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Thread: Reasonable accuracy expectations? - (2"-3" group at 100 yards)

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    Default Reasonable accuracy expectations? - (2"-3" group at 100 yards)

    So, I've been wondering about accuracy recently. I'm not the best shot in the world, and growing up my Dad and I would site our rifles in at 100 yards using a tent as a bench rest and not supporting the but with anything other than our shoulders. Basically we sighted in our rifles with the same technique that we used to shoot animals. We were happy with a 3-inch group at 100 yards when we sighted in our rifles, and I always attributed that wide group to our imperfect technique.

    Well, my two hunting rifles that I now own are a 40 year old Remington .270 Model 700 and a 55 year old .308 Winchester Model 88. They have both served me well through the years, but recently I have been sighting them in with a proper bench rest and a rear leather bag and I still am ending up with a 2" to 3" group at 100 yards for both guns. I don't think that my technique is leading to this wide shot radius. Rather, I think it's my guns. Is this sort of accuracy issue something that I should have a quality gunsmith look at, might they be able to recondition a barrel to improve accuracy? Or, if I want better accuracy am I just going to need to purchase a new rifle. Should I be able to expect much better accuracy than that with a new Model 700?

    I also wonder how my ammo affects accuracy. I mostly use Remington Core-Lokt with my .270, and when I've used some other brands of ammo I've gotten an even wider group. So, I do wonder if purchasing a premium ammunition would make a positive difference.

    Any advice? I've kind of assumed that I'm in the market for a new, more accurate, rifle. But, I would be happy if I could improve my bench accuracy with what I have. Of course, my field accuracy is not as good as my bench accuracy, so if a 2.5" group on the bench turns into a 4" group in the field at 100 yards, I start to worry about shooting much further than 200 yards.

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    Hiker,

    I have not had a problem with accuracy with most older rifles. In fact my best 243 was built in the late 60's and fires itty-bitty little groups if I do my part. Most rifles will easily out shoot the shooter. (IMO) Others will definately weigh in on your question, but a few things to consider about your questions.

    What are the condition of your two rifles? Do you know how well they have been maintained over the years? Or even how many rounds have been shot through them? What is the condition of the chamber, rifling, and crown? Has the stock been bedded? I didn't see any mention of your sights, I assume you are using scopes. How old are they and of what quality? Upgrading your scope can make worlds of difference.

    "how my ammo affects accuracy"-- Alot. This is one primary reason many of us load our own. By doing so, you can develop a load for your rifle that you can shoot little holes inside the factory rounds pattern, if you do your part. When I started loading better rounds my shot groups closed up real nice. The key is consistency. Consistency in how you hold the rifle, sight the rifle, breath, pull the trigger and the items you have loaded into the rifle. The more variation you can remove the better your shots.

    "Of course, my field accuracy is not as good as my bench accuracy"-- Then once you get your rifles sighted in, pracctice off the bench-ALOT. Practice in numerous possible field positions, and distances. I like to practice based on the distnace I expect to be able to use a position. The closer the game, the higher position, as the game gets farther away I try to reduce my position to stabilize myself more. Plus the farther game is from you the more time you are likely to have to prepare for the shot (not always of course). Bottom line, I like to practice from the bench to develop my trust in the rifle. Once that confidence is established i want to practice real world positions.

    Just my thoughts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HikerDan View Post
    So, I've been wondering about accuracy recently. I'm not the best shot in the world, and growing up my Dad and I would site our rifles in at 100 yards using a tent as a bench rest and not supporting the but with anything other than our shoulders. Basically we sighted in our rifles with the same technique that we used to shoot animals. We were happy with a 3-inch group at 100 yards when we sighted in our rifles, and I always attributed that wide group to our imperfect technique.

    Well, my two hunting rifles that I now own are a 40 year old Remington .270 Model 700 and a 55 year old .308 Winchester Model 88. They have both served me well through the years, but recently I have been sighting them in with a proper bench rest and a rear leather bag and I still am ending up with a 2" to 3" group at 100 yards for both guns. I don't think that my technique is leading to this wide shot radius. Rather, I think it's my guns. Is this sort of accuracy issue something that I should have a quality gunsmith look at, might they be able to recondition a barrel to improve accuracy? Or, if I want better accuracy am I just going to need to purchase a new rifle. Should I be able to expect much better accuracy than that with a new Model 700?

    I also wonder how my ammo affects accuracy. I mostly use Remington Core-Lokt with my .270, and when I've used some other brands of ammo I've gotten an even wider group. So, I do wonder if purchasing a premium ammunition would make a positive difference.Any advice?

