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Old October 21, 2005, 12:24 PM   #1
Fremmer
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Practical Accuracy for a Hunting Rifle?

I have a new Remington 700 Classic in .308 Winchester. I can shoot a benchrested .75 inch group at 100 yards.

I've been practicing shooting from field positions (off the bench!), and my groups sure do open up from that .75 inch benchrest group . What I'm trying to accomplish is to quickly and reliably hit a target from a field position with reasonable accuracy (within 6 inches or so of the bullseye).

So here's the point: shooting a hunting rifle which produces sub-moa groups from the bench is, for the most part, irrelevant. Don't get me wrong here -- if the rifle shoots 4 to 6 inch groups from the benchrest, I'd be worried. But it seems to me that a hunting rifle which shoots a 2" group from the bench is, as a practical matter, just as effective as a hunting rifle which will shoot a .75" group from the bench. After all, unless you shoot deer/elk from a benchrest (an interesting idea if you have deer wandering onto the shooting range during huntin' season!), those tiny groups don't mean much when you are in the field and have to shoot fairly quickly at an animal and you use a modified rest (such as a tree, log, etc.), while kneeling, or even while standing.

Keep in mind that I know that sub-moa groups are important to the paper-punchers. And I'll admit I'm very happy that my rifle will shoot sub-moa groups from the bench (it will certainly outshoot me -- go Remington!). We all want to shoot an accurate rifle. But I'm talking about using a hunting rifle in hunting conditions, and what amount of practical accuracy a hunter really requires in the field.

The reason I'm raising this issue is that I often see threads from members who are distressed because their hunting rifle won't shoot a sub-moa group from the bench, especially when they see threads from members who shoot tiny groups with a sniper or varmit gun (which often weigh 11 pounds or more, have bipods, and huge scopes). For example: "my hunting gun will 'only' shoot a 1.75 inch group, what should I do...."

My question is this: does a hunter really need sub-moa groups to hunt effectively? What do you think?
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Old October 21, 2005, 12:40 PM   #2
Trip20
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Quote:
My question is this: does a hunter really need sub-moa groups to hunt effectively? What do you think?
I think your groups need to be as big, or smaller than, the vitals of whatever your hunting. You also need to put that group in the vitals.
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Old October 21, 2005, 01:34 PM   #3
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Agree with Trip. But, that group can and will be shrunk with alot of practice and bone on bone contact in your choice of positions.
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Old October 21, 2005, 01:40 PM   #4
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Not really. Sub-MOA is nice, and it can really help on some shots. For instance, if you find that you can shoot, say, a 6-inch group from your preferred field position, and one day you need to take that shot, but your rifle is only a 2 MOA gun, you could very well lose an animal. But for your average hunting situation, I don't think you need a sub-MOA rifle. Not unless you are using a supermagnumized whatever to make 800 yard kills from a benchrest.
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Old October 21, 2005, 02:03 PM   #5
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good practice

Ive found that a good thing to practice on are plate targets set at every hundred yards out to the distance that you are comfortable shooting an animal off of any rest. For me this is 3 hundred yards. I know that whatever the wind and rest at 300 yards with a cold bore I have a very good chance of hitting that plate. I use a 10 power scope though which helps but I try to find objects like logs to shoot off of or shooting sticks or a sitting bipod and just practice works well for me. dont know if that helps but I've had some good luck with it.
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Old October 21, 2005, 02:56 PM   #6
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It seems to me that if you are shooting sub moa groups at 100 yds on a bench, and they open up to 4 to 6 inch groups in field conditions,that if your gruops at the bench were say 4 inches your field conditions may open up to 8 to 10 inches. Same issue if you lengthened your shot to 300 yds your sub moa group may be 6 inches but if you can only benchshoot 4 inch groups you may be way off at 300 yards. In this perspective, the sub moa group is very meaningful and practical. These numbers are not solid ballistic information, just me spouting off my goofy logic and theory
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Old October 21, 2005, 03:18 PM   #7
yorec
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I think we're talking about the definition of Minute of Deer here...

Sure helps when you can shoot your rifle as well off the bench as on, but I don't know anyone who can actually do that unless they are plain bad both places. Reducing your groups when in the field is what practice is all about. I think most folks can do fairly well at the bench on any given day once they've got basics down, a good rifle and ammo, and a clear target down range of the bench... But put the same folks in the feild without a bench in sight and add uncertain weather, wind, a live target, unknown distances, and maybe just a touch of buck fever - and they (don't we all) suddenly find that minute of deer is every bit as challenging as that smallest group ever printed over the bench.
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Old October 21, 2005, 03:48 PM   #8
Jack O'Conner
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I've been taking big game in Wyoming and South Dakota nearly every year since the late 1960's. Not meant to sound like a brag but simply stating my basis of opinion.

