At what distance do you test accuracy?


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MovedWest
December 8, 2010, 04:59 AM
I want to develop a new load for the 44 magnum. I've worked up many loads in the past, but I've never wondered about what distance to test their accuracy at.

I was thumbing through the my Lyman manual and was looking at the testing specs, noting the most accurate loads. I wondered when I saw the barrel length of their test "gun" was 4" what distance they test at. Then I wondered what distances YOU guys test at?

I'm most interested in 44 magnum loads for the lower end of the magnum velocities. Accuracy and lower velocity with a 210gr JHP are my focus. Not LOW velocity, just the lower end of the magnum range. TIA.

-MW

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Remo-99
December 8, 2010, 05:53 AM
For handguns, 25yds is a standard, but if you really wanna put a weapon to the test 50yds will sort out a true shooter, silluoette shooters go for +100yds though.
For SD, odds are it will be within 7yds where practice and training become more effective than 50yd accuracy.

RandyP
December 8, 2010, 09:55 AM
As others have posted, sight it in at the range you most often plan on using it.

'My' needs are mostly range plinking (indoor) and self defense so 25 feet and closer is where my paper zombies most often hang.

ChefJeff1
December 8, 2010, 10:10 AM
I was wondering the exact thing while working on some new loads for 357 and 30-30. I test fired a bunch of loads at really close range to try to eliminate shooter error. I figure my errors are amplified the further away I shoot. I wanted to test the load, not my skills. I'm talking 15 yards or so. For rifle, especially scoped, it might be a little too close. 25 yards might be better. Once I get a really group up close, I'll shoot further and see how it goes. Then I"ll start practicing with it.

243winxb
December 8, 2010, 10:15 AM
50 yards. A scoped firearm helps fine tune loads off the bench. A Ransom Rest would be nice. http://www.ransomrest.com/images/ransom.png

SlamFire1
December 8, 2010, 10:33 AM
I shoot handguns offhand. I can tell if a load is accurate enough at 25 yards. If I get a group like this at 25 yards I am very happy and everything is good to go.

I will move my gong out to 50 yards and see how well I can hit. I cannot recall a load that shot well at 25 yard not shooting well at 50. However I have been told by Bullseye shooters that you can get good groups at 25 but not so good at 50. I cannot hold as hard as those guys, so if I get 50% or better offhand hits on a 12 inch target at 50 yards with irons, that is good enough for me.



http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/Targets/BauerWadcutter.jpg

rcmodel
December 8, 2010, 01:09 PM
Accuracy testing loads.

Off a benchrest.
25 or 50 yards for handgun.
100 or 200 for rifle.

I would not be able to tell anything at all with handgun loads at 7 yards or less, except that the rounds all went off.

With an accurate rifle, if I get 3/4" groups at 100 yards, what would I get at 25 yards that would tell me anything?
Even a 100% increase in group size is still gonna be one ragged hole at 25 yards.

rc

armoredman
December 8, 2010, 01:24 PM
Ok, I'm the kook - I usually do load testing at 10 yards, standing, no sand bags or Ransom Rest for me.

YellowCake
December 8, 2010, 05:06 PM
I tested a 7.5" SBH .44 magnum at 15 yards standing. I can tell a good amount of difference, but since I'm new this SA I couldn't tell it poor groupings were cause by how I used the gun or really bad loads. The benches at my range are only 6 inches long so hopefully i can fit a sandbag or two to make a good rest 2 25 yards.

bds
December 8, 2010, 05:50 PM
Most of my match targets are staged at 7-15 yards and some at 20 yards+.

I usually start off hand at 7 yards to do sights/POA/POI verification and do accuracy tests at 10-15 yards.

If I get nice tight consistent 5-round shot groups, I will do accuracy testing at 20 yards.

I need to use sand bag/pistol rest for 25 yards+ as there's too much variation from off-hand shooting off hand for me.

I also do double-tap testing at 7-15 yards as I take more time with 20 yard targets.

sig220mw
December 8, 2010, 06:08 PM
I always start at 7 yards (we are talking handguns right?). I will find my load at this range then I stretch it out to 15 yards and shoot at that range for several sessions to get myself familiar with the load and build up my confidence in it and my ability to use it. Then I start stretching it out to 25 and then to 50 and then longer shots in the woods.

