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Old February 8, 2013, 02:59 PM   #1
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What is an inaccurate gun?

I saw in another thread someone talking about how accurate their gun was and it got me wondering. What makes a gun inaccurate? Isn't a gun just a straight tube that a bullet travels through and will go where ever that tube is pointed? Wouldn't most accuracy problems be attributed to the person or the ammo and not the gun itself? What malfunction or design flaw makes a gun inaccurate?
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Old February 8, 2013, 03:06 PM   #2
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Plenty of things can make a gun inaccurate.

Barrel dimensions inconsistent, bolt face not square, action not square, improperly torqued barrel, improper bedding/pressure points, recoil lugs not square or bedded properly, actions screws improperly torqued, barrel crown imperfections... and probably a bunch more, that's just off the top of my head.

No, there's a lot more to it than the shooter and ammo.
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Old February 8, 2013, 03:47 PM   #3
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You also have to ask, "Inaccurate compared to what?" Other guns of the same type? The same gun, before and after "tuning" it (glass-bedding the action, slicking up the trigger, etc.)?

Accuracy means one thing to a benchrest shooter who's measuring it in fractions of MOA (minute of angle)... but it'll mean something else to a person whose only rifle is a Mini-14, and who has just shot a decent bolt-action for the first time: "Wow! the holes are all in the middle of the pie plate!" Some gun designs are inherently more accurate than others.
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Old February 8, 2013, 03:55 PM   #4
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Inappropiate ammunition is also a factor. As an example, many 9MM Parabellums do not fire lead bullets well due to the rate of twist and depth of lands and grooves in their barrels, however my Browning Hi-Power DOES. Back in the days when revolvers were standard in Bullseye shooting the Colt Officer's Model had a good reputation for accuracy because Colt use a barrel that optimized shooting with lead bullets, likewise the Python has a good reputation for using that same rate of twist and depth of lands and grooves. The 38 Super had a reputation for so-so accuracy until someone found that problem was due to setting the headspace on the mouth of the case instead of the rim. A number of commercial rifle rounds have fallen by the wayside due to a poor choice in the rate of twist or using bullets that were not right.
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Old February 8, 2013, 04:00 PM   #5
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Old February 8, 2013, 04:29 PM   #6
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Accuracy is a relative thing. An inaccurate rifle is usually one that does not perform to the level the owner expects. What is acceptable is sometimes determined by the application. A deer hunting rifle may need to be only capable of 2 to 3 MOA to be effective for the task. A target rifle needs to be sub-MOA. Mr Pfleuger posted many contributing factors but also consider that even with the best parts and the finest smith's talents there are no guarantees that every one will give stellar performance. The operator also needs to know their limits before questioning the ability of the rifle.
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Old February 8, 2013, 04:54 PM   #7
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Wouldn't most accuracy problems be attributed to the person or the ammo and not the gun itself?
In actuality, . . . YES. Unless you have exceptional shooting skills, . . . the gun will outshoot the shooter every time.

The other posts pretty much summed up the "problems" that can occur, . . . but by and large, again, the gun will outshoot the shooter.

Most of the time, when there is a problem, . . . it is either something that can be fixed quickly, easily, and with little expense (loose sight, wrong rings on scope, etc), . . . OR, . . . big money and investment.

Tweaking will help many guns shoot better, . . . but not until the shooter can outshoot the gun.

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Old February 8, 2013, 07:19 PM   #8
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It depends

When I'm shooting better than the guys on either side of me at the range, I consider my gun pretty accurate. When they're shooting better than me, I ask them what kind of ammo they're using.
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Old February 8, 2013, 08:57 PM   #9
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It depends on what one thinks is accurate . There was a time and really not to long ago that if I could hit a soda can at 100yds I was happy and thought the gun was very accurate . Now if I can't put the bullet in the hole at the top of the can I'm not happy and if the gun is not capable of doing that ,It's not all that accurate either .
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Old February 9, 2013, 01:00 AM   #10
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You're quite right about the shooter being the most common cause of inaccuracy. When working with sights, scopes, etc. a common question customers often ask is what kind of accuracy I will guarantee they will get. My reply is always the same. I won't guarantee they can keep it within 3 feet of the bullseye. I guarantee what I can do with it.
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Old February 9, 2013, 01:17 AM   #11
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Another thing that can contribute to inaccuracy is the stiffness of the barrel, and how consistently it vibrates while having a bullet travel through it. Bullets of different weight will change how the barrel vibrates, and since the bullet is turning while traveling an inconsistency in it's weight distribution could alter the vibration of the barrel, ultimately changing the point of impact. The relationship between the weapons sighting apparatus and the barrel can, and does shift over time, resulting in inconsistency. A trigger's over travel can alter the position of the rifle before the bullet exists the barrel. The amount of time it takes for the bullet to exit the barrel after the trigger breaks, if not consistent can lead to inaccuracy.

