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Old June 2, 2014, 07:05 AM   #1
Magnum Wheel Man
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Where do you guys draw the line on accuracy ??? what is "good enough"

yep... I'm one of "those" guys

always looking for a better group... so it seems like I perpetually sit there with 500-1000 empty cases because I don't want to load up too many, if I could find a more accurate load...

so... my intentions this year, is to come up with a "realistic" expectation of my handloads, & finally load up some of those empty cases... all my scopes have been upgraded & I'm hoping to seriously do some shooting, & load up some ammo this year

so for this discussion, I'm talking short action bolt rifles... I'm hoping I can get about 1/3 MOA groups ( I shoot these rifles regularly in 50 yard intervals between 50 & 300 yards ) I'm hoping for 1" groups off sand bags at 300 yards... cartridges in this group are 17 Fireball, 22 K Hornet, 223, 243, 6.8 SPC, 7 X 57 Mauser, & .308... I'm sure the 17 Fireball & K Hornet may be tougher to get 1" at 300 yards, but the others should be realistic

thoughts ???

... & where do you draw the line on accuracy, & just start loading those cases ???

BTW, after I get the short actions done, I'd like to do the same with my long actions... 25-06, .270, 7mm Magnum, 30-06, 338 Win Mag, 35 Whelan, 375 H&H

I'm really thinking having 500 or 1000 cases, that they should really be 500 or 1000 loaded rounds
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Old June 2, 2014, 08:06 AM   #2
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Old June 2, 2014, 08:32 AM   #3
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the answer is simple.whenever you feel you have the accuracy you need.or when your shooting the best groups your rifles can shoot.

your long action rifles wont do better than 1/2 moa
and your .375 wont do better than 1 moa

i dont know enough about match shooting to tell you exactly what bench rest calibers can do but i suspect 1/3 to 1/4 moa
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Old June 2, 2014, 08:37 AM   #4
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375 is a BOSS rifle... I bet I can do better than 1 MOA
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Old June 2, 2014, 08:51 AM   #5
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Assuming we're talking about hunting rifles: I used to chase bug hole groups with my hunting rifles too but then a point was made by a very good long range shooter at a class I recently attended that really made me think. He said, "If you can shoot 1 MOA and your max range on game is 700 yards, you and your gun are fully capable of taking deer sized game at that distance. Why waste the time shooting off a bench with a rest when you could be practicing actual hunting position shots?". So to answer your question of what I want my rifle to shoot: Right around 1 MOA is fine
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Old June 2, 2014, 08:56 AM   #6
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I have a basic formula, varmint rifles small calibers (204/223/22-250/etc) are required to shoot 1/2" MOA or better.
Larger rifles deer size must shoot 1" MOA (243/25-06/7mm-08/7mm Mag/ etc)
Now if a 243/25-06 are used for varmints with lighter bullets the 1/2" MOA is expected but with sporter weight barrels on these rifles this can be a challenge.
I have a 204 and a 223 that are sub 1/2" rifles and I had a 22-250 that was a solid 3/4" it has departed my gun safe! (presently in the market for another one)
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Old June 2, 2014, 09:05 AM   #7
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Your long action rifles won't do better than 1/2 moa?


The smallest series of meaningful 10-shot groups I know of were shot from a Hart barreled Win. 70 pre-'64 "long action" and all were under 1.5 inches. At 600 yards. They're all 1/4 MOA and under. That same rifle and ammo then put 40 shots in 1.92" at 600; that's well under 1/2 MOA.

Win. 70 long actions shooting 30 caliber belted magnums have been shooting 1/2 MOA at 1000 yards for decades. I've posted one target plot showing two 15-shot groups that are about 4.6" extreme spread. That's a smidgen less than 1/2 MOA at 1000 yards where the target was.

In the mid 1960's, friend built a .375 H&H long range match rifle on Win. 70 "long action" with a Hart barrel and Sierra Bullets got him a select lot of their 300-gr. SBT hunting bullets to shoot in it. With bags under the fore end and stock toe shooting slung up in prone, it tested 4 inches at 600 yards for a 20-shot group; 2/3 MOA. Pretty good considering that 14-pound rifle still had a lot of recoil during barrel time and was hard to shoot accurately off the shoulder.

Go figure how small of groups these would shoot at 100 yards.

The list goes on and on and on ad infinitum..........