A super accurate rifle is a pleasure to own and hunt with. Not all are bolt actions either. But there is more to downing game than shooting tight groups from a concrete bench rest.

A hunter that can quickly get into a makeshift field rest and hit an empty gallon sized paint can at 200 yards each and every single shot will not face an empty freezer. This is a target about 8 inches tall and 7 inches wide. Benchrest is fine for sighting-in but practise from field positions is what consistantly brings home venison.

There are hunters reading this that rarely shoot beyond 75 yards because of terrain and other factors. Perhaps practising at the same target at 100 yards is more benefical and appropriate. But in any case, getting on target quickly and accurately is the goal.

Years ago, Jack O'Connor of OUTDOOR LIFE stated that a rifle which averaged a 3 inch group at 100 yards would work for all the hunting he'd experienced. I agree.
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Old October 23, 2005, 03:09 PM   #9
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+1 Jack Oconnor. The only thing with good groups at the bench it might give you more confidence in the field, but the real test is as J OC says.
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Old October 23, 2005, 06:01 PM   #10
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These are good things to remember, and I'm glad to see 'em stated here.

I've a sporterized Springfield that I probably couldn't get to do better than 1.75" at 100 yards off the bench, but with which I can give you off-hand hits with much more reliably at the same distance on killzone targets than my sub-MOA Sendero, in a timed contest. That Springfield has practical accuracy, whereas the Sendero has inherent accuracy.

The two kinds of accuracy (practical and inherent) are by no means mutually exclusive. For example, I've a friend with a 1963 vintage '94 Winchester that I sighted in after he put a trigger job and receiver ghost ring peep sights on it. From the bench it turns in honest 1.0" to 1.25" groups. (Yeah, I know. It borders on unbelievable, and I'm not actually sure that I would believe it myself, but for the fact that I was the one shooting it, over several groups.) That rifle is as handy as anything to carry, throw up to your shoulder, and toss a round somewhere into a 10" paper plate at 100 from offhand at a slick speed. Truth be told, it could do that job just about as well if it were a 3" rifle. But there's a lot of confidence that comes from knowing what the rifle can do, when you've got an accurate and practical rifle.
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Old October 23, 2005, 07:59 PM   #11
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Coincidently, I've been throwing 165 grainers at various size paper plates for the past few weeks with Wally World $369 Rem. 700 in '06 topped with $200 3-9. Have integrated everything from Workmate bench to bipod to shooting sticks. And yes, when I do my part, the set-up has been good (with Hornady Light Mag BTSP Interlocks) for as little as 1 1/4" groups (of 3) at 100 yards.

Not completely comfortable with the software tables and/or ballistics charts before upcoming hunt in Colorado, I did some serious 300 yard shooting on 9" paper plates last Friday. Best "rest" under the conditions at hunting lease involved my standing next to and over pickup tool box, using sleeping bag below foreend and folded pillow below stock. I was quite satisfied after getting the "poor man's combo" tweaked to consistently produce 3-shot groups of around 4" centered on the plates at 300 yards. Now if I can just figger out a way to get that "rest" up on the side of the mountain ...
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Old October 23, 2005, 11:29 PM   #12
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practical or not, I dont want a rifle that wont shoot one inch or better at 100 yards with the right load, three shots a minumim, five shots better. A rifle like that gives me the confidence to use it...

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Old October 24, 2005, 07:17 AM   #13
Art Eatman
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Back almost 60 years ago, scopes were very primitive as compared to today. More people "made do" with iron sights than is common today.

In those heyday days of "The Rifleman's Rifle", the pre-'64 Model 70, I read of no opinions that didn't believe that any rifle which could give five-shot groups of two MOA wasn't a "good hunting rifle". All the writers seemed to believe that two MOA was plenty good for Bambi. I grant that there were only four gunzines: The American Rifleman, Outdoor Life, Field & Stream and Sports Afield. We didn't have nearly so many "experts" as we do today.

Sure, I work to have my deer rifles at or within one MOA. But I don't worry about it from one year to the next.Two MOA will put you into the heart/lungs at out to 200 yards with no difficulty. Most deer are killed within 100 yards, anyway, plus the usual allowance for extra yards for bragging...