I do it off hand only. I've tried shooting off of rests with my handguns and I just don't shoot well that way. I can shoot rifles off of rests but not handguns. Go figure.

snuffy
December 8, 2010, 06:11 PM
Auto pistol, 25 yards.
revolvers, 25 yds. then @ 50 yds.
Scoped revolvers, or single shot contenders, 50 yds., then out to 100.
Rifles with irons, 50 yards, closer will tell you only that the shells all fired.
Rifles with scopes, 100-200 yds.

All of these are with at LEAST a sandbag rest on a solid bench. I don't care who you are, off hand is no way to test accuracy OR group size. (Accuracy means hitting the center of the bull. Group size means how small the group is not how close it is to the bullseye).

If I were half my 64 years, and no arthritis, AND I had all the stuff that goes with a proper prone shooting, I would consider prone shooting as a test of rifle accuracy. Oh and good vision also!:scrutiny::uhoh: I did a LOT of prone shooting @ 600 yds, did quite well too. But that was 38 years ago. I'd need a wench to get me off the ground now!:what:

SlamFire1
December 8, 2010, 08:39 PM
I don't care who you are, off hand is no way to test accuracy OR group size. (Accuracy means hitting the center of the bull.

Maybe that is why I consider handguns and accuracy to be mutually exclusive. :D

Still, God gave us feet to stand on, and therefore it must be Godís will for us to shoot standing.


I'd need a wench to get me off the ground now!

What kind of wench? Crescent Wench?, Blond or Brunette? :D:D

bds
December 8, 2010, 09:59 PM
I don't care who you are, off hand is no way to test accuracy OR group size.
Well, they don't allow pistol rests or sand bags at USPSA/IDPA matches. :D

For me to effectively test my loads for match shooting, I must shoot them off hand. I believe shooting from rest/sand bags will test "absolute technical" accuracy, but not actual practical/tactical shooting accuracy. The pure empirical accuracy attained from rest/sand bag shooting is nice to show to your friends, but it's shot groups off hand (my hands) that will impress me.

If you must fire in SD/HD at realistic distances of 7-10 yards under pressure from quick draw, how do you KNOW that you'll hit your intended target? Only tactical quick draw and off hand shot groups will give you that confirmation.

OK, for OP - for me, 7-15 yards is good distance to test tactical off hand accuracy. :D 25 yards+ for testing pistol rest/sand bag accuracy.

1SOW
December 8, 2010, 10:00 PM
With 9mm--light loads: I shoot two-hand offhand usually at 20yds or less (like bds).

I test for POI at 25yds, resting my wrist-arms on sandbags with a small but visible target {and a 3" 8X scope :-)}. I shoot very slow with the best trigger control I can manage that day. For me, If I get good consistent hits (within 1"), it's good-to-go at 5-20yds offhand.

I don't have a 50yd pistol range easily available, but I would expect little drop.

I've never tested the pistol itself-no ransom rest

snuffy
December 8, 2010, 10:42 PM
Okay, lets look at this from a different perspective, consistency. How could you know your rounds are consistent if shooting off hand? Was that one out of the group caused by a twitch or bad grip, or was it an indication of bad ammo?

Of course there's no rests in the various combat-like scenarios. But you have to know your ammo will consistently shoot to point of aim EVERY time. Rest testing will prove that, especially if using a chronograph in conjunction to verify consistent velocity.

Once, I was at a IPSC match, where the target was at 50 yards. Nobody knew the bullets would drop 14 inches from the 7 yards most of the targets were at. Because nobody had bothered to try them at 50 yards.

"absolute technical" accuracy, but not actual practical/tactical shooting accuracy. The pure empirical accuracy attained from rest/sand bag shooting is nice to show to your friends, but it's shot groups off hand (my hands) that will impress me.

You have to have that "absolute technical" accuracy FIRST. Otherwise you'll just say I'm in bad form for awful hand shooting today, when it was actually bad ammo. Do you try a new gun or new load off-hand?

Another aspect is confidence. Knowing in the back of your mind that both the weapon and it's fodder both shoot nice tight groups. That will show up in the final score as far as hits go.

Once a load is found, load up a bunch THEN it's time to shoot offhand, and rig up with a timer for draw and shoot at several targets in sequence, including mag changes. Don't forget weak hand supported and no support weak hand shooting.

As always, this is my opinion, do whatever makes you feel good.

bds
December 8, 2010, 11:05 PM
snuffy, I agree with you on using rest/sand bags to obtain accuracy first. 15 years ago, that's what I did. Once I determined the accuracy off rest/sand bags, then I shot off hand. Now days, I skip right to determining accuracy off hand.