Long actions hold epoxy bedding better than short ones; there's more area on their flat surfaces to resist torquing from barrel twist during the bullet's barrel time. Which is why benchresters put long sleeves on short round Rem 722 actions to shoot the tiniest groups.
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Old June 2, 2014, 09:07 AM   #8
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most of my short actions are medium / heavy barrels, & could be varmint rifles, or could be hunted with, but the bulk are solely for me to work on my accuracy shooting... ( I get great enjoyment & relaxation going out by myself to see what I can do ) yep, I'd likely be better off only using one rifle for my casual bench shooting, but I like a variety, & the challenge... ( I also own my own range, so, I can just walk out the door, & I like to be able to match what ever my company is shooting, when I have friends over ) I've just started doing shooting note books on each rifle, where I record the distance, load, the weather, & the scope settings

BTW... I do practice shooting other positions ( at least once a week I'm out in the trees shooting rabbits & red squirrels, trying to get those populations down, so those are shot in hunting situations ) & I do shoot other positions on the range, however for load development, I prefer sand bags on the bench

BTW #2, both the .243, & .270 are both light weight sporters, that just slows things down a bit...
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Old June 2, 2014, 10:35 AM   #9
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No place for me to go beyond 100 yards, so 1 MOA for hunting rifles and .5 MOA for bench shooting.

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Old June 2, 2014, 11:26 AM   #10
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For me, I won't be satisfied until my Garand will puts 8 shots into a single 30 caliber hole, but I won't shoot myself if I don't get that. I have a pal that said "It's OK to strive for perfection, just don't get drunk when you can't reach it"...
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Old June 2, 2014, 12:17 PM   #11
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I think I understand, Magnum W Man. You enjoy trying to get the best accuracy out of your rifles, regardless of what they might be used for. I like that, too. There are more knowledgeable people here than I, but I will express a couple thoughts: 1) For me, bolt actions respond to careful action bedding. I get good results bedding the round actions like Remington 722, 788, and 700 in the conventional way, with barrel floated. 2) The smaller cartridges like the 17s and the K-Hornet will reward careful case preparation. The smaller the case, the more you will get out of benchrest-type case preparation. I came close to the accuracy you want with a Ruger No.3 in .22 Hornet, by sorting cases by weight and uniformity of neck thickness, deburring flash holes, and using only loads with minimum bullet runout (.001" or less) for record shooting.
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Old June 2, 2014, 12:44 PM   #12
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To meet or exceed one's expectations ...

so... my intentions this year, is to come up with a "realistic" expectation of my handloads, & finally load up some of those empty cases...
This has always been my measure of "my" performance. I always go to the range with "Expectations" If I can meet or exceed them, then I can say I got good performance. Of course, this is an evolving process that is always in flux. ...

Last range time, I took rifle that I have been working on and had "reasonable" expectations of what "we" would do. Well, it shot well but fell short of my expectations, so back to the bench we go. ....

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Old June 2, 2014, 12:54 PM   #13
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I'm primarily interested in hunting. I currently only load for my 308's, 300 WSM, and 30-06's. I've loaded for others in the past. If it consistently puts 3 shots under 1 MOA I'm good to go. Not to say I don't want better, and usually find I'm a little better than that. More often than not I'm in the .5-.75 MOA range from a bench, and I usually get 1-2 targets in the .2's or .3's each range trip. But to be honest that is just for bragging.

Get out in the hunting fields and away from a concrete bench with sandbags and it is hard to tell the difference between a .3 MOA rifle and a 1 MOA rifle.
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Old June 2, 2014, 01:05 PM   #14
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I went to public ranges for years in the 1990s without ever seeing anyone who shot the mythical 1" 5 shot group at 100 yards.
Meanwhile on the internet in the late 1990s, if you only got a 1" group, posters would help you solve your problem.
By 2002, when I got my first 1" group, I knew it was possible, as I had seen it done twice at ranges. I saw it once at Tacoma Sportsman and once at Issaquah. Those guys go to the range every day and if someone gets a 1" group it draws a crowd like someone caught a big fish. "How did you do it?"

There are rules of thumb on accuracy:
6" at 100 yards for close range deer hunting
1" at 100 yards for long range rodent hunting
0.25" at 100 yards for national level target shooting

The trouble with those rules is that the average wind speed in the USA is 7.4 mph.
That will cause a 0.72" error at 100 yards with a 308.

