy a factory rifle you never know what you'll get 'till you get to the range.
On the other side of the coin I have never had a factory rifle made in the last twenty years that would shoot over one and one half inch groups. Plenty good enough for most hunting.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from coachsjike wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

dave,
have you shot the m&p 10? just curious to see how accurate it is at 100 yds. but thanks for the article.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Amflyer wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

Some people have different idears about what accuracy is. This is the best group I have fired this year. Maybe ever. It's not even MOA. But the accuracy was the best I could do. I shot this group almost up to the rifle's capability from a field position, which make me feel like bragging just a little bit. Now, if this was a regular occurrence, I would brag a lot. And loudly.

www.photobucket.com/albums/a200/amflyer/target.jpg

This was from sitting, 100 yards, no rest. I took this rifle deer hunting shortly after. Got a shot from the same position, sitting.

www.photobucket.com/albums/a200/amflyer/IMG_0644.jpg

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Amflyer wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

Sigh. Obscene words?

Try these links:

s11.photobucket.com/user/amflyer/media/target.jpg.html

s11.photobucket.com/user/amflyer/media/IMG_0644.jpg.html

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

Nice deer, 'Flyer!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from MReeder wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

A lot of wisdom in DEP's column today. As he alludes there are different kinds of "accuracy." "Hunting accuracy" is a different animal from bench-rest/target accuracy, and both categories include sub-headings. Deer-woods accuracy is maybe three bullets in four inches or even more at a hundred yards and more open-country deer accuracy is maybe three bullets inside an inch-and-a-half or five inside 2. Mountain game accuracy requires smaller groups yet and varmint accuracy becomes far more refined. None of it compares to target shooting. Most deer hunters I've seen probably do pretty good to keep three shots inside a 6 inch circle at a hundred yards, but since most deer are probably shot at 50 or less they still bring in a lot of venison. Most deer hunters aren't really gun nuts and could care less about MOA groups. It's certainly a pretty safe bet that most modern rifles are capable of shooting a helluva lot better than the people holding them.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from M.A.T wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

Nice group considering the circumstances. And what is rifle/caliber combo?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Amflyer wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

If you're directing that towards me MAT, it's a Winchester M70 featherweight in 30-06. Leupold 2.5-8 scope.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from silvertip wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

Amflyer - that is one very fine deer! Your group shot sitting impresses me very much, way much more so than any half inch group shot from the bench. Any deer that you shoot at is in big trouble!

Petzal's post today is a jewel! Hitting the bullseye again and again, he has nailed a number of truths. Based on my recent experiences with new firearms, quality control is very uneven on many formerly solid firearms.

Inconsistent quality is an even bigger gamble than the normal individual variability amongst rifles.

Buy them and try them, but don't spend too much money or effort trying to fix broken ones.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bobby Cat wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

I grew up reading Jack O'Connor, Warren Page et.al. If I recall they would never say a certain gun had a "frightful trigger". I like that.

Isn't their standard of accuracy still valid? A minute of an angle accuracy is great; 1/2 inch is fabulous. And if a cheap gun shot 2" at 100, that'll do.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from silvertip wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

Take an accurate sporter that shoots well, say an inch or a shade under at 100 yards for three shots. Also find a different load for the same gun that shots less well, say about 1.5 MOA or even 2 MOA.

Shoot both loads from the same rifle from a field position only, say sitting or even offhand. Try a distance from 100 to 200 yards.

You'll be doing really well to tell the difference between the two loads just by looking at the targets.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FirstBubba wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

I bought a Parker Hale bolt in .270 Win and topped it with a Leupold 3-9x40 VX II.
That was in 1977 and it still shoots under .5 MOA at 100 yds.
I bought mt wife a No. 1 Ruger in .270 Win. It wears a Redfield 4x.
Under .5 MOA at 100. My 6.8mm Ruger Ranch holds .75 MOA bagged with a 4x Simmons.
I don't own a rifle (deer caliber) that won't shoot under 1 MOA at 100 yards...and I don't do anything "special".
Just lucky, I guess.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

My dad was a DVM who worked at some race tracks and raised race horses. He always bet on the jockey. If Dave was up I have a feeling he could beat most of us on a lesser horse. I still want to see him saddle that Smith & Wesson up.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from NHshtr wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