    I've kind of assumed that I'm in the market for a new, more accurate, rifle. But, I would be happy if I could improve my bench accuracy with what I have. Of course, my field accuracy is not as good as my bench accuracy, so if a 2.5" group on the bench turns into a 4" group in the field at 100 yards, I start to worry about shooting much further than 200 yards.
    I suspect there are a number of things to consider. First, a rifle that averages a 2 inch group isn't all that uncommon. There are lots of contributing factors to accuracy, but the only proof of accuracy is a statistically significant sampling size which is often avoided by shooters. Firing two groups of three shots apiece doesn't give a significant sampling.

    Second, there are environmental factors, primarily wind, to consider in testing for accuracy and even at 100 yards they can add to a group's size.

    Thirdly, shooting requires proper technique irrespective if it's offhand or from a benchrest. It's simpler to employ proper technique from a benchrest, but no less critical.

    Fourth, I'd have as much confidence in the accuracy of a 1970s 700 as I would in a newly assembled rifle, but that doesn't mean the rifle doesn't have issues. I'd first check all of the rifle's screws. There are fasteners attaching the barreled action to the stock and having them tight can make an immediate impact on grouping. Scope bases and rings are frequently an issue in a poor shooting rifle. The foremost screw in the scope base on a 700 is often bottomed out into the threads of the barrel tenon. It sometimes proves difficult to determine, but I've seen it so often that I'd treat it as an issue until I knew otherwise. In a 40 year old rifle I'd be immediately suspect of its bedding. Wood stocks that are not properly sealed will often cause easily fixed issues. Of course ammo can produce better or worse accuracy, but I'd check the rifle first. A good way to test a rifle is to have someone of known proficiency test it. Then you can determine if it is the rifle or the technique that needs the most improvement. Pictures or descriptions of the groups you're producing may help in diagnosing the issues.

    My suspicions are that your 700 can be easily corrected to produce very acceptable accuracy.

    I've owned 88s and shot 88s for years and 2 inch groups aren't at all bad for that rifle. Some may do better, but that is about what the design will reasonably allow IME.
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    Both replies are spot on. That model 700 should be capable of really impressing you. I bet you just need to find the ammo she likes. if you know someone who reloads have them spend some time with you and develop the perfect combination for your gun. I have an old model 700 in 25-06 and some ammo just flat out sucks in it. it took me quite awhile to develop good shooting ammo.

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    handload?
    I would give it a shot. it will allow you to fine tune ammo to your rifle

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    If you have a Model 88 that does 2-3" with regularity... I'd be really happy about that. Those rifles just simply didn't have a stellar reputation for accuracy when new and the triggers were often poor enough to cause a group to open up.

    The 700 should be able to do better...but a lot can happen in 40 years. I'd give it a good cleaning, torque the screws and try a couple different brands of ammo and a couple different weights as well. In one that old, I'd give a hard look at copper fouling as well as check the crown.

    That said- a lot has changed since those guns were built. CNC technology mainly, and the materials and tolerances of a new rifle will be light years beyond them. I'm surprised every time I get a new gun...even some of the cheaper ones shoot unbelievably well.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Trigger pull can affect accuracy, so a Timney for the 700 could help; don't know what you could do with the 88 (but I'll take it off your hands!). Hand loads can certainly help with accuracy, if you find someones pet load for your rifle. Did you mention if you were using iron sights or scopes? New optics may be called for or maybe just better mounts/rings. It is always good to look at your bore to see if you may have a lot of fouling, and look at the crowns to see if you might have some irregularities which could throw off accuracy. Bedding your action/free floating your barrel is helpful in some cases. Perhaps your forearms are contacting your barrels..?

    Anyway, minute of moose ain't bad!

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    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    Trigger pull can affect accuracy, so a Timney for the 700 could help; don't know what you could do with the 88 (but I'll take it off your hands!). Hand loads can certainly help with accuracy, if you find someones pet load for your rifle. Did you mention if you were using iron sights or scopes? New optics may be called for or maybe just better mounts/rings. It is always good to look at your bore to see if you may have a lot of fouling, and look at the crowns to see if you might have some irregularities which could throw off accuracy. Bedding your action/free floating your barrel is helpful in some cases. Perhaps your forearms are contacting your barrels..?

    Anyway, minute of moose ain't bad!
    Thanks for the replies guys. If anybody feels like PMing me a recommendation for a good gunsmith who might go through the 700 with me to make sure that everything is in proper order, I would appreciate it. The fact that I am getting similar groups with the Model 88 and the Model 700 sounds like it supports the idea that maybe I can do some maintenance on the 700 to improve it's accuracy.

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    I have a couple rifles I built back in the 1970s and they were becoming much less accurate. I thought it was me until I embarked on some aggressive cleaning. I used a couple anti copper products and some JB bore compound. WOW you have seen all the copper that came out of the bore. Now those old girls are printing tiny groups again.

    If you lived around Homer I would go through that M-700 for you.
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    You've gotten great advice here, I'll add, start with the easy stuff you can do yourself, a very thorough cleaning of the barrel and checking the action and scope screws.