Generally weapons are pretty consistent. Ammunition cannot always be perfectly consistent, but their inconsistencies are usually negligible for the common shooter.

By far the most inconsistent element of shooting is the shooter. A person physically cannot hold something exactly the same way every time they pick it up. Granted those that practice lots can get pretty close, but EXACTLY the same is impossible. Muscles fatigue over time and differing resistance to recoil can affect accuracy. Pretty much every interaction you have with your weapon can adversely affect accuracy.

This is why I love shooting, there is so much going on from physics to chemistry and biology. There's always something to learn, to understand, and to conquer in the quest for better performance.

So I suppose an inaccurate gun is an inconsistent gun.
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Old February 9, 2013, 06:50 PM   #12
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^^^^^^^^^^^^ Well said.

Shooting and getting the most accuracy out of a rifle is all about variation and how to minimize the effects of variation on the whole process. It is a constant evolution.

Keeping a log book and copious notes is a great way to begin identifying the variables you want to minimize.

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Old February 9, 2013, 06:55 PM   #13
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It's true that the average shooter can easily be the biggest variable but its not that hard to out-shoot a lot of common, every day rifles.

For instance, I know that I can shoot at least around 1/2 MOA at 100 with a scoped rifle pretty regularly. I've shot quite a few rifles that I couldn't get under an inch. Could be ammo, probably is to some extent, but its not me. I could put the gun down and pick up my .204 and put 3 in a 1/2 inch.

The better the gun, the more likely that the shooter is the variable. A really good gun in a machine rest could shoot 1" groups at 500 yards or more. Very few shooters could do double that size with the same exact gun/ammo.
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Old February 9, 2013, 08:53 PM   #14
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I had an incident a year or so ago when a guy shooting the same rifle that I have ( Remington 700P, .308 ), was just having a terrible time getting his rifle to shoot.

He asked me about my load and at the time I was shooting either 168 gr. Noslers or 175 gr SMK. My rifle was shooting pretty good so I gave him five or so of my loads.

He was unable to get a good zero with his factory load going all over the place.

I asked him to shoot all five and see where they went. He got a decent group.

I tried five of his factory rounds and my rifle threw them all over. At least a 4 inch group at 100 yards.

I decided to work up a handload with 150 gr. bullets and just had to give it up. My rifle won't group them worth a hoot. Makes little difference whether I push them fast or slow. It is just a no go for me.

I just stay away from the 150 gr bullets unless I am loading for the M1A.

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Old February 9, 2013, 09:35 PM   #15
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At a gun Shop in Aiken SC....

Years ago I traveled all over South Carolina and on occasions had spare time between appointments I would visit gun shops all over South Carolina. I was single and had a decent job that provided a company car and expense account. That was in my rich single days before wife and child.

One gun shop in Aiken South Carolina was a wonder to walk in. Racks and racks on all the walls with rifles from current models to collector rifles. When I visited this gun shop I would determine if the owner's wife was there If she was I would leave and hope she was not there when I returned. She was a hard trader and held the price to the shops favor.

I always enjoyed talking with the owner/gun smith. When his wife was away he and I would chat about hobby. He told me of one of his customers of his would seek the most inaccurate rifle that was in the shop. The customer would buy the rifle and keep it for a time and later bring it back to trade for another rifle of simular reputation of being inaccurate. His hobby was to take the challenge of finding the various modifications and hand loads that would turn that rifle into a extremely accurate rifle.

I would love to do the same today. Thinking about it I imagine that this would not be an expensive hobby especially in turning the rifle back in for another challenge and essentially only needing a few common components.

My opinion of accuracy is more strict than others. I was at a public range the day before deer season began many years ago. One guy that was at the rage used a news paper double page spread open at about 30 yards for his target. He was able to hit his "target" a couple of times and declared it accurate enough for him. His expectation was broader than what I expect. I just do not want to be any where near where that guy hunts.

Oh I married have wife and child and am no longer "rich" except in having a wonderful family. The Lord has blessed me.