The only way I have been able to shoot deer at 500 yards is to shoot them at sun up, when there is no wind.
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Old June 2, 2014, 02:05 PM   #15
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Mikld, the most accurate Garands I know of were rebuilt ones with standard 7.62 NATO chambered barrels from the arsenal in Springfield, MA, air gauged for tight and uniform bores, precision fit parts and receiver's epoxy bedded in good walnut stocks. All done at the USN Small Arms Match Conditioning Unit in San Diego, CA, back in the 1960's. The best of the best when tested from an accuracy cradle at 300 yards would put a clip of the best commercial match ammo into no worse than 2 inches; once in a while close to 1 inch. Once or twice, they put up a temporary 100 yard target and groups in the 1/4 to 1/3 inch range were printed.

Prior to that, the most accurate .30-06 ones they built would shoot commercial match ammo about 1/3 MOA bigger at those ranges.

When one realizes that those "one hole groups" measuring under 1/10th inch at 100 yards happen only if all the variables cancel each other out, or by some fluke of luck everything's perfect, their quest for such things are long term.
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Old June 2, 2014, 02:18 PM   #16
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I like my guns to shoot 1/2 at 100 yd.
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Old June 2, 2014, 02:20 PM   #17
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thanks for all the replies... my problem, is I like reloading, & the thought process behind it, & there are so many variables ( heck, even the primers will make some difference ) & even if all components are the same, slightly varying the COL makes a difference... I just have a hard time drawing a line, & saying that is good enough to load up a bunch of cartridges & move on to the next chambering... so I end up with boxes of 5 of each powder charge or some such variance, & often don't learn enough to decide if I want to load them again, or change something...

I think my problem, is even if I get MOA out of a load, I maybe should move on to the next chambering ( I just hate to say MOA is good enough )

... & BTW... I'm no pro shooter, but if I do everything right, I think I could consistently shoot somewhere between 1/4 & 1/2 MOA if everything is right
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Old June 2, 2014, 02:45 PM   #18
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There was a guy here like that. His hobby was getting the most out of a mostly stock rifle. He would develop loads and do minor tinkering, but no major gunsmithing. I don't know if he even glass bedded them.
When accuracy leveled off and it looked like he was getting its best, he would trade it off and start over with another rifle. Whoever got that 1/4" Savage .22-250 and its load data had a great catch.

Guy No 2 got a first run Ruger 77 .220 Swift that was super accurate. He realized it and quit shooting it at cans and varmints. He entered it in the stock gun class at benchrest matches and won pretty regularly. He made back a multiple of the rifle's cost in prize money and merchandise. He attributed it to the Douglas barrel said to have been used on those first 500 rifles.

Target shooters tend to save barrel life for when it counts, too.
A real "match grade" gun will shoot one of the standard match loads in its caliber well enough to clean its target. So take it out and shoot matches.
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Old June 2, 2014, 02:57 PM   #19
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most all have new barrels, some aftermarket triggers, a lot of them have been bedded with floating barrels... I guess I expect they all aught to shoot reasonably well ( the only one in the group I might be concerned with, was my FIL's heavy barrel Remy 700 in 223, probably 70's vintage ) last I had it out, it shot MOA or a little better... I had it out yesterday, with a new scope & with better glass, still got nothing better than MOA... the barrel has the slower twist, & doesn't have a modern crown ( in fact it's completely flat on the end ) so I'm itching to put something faster than 1 in 14" on it anyway... FIL used to take this out "P dogging", so I know it's got quite a lot of rounds down the barrel... all the others, except my Ruger .243 have all been freshened & had some accurizing work done to them, my .243 probably hasn't had 500 rounds down the barrel, even though it's a stock skeletonized boat paddle composite... ( well it has spalted maple inserts instead of the OD Green original inserts but nothing to enhance the accuracy anyway )
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Old June 2, 2014, 03:07 PM   #20
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I like Clark’s response, very thoughtful.

The basic problem is that my group sizes vary from day to day, even within a string. Just this weekend, at 500 yards, I dropped five points in my first ten shots, and dropped three X’s in my last ten. Heck if I know why I shot a 100-7X last ten shots and only a 95 in the first ten. Same gun, same load, I guess only I was different.

I will develop target loads off the bench with ten shot groups are just about 1 MOA. Then I will shoot them in competition, but it takes a while before I really “trust” that load. I have had loads that should have shot well all the way back, and yet, first time I used them, not so good. No idea why, but I think it was me.

People shoot using 600 lb benches and fifty pounds of sand bags and think they are a great shot. Take away the bench and bags and they won’t do so well. It is a mind blower, I remember taking out my Higgins 30-06 out just after shooting a 100 yard reduced match. I had shot a HM (I think) score, and yet with that lightweight 30-06 and a hasty sling, I had trouble staying within the black from a sitting position. I had shot 1 ¼” groups off the bench: it was not the rifle’s fault. Even if it was a 4 MOA rifle, it would have shot within my hold.