Petzal does it again...straight talk, and this from a gun editor of all people! Refreshing.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sarge01 wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

I have owned over 125 to 150 rifles in my lifetime. I can tell you what most every model and caliber, excluding large magnums, rifle from Remington, Winchester, Savage, and Browning and lower end Weatherbys will do. All of the rifles that I have had went bang and would have killed a deer at 100 yards. Most rifles that I bought were bought wholesale kept a month or two, tested and then sold for retail. I think that most hunters must have thought the local Conservation Officer told you the truth when he told you what a particular model and caliber of rifle would do because they were usually eager to buy one of my rifles. I quit that process about 8 years ago but it sure was fun shooting and testing all of those rifles over a period of almost 40 years. I will have to admit there are a few of those rifles that I wish I had now.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from M.A.T wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

Thanks for the answer Amflyer. And BTW also a very nice buck.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from steelmaster wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

DEP. I think you have locked in a reader until one of us kicks the bucket... I am 25 and can appreciate and "old man" telling it like it is, there aint enough time on this earth to beat around the bush. I am sick of the young punk generation who would rather spend $300 on a pair of headphones instead of a .22. I am sick of the liberal media and last but certainly not least, our president. (not sure where that rant came from)

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Rifle talk is my kinda stuff,and I still believe handloads can help bring the best out of most rifles. Unless, of course; One finds that rare tact driver as you mention Dave...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Racist much?

-8 Good Comment? | | Report
from Amflyer wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Rock rat, I know you're one of those politicos that like to argue, but how in God's green earth did you come up with (I presume)steelmaster's comment as being racist? Why do you assume that a "young punk" wanting expensive headphones automatically is a White, Anglo-Saxon upper middle-class kid? That's sort of racist in and of itself. For all you know, he could have had a African-American in mind when he wrote that.

FWIW, I agree wholeheartedly with the comment that a kid would be better of learning how to shoot a .22 than listening to that devil Jamiroquai music on a set of headphones.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Creek Chub wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

DEP,

Excellent post. I also really enjoyed the "range bag" one a few days ago. Could you explain in an upcoming entry about your personal set up for bench rest success?

If you have a favorite rest, where should I put my hands on the rifle, do I support the rifle with my hand or leave the forearm on the bag, etc, etc.

Thank You for your help

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Future's gonna hold big changes in this subject area of rifle accuracy. If my son is any indication the new shooting/hunting generation is more in love with tactical styled semi's than bolt-actions or falling block style single shots.

Indeed, the new shooting generation appears to view my bolt-actions with an assessment probably not unlike WW I vets using a 1903 looked upon their elders using 45-70 Winchester lever-action.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Another premature ejection from the Rodent? LOL

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from fox4 wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Had a Marlin 336 that would put 5 of the Hornaday levelevolution rounds well inside a 5 inch circle at 200 yards. I reasoned that less than 6 inches was sufficient to hit a deer where it matters. 200 yards was also about the maximum distance where the combination was still effective for deer. Accurate rifle, ammo and shooter combination? Probably not accurate compared to a modern tack driver and bench rest acolyte. Accurate enough and effective. I had that vulcan mind meld with the Marlin. I'd take a 200 yard shot with it before a sub MOA anything else.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jhjimbo wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Nice going, chief resident rodent.

Amflyer, real nice deer.

After I am sure my rifle is doing it's part on the bench rest, I have started practicing, off-hand @ 100yds, as WAM suggested some months ago. Very eye opening. Tells you just which rifle you need to work with. That to me is where the rubber meets the road.

Fox4, I bought a 336 package a year ago. Scope, sling, ready to go. Got some Leverevolution ammo and
shot the first 3 shots in about a 1" group. Amazing rifle and ammo combination.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from davidpetzal wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

TO Creek Chub: So it shall be. Stay tuned.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Got my Leupold Mark 2 IMS AR mounting system today and installed it on my 5.56mm Sabre Defence Industries SR-15. Threw a Zeiss Conquest on there just to take it to the range to see if it is a shooter. I have only shot it with the carry handle peep sight but it has impressed me. Guess I will find out if it is worthy of a real target scope.

i261.photobucket.com/albums/ii61/DR_RALPH/DSC06264_zpsd039d2a9.jpg

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from JCB wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Dave, That is a brutally honest opinion of the state of factory made rifles. It is what we expect from you. JCB

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

"Your rifle may be MOA accurate, but how accurate are you?"