Lemmon from Rural South Carolina.
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Old February 9, 2013, 11:51 PM   #16
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The shooter is what makes the gun inaccurate.

The second is the rifle, and third the ammo.
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Old February 10, 2013, 12:12 AM   #17
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What is an inaccurate gun?

Any damn gun that doesn't put rounds where I was pointing!

Truly, lots of reasons, but the shooter is usually the cause. I have enough of my own tales of this, but I have one stark example some years ago that was painful to an unknown gentleman next to me at the range, and painfully funny to me.

He had a new HK USP 9mm he was firing for the first time. He took his position, ran his target roughly ten yards down range, and started measured, slow, aimed fire. He ran the target back forward. Dear heavens. The holes were all over the place, with some off the target altogether. New target, same result. At this point, for my own reasons, I had gone back to the store's counter and was talking to the salesman, when my neighbor came out looking a bit nonplussed. "There's something wrong with this gun." Conversation interrupted, I followed them both back to the lanes.

After some discussion, the salesman examined one of his targets, penciled an X on the lower right corner, and sent the target down range. Pow-pow-pow-pow-pow-pow-pow. Target back, one very tight group right around that penciled X. "Sir? There's nothing wrong with this pistol."


Lest I be accused of Schadenfreude, I've sprayed rifle rounds at a target only to have a buddy promptly throw a tight group down range out of the same rifle. Damn.
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Old February 10, 2013, 08:10 AM   #18
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Forgive me if I didn't see it already mentioned,,,,,

Damage to the crown of the muzzle can also throw accuracy out the window.

It's (damage) not all that difficut to do either.
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Old February 10, 2013, 01:19 PM   #19
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JMO but an inaccurate gun would be as follows...

Bolt Gun: 2+MOA @ 100m
Semi auto 3+MOA @ 100m
Pistol 4+MOA @ 50m

This would be assuming the gun is on a machine rest, or the shooter is perfect.
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Old February 14, 2013, 01:19 AM   #20
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i had an rg .22 with a 1 inch "or so" barrel it would shoot at 8ft about 6 in low and to the left, it had a number of problems besides being a compressed **** like the cylinder wasent properly timed the barrel shroud was loose and the crown was beyond knicked, i dissesembled it an threw it away, it had seen better days
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Old February 14, 2013, 01:18 PM   #21
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It's not always the shooter, sometimes it is the gun.
I had a Colt AR-15 that was hopeless. Nothing I did ever improved it. My choice was replace the barrel or sell the gun. I sold it because Colt branded AR-15's were going for a premiume. Since then I have built or bought several AR-15's and they all shot great. So, yes, some guns are dudes.
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Old February 14, 2013, 02:05 PM   #22
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I owned a KG-9 if any of you recall those things. Mine was semiautomatic, sorta

It was a small 9mm handgun that looked like a submachinegun and it fired from an open bolt using straight blow-back as a method of function.

The bolt was heavy in order to slow down the rate of fire in the full auto versions and this bolt was the same. You have to pull the bolt to the rear where it locks back and is waiting for you to pull the trigger to make it fire. the problem is when you pull the trigger that big heavy bolt is slammed forward and before it can actually shoot it has already thrown your aim way off target.

I also fired a Mac-10 in .45 in semi-auto mode trying to hit a brick. I learned that if I aimed high enough over the brick the bolt movement would put the round on target. It took about 8 shots to get that one down but with practice I might could have gotten good at it.
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Old February 14, 2013, 05:47 PM   #23
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I had a scope come undone inside th etube so every time I fired it the optic shifted making my target look like swiss cheese. A new scope fixed it right up.
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Old February 15, 2013, 07:45 PM   #24
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Maybe guns get a lot blame for inaccuracy and the shooter not enough - but when I shoot a real acccurate rifle I notice immediately. It's much easier to work on your technique when misses aren't random.
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Old February 18, 2013, 01:34 AM   #25
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We also have to agree that "accuracy" is the size of the group, not the location. I've seen a lot of inquiries about getting adjustable sights for an "inaccurate" handgun, when the problem is the group printing out of the bull.
Accuracy should be linked to the expected target. I shoot at round, 8" targets, so any gun that can hit within 4" of the point of aim out to about 50 yards is accurate enough. If my target was only 4", then I'd have to either have a more accurate gun, or confine my shooting to 25 yards.
One rule of thumb for handgun shooting is, the target is in range when it appears to be the same width as the front sight. Even a gun that's only "minute of pie plate" accurate will suffice under those circumstances.
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