View Full Version : How Tight of a Group with Irons?

GI Sandv
August 22, 2012, 10:18 AM
Just got a new AR and am sticking with irons right now. I've got the cheap Mag-Pull ones which have received good reviews by those who use them. I'm working on iron sight marksmanship for the time being, then will consider scope/red-dot options down the road.

I wasn't able to completely zero the rifle yesterday before I had to leave, and I ran into a few mechanical issues with the bolt which hindered progress. But I'm heading back out today or tomorrow. For those who routinely shoot with iron sights, what types of groups can you reliably get at 100 yards? Not having a scope, I'm not expecting sub-moa or anything, although I believe my barrel would provide that given adequate marksmanship.


August 22, 2012, 11:12 AM
I'm a high power shooter, we use irons and 1 MOA groups are not uncommon.

I shot this setting rapid, (using a sling). This was with my White Oak service rifle.

I didn't measure it but judging by the scoring rings on the 600 yard target reduced to 100 yards, its a hair under 1 inch.

What it takes is practice. Natural Point of Aim, Good stock weld keeping your head straight, relaxed position. Looking at the front sight, and most of all TRIGGER CONTROL.

Want to learn to shoot the AR with irons go to the CMP book store and get the AMU's "Service Rifle Guilde" $6.95.


August 22, 2012, 12:48 PM
For the casual shooter that doesn't get as much time to practice as work and kids allow, I think 3" is decent 5-shot group from a prone position @ 100yds.

August 22, 2012, 04:57 PM
Well, if I recall correctly, in the Army your rifle was zeroed if you could make a three shot group fit inside a 4 cm diameter circle at 25 meters. That's firing from the prone position with a sandbag or three for support.

Roughly speaking, that translates into 16 cm at 100 m which is a tad over 6". Call it 6" at 100 yards.

I'd say this is the absolute minimum you should be able to achieve.

You'll do better with a bench, a sling, good ammunition, ammunition matched to the rifle, a rifle that isn't worn out etc.

Another way of looking at it is that you ought to be able to hit an adversary at 300 m. Say a person is 12" wide more or less. If you can't make a 4" group at 100 m, you aren't going to hit a person at 300 m.

If I'm hunting, I figure if I can't hit a paper plate at a given distance, while I am in a given position with that weapon and ammunition, I don't need to be shooting at an animal under those conditions. For me and an AR-15 with iron sights, that's usually means within 100 m to 200 m depending on what position I am in and if I can lean against something.

I shoot better with a sling, but I don't use one.

August 22, 2012, 05:10 PM
Assuming that's true, 16 cm is 6.3 inches at 100 yards.

That ain't gonna work. The average shoulder width of a man is 19 inches.

Thats the size of the E-silhouette. 19X40. 19/6.3 is less then 300 yards.

The "effective range" of the M16a1 was 460, to do that you'd have to keep it under 4 inches.

But I was never one to accept "accurate enough".

August 22, 2012, 05:45 PM
I was shooting under 2'' @100yrds with my 69gr sierra handloads out of my del-ton echo 316/moe and a magpul buis. Sitting at a table using the rifle case as a rest. I was shooting close to that with factory ammo but the handloads tightened it up.

GI Sandv
August 22, 2012, 05:49 PM
Well, I can't say that I was shooting within one inch today at the range. For the most part, my groups were within 4", with a few aberrations in both directions. I'm not sure about the Mag-Pul MBUS sights. They seem okay, but I'd like to compare them to some other higher quality sights. It's been awhile since I fired a service M4 with irons, so I can't compare the sight picture I've got right now with that. But I'm determined to work with what I've got anyway.

Unfortunately, it started raining fifteen to twenty minutes into my range time. At 100 yards, I can't imagine this makes enough difference to blame my 4" groups on it. To make matters worse, a few times I had a straight line up and down, and a few others I had a straight line left to right. I'm shooting bench with sand bags, so this is purely me pulling my shots or adjusting sight picture.

On the upside, I discovered how much cheaper ammo is at Fleet Farm than at Gander Mountain, and I also got a 15-45x60 spotting scope, so I didn't have to run down to the 100yard line every few minutes to check on my shots. That was a big plus, although I'm still waiting for the wife to comment on it. But I'll still call it a good day.

August 22, 2012, 06:07 PM
You'll do better with a bench, a sling, good ammunition, ammunition matched to the rifle, a rifle that isn't worn out etc. All true, but once you get your mechanical woes cured, my humble advice is to get off that bench and get slung up just as soon as you get sighted in. To me, that's where the real enjoyment of shooting begins.

I don't remember if you've said anywhere what ammo you're using or even if you're reloading yet. But, I kinda s'pose one should try a couple different brands & weights. For the record, all of my 5.56's and .223's do fantastic with the Prvi Partisan 55gr, and except for better consistency- 26.5 gr of Varget, Prvi Partisan brass, Win SRP's, and 55gr V-Max bullets seem to duplicate that load.