Also, I used to look at group sizes at absolute value, until I realized a 2-inch group at 100 yards means your shots are still hitting within an inch of point of aim at 100 yards (radius as opposed to diameter). With accuracy like that, as long as you aim at the right spot, your bullet's terminal performance will take care of the rest.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

Just a word of caution. Have any of you seen the pop-up that comes on your screen when you Log in ?? the one that says that if your register you will win 50.00 My security system grabbed it the first time it showed up and it turns ot it is a back-door virus.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from kudukid wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

rock rat:

Is it too much to ask that the president of the United States know how many states are in the Union?

Should a president of the United States know the difference between the Marine Corps and a marine corpse?

He may or may not be a citizen, but he damn sure is no American!

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wittsec wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

The most accurate rifle is the one you shoot well.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from dtownley wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

Noticed KK got negatized,
Only since JAN 2009, was it to much
Should! lacked the Vet ting
Anybody can be a crook, inherited is
sufficient
As I have noticed from this melting
pot in Houston and the friends I have
made, that waited and became citizens,
it is a state of mind not all will
acquire or stand for or relish ....
American, look in the mirror even I
hope you see one, some, all, ?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from w2e2b wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

from rackluster wrote 2 days 6 hours ago

here i thought the article was going to be at least partly about the Smith & Wesson Model 10 AR in .308. Instead, other rifles were discussed. I get the author's point but find it odd that the rifle in question was not discussed beyond the opening paragraph. Maybe the reason the above wasn't discussed might be because the author drifted off with the shuck and jive about Obamacare. Notice he didn't elaborate on that either. Is this Field and Stream or a political forum?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kudukid wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

dtownley:

Since 2nd Amendment rights are and have been under attack from the left for at least the past 50 years (probably more but that's about as long as I remember such attacks) this blog is likely to be both. When that misguided left rears its head it will get answered.

That obama abhors the 2nd Amendment is common knowledge to anyone owning a firearm.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from kudukid wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

Sorry dtownley, that was meant in answer to w2e2b (Sounds like a ham radio call.).

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Doug76 wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

I think I've not heard such an honest appraisal from a gun writer in a long time, maybe never.
Nice going Dave.
@rock rat, how is it racist to point out the truth, based on known fact and not what one "feels" about something? Are you truly that ignorant to fall into the media trap of labeling anything said against the current office holder as racist? Can we not stand against his policies because of his politics, and not his race? I could care less that he is black. I care a lot that he has very communist leanings and has done much to harm this free nation.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 18 weeks 22 hours ago

Did I miss the Jarrett rifles or do they not count? I thought he was your man Dave. I guess we are talking blue collar mass produced rifles. I have always lusted after a 77RSI they are so pretty they couldn't possibly be accurate. Nice plug for Savage. They are the new improved Vanguard. Better, cheaper rifle.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hotshot222 wrote 18 weeks 8 hours ago

Nice article, Dave. I like your writing style. As for accuracy, many shooters blame the rifle, when the actual inaccuracy is due to improper bench technique and/or loads that the rifle just doesn't like. Some chambers don't like the off-the-shelf store-bought stuff, and the accuracy provided may be fine for animals, even they don't print out MOA accuracy on paper. Then again, the bullet weight, BC, barrel twist, copper fouling problems, etc., are also other factors to consider.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hutter wrote 17 weeks 5 days ago

Most all guns can be made to shoot accurately through some type of manipulation, be handloads or glass bedding or a combination of a thousand different means. I own an old Rem.788 in .243 that will shoot any load I put in it M.O.A.no matter what weight bullet, powder type, case, primer, whatever. To me, THAT is accuracy! It is the only one of a hundred that will never be sold or traded, but passed down.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hotshot222 wrote 17 weeks 2 days ago

Then again....accuracy is a relative term. A hunting rifle might be considered accurate with MOA groups...or even less than MOA groups, while a bench-rest rifle in full competition dress might not be considered accurate if groups fall outside of 1s and 2s. Bolt action rifles are generally considered more accurate than semi-auto rifles, but again, this is a generalization and varies from rifle to rifle.