    Premium factory ammo has outshot standard factory ammo in all my rifles. I still can't bear Federal safari grade TSX load with my own hand loads in my .375.

    My .270 shoots 2-3" groups with coreloks, just under an inch with my hand loads..


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    Rifles in that age class, I always do a good bore cleaning with a copper solvent. Amazing how much can build up in 40 years, since Hoppes and most other cleaners over those years weren't so hot at removing it.

    I agree on the 88 (My 358 is doing real good to shoot less than 2" with my best handload), and I agree that the M700 should do better. I boiught my M700 in 7 mag in 1970 as I recall, and I've shot it a heck of a lot. It still breaks 2" at 200 yards with my handloads, if only grouping 3" with factory loads at 200 yards. At 100 yards I expect groups roughly half that size.

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    I didn't see where, or if you mentioned scopes. I run Leupolds on all my hunting rifles. I like plenty of magnification too. If you using an older scope with 'not so good' optics, then you probably won't do too much better than 2-3 inches. I agree with a good bore cleaning and checking screws. Some rifles just don't do as well as others. I often kick myself for selling a Sako .300 mag that punched ragged holes all the time. The group at 100 was often the size of a quarter. Man I miss that rifle. If you have been running the cleaning rod in from the muzzle end, you could have some crown issues also. All that said, 2" groups is o.k. for most hunting rifles. If I'm taking one on a sheep, goat, or some other hunting where the ranges can get long, it has to be a lot better than 2".
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    I suspect (if the screws are tight) that both stocks (700 and 88) have very poor bedding with hot spots that string shots all over . . . wood is alive and it moves around over time.

    88s will shoot as well as a 700 if properly bedded and trigger worked on . . . trouble is there are 1000 good bolt actin gunsmiths to every good m88 smith. Bedding an 88 well is tough boys! That recoil lug (it's in the back on 88s) has got to be perfect and in 100% contact with wood and steel or the action will move shot to shot. It's 90 degrees to the screw which needs 2 small contact patches ether side of it . . . so you have 3 points that all must hit evenly at the same time, one in a different axes plain than the other two.

    The 88 trigger isn't that hard to fix ether but you got to think like a autoloader guy and many bolt action smiths just never bothered to get their head around how to deal with it . . . doesn't help that you can't see the sear when installed ether. No it will never be a 2lb target trigger with no take up or over travel but it can be a very good 3-4lbs so slick and crisp you wont notice the shortcomings.
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    [QUOTE=SmokeRoss;1463467]I didn't see where, or if you mentioned scopes. I run Leupolds on all my hunting rifles. I like plenty of magnification too. If you using an older scope with 'not so good' optics, then you probably won't do too much better than 2-3 inches.QUOTE]
    Very true. Parallax was bad on some older scopes, just not getting a good consistent eye position can get ya all over the paper.
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    HikerDan, let me ask you...when you go hunting, do you hit what you're aiming at? My guess is that you probably do. In other words, don't sweat it.

    I've hunted and shot with guys who do good to hit a pie plate at 100, but put a deer or an elk or a moose out there in front of them at 350 yards and it is dead every time. Maybe the rifle or maybe the shooter but who cares.

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    Check good for copper fouling. Been lots of good guns sold because they were copper fouled and the accuracy dropped off and all they needed was a good cleaning.

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    Work through the various ammo choices.

    I worried that my -06 700 was inaccurate, but a box of discontinued federal I bought off this forum could shoot a 3/4 to 1 inch group. Of five.

    The ammo is nothing special, it just uses a 165 gr gameking that Sierra apparently doesn't make anymore. So once I'm done with the box (which already happened) I guess the rifle will open up to 3 inch groups again.

    And I might have never known if I hadn't bought old, second hand ammo. It really added to the appreciation of the rifle, which was a very thoughtful gift.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cast Iron View Post
    Check good for copper fouling. Been lots of good guns sold because they were copper fouled and the accuracy dropped off and all they needed was a good cleaning.
    I experienced this with a Ruger 77 30-06.....2-3"+ groups with several different ammo types...I spent 1 hour at least with copper solvent. I scrubbed until there was no more hints of blue/green on the patches. Now it shoots 1 to 1.5 " groups.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gbflyer View Post
    HikerDan, let me ask you...when you go hunting, do you hit what you're aiming at? My guess is that you probably do. In other words, don't sweat it.

    I've hunted and shot with guys who do good to hit a pie plate at 100, but put a deer or an elk or a moose out there in front of them at 350 yards and it is dead every time. Maybe the rifle or maybe the shooter but who cares.
    I have missed some shots at 300 yards. Hit a caribou in the front leg and had to chase it. I would like to be able to shoot 300 with confidence. You are correct that anything closer than that is not aroblem

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    Try the easy stuff first. Clean the barrel real good just to see how much copper had accumulated, shoot it, and go from there......
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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