I also don't know about those sights, only having experience with GI type A1, A2, and A3 types. Do your sights give you the most sight radius possible? Also, do you have the ability to go with a small/slim front sight post? I don't know off hand what the width of a National Match front sight post is, but it is a WORLD of difference in both appearance and effect from the standard GI width post.

Another tip you may already be doing is to "Dot The I" with your target shooting. Esp with a GI width front post- it does little good to cover half your target with the post. If shooting round or square targets, place the top of the post to where it just meets, or just below and creating a small white line between the post and target (your choice). Aim and sight here, and adjust the sights so your impact zone is of course the X-ring. I can't believe all the years the Army wanted me to cover up half the target with a post! Once I learned the dot-the-I method, qualifying on sil. targets wasn't nearly as much work.

For a starter, and off the bench at sight in- try for 2". Then, maybe a few to study what you're doing and what you can improve upon. Then, get off that bench and into some sort of position. Expect your groups to open up some in prone and sitting, and quite a bit in standing. Also, you might find yourself adjusting your rear sight between positions. Prone is what I call my zero, in sitting, I lower the rear sight one click. In standing, I lower it one more click. And when I finish up on prone rapid- I go back up two clicks. Your results may vary, and learning that is all part of the fun.

Once you get down to 2" or less in prone and sitting, start fine tuning everything from breathing, trigger pull, sling tension, body position, follow-through & trigger release (at least slow enough to hear and feel your sear reset), and calling your shots. If you can get these down to 1.5" - 1" then you'll know what you're capable of and can start with things like standing, reading the wind, and impressing new shooters who have no idea rifles can be shot from anywhere other than a bench.

Oh, and expect to go slow. I guess there may be a few natural born shooters, but the rest of us had to work at the whole thing for a while. In shooting, throwing money at your rifle/setup does not make one an istant success. Besides, who would want to learn everything all at once anyway?

And lastly, never forget to keep it fun and stay safe.

August 22, 2012, 06:10 PM
Do you have aperture sights on your AR or the standard ghost ring?
Do you use a sling and jacket or just a sling?

What sort of group can you shoot offhand at 100yards with a shooting sling?
What about without a sling?

August 22, 2012, 07:23 PM
Do you have aperture sights on your AR or the standard ghost ring?
Do you use a sling and jacket or just a sling?

What sort of group can you shoot offhand at 100yards with a shooting sling?
What about without a sling?

The rear sight is a peep, with a post front. Typical CMP Legal Service Rifle Set up.

I use a 1907 style leather sling and a cloth (the CMP) jacket.

We wont talk about Off hand. First off I don't use a sling off hand. (not legal in CMP & NRA matches).

Off hand, regardless of rifle is the individual, not the gun. It takes hours upon hours of dry firing and practice. I'm too old and lazy to put the effort any more since I retired from the National Guard.

Actually now I'm more into CMP Vintage Miliary Rifle shooting though I still dig out my ARs and M1A just to make sure I can still shoot them.

But in reality Off Hand is my weak point, but its me, not any of the rifles I have.

August 22, 2012, 07:38 PM
Yes off hand is not particularly easy at all.
Just curious whats considered good grouping for Joe blogs with him AR15.

Not what top shooters with jackets shoot (which I believe can be around 2moa).

August 22, 2012, 08:03 PM
You shoot 2 MOA off hand, you're gonna win just about ever off hand stage out there. This year I think the records was 200-14x at 200 yards. The 10 - X ring is 3.35 MOA. So the winner shot 20 rounds in the 10 ring, 14 of which were X's.

What this means is if you can keep all the bullets in the black, thats 6.35 MOA, chances are you're gonna win most any Off Hand stage.

It stands to reason that most of the black is in the 10-X ring, so you're looking at a score in the high 90s.

Matches are won or lost in the off hand stage, this is where the most of us peons blow it. Our egos want to see good scores/groups so we don't shoot off hand enough.

August 22, 2012, 08:15 PM
Thanks, your a wealth of knowledge, I enjoy reading your posts.
If it wasn't for you more experienced shooters these forums wouldn't be as good as they are.

What is CMP, NRA, Service rifle, Vintage military?
I'd love to buy myself an old Lee Enfield and do some sort of competitive shooting but have no idea what is out there and how to do it.

I don't know anyone who is big into shooting and I don't have any ranges or shooting clubs near so it's great to hear from people like you.

August 22, 2012, 09:04 PM
What is CMP, NRA, Service rifle, Vintage military?

In 1903 Pres Teddy Roosevelt talked Congress into creating the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice. The Army was task with conducting the National Matches (What we call the Camp Perry NMs today).

The NBPRF was administered by the DCM (Division of Civilian Marksmanship).

The NRA was brought on board to assist with running some of these matches. The NRA is a bit more liberal with their gun rules as the CMP. Where the two have conflicts in their rules, the CMP takes presidence.