Do you try a new gun or new load off-hand?
All the time. When shooting other shooters' pistols I have never shot, I place the target at 5 yards and 3 round shot groups usually tell me how the pistol shoots and I move the target to 7 yards.

I shot a 3" Kimber I never shot at 5 yards using my reference W231/HP38 load (5.0 gr with 200 gr LSWC) and all the rounds were clustered together into one hole. I moved the target to 7 yards and all the holes were touching. I didn't need to use a rest/sand bags to know that pistol was accurate.

Of course, when I am testing new loads, I reduce the variables by using a proven pistol that I know the accuracy of so I am only testing the unknown load, not both. In the same way, I always test new pistol with "accurate" reference loads.

Hondo 60
December 9, 2010, 12:23 AM
I usually set my targets up at 10 yards. From a standing or sitting position, I don't use sandbags or rests of any kind.

I want to see how I shoot in conjunction with the loads & the guns.

1SOW
December 9, 2010, 12:34 AM
I mostly agree with bds & slamfire1, but I add testing at 25yds with some arm support (I'm old) for groups. Can the gun shoot tighter groups well anchored? Probably so, but if they are tight 'enough' I'm good to go.

It may be my mistake/error, but my experience shows that the pistol does not shoot the same anchored in a rest as it does off hand. I first SAW that shooting 22 Bullseye in the 70's. If I remember right, it shot low when anchored.
.
Yes, I want consistency and confidence in the load; and yes, I want POI at POA when 'I'm' shooting it. Offhand does both. "for my uses".

This may be the wrong way, but it works for me.

As to OP's original question: My first shot out of his 44 would be very nicely placed at 25yds, but the second would kill a cow 1/2 mile away--really; but your guns ballistics are likely very different than mine. I still expect 25yd testing would give you pretty good load data. If your shooting much at 50yds or more, the ballistics will come into play for POA.

MrOldLude
December 9, 2010, 10:04 AM
None of my pistols are intended for longer range shooting. So I practice at defensive range almost exclusively. For my rifles, I get on the paper at 25, and take it out to 100. I don't know of any local places that that I can shoot beyond 100. But 100 is difficult enough.

I do use a benchrest to see what the rifle is capable of when testing new loads, or for pure accuracy.

SlamFire1
December 9, 2010, 10:16 AM
It may be my mistake/error, but my experience shows that the pistol does not shoot the same anchored in a rest as it does off hand.

That is also my experience. Handgun point of impact is extremely sensitive to recoil dynamics. If you notice, sight height is not parallel with the axis of the barrel. The front sight pushes down the barrel. Recoil is what straightens everything out.

I believe sighting in should be done standing. Because that is the way I shoot the things.

Snuffy is correct about "absolute" accuracy. Shooting a handgun from a Ransom rest or a sandbag rest is going to reduce group size. But it does not make much of a difference when all my handguns shoot inside my hold.

Take my 25 yard off hand target. Les Baer Wadcutters are supposed to shoot inside that at 50 yards, (I assume from a Ranson Rest). Well I can't hold that hard. At some point the increased accuracy is wasted on me.

What improves my accuracy is practice. Practice, practice, practice. When you are up to your butt in brass, you are just starting to get the hang of it.

snuffy
December 9, 2010, 12:42 PM
That is also my experience. Handgun point of impact is extremely sensitive to recoil dynamics. If you notice, sight height is not parallel with the axis of the barrel. The front sight pushes down the barrel. Recoil is what straightens everything out.

I'll have to say that is not my experience. I can sit down @ 25 yds., shoot off sandbags, then stand up and the point of aim and point of impact are the same. That's with both my SA 45 1911, and my glock M-22 in 40 S&W and then when it's converted to 357 sig.

I don't muscle it into the sandbags, it's just resting on them with my hands free to recoil. I'm simply eliminating the little movements that always happen to anybody when standing. Wind has an effect on the human body. So unless you're leaning against a bench or post, that will make groups bigger.

I do agree that a solid rest or machine rest would influence how and where the bullet impacts. The two handed hold I use when shooting IPSC and IDPA is pretty darn solid. It has to be. You're trying to control muzzle flip to get back on target for the double tap. Your score is accuracy against time. A perfect score in the smallest time always wins.

918v
December 9, 2010, 01:53 PM
Colt used to test their handguns at 15 yards back in the day when you got a test target. Wilsons are tested at 15, Sig P220-226 were tested at 15, I believe Walthers and HK's were as well.

Sig X-series guns are tested at 25. Sig P210 was tested at 55.