I'm happy with MOA for a hunting rifle with hand loads. I see no reason to go crazy if my rifles don't achieve half-inch groups. Such accuracy is not needed for the animals I hunt, and I don't lose sleep over a half-inch (which is probably due to my need to improve my technique, the wind, variations with reloads, etc., and generally something I can't control anyway. But, that's me.

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Post a Comment

from WA Mtnhunter wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Another premature ejection from the Rodent? LOL

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

David,
Truer words never written by a gun writer! The unnamed range monkeys here sometimes spout that this rifle or that rifle won't shoot this group or that based on their experience (suspect at best) with one rifle with their handloads (also suspect). I read the freebore and accuracy discussion in the Answers blog and it was quite amusing.

Merry Christmas!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Amflyer wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

Sigh. Obscene words?

Try these links:

s11.photobucket.com/user/amflyer/media/target.jpg.html

s11.photobucket.com/user/amflyer/media/IMG_0644.jpg.html

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

Nice deer, 'Flyer!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Doug76 wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

I think I've not heard such an honest appraisal from a gun writer in a long time, maybe never.
Nice going Dave.
@rock rat, how is it racist to point out the truth, based on known fact and not what one "feels" about something? Are you truly that ignorant to fall into the media trap of labeling anything said against the current office holder as racist? Can we not stand against his policies because of his politics, and not his race? I could care less that he is black. I care a lot that he has very communist leanings and has done much to harm this free nation.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from davidpetzal wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

TO Amflyer: You read it with perfect accuracy.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from MReeder wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

A lot of wisdom in DEP's column today. As he alludes there are different kinds of "accuracy." "Hunting accuracy" is a different animal from bench-rest/target accuracy, and both categories include sub-headings. Deer-woods accuracy is maybe three bullets in four inches or even more at a hundred yards and more open-country deer accuracy is maybe three bullets inside an inch-and-a-half or five inside 2. Mountain game accuracy requires smaller groups yet and varmint accuracy becomes far more refined. None of it compares to target shooting. Most deer hunters I've seen probably do pretty good to keep three shots inside a 6 inch circle at a hundred yards, but since most deer are probably shot at 50 or less they still bring in a lot of venison. Most deer hunters aren't really gun nuts and could care less about MOA groups. It's certainly a pretty safe bet that most modern rifles are capable of shooting a helluva lot better than the people holding them.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from steelmaster wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

DEP. I think you have locked in a reader until one of us kicks the bucket... I am 25 and can appreciate and "old man" telling it like it is, there aint enough time on this earth to beat around the bush. I am sick of the young punk generation who would rather spend $300 on a pair of headphones instead of a .22. I am sick of the liberal media and last but certainly not least, our president. (not sure where that rant came from)

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Amflyer wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Rock rat, I know you're one of those politicos that like to argue, but how in God's green earth did you come up with (I presume)steelmaster's comment as being racist? Why do you assume that a "young punk" wanting expensive headphones automatically is a White, Anglo-Saxon upper middle-class kid? That's sort of racist in and of itself. For all you know, he could have had a African-American in mind when he wrote that.

FWIW, I agree wholeheartedly with the comment that a kid would be better of learning how to shoot a .22 than listening to that devil Jamiroquai music on a set of headphones.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from davidpetzal wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

TO Creek Chub: So it shall be. Stay tuned.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Got my Leupold Mark 2 IMS AR mounting system today and installed it on my 5.56mm Sabre Defence Industries SR-15. Threw a Zeiss Conquest on there just to take it to the range to see if it is a shooter. I have only shot it with the carry handle peep sight but it has impressed me. Guess I will find out if it is worthy of a real target scope.

i261.photobucket.com/albums/ii61/DR_RALPH/DSC06264_zpsd039d2a9.jpg

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

"Your rifle may be MOA accurate, but how accurate are you?"