The army was also tasked by Congress to conduct Small Arms Firing Clinics where as the Army would provide marksmanship training to American Citizens.

Congress also had the Army sell surplus military rifles to civilians.

The DCM was funded by congress (or should I say underfunded), they did a good job but didn't have the staff to keep up with the amount of Civilian Shooters involved.

In 1996 this program was turned over to Civilian Management and the name was changed to the CMP or Civilian Marksmanship Program. The CMP was tasked with the same mission as the DCM, but now receives no funding from the tax payers. All funding for the CMP comes from the sales of surplus rifles and equipment.

This actually gave the CMP much more funding I was told that if the CMP ran out of rifles today, they have the funds to keep their programs going indefinitely.

Now; The Service Rifle is a rifle as close to the actual rifles used by our military today taking into account that civilians are limited by federal firearms laws. What you see as far as ARs are concerned is the semi version of the M16A2.

The CMP vintage rifles are limited to service rifles used up and through the Korean war. You have basically 4 categories, As issued Garands, as issued M1/1911a1s. The M in GSM stands for all other bolt action military rifles, the M118, the krags, Mauser's, Infields, Mosins, etc etc., again as issued.

The forth category is the M1 Carbine. In the last few years, do to the popularity of the Ar's, AKs SKS, M1A,s etc etc they have added the modern military category.

A recent addition or 6th category is the Vintage Sniper Match, a team match of two people. The rifles are limited to Korean war and earlier as-issued vintage military sniper rifles.

Besides the National Matches, the CMP has their Eastern Games (NC) and Western Games (Ariz). Last year the added CMP games in OK, and next year (2013) they are suppose to have games in Minn and Wyoming.

Besides the games listed above, there are several CMP affiliated clubs through out the country that conduct matches and clinics. The CMP started a program where they take experienced rifle instructors and run them through at CMP-GSM Master Instructor Course. Clubs use these MIs to conduct matches through out the country. (This also included the Sporting Rifle or off the shelf 22 matches).

To keep with the original spirit of Teddy Roosevelt and Congress cost of these programs is within any one's reach. On can take a $100 Mosin, and cheap surplus ammunition and be competitive.

Last summer I put on a clinic/match. The guy who won, bought a Mosin and some surplus ammo the night before. The first time he fired it was in the clinic.

The cost of the clinics are quite reasonable. I normally charge about $5 for the clinics I put on, some times (like last Saturday) I just forgot to collect the entry fees. I'm more interested in getting people into the CMP programs.

This is an extremely brief explanation of the program, I highly recommend people go to the CMP Website and get a full understanding of their program. Also you can down load their rule book. Check out their bookstore. Extremely great information at low cost.


August 23, 2012, 10:23 AM
Just a note about offhand shooting and groups. The concept of shooting as small a group as possible is a holdover from bench work like sighting in and load testing. It really has little or no application to a shooter who is trying for the best score possible. It is, as explained by Kraig, true that a very good score may well be also a smallish group.....but it will probably not be nearly as small as fired from a bench rest. Conversely, it is certainly possible to shoot a "smallish" group on a target and not do well because the group isn't in the right place.
Added note: I once lost a contest involving muzzleloaders even though I shot the smallest group in the competition (about the size of a quarter at 100 yards) because of exactly the reason mentioned above. The winner's group was in the right place.

August 23, 2012, 03:50 PM

Assuming that's true, 16 cm is 6.3 inches at 100 yards.

That ain't gonna work. The average shoulder width of a man is 19 inches.

Thats the size of the E-silhouette. 19X40. 19/6.3 is less then 300 yards.

The "effective range" of the M16a1 was 460, to do that you'd have to keep it under 4 inches.

But I was never one to accept "accurate enough".

Well 6.3 (at 100 M) x 3 = 18.9 at 300 m, so you should have a chance of hitting a stationary man-sized target at 300 m. Again, if I recall correctly, you had to hit 26 out of 40 total exposures to qualify and I don't think but three or four of them were 300 m targets. Of course they didn't stay up forever either.

I think the 460 m figure for the M16A1 was the distance at which the round would puncture some standard NATO metal plate - if you hit it. I always figured the M16 and M4 series rifles to be 300 m rifles; meaning that they were flat shooting enough that if they were properly zerored you ought to hit a man-sized target out to 300 m if you aimed at the middle of the target. And the round moved quick enough that if the wind and so forth wasn't too horrible, it wouldn't make much difference.

So that's what I always thought the logic of the M16 and M4 rifle design, zero and quailfication standards were. Someone who barely met the standard and firing from a fighting position or the prone ought to be able to at least scare the hell out of someone standing 300 m away.

August 23, 2012, 06:02 PM
I can't even see a black bulls eye at 100 yards.

August 23, 2012, 07:27 PM
I can't even see a black bulls eye at 100 yards.

You're suppose to be looking at the front sight anyway.