I dunno where that 25-yard standard came from as none of the US manufacturers at the time tested at 25.

snuffy
December 9, 2010, 02:31 PM
15 yards is 45 feet,,,duh! I have a 50 foot indoor range where I can shoot anything I own as for handguns. I frequently dodge the Wisconsin winters, shoot indoors. We MUST have the target all-the-way-back to 50 feet. So there's no option to shoot closer. There's no benches, just a board to lay the shell boxes on. So to sandbag is hard to do inside

I just can't see why you'd want to shoot a 7 yds./21 feet. You just can't see much difference in group size at that distance. You also can't see if the bullet is actually stabilized.

Offfhand
December 9, 2010, 05:44 PM
Quite a few years ago when I was a young shavetail assigned to what was then known as ATMU (Advanced Marksmanship Training Unit) at Ft. Benning, our Pistol Team did their testing at 50 yards. Their reasoning being that matches are won or lost at the 50 yard slow fire stage and for a pistol to be competitive it had to group ten shots inside three inches. (the 10-ring being 3.36") Which is why our armorers had to virtually hand build every centerfire pistol.
We on the rifle squads mainly tested our service rifles at 300 yards, 10 shots, rapid fire, prone. Those of us who were also on the International teams tested our rifles ("free" rifles) at 300M, slow fire prone of course. Usually with iron sights, but as our 300M free rifles came equipped with scope bases we did a good bit of testing rifles and ammo with target scopes mounted, usually prone, but our armorers understandably preferred to test from a bench. It was a wonderful life for a shooter but promotions came slowly.

1SOW
December 10, 2010, 12:18 AM
When I bought my Sig 239 (3.6" bbl), a 25yd target with group came with the gun
My CZ is tested at 25yds by the CZ Custom shop after working on it.

I can't see testing a 2" snubby at 25 yds.

I also can't see testing my 4.72" bbl CZ, or my 5" bbl .22 target pistol at 7 yds.

It is a judgement call. Longer bbl pistols are expected to be able to 'reach out'.

The ammunition should be tailored to meet you and your gun's needs.

James2
December 10, 2010, 01:53 AM
I say if you are testing the accuracy of a load, you should use sandbags and eliminate as much as possible shooter error. Otherwise how do I know if I goofed or the load is off?

Distances? You must shoot far enough that a slight difference will show up. For me that is 25 yards for pistol, and 100 yards for rifle. If you use that 44 for hunting I would certainly test the loads at 50 yards or more also.

Once you have established a good accurate load, then is the time to shoot offhand to test the shooter.

MovedWest
December 10, 2010, 03:20 PM
I say if you are testing the accuracy of a load, you should use sandbags and eliminate as much as possible shooter error. Otherwise how do I know if I goofed or the load is off?

Distances? You must shoot far enough that a slight difference will show up. For me that is 25 yards for pistol, and 100 yards for rifle. If you use that 44 for hunting I would certainly test the loads at 50 yards or more also.

Once you have established a good accurate load, then is the time to shoot offhand to test the shooter.

Lots of good responses, but I think this is what I was looking for. Thanks for all the input and advice. I always get more than I expect here. :)

-MW

CraigC
December 10, 2010, 04:05 PM
Typically:

25yds for general purpose and open sighted handguns.

50yds for hunting revolvers, scoped or irons, muzzleloaders and iron sighted pistol cartridge rifles.

100yds for everything else.

Unless you're a world class bullseye shooter, there is no way to "test" handgun loads for accuracy anywhere but the bench. Even then, it is much more of a challenge than it is for rifles. For the record, I have seen drastic point of impact changes when going from the bench to offhand shooting. Even more drastic shooting with or without gloves.


I can't see testing a 2" snubby at 25 yds.
Try it, you might be surprised. My 2" model 15 is superbly accurate at 25yds. It's just more challenging to shoot accurately.

bds
December 12, 2010, 03:43 AM
Here's an interesting take on pistol accuracy by Hickok45 (http://www.youtube.com/user/hickok45#p/u/27/UVzSAm5VhfE).

BTW, I am with him on testing accuracy offhand (instead of rest/sand bags) as it is how the pistol will be shot during actual SD/HD shootings. We fight like we train. Since I will never shoot anyone or match targets from a rest/sand bag, I prefer to practice offhand whether determining accuracy shot groups or fast draw range practice for matches.

