The Elusive Quarter-Inch Group

In the course of our now-historic gun test (July 2014 issue) one of our wilder-eyed editors asked me about doing a feature on quarter-minute-of-angle rifles. His reasoning was that since factory rifles now routinely shoot sub-MOA groups and often half-minute groups, it was time to address the next step, which is five rounds in .250-inch.

Gnashing my teeth thoughtfully, I replied that if the First Procrastinator himself asked me to go shoot a quarter-minute group, I did not own a rifle that could do it. And that’s the truth. I have three rifles that might have been capable of it at one time—a .223, .22/250, and .220 Swift, all heavy-barrel guns. However, these have worked over prairie-dog towns a couple of times too often, and now, at best, put five shots in .300 to .400.

Quarter-inch groups in a non-benchrest rifle are still quite rare. In fact, when I look back over the last 10 years of shooting, I can recall only a very few rifles that would do it as a regular thing. One was an AR that belongs to Jay Jarrett of Jarrett Rifles, and was built by him. A second was a Thompson/Center Dimension with the .223 barrel in place. The third was a Thompson/Center Scimitar, a .308 tactical rifle that was built in their custom shop, and which turned in the smallest group I believe I’ve ever fired—something like .0006-inch. The fourth was a Savage LRPV in .223. Those are the only ones I can bring to mind out of a whole lot of shooting.

If you’re looking for a quarter-minute rifle, you run into the fact that you yourself have to be a quarter-minute shooter, and there are not a lot of people who can turn in .250 groups. It takes a particular kind of ability of a very high order. And if that weren’t enough, you have virtually no margin for error, anywhere. Your ammo has to be perfect. Your judgment of the wind has to be perfect. If anything is even minutely wrong, you can kiss .250 good-bye.

Thus it is that we have broken the 1.00 barrier, and the .500 barrier will probably fall eventually, but I have my doubts about .250. Eventually we may have rifles that are capable of that kind of accuracy, but the shooters who can milk them for all they’re worth will still be in very short supply.