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Old October 24, 2005, 01:17 PM   #14
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Ah but Art, wasnt it one of those old timers who said that the only interesting rifle is an accurate one?

Me Im freeaking out because my supercool 1960s Husqvana gave me one measly five shot 1/2 inch group out of 100 rounds (different loads)...its got one last chance!

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Old October 24, 2005, 04:14 PM   #15
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coincidentally, that husqi has only been shot when i'm not in the lane to WA's left showering him with brass from my spray and pray.

methinks that maybe if WA shot his other swedes without my assisting efforts, he wouldnt be flinching and jerking those triggers so luckily.

p.s. what'd you score in the offhand clay contest again? who outshot you?



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Old October 24, 2005, 04:34 PM   #16
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p.s. what'd you score in the offhand clay contest again? who outshot you?
I hit one clay out of 5 offhand at 100 yardss OK....think you can do it wise guy

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Old October 24, 2005, 05:11 PM   #17
Art Eatman
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"Ah but Art, wasnt it one of those old timers who said that the only interesting rifle is an accurate one?"

Yup. Whelen, wasn't it?

Anyhow, "out of the box" back then on average wasn't as good as what today's higher-quality tooling can provide. To a great extent, "accurate" meant "custom". As example, in the late 1940s my uncle built a Varminter, a Gebby barrel on a Model 98 action and regularly got 5-shot 1/2 MOA.

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Old October 24, 2005, 07:19 PM   #18
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Fremmer,
I have just started hunting mule deer out West over the past 5 years. I found out the hard way this year that it is imparitive that one knows how one shoots at 200 and 300yds - maybe 400 and 500yds for Elk. There is no linear correlation between bench and free-standing (which I'd recommend since rests aren't a given). So I'd suggest confirm your gun's accuracy by bench at 300yds according to the kill zone of your animal. Then I'd spend some serious time plinking away and understanding if wind or uphill/downhill trajectories significantly affect your ammo.
I hope that helps.
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Old October 24, 2005, 07:26 PM   #19
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Mr. AverageShooter buys a new huntin' rifle. Shoots it from a nice comfortable benchrest at the range. Uh-oh --- it "only" groups 2" from the rest. Mr. AverageShooter says, hey, this gun ain't accurate; Fremmer's hunting rifle shoots a .75" group, and I won't be able to make an accurate shot at an animal unless my new rifle shoots a sub-moa group like Fremmer's rifle can.

So Mr. AverageShooter has the Smith lighten the trigger; bed the action; and free-float the barrel. Maybe he even has a new custom barrel installed. Naturally, this costs buckets of cash and takes a long time. Finally, the rifle is ready from the Smith, and Mr. AverageShooter takes it to the range for another benchrest test. Now, we'll say the rifle shoots a .5" group from the benchrest.

That November, Mr. NewShooter is hunting deer. He's inside a rickety old tree stand. The wind is blowing at 15 miles per hour and the stand is not-so-gently swaying in the wind. Plus, it is cold, he is tired from waking up at 3:00 a.m, and the edge of the stand doesn't seem to provide much of a rest for the rifle (sound familiar, anyone?). He spots a doe at 100 (or 200, or you pick the distance) yards standing still, but looking warily around, about to trot away. He takes the shot.

Maybe he hits the doe (well enough to kill and not just wound), or maybe he misses it (I realize that the definition of "average" in AverageShooter's name makes a difference). But I still think the result is almost always gonna be the same regardless of whether the rifle shoots a 2" group or a .75" group.

Help me out here, everyone. I must be missing the main point of the counter-argument, and I do want to learn.

Last edited by Fremmer; October 24, 2005 at 08:12 PM.
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Old October 24, 2005, 08:47 PM   #20
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"But I still think the result is almost always gonna be the same regardless of whether the rifle shoots a 2" group or a .75" group."

Yep, for Mr. AverageShooter, that's probably the case. But ... with all that wobble, insteada missin' by "only" 2 feet, he misses by 5 ...
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Old October 25, 2005, 09:46 AM   #21
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A guy with a two-MOA rifle who practices under field conditions with adversity in mind is gonna do better than the 1/2-MOA guy who sights in and calls it "ready to go hunting".

2ยข

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Old October 26, 2005, 04:13 AM   #22
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I recently purchased a Mossberg ATR 100 in .270 that will shoot factory ammo (Federal Fusion 130 grain bullets) into 1.5" or so off the bench for 5 shots. I'm quite happy with that accuracy, since this rifle is only for hunting and not benchrest competitions.

