View Full Version : Group size with iron sights?

February 24, 2000, 10:22 PM
OK... this may seem like kind of a dumb question, but I AM curious.

The best I can (so far) group with my AR15 using iron sights at 100 yards is 3.5 to 4 inches. My AR isn't a tricked out target rifle - 16" 'shorty' Frankengun with an Olympic barrel.

Ammo is Federal American Eagle 55 gr. FMJ.

My 'bench rest' is a neatly folded Mark I terrycloth towel. The range usually has a 10-15 MPH crosswind.

Most of the shooters at the range have optics, so I can't compare notes.

Granted, my 48 year old eyes don't see as well as they used to, but given the conditions is that large of a group beyond bad (Turn in your rifle. Now! Report to the cook). Merely awful (We have given the cook your rifle... mind the spuds). Or, approaching respectable (Clean your rifle and head for the mess hall.)

Be honest. I have a thick hide. :)


February 24, 2000, 10:42 PM
I can do sub MOA @100yrds with my DCM AR. on the bench W/.052 front sight and a Jewell trigger and match ammo.

But considering the disadvantages you have: short sight radius, stock front sight ( the stock post looks even fatter with the short sight radius), stock trigger, generic ammo, bad eyes ;) 3" wouldn't be "bad"

If I had a shorty, and wanted to shoot it iron sights, I'd change the front post.
Invest in a trigger if you can afford one.
This won't make it a target gun, but should really help you shrink the group size by close to %50.

February 24, 2000, 11:32 PM
Cliff, your experience with a shorty CAR and inexpensive ammo is not unusual. With cheap ammo like the Norinco .223, using a scoped AR I usually get about 2" groups. These can shrink to .5-1" groups with good handloads or match grade ammo. The sight radius isn't very long on your rifle.

For what it's worth, I am re-reading the Taylor book "The Fighting Rifle". He says that 3" groups are fine for a battle rifle.

February 25, 2000, 03:28 AM
I'm in the same boat and had to get glasses a few yrs ago. But even before that I always used a scope for load development...even on a firearm that was not going to have a scope on it (includes handguns). It's just too hard to rule out another variable that will leave you asking, was it the gun, ammo or me?

3" groups for a battle rifle...nothing wrong with that!!!

NRA Life Member

Tony III
February 25, 2000, 12:10 PM
Forget about trying to shrink that group size down. Instead try to maintain it under more adverse conditions. Shoot faster, weak handed, hopping on one foot ect...

BTW using a similar setup, what groups should one be able to achive from a standing position?

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Where there is no more striving"
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- Buddha 563-483 B.C.


February 25, 2000, 01:46 PM
I can consistently shoot a 0.5 inch group using iron sights offhand at one hundred yards with my box stock Colt preeby SP1. What is wrong with you guys?!! ;)

Ooops, my nose is growing! Help! :eek:

Three inches with iron sights is about all most rifles will do, despite the gunzine experts. Yer doin' fine!

o I raised my hand to eye level, like pointing a finger, and fired. Wild Bill Hickok
o If you have to shoot a man, shoot him in the guts... Wild Bill Hickok
o 45 ACP: Give 'em a new navel! BigG
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February 25, 2000, 03:05 PM
I have to agree with you guys. I have invited quite a few of these super shooters to the range with me and offered to pay all the range fees so I can witness some of these groups being shot in person. You know its amazing how many hours these super shooters must work! They always seem to have to work the next Saturday!

[This message has been edited by CapeFear (edited February 25, 2000).]

Gale McMillan
February 25, 2000, 04:00 PM
There are iron sights and then they are iron sights. A good set of apiture sights can be aligned to less than than.010 at 100 yards the same from shot to shot with a front apiture sight that is .010 larger than the black bull you can tell when the white ring around the black bull is more on one side than the other. I watched Margrett Murdock shoot clean Xs at 300 meters at the world championship's. That meant she had every shot in the 10 ring at 300 meters and the 10 ring was 3 inches in diameter. This was off hand ,kneeling and siting with a 300 meter free rifle.. Don't get me wrong she was the best in the world at the time but don't take any bets that some one may out shoot your scope with irons or you may find your self paying off

Puddle Pirate
February 25, 2000, 04:32 PM
I thought I was a bad shot....

Now I realize I'm horrible! Went to the range today, Ruger 10/22 using iron sights from 50 yds and I can barely keep the shots in a 7" target. I guess it's a good thing I can cook.


February 25, 2000, 04:50 PM
we have given the cook your rifle.. hahahahahahahahahahah.

3 inch groups is about all i can get out of my 223 ak with iron sights and VERY slow fire. It uses buckhorn sights and it has a LOT of trigger creep etc. i'm not sure it will shoot any better with a scope, just let me see farther.. besides "sport utility" rifles don't need scopes.

I can shoot abou a 4 inch group with the mini-14 (all of 5 shots becuase after that it heats up and you start stringing shots)

Always wanted a car-15 "shorty" and I thing 3-4 inches with an 11 inch barrel is pretty DAMN good.


February 25, 2000, 06:08 PM
Wow, none of you guys ( Gale excluded )ever participate in NRA Highpower-Service rifle? That's some real shootin' with iron sighted "battle rifles"
Last month I got beat by a sweet young thing at a DCM shoot, in the blowing snow, and she was using a borrowed AR , any of you guys want to meet her? Bring your wallet ;)
BTW, I am by no stretch of the imagination a "super shooter" but the rifle is and I get lucky every so often.

I was browsing the Bob Jones web site, thinking of getting his hooded apeture rear NM sight with the corrective lens in it, anyone using this?