Also, I used to look at group sizes at absolute value, until I realized a 2-inch group at 100 yards means your shots are still hitting within an inch of point of aim at 100 yards (radius as opposed to diameter). With accuracy like that, as long as you aim at the right spot, your bullet's terminal performance will take care of the rest.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from wittsec wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

The most accurate rifle is the one you shoot well.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Amflyer wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

DEP, just to clarify:

When you say, "But much beyond that it does not go" are you saying that your opinion does not go beyond the rifles that you list?

That's the way I read it, but then I am only fluent in the mellow language of Love, and find that English is a second choice for me.

Regards,

Amflyer Quixote

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Trap12 wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

It seems to me that gun buyers today have it pretty good. Economy bolt rifles from Savage, Ruger, TC, Remington and several other manufacturers generally shoot as accurately or better than the high-end rifles made 25 years ago. As for AR's and other semi-autos, accuracy is a crapshoot, because each rifle feeds just a little differently, and the degree of bullet marring/distortion in the feeding process that can degrade accuracy varies from rifle to rifle.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rackluster wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

here i thought the article was going to be at least partly about the Smith & Wesson Model 10 AR in .308. Instead, other rifles were discussed. I get the author's point but find it odd that the rifle in question was not discussed beyond the opening paragraph.

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from 1uglymutha wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

I have been through a good number of rifles through the years. Most have been sent to new owners. Those that I have kept are few but shoot very well. The guns I hunt with will ring eight inch steel to six hundred yards with boring regularity. But I have never had a factory rifle that will group into one half inch at a hundred yards. Nor do I need one. Custom rifle builders can produce such a rifle for those that feel the need.My girlfriend has a short barreled 7-08 that will consistently put three shots inside a dime at one hundred yards.She got lucky on the first rifle she ever owned. When you buy a factory rifle you never know what you'll get 'till you get to the range.
On the other side of the coin I have never had a factory rifle made in the last twenty years that would shoot over one and one half inch groups. Plenty good enough for most hunting.

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from Amflyer wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

Some people have different idears about what accuracy is. This is the best group I have fired this year. Maybe ever. It's not even MOA. But the accuracy was the best I could do. I shot this group almost up to the rifle's capability from a field position, which make me feel like bragging just a little bit. Now, if this was a regular occurrence, I would brag a lot. And loudly.

www.photobucket.com/albums/a200/amflyer/target.jpg

This was from sitting, 100 yards, no rest. I took this rifle deer hunting shortly after. Got a shot from the same position, sitting.

www.photobucket.com/albums/a200/amflyer/IMG_0644.jpg

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from Amflyer wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

If you're directing that towards me MAT, it's a Winchester M70 featherweight in 30-06. Leupold 2.5-8 scope.

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from Bobby Cat wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

I grew up reading Jack O'Connor, Warren Page et.al. If I recall they would never say a certain gun had a "frightful trigger". I like that.

Isn't their standard of accuracy still valid? A minute of an angle accuracy is great; 1/2 inch is fabulous. And if a cheap gun shot 2" at 100, that'll do.

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from silvertip wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

Take an accurate sporter that shoots well, say an inch or a shade under at 100 yards for three shots. Also find a different load for the same gun that shots less well, say about 1.5 MOA or even 2 MOA.

Shoot both loads from the same rifle from a field position only, say sitting or even offhand. Try a distance from 100 to 200 yards.

You'll be doing really well to tell the difference between the two loads just by looking at the targets.

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from Tim Platt wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

My dad was a DVM who worked at some race tracks and raised race horses. He always bet on the jockey. If Dave was up I have a feeling he could beat most of us on a lesser horse. I still want to see him saddle that Smith & Wesson up.

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from NHshtr wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

Petzal does it again...straight talk, and this from a gun editor of all people! Refreshing.

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from Sarge01 wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

I have owned over 125 to 150 rifles in my lifetime. I can tell you what most every model and caliber, excluding large magnums, rifle from Remington, Winchester, Savage, and Browning and lower end Weatherbys will do. All of the rifles that I have had went bang and would have killed a deer at 100 yards. Most rifles that I bought were bought wholesale kept a month or two, tested and then sold for retail. I think that most hunters must have thought the local Conservation Officer told you the truth when he told you what a particular model and caliber of rifle would do because they were usually eager to buy one of my rifles. I quit that process about 8 years ago but it sure was fun shooting and testing all of those rifles over a period of almost 40 years. I will have to admit there are a few of those rifles that I wish I had now.

