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Old August 20, 2018, 10:41 AM   #1
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Accuracy: bolt vs auto vs lever

So normally, I would agree with the statement that bolt action is more accurate than both auto-loaders and lever action. However, my question is a little more pointed to a single company: Browning. I'm looking at the Browning BLR and BAR. Both rifles tout being "bolt action accurate". Normally, lever action is held back by the ammo needing to be blunt nosed for being safely tube fed. The BLR is mag fed and uses standard (non-rimmed) ammo.

Anybody shoot either of these rifles and can verify that they're almost, if not as accurate as a bolt action?
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Old August 20, 2018, 12:16 PM   #2
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The "bolt action accurate" stuff is marketing. Browning has been marketing based on the name for eons. However, the better accuracy part of the bolt action is mostly about the number of moving parts and relative strength of the action when compared to either a lever or semi-auto.
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Old August 20, 2018, 12:55 PM   #3
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Mechanical accuracy is one thing while the ease with which actual user accuracy is something else.
An accurate platform with a terrible trigger will be harder if not impossible to shoot as accurately as a similarly mechanically accurate rifle that's easier to shoot accurately.
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Old August 20, 2018, 01:28 PM   #4
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I hunted with and reloaded for a BAR in 270 for years. About the best I could do with reloads was about an inch at 100 yards. My bolt actions today shoot better than that.

I killed a lot of deer with that BAR. 130 gr Noslers over IMR 4064.
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Old August 20, 2018, 04:58 PM   #5
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In real world hunting situations any accuracy greater than about 1 MOA is lost. Sure it is nice to own rifles that will do better and given the option most of us will prefer the more accurate rifle. But when forced to shoot from field positions it is rare for a hunter to be able to shoot better than 1 MOA regardless of what the rifle is capable of.

I think it is fair to say that the Browning BAR and BLR are more accurate than most typical semi's and lever guns and can hang with many bolt guns. And while they are probably accurate enough for most hunting, they will never match a comparable bolt gun for either accuracy or reliability.

I can't think of a good reason to own either. They cost more and are heavier to lug around. Their only alleged advantage is faster repeat shots. But that is just not that much of a factor. If "AIMED" repeat shot are the goal there is very little difference in the rate of fire with big game cartridges. In a rifle with little or no recoil like an AR, yes, but not in a rifle with 30-06 levels of recoil. Plus it is almost impossible to operate a lever action prone or in most other supported positions.
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Old August 20, 2018, 05:12 PM   #6
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With BLRs you also have to take into consideration that all BLRs are not created equal (accuracy wise). You have the normal BLR, the BLR Takedown, and the BLR 81. The Takedown model has the inherent problem that you will normally find when two machined pieces are separated and rejoined. The 81 model is inhibited by the barrel band.
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Old August 21, 2018, 04:49 AM   #7
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"Blunt Nose" bullets can be as accurate or better than spritzers. Their ballistic coefficients are lower than pointed and/or boat tail bullets so all other bullet factors being equal, will not shoot as flat.

As far as "accuracy"- rifles, even of the same make and model, will have different preferences. As far as action type and accuracy, bolt guns have the best potential because of more rigid lock up, etc, etc, but all the others, including pump actions, will hold their own as far as practical accuracy in the field.
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Old August 21, 2018, 05:10 AM   #8
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I have the Straight grip BLR (Aluminum reciever) in 308 winchester. With average ammo it shoots 2 in groups at 100 yards. The most accurate ammo i've ever shot out of it was hornadys 150 grain GMX solid copper superformance ammo that shot a 1 in group. The challenge when shooting this rifle is the trigger. It has a slight spongyness in the trigger with a slow feeling break in the trigger. The BLR is a beautiful rifle but most modern bolt actions can shoot circles around it. I honestly bought this rifle just because it looks like the man version of my first gun. A daisy red rider BB gun.
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Old August 21, 2018, 09:28 AM   #9
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I have 3 rifles in .308... a Savage 10T bolt gun, a Springfield M1a, and a Savage 99 lever-action. Using generic Federal Gold Medal Match (FGMM) I get the best accuracy simply because it has a heavy 24" barrel and a 20x scope. I would probably pit the 16" barreled M1a equal to the lever 99, believe it or not, both using receiver peep sights. The Savage has a 20" hunting weight barrel, and the longer sight radius helps.