I don’t know where to draw the line. I would hunt with my Marlin 336, it is capable of sub 3 MOA groups, but only with fine tuned handloads. Yet guys with factory ammo that groups within 4 MOA in these things regularly bring home vension with these rifles.

When is enough a enough? When I give up and decide that is all the gun will do, and go play with another toy.
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Old June 2, 2014, 04:22 PM   #21
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You can go nuts working this to the nth degree. Part of the problem is that we humans have more variability in our physical movements/reactions than we like to admit. Two personal experiences with .22 LR:

Long ago at Scout Camp, a fellow Scoutmaster challenged me, and beat me! By gum, that wouldn't stand. He was laughing all through breakfast next morning when I wouldn't touch the coffee. Back to the range, and I topped him. He was still laughing at me, as he really enjoyed his coffee that morning while I suffered.

German club traditional Scheuzenfest a few years back, I shot a 50-3X with open sights on my CZ 452. Haven't come close since. OK, 48-2X, but my point is it was me, not the rifle.

As Tom Hanks said in "A League of Their Own", "If it was easy, everyone would do it." Once you get to about an inch and a half at 100, it gets tough. My best rifle, a Rem 700 VS, shoots just about everything at 7/8", but it puts 40 grain Nosler BT in one hole only with 36.5 grains of TAC. Go figure.
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Old June 2, 2014, 04:37 PM   #22
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In my 70+ years I have never gotten "good enough", and now because of age, my best is going down hill. So what ever "good enough" is I'll never attain it.
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Old June 2, 2014, 05:56 PM   #23
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For big game, I'll never take a shot beyond a range at which 1MOA is meaningful, possibly even 2MOA (all shots reliably within six inches at 300 yards is more than good enough for what I'll be doing). Your particular mileage may vary depending on what you're hunting (target kill area) and where (thick woods vs. open plains).

For vermin, IMO, 1 MOA is mandatory; 0.5MOA would be much better (from a centrefire) with the rider mentioned above.

For target shooting, well, that's when you need to chase the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The feeling I get from reading here and there is that here's where you need to look for a system (rifle, ammo, shooter) that will do 0.3 to 0.25MOA or better, and the further out you shoot, the better you need to be.

Even then, are you shooting for group or shooting for score? If you're shooting for score and all your bullets group in a circle the size of the centre bull, well, you've already reached your MOA goal and you need to start working on accuracy rather than precision. And that's less of a load-dependent variable and more a matter of practice. In which case you need those thousand cases LOADED. You will empty them again soon enough!
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Old June 2, 2014, 06:05 PM   #24
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I don't know where to call it good. Sometimes I know I can squeeze out some more from a rifle and I will piddle with it on and off for nearly a year or sometimes more.

Most all of my rifles are simply for hunting, but that isn't any excuse not to work on accuracy from them. I have realistic expectations of at least 1" groups with most all of them at 100 or even 200 as is the case with a couple of them. But even I know that with a couple maybe even 1" is asking a lot, but I still work on them.

I can say this though, in most cases when I bring a critter to the house, I have been asked many times by friends and family members where I was aiming, and I always say "well right where I hit, of course."

My biggest thing however, is that I have a daughter and grandsons who also shoot my rifles and one is or more is usually hunting with them. I want to know in my heart of hearts that when one of them drops the hammer, and everything has been done right by them, that their shot will be true. I know it will be as I developed the loads and they all shoot to my expectations or they do go to the field.
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Old June 2, 2014, 06:20 PM   #25
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I used to have this same problem (maybe I still do) but I started with a 22-250, by the time I got done jerking around with it, the barrel was shot out. Since then, I have broken my expectations down into groups as others mentioned:

Bolt actions -1/2 moa or better (really looking for 1/4-1/3). But I'm willing to invest in barrels, stocks, bedding etc.

semi-autos- 2-2.5 moa. I have an m1a, and an ar that beat this easily. I soon will have a garand and I have low expectations.

Lever actions- 2.5-3 moa

Single shots-1 moa

The only exception to this is my 10/22 which I rebarreled and restocked. I have high expectations (1/4 moa at 50). But it meets it.

The biggest variable is me by far. I have found the rifles I have invested in are more repeatable and less sensitive to component variables. I have also found that by breaking my expectations up, I am more satisfied with the results even if they are not 1 hole. How many 1 hole rifles can you have? Match the investment w the performance. I wouldn't be happy with a 3k rifle that shot 1/2 moa, but I'd be thrilled with my garand if it shot 1 moa
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