I mounted a Leupold Vari-X III 3.5-10 on it that I already had sitting around and I can now hit paper plates quickly and unsupported easily out past the distances I will be hunting. All my shooting with the rifle has been with the scope on 6x, since that is what I have it set on while hunting.

Will I be happy if, after I buy dies and start reloading for it, my groups shrink to sub-MOA? Sure I will. Would that group size shrinkage really matter to my hunting? Nope.

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Old October 29, 2005, 08:51 PM   #23
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Sub-MOA on a bench means the rifle will shoot. Sight in 3" high at 100 yards with the ammo you intend to use for hunting. Then practice off hand, at 100 yards, shooting at a 9" pie plate until you can hit it every time. When you can, you're ready to hunt. Just remember that when hunting you should use any available rest(no stock on a bare rock or log if you can avoid it, though) and only shoot off hand when you absolutely have to.
Now, stand up and hold your arm out from the shoulder. Try and hold your hand still. You can't, can you? Hunting accuracy is about controlling your own wobble. Upper body tone will help too.
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Old October 30, 2005, 08:09 AM   #24
Jack O'Conner
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Calculating group size is a something I've been thinking about for a couple days.

Let's say a rifle shoots its first bullet to the right of center 1 inch and second bullet 1 inch left of center. Next 3 shots hit inside these bounds with a couple holes touching each other. We'd call this a 2 inch group. But at any given shot, this rifle placed a bullet within 1 inch of the center of the aim point.

This grouping describes our old Marlin 30-30 carbine affectionately named Meatmaker. On any given day or time it can be relied on to place its hard hitting flatnose bullets into an approximate 2 inch circle at 100 yards. Certainly not a target rifle but Marlin designed it for hunting the forests and foothills. For these conditions, a 2 inch group is entirely satisfactory.

Let's say the target is a prairie dog at 225 yards. Now we need a rifle which can place 5 shots into a 1 inch or smaller circle at 100 yards. Using the same calculations, this means the rifle must place its bullets within .5 inch of each other each and every shot.

Lets say the target is a full grown bull elk at 225 yards. Now we need a rifle which can place 5 shots into a 3 to 4 inch or smaller circle at 100 yards. Using the same calculations, this means the rifle must place its bullets within 1.5 to 2 inches of each other each and every shot. This would describe most off the shelf hunting rifles that are fired once a year by so-called average hunters.
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Old November 3, 2005, 02:38 PM   #25
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Interesting thread. Speaking for myself, I would rather have a rifle that is consistantly a 1.5" grouper that one that is an inconsistant .375" grouper.

Case in point. I have a very nice FN Mauser that was built into a very accurate 30-06 sporter. Groups ran in the .375" range when I did my part using my handloads. Only one problem. With the rifle sighted in 3" high at 100 yards, when the barrel cooled the next very tight groups might be 6" off to one side or the other. Figuring it was the scope, I tried another. Same thing. After the barrel cooled, it shot someplace else. The gun maker rebedded this rifle three times, to no avail. When I moved to Arizona, I rebedded it twice myself. Nothing seemed to work. Groups were alway very small, but the point of impact constantly changed. I got a good deal on a McMillan synthetic stock and glass bedded the rifle into it. The rifle is still quite accurate, but now groups run from .75" to 1.25", and the point of aim is consistant.

Regarding practice for the hunt. The area I usually try for to hunt elk has some areas of open spaces that are unbelievably large. Once the shooting starts on opening day, the elk move out into the middle of these huge meadows, well out of range of most rifles. Seriously, the meadow where I shot my last elk is about two miles wide and maybe seven miles long. Those elk can see you coming from a long way off. My shot was at 530 yards, laser measured. It was an easy shot really. early in the morningn, no wind as the inversion hadn't broken yet, perfect conditons. I made the shot from a comfortable sitting position with a .300 Win. mag. and a 200 gr. Speer Hot-core. The Cow elk dropped on the spot.
So, why was this shot so easy? Lots of practice. I started about three month before the hunt shooting at targets from 100 to 500 meters. The 100 meter shots were done offhand and sitting. the longer shots fron kneeling and sitting. I consider myself fortunate that my range has a silhouette range to 500 meters. I usually would shoot something else from the bench, but then before quitting for the day, I'd fire at least one group from field postions ay one of the various ranges. Maybe 100 meters one day and 400 meters the next time. Or 500, depending on myframe of mind and how tired I might be from the other shooting. The more tired, the farther out I'd shoot. It paid off very well that day in that open meadow when I got my elk.
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