Comparing apples to apples, that is to say hunting profile rifles, I would say just pick one and work on finding ammunition or a handload it likes; that's assuming you are looking for a hunting rifle. If you are talking theoretical accuracy off a bench, now... that's a different story.

As an aside, I was shooting flat-point cast bullets at roughly 1500fps in the Savage 99 this past weekend... hitting a 20" diameter gong at 600yds, no problem.

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Old August 21, 2018, 10:09 AM   #10
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Let's look at this from a different perspective. The three guns you want to compare are purpose built. I'll agree that when Browning says a lever gun is as accurate as a bolt gun it is marketing. The lever gun is a faster gun when it comes to getting on target and shooting but unless you are highly skilled with it you are not going to shoot tighter groups than a quality long range bolt gun. The Semi's fall in between some where but lean towards bolt gun accuracy. My .308 AR 10 shoots moa easily at 200 yards but cant touch my Thompson/Center .308 at 400 yards while my Model 94 30-30 shoots quite well with Hornady LeverEvolution ammo out to 100 yards but on iron sights I ruin target stands if I try to get out to 200 yards.

All I'm saying is buy the gun that suits your purpose.
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Old August 21, 2018, 10:35 AM   #11
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The lever gun is a faster gun when it comes to getting on target and shooting..
This MAY be true, but it is not always true, depends ENTIRELY on which specific guns you are comparing.

For just one example compare a Remington model 600 or model 7 to an 1886 Winchester (6.5-7lbs vs. 9lbs) Which one of those do you think is faster to get on target and shoot?? I know which one it is, for me, and its not the Winchester...

In skilled hands, lever guns tend to be faster for a SECOND shot, but in un-or underskilled hands, the point is generally moot.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old August 21, 2018, 06:23 PM   #12
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I've often wondered if my M1-A would be as accurate with the gas valve off, acting like a locking bolt gun, as a standard model 70 or 700 bolt action is. Isn't that why Springfield put the gas shut-off valves in the rifles?
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Old August 22, 2018, 11:55 AM   #13
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Isn't that why Springfield put the gas shut-off valves in the rifles?
No, that's not why Springfield put the gas shut off valve in the rifle.

The only thing Springfield "put" in the original M1A is the civilian receiver, which lacks the mounting point for the full auto M14 parts. The rest of the gun was straight GI.

The gas valve (spindle, if I remember right) was used to turn the gas system off for firing rifle grenades. You turned the gas system off, chambered the special (blank) grenade firing cartridge, slipped the rifle grenade over the muzzle, put the butt of the rifle ON THE GROUND, and fired the grenade. Then ejected the fired case, and either fired more grenades or turned the gas system back on and returned the rifle to use with regular ammo.

the fact that you're able to turn the M1A into straight pull spring closed "bolt action" is a plus, not the intended purpose of the gas spindle.

Will it be more accurate, fired that way? I don't know. the harmonics will be different, with certain moving parts not moving, but I can't say if the difference will be a plus, a minus, or even noticeable at all. And, each rifle being an individual, the only way to know what your gun will do is test it, and see.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old August 24, 2018, 04:48 AM   #14
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I've never owned a Browning firearm but this photo shows what my Ruger 44 MAG will do at 100 yards with Hornady ammo. In my opinion, it is a myth that only bolt actions are accurate.


Fire up the grill! Deer hunting IS NOT catch and release.
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Old August 24, 2018, 08:52 AM   #15
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I've got a dozen lever guns, I've had scopes on a couple of them and I would
say 11/2" is the average group. I don't have a BLR at present but have had them
in the past in 243 & 308. They would do 1" groups, a little better than traditional

The only deer rifles that I have had that I couldn't get acceptable accuracy out
of were Remington 742 series rifles. If you get one that does 3" you are lucky.
Bolt guns are easier to get to shoot, with bedding, triggers, ect. I have had BAs
that wouldn't shoot no matter what you did.

When I get a rifle that won't shoot reasonably after doing all I can, I get rid of
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Old August 24, 2018, 10:17 AM   #16
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I have a BLR

It is 0,5 Moa or better first 2-3 shots, with a reddot at 80m!

But the barrel heats up super quickly

Not been impressed by the bar, but a plus is that a lh version is available. But not super reliable or that accurate from what i have seen

Sauer 303 is super impressive accuracy wise

Benelli argo is ak reliable!
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Old August 24, 2018, 10:33 AM   #17
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I own two BLR`s(308) and one BAR (3006). These are hunting rifles and perform quite well in that respect. All will shot 1.5 in and under at 100 yards.I can`t shoot that well offhand so truth be told if these rifle`s could shoot no better that 3 inches at 100 yards they would be adequate for my hunting needs.