Michael Carlin
February 25, 2000, 06:31 PM

I bought the Bob Jones hooded rear sight aperture with the diopter. I shot it about two matches last season. The second time out, I shot my personal best with the service rifle, a 732! For you non CMP/NRA shooters that is 91.5% across the NRA 80 shot regional course, 200, 300 and 600 yards. Not a great score but with near fifty year old eyes, we are improving!

The right diopter is important, I am using a +0.50 but your needs may be different.

To Cliff,

Your groups are just fine considering the previously mentioned limitations of the quality of rifle and ammunition, short sight radius etc.

What can be shot? I see a lot of 300 yard prone rapid cleans shot that would measure about 2/3 of a MOA (about 2 inches in diameter of a TEN shot prone rapid fire group with iron sights in 70 seconds starting standing up.

At a VSRT Quantico practicel last year, in front of several usually reliable witnesses (I pay well!) my stock Armalite M15A2NM shot a 98-2 score that fit between the X ring and the edge of the nine ring at 12 o'clock at 300 yards (about 2.25 inches). That is the best I have done so far at 300 with service rifle sights.

Focus your eye on the front sight after you have obtained natural point of aim on the "hold" you are shooting (six o'clock, center, frame, berm etc).

Keep working at it, but your will need to upgrade equipment soon because I think you have about maxed out the combination you describe.

Yours in Marksmanship


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February 25, 2000, 11:40 PM
Thank you for the replies, folks!

Tons of good info, and I appreciate all of you taking the time to share your knowledge and offer suggestions.

I think changing the front sight post will be a good start. With the current post, combined with a short sight radius, I think the front post at 100 yards covers about 4 MOA of target area (does that make sense?)

Mostly, I just need more practice. Better that, than having to give my rifle to the cook. :)


Josh D
February 26, 2000, 01:09 AM
I can sympathize with you Cliff! I just recently have committed myself to using the large aperture on my M4 AR15. I have been using the small one to slightly enhance the sight picture, so I don't even have it sighted in for the large hole yet. Believe me, there is a difference, about 3-4in at 100yds. It has a 14.5 inch barrel, so I have the same frustrating sights that you do. I have decided that I will use it as a quick fire rifle for 100yds or less and quit trying to hit small targets at 300yds. I have shot a 3in group with it from prone, and that is the best I can do. I figured the post covered about 6 inches at 100yds. This barrel is 1-7 twist and I'm using 55grn ammo, but I don't think heavy ammo would help any, considering that ammo isn't the problem.

On the other hand, I can shoot 2.5in groups with my CMP Garand, using remanufactured ammo. Those sights are like a 1X scope! I figure I could hit a man size target at 500yds and beyond with that gun. I would like to get some M72 match, I bet my groups would shrink to at least 2in, maybe less. Can you believe getting near MOA accuracy from a 60 year old semi auto battle rifle? I can definately live with 2.5, but if the match ammo could get me near 1.5 or less, wow.

February 26, 2000, 01:09 AM
My best group (so far) with a stock HK91, using 147gr NATO ball, has been 2.98" (measured with a venier caliper) at 100 meters. I average 3.5~4" though. I know my groups will tighten up with practice. I don't think you have anything to worry about, I hear the cook can't shoot better than that anyway! ;)

Guns cause crime like spoons cause Rosie O'Donnell to be fat!

February 26, 2000, 09:19 AM
i figure if you can hit a coffee can at 100 yards with an AR & iron sights, then the system is within spec.

i don't think a general issue AR is intended to be a squirrel rifle at 100 yards.
A DCM AR upper or maybe a JP upper would bark a few 100 yard bushies!

I have a colt 3x carry handle scope on my bushmaster and it was well worth the $130 i paid for it used.


Long Path
February 27, 2000, 02:16 AM

Given your sights, that ain't bad. Don't discount that American Eagle FMJ-- it's good stuff! Your main problem with that Shorty is the incredibly short sight radius; many silohuette pistols have longer sight radiai. Then there's those really coarse sights. Then there's that stock trigger! Ugh. So, really-- you're doin' pretty well with what'cha got!

February 27, 2000, 03:28 AM
there seems to be a tradeoff between range accuracy and field utility; smaller apertures and front posts may give better groups on a standard target, but larger peeps seem to be all the rage for hunters.

what are the sight dimensions for the M1 and M14 rifles, standard vs NM? I'm curious how useful they'd be in hunting situations.

February 27, 2000, 12:16 PM
This is an interesting thread.

With my BM Shorty AK (14.5" bbl), at 100 yds from the bench, I get usually groups ranging from 1.5" to 2.5". This is a completely stock rifle.

I have been somewhat dissapointed wih the results because I've heard that stock AR's should usually shoot MOA. I guess someone was lying to me. :)

February 27, 2000, 04:45 PM
I was shooting my Norico SKS with iron sights well over 160yards with direct hits to clay disc and not using a bench rest. I was using Wolf ammo in 7.62x39mm (122gr). I know it sounds crazy, but I was hiting them dead on. My friend with a AR could not hit the clay disc, he had groups of [email protected] with iron sights. I first thought, "Man he is a bad shot" but others at the range with there AR's could not hit them either, until someone with a scoped AR shot and hit them dead on also. I do not know if it was my lucky day, but I have experience better groupings with this Chicom SKS than with any of my other Russian, Chicom and my newly acquired Romanian SKS's that shoot grouping of 1-4"@100yards with iron sights. I also tried my 20-rounder fixed magazine yesterday, I did not like it,it either jammed my gun or did not feed well. I believe it is more of a collectors item. So I just installed my old 10rd fixed mag and had no problems. OH, and the temperature was lovely yesterday. We had a temperature of 74`F and no winds. :)