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from M.A.T wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

Thanks for the answer Amflyer. And BTW also a very nice buck.

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Rifle talk is my kinda stuff,and I still believe handloads can help bring the best out of most rifles. Unless, of course; One finds that rare tact driver as you mention Dave...

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from Creek Chub wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

DEP,

Excellent post. I also really enjoyed the "range bag" one a few days ago. Could you explain in an upcoming entry about your personal set up for bench rest success?

If you have a favorite rest, where should I put my hands on the rifle, do I support the rifle with my hand or leave the forearm on the bag, etc, etc.

Thank You for your help

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from Mark-1 wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Future's gonna hold big changes in this subject area of rifle accuracy. If my son is any indication the new shooting/hunting generation is more in love with tactical styled semi's than bolt-actions or falling block style single shots.

Indeed, the new shooting generation appears to view my bolt-actions with an assessment probably not unlike WW I vets using a 1903 looked upon their elders using 45-70 Winchester lever-action.

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from fox4 wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Had a Marlin 336 that would put 5 of the Hornaday levelevolution rounds well inside a 5 inch circle at 200 yards. I reasoned that less than 6 inches was sufficient to hit a deer where it matters. 200 yards was also about the maximum distance where the combination was still effective for deer. Accurate rifle, ammo and shooter combination? Probably not accurate compared to a modern tack driver and bench rest acolyte. Accurate enough and effective. I had that vulcan mind meld with the Marlin. I'd take a 200 yard shot with it before a sub MOA anything else.

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from jhjimbo wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Nice going, chief resident rodent.

Amflyer, real nice deer.

After I am sure my rifle is doing it's part on the bench rest, I have started practicing, off-hand @ 100yds, as WAM suggested some months ago. Very eye opening. Tells you just which rifle you need to work with. That to me is where the rubber meets the road.

Fox4, I bought a 336 package a year ago. Scope, sling, ready to go. Got some Leverevolution ammo and
shot the first 3 shots in about a 1" group. Amazing rifle and ammo combination.

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from JCB wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Dave, That is a brutally honest opinion of the state of factory made rifles. It is what we expect from you. JCB

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from deadeyedick wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

Just a word of caution. Have any of you seen the pop-up that comes on your screen when you Log in ?? the one that says that if your register you will win 50.00 My security system grabbed it the first time it showed up and it turns ot it is a back-door virus.

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from dtownley wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

Noticed KK got negatized,
Only since JAN 2009, was it to much
Should! lacked the Vet ting
Anybody can be a crook, inherited is
sufficient
As I have noticed from this melting
pot in Houston and the friends I have
made, that waited and became citizens,
it is a state of mind not all will
acquire or stand for or relish ....
American, look in the mirror even I
hope you see one, some, all, ?

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from kudukid wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

dtownley:

Since 2nd Amendment rights are and have been under attack from the left for at least the past 50 years (probably more but that's about as long as I remember such attacks) this blog is likely to be both. When that misguided left rears its head it will get answered.

That obama abhors the 2nd Amendment is common knowledge to anyone owning a firearm.

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from Hotshot222 wrote 18 weeks 8 hours ago

Nice article, Dave. I like your writing style. As for accuracy, many shooters blame the rifle, when the actual inaccuracy is due to improper bench technique and/or loads that the rifle just doesn't like. Some chambers don't like the off-the-shelf store-bought stuff, and the accuracy provided may be fine for animals, even they don't print out MOA accuracy on paper. Then again, the bullet weight, BC, barrel twist, copper fouling problems, etc., are also other factors to consider.

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from hutter wrote 17 weeks 5 days ago

Most all guns can be made to shoot accurately through some type of manipulation, be handloads or glass bedding or a combination of a thousand different means. I own an old Rem.788 in .243 that will shoot any load I put in it M.O.A.no matter what weight bullet, powder type, case, primer, whatever. To me, THAT is accuracy! It is the only one of a hundred that will never be sold or traded, but passed down.