Last edited by THE; August 24, 2018 at 12:49 PM.
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Old August 24, 2018, 02:04 PM   #18
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I've sighted-in a lot of rifles over the years and the rifles that surprised me with their accuracy are: My Son-in-law's Rem 742, and a buddy's 760, both in .30-06 and they both shot 1 MOA.

Another rifle that's not mine is a buddy's Model 70 Winchester 30-06, which shot a 1 1/4" horizontal by 1/4" vertical group at 100 yards for me. That is, before I Locktited the bases to the receiver and tightened the screws. Then, it shot 1/4" round groups with a certain batch of handloads.

I'm happy with any hunting rifle that shoots 3/4" diameter groups, but am fortunate that I have a few rifles which shoot better that that. The latest is my newest Rem 700 CDL Stainless Fluted, .270 Win, which keeps my 140 grain Accubond loads under 1/2 Minute at 100 yards. Nobody needs a hunting rifle that shoots so well, but I'm not about to complain.
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Old August 24, 2018, 03:02 PM   #19
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I love to have a BLR. It is lever action, but it is different from almost any other lever guns. It has front rotating lock lugs. That makes the action strong, just like a Mauser type bolt gun. The gear-type action mechanism is unique. I tend to believe it will do better than the BAR in accuracy in general.

If I am choosing these two, I will take the BLR.


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Old August 24, 2018, 09:13 PM   #20
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I have shot sub moa groups with two of my falling block single shot rifles although that's not what most of us think of when referring to lever action rifles.

Ruger #1 in .22 Hornet, 5 shots @ 100 yards.

1885 Winchester branded Miroku low wall in .22 Long Rifle. 5 [email protected] yards.

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Old August 25, 2018, 04:56 AM   #21
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I've rarely gotten into situations where a fast second shot is needed, but last year I could have used a semi-auto when a huge buck appeared crossing a haul road fairly quickly and I forced a quick shot at it. It was just beyond the flat part of the road by the time I grabbed my rifle off the blind's shelf and snapped a shot off as it's front leg went into the ditch. My shot grazed the top of the back and it jumped vertically and spun around in the air, and its path across the road. Distance was only about 120 yards. I might have had another shot if I was using a semi-auto, but was somewhat dumbfounded by its actions and assumed it had a lethal hit. If I'd had a semi-auto, I may have gotten my wits together and fired, but I just sat there waiting for it to fall, not even trying to work the bolt.

As it turned out, I just grazed the top of the back and didn't draw blood, just a small pile of back hair. We followed the trail for almost an hour, but didn't see a drop of blood. Then, lost the trail among others. I still don't know if a semi-auto or lever would have gotten that nice buck, but it's "water over the dam" so to speak.

Later in the season, I jumped a couple of large does in the hardwoods and they ran from left to right. There were so many trees in the way, I didn't bother to shoot at such a low-percentage chance. Would I, or someone else tried a bunch of shots with a semi-auto? Maybe, but it wasn't a good opportunity and would probably have resulted in a wounded deer. I didn't need/want that. Buckshot with a semi-auto shotgun may have been tempting, but we didn't need the meat, since all family freezers were full of moose meat.
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Old August 26, 2018, 04:38 PM   #22
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Henry also makes a lever gun like the BLR, but not as pretty.
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Old August 27, 2018, 11:18 AM   #23
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I have shot sub moa groups with two of my falling block single shot rifles although that's not what most of us think of when referring to lever action rifles.
Nice group!

Of course you are right, she are a somewhat different Lever critter from Bolt or Semi r
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Old September 5, 2018, 08:42 PM   #24
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Have following: M70, M88 & M100

Use the same reload in all, did rework the 88 / 100 regarding bedding.

All three @ prone would group 1.5" in the X-ring @200 yds.

Find a load that works and use it.
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Old September 6, 2018, 06:25 AM   #25
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I've shot a lot of lever guns, when doing gun repair, etc. The problem that I saw with them often is that if a cartridge gets dinged and gets stuck partly in the chamber, it's a real problem, especially in the field. Hopefully, it won't fire that way, but getting it out can be dangerous. Bolt guns have a real advantage in camming power.
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