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Old November 11, 2008, 10:01 PM   #1
Gamehunter59
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Bolt Action vs Semi Auto

Is it true that bolt actions are more accurate than semi autos?
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Old November 11, 2008, 10:07 PM   #2
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generally speaking yes. It's not necessarily a hard and fast rule.
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Old November 11, 2008, 10:16 PM   #3
Ricky
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Bolt vs Semi

It has been my experience that bolts are indeed more accurate. I beleve the theory is that bolt actions having a solid lock-up is the advantage.
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Old November 11, 2008, 10:19 PM   #4
KY Jim
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It does depend on the caliber and type of Semi-auto you are talking about. If you are talking Hunting rifles my experience has been that a few semis will shoot groups like a bolt gun but they are a very small minority, as a general rule semi-auto hunting rifles won't group as well as MOST boltguns. I started with a Remington Model Four 30-06, a very pretty rifle and shot about normal for a gas operated Semi, less then 2 inch groups @ 100 yds. I now use a Winchester Model 70 Featherweight same caliber and it cuts bullet holes. I doubt the Remington Semi would ever match that but, then I doubt any Gas operated semi in this caliber would. And non of the Gas operated semi-autos will take the pressures the Bolt Action will, they are not made too.
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Old November 11, 2008, 11:10 PM   #5
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So why do you ask?
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Old November 12, 2008, 12:13 AM   #6
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All else being equal, bolts are indeed more accurate than semis, much to the dismay of the AR folks.

Not only that, but semis need industry-sized ammo to feed reliably.

Bolt ammo, once fire-formed to my rifle's chamber, doesn't need to be full-length resized. It is custom brass at that point. This means even MORE accuracy.

Semis have other advantages, lower recoil, quicker follow-up, if needed.
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Old November 12, 2008, 01:26 AM   #7
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Quote:
All else being equal, bolts are indeed more accurate than semis, much to the dismay of the AR folks.
What do you base this statement on? It is easy to just pick one or the other but in all reality some semis are more accurate and some bolts are more accurate. Les Baer guarantees his AR for 1/2 MOA out of the box , not many bolt guns claim that, not many bolt guns can do that without quite alot of work. If you take a bolt action and true the bolt, bed the stock, swap the trigger... you will usually have a very accurate firearm but with out that you are most likely to get a 1+ MOA gun out of the box the same as you would with an AR.
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Old November 12, 2008, 06:26 AM   #8
Brad Clodfelter
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I'll shed some light on the subject hopefully without making anyone upset. Technically speaking the bolt action rifles are more accurate due to the bolt being locked down when being fired. This allows for more consistency from shot to shot. The chamber on a bolt action is usually a tighter chamber that will allow the gun to be more accurate as well. Semi-autos need a more looser chamber in order to feed and funtion properly. Now, some semi-auto guns will shoot as well as some bolt actions. I'll give you an example. The Browning Bar(Boss) will give a lot of bolt actions all they want and then some. I know because I used to own one that would shoot better than most bolt actions I owned. But getting back to my point when you look at all the world records that are either current or being broken, I would say it's safe to say that it's a bolt action rifle that has the title. Now some will say that those are custom guns and that's not the same as production guns. I say that it only helps to see the truth that bolt actions dominate when it comes to true accuracy. You won't see a custom AR or custom semi-auto anything competing with a custom Nesika or Panda action bolt gun. The reason is simple. They can't shoot with these guns no matter how you fix one up.

Last edited by Brad Clodfelter; November 12, 2008 at 07:07 AM.
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Old November 12, 2008, 07:46 AM   #9
Demaiter
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Well I think that about settled it.
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Old November 12, 2008, 08:27 AM   #10
Brad Clodfelter
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Thanks.

And for those interested in seeing what those current records are can look here.

http://nbrsa.org/nbrsa-records
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Old November 12, 2008, 06:14 PM   #11
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So why do you ask?

Well i don't have very much experience with rifles, i only shoot shotguns for the most part and i have been invited to go on a bear hunting trip and need to buy a big game rifle. i know i put rimfire in my tags too, that was my mistake.
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Old November 12, 2008, 06:32 PM   #12
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For hunting purposes I don't think one is necessarily more accurate over another. I don't believe that a rifle has to shoot clover leaf patterns at 300 yards to justify its worthiness to use...especially on big game like you're talking.