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from huntslow wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

Six Sigma is a very common technique for minimizing variance in manufacturing. It is all about data and sample size and can uncover many issues to be corrected. The sample size is never 1 is rarely less than 20. It is also possible that an manufacturer would send 1 to 5 guns to several different reviewers. Surprise! The evaluations are all similar but may not represent the "average" gun. That said, many years ago my cousin and I pulled some woodcutters out of a mud hole and they gave us a VZ24 Mauser based rifle. It was a military rifle re-barreled to 30-06 and the stock cut back. It turned out the bore was pitted badly but we cleaned it up and thought it might make a decent short range hog gun. To our surprise, after 3 "fouling" shots it seemed to fill the pitting and the next 5 shots were 2" groups. After that it shot patterns. Since we did not hunt where we got a lot of shots, it was accurate enough

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from coachsjike wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

dave,
have you shot the m&p 10? just curious to see how accurate it is at 100 yds. but thanks for the article.

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from M.A.T wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

Nice group considering the circumstances. And what is rifle/caliber combo?

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from silvertip wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

Amflyer - that is one very fine deer! Your group shot sitting impresses me very much, way much more so than any half inch group shot from the bench. Any deer that you shoot at is in big trouble!

Petzal's post today is a jewel! Hitting the bullseye again and again, he has nailed a number of truths. Based on my recent experiences with new firearms, quality control is very uneven on many formerly solid firearms.

Inconsistent quality is an even bigger gamble than the normal individual variability amongst rifles.

Buy them and try them, but don't spend too much money or effort trying to fix broken ones.

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from FirstBubba wrote 18 weeks 3 days ago

I bought a Parker Hale bolt in .270 Win and topped it with a Leupold 3-9x40 VX II.
That was in 1977 and it still shoots under .5 MOA at 100 yds.
I bought mt wife a No. 1 Ruger in .270 Win. It wears a Redfield 4x.
Under .5 MOA at 100. My 6.8mm Ruger Ranch holds .75 MOA bagged with a 4x Simmons.
I don't own a rifle (deer caliber) that won't shoot under 1 MOA at 100 yards...and I don't do anything "special".
Just lucky, I guess.

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from w2e2b wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

from rackluster wrote 2 days 6 hours ago

here i thought the article was going to be at least partly about the Smith & Wesson Model 10 AR in .308. Instead, other rifles were discussed. I get the author's point but find it odd that the rifle in question was not discussed beyond the opening paragraph. Maybe the reason the above wasn't discussed might be because the author drifted off with the shuck and jive about Obamacare. Notice he didn't elaborate on that either. Is this Field and Stream or a political forum?

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from kudukid wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

Sorry dtownley, that was meant in answer to w2e2b (Sounds like a ham radio call.).

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from Tim Platt wrote 18 weeks 22 hours ago

Did I miss the Jarrett rifles or do they not count? I thought he was your man Dave. I guess we are talking blue collar mass produced rifles. I have always lusted after a 77RSI they are so pretty they couldn't possibly be accurate. Nice plug for Savage. They are the new improved Vanguard. Better, cheaper rifle.

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from Hotshot222 wrote 17 weeks 2 days ago

Then again....accuracy is a relative term. A hunting rifle might be considered accurate with MOA groups...or even less than MOA groups, while a bench-rest rifle in full competition dress might not be considered accurate if groups fall outside of 1s and 2s. Bolt action rifles are generally considered more accurate than semi-auto rifles, but again, this is a generalization and varies from rifle to rifle.

I'm happy with MOA for a hunting rifle with hand loads. I see no reason to go crazy if my rifles don't achieve half-inch groups. Such accuracy is not needed for the animals I hunt, and I don't lose sleep over a half-inch (which is probably due to my need to improve my technique, the wind, variations with reloads, etc., and generally something I can't control anyway. But, that's me.

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from kudukid wrote 18 weeks 1 day ago

rock rat:

Is it too much to ask that the president of the United States know how many states are in the Union?

Should a president of the United States know the difference between the Marine Corps and a marine corpse?

He may or may not be a citizen, but he damn sure is no American!

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from rock rat wrote 18 weeks 2 days ago

Racist much?

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