One the other hand, the number of bolt action rifles available outweigh semi-autos for hunting game that you speak.

In the case of target shooting, my personal opinion is that a bolt action generally has more precision than a semi-auto. However, today's gun designs, quality of metal/craftsmanship, etc. has really narrowed the gap on this premise.

Quote:
All else being equal, bolts are indeed more accurate than semis, much to the dismay of the AR folks.
Depending on your terms "all else being equal", I think you're sadly mistaken. I'm no AR fan, but they have been starting to make their way in on rifle matches around here. And quite a few Rem700 owners have gone home empty handed lately due to ARs.
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Old November 12, 2008, 07:06 PM   #13
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It's HIGHLY doubtful that accuracy is going to be an issue on a bear hunt where ranges are most often under 100 yards and the vitals area is fairly large.. Selecting an appropriate cartridge in a rifle you are comfortable firing would be a much greater concern to me. If you are anticipating an angry bear the next concern would be dealing with a possible misfeed and the speed of a follow up shot. I'd look at big bore levers or even a slug gun. Not that you asked for that unsolicited advice, so excuse me for being so forward.
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Old November 12, 2008, 07:40 PM   #14
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I think it is more expensive to make a semi-auto accurate than a bolt action. There are more parts in semi-auto, more springs, gas blocks, gas rods, etc.

Barrels are essentially the same.

You can put a single stage match trigger in a AR, just like a bolt gun.

My bull barrel AR with cheap trigger is as accurate as my dad's 700 VLS in .22-250. Taking our time, we can make ragged holes with either.
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Old November 12, 2008, 08:08 PM   #15
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If you're looking for ultimate, pure mechanical accuracy, and money is no object, a single-shot bolt action (solid bottomed receiver for rigidity) custom rifle is the name of the game.

Practically speaking, semi-automatic rifles can be made more than accurate enough for the 75% of shooting applications that don't involve measuring group sizes with calipers.
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Old November 12, 2008, 08:17 PM   #16
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Quote:
I think it is more expensive to make a semi-auto accurate than a bolt action. There are more parts in semi-auto, more springs, gas blocks, gas rods, etc.
The extra parts like springs and gas blocks don't affect your accuracy, it is more your bolt lock up, barrel, and trigger that are going to have a significant impact on accuracy. (Trigger is debatable but I've seldom seen anyone shoot a gun with a crappy trigger as well as with a smooth trigger)
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Old November 12, 2008, 10:49 PM   #17
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Another .02$

One thing overlooked in this discussion (so far) is the effect of vibration. Rifles vibrate when fired, and part (in fact a large part) of the "accuracy" of a rifle is the consistancy of the vibration.

Semi auto rifles in general are not as easily made consistant as bolt actions. There are many factors involved, and some of them are more important than others. Bolt actions with one peice stocks start out ahead of rifles with two piece stocks. The more pieces involved, the more complex the factors.

Much is made of the accuracy of current generation AR rifles, "proving" the superiority of the auto loader, but no one seem to remember that the original AR guns were only fair shooters accuracy wise. This is because of the barrel, and everything that touches it.

Bolt gun shooters have known for a long time that a free floated barrel is easiest to get good results with. Properly fitted stocks can also get good results, but what is proper for each individual rifle (and it varies) is not easily achieved on a production line. And fitted stocks are susceptable to change.

Many semi auto designs had gas cylinders, pistons, op rods and springs and forestocks that are attached to or vibrate against the barrels. Getting all these things to be consistant is difficult, if not impossible with some designs, and not really easy with many others.

Original AR rifles, with their handguards attaching to the barrel assy were not able to take full advantage of the direct gas impingment systems greatest advantage, (no moving parts affecting the barrel during firing) because everything that touches the barrel has an effect. "Free floating" AR barrels and other changes made in the more recent design overhauls have created a formerly very rare beast, a very accurate production line capable semi auto.

While individual autoloaders of any particular design may be as, or even more accurate than any particular bolt gun, taken as a class, general overall accuracy is greater with bolt guns than with auto loaders.
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Old November 12, 2008, 10:55 PM   #18
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If it is mostly for hunting and you like semi's, get yourself a Browning BAR. They are nice hunting rifles. 308 will do.
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Old November 12, 2008, 10:58 PM   #19
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Military sniper units still use bolt actions almost universally don't they?

I just saw two of the U.S. militarys make some just sick shots (shooter and spotter) on a tv program.
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