Shoot66
December 12, 2010, 05:27 AM
Handgun? At least 25y, preferably 50y. I understand the difference between ammo/specific load-combo accuracy and sights adjustment for bench/prone/off hand standing use. Not every load which is accurate at 25y is also accurate at 50 or more.

Pete D.
December 12, 2010, 09:22 AM
Good thread.
Out of the box, I always have taken a few shots at a 50 foot target when I have gotten a new handgun. The point being to see whether the gun needs further work. They almost always do. I did, however, acquire a Springfield Armory "loaded" 1911 that shot marvelously well at 25 yards and has needed no adjustment. I have never felt the need to bench the gun.
Normally, I test handguns at 50 feet (indoor range - gallery distance) or at 25 yards (outdoor range). Then I move to 50 yards.
For hunting guns, the distances are 50 and 75 yards.
Snubbies - I don't accuracy test these pistols the same way. I certainly don't bench them. I point the gun at a target about five to seven yards away and shoot a cylinder's worth. That tells me all I need to know about where the gun shoots.
Rifles get bore sighted and then tested at 100 and 200 yards.
Shotguns get patterned at 30 yards - 40 is recommended but 30 is all I have and my shots are never more than that.
Pete

Redneck with a 40
December 12, 2010, 11:45 AM
Auto Pistols = 25 yards

Mini-14 = 100 yards

Remmy 700 SPS Tactical .308 = 200 yards

I'm pretty consistent with the Mini at 100 yards, 2-2.5" (5) shot groups. My best ever was 1.5"

The Remmy will hold 2" at 200 yards, 5 shots, my handloads.

My XD will shoot a ragged hole at 25 yards all day long.

CraigC
December 12, 2010, 01:23 PM
I am with him on testing accuracy offhand (instead of rest/sand bags) as it is how the pistol will be shot during actual SD/HD shootings. We fight like we train. Since I will never shoot anyone or match targets from a rest/sand bag, I prefer to practice offhand whether determining accuracy shot groups or fast draw range practice for matches.
You should obviously practice from various shooting positions, none of which include a shooting bench and sandbags. However, the ONLY way to test loads for accuracy is to remove all shooter-related error possible and that means a bench and sandbags. Here's an important quote from his video:

"I'm talking about "practical," defensive pistol accuracy here."

Hickok is not talking about raw accuracy potential and load testing, he's talking about the practical difference in actually "hitting". In other words, the shooter-related factors. As he suggests, if the guns were clamped into a Ransom rest you WOULD see the difference. That's what we're talking about when we discuss testing guns and loads from the bench. It's the only way to determine what he refers to as "inherent" or "mechanical" accuracy. His statements about the S&W 29 being "about the same" as the service autos suggests to me that he has never benched a handgun in his life. He's shooting at a two foot steel target, of course he's not gonna see a difference. Which is fine for self defense shooting. Not so good when you're talking about hunting or serious sixgun work. He's shooting at gongs, I'm seeing which load combination will give me two inch groups at 50yds.

bds
December 12, 2010, 02:23 PM
However, the ONLY way to test loads for accuracy is to remove all shooter-related error possible and that means a bench and sandbags.
CraigC, yes I agree with you about determining "mechanical" accuracy and stated on post #14,

"I believe shooting from rest/sand bags will test "absolute technical" accuracy, but not actual practical/tactical shooting accuracy. The pure empirical accuracy attained from rest/sand bag shooting is nice to show to your friends, but it's shot groups off hand (my hands) that will impress me."

But the ONLY way to test how your loads will shoot out of your pistol/hands is to shoot them off hand, which I believe is more pertinent. Even though you determined the "mechanical" accuracy of your pistol, you will most likely end up shooting your pistol off hand most of the times for plinking, range practice, match shooting and SD/HD training.

When I first started match shooting 15 years ago, I used to test my shot groups from sand bags at 15/25 yards. With my 1911, I got 1.25" average shot groups at 25 yards. Of course, my off hand shot groups were much larger. :D The shooting/reloading mentor who taught me stated the "mechanical" accuracy of a pistol is nice to know, but won't give you reliable shooting data (SD/HD/match shooting) until you get consistent off hand shot groups (he shot Bullseye/USPSA).

I agree that user input will add variables to the testing of shot groups. This is what I do to address that. I first start at 5 yards and slow/deliberate shots usually produce a single hole or sub 1" shot groups (if I don't, I investigate the cause). Then I incrementally move the target to 7, 10, 15 yards, but only after I am able to produce consistent tight shot groups. This process not only tests the functional accuracy of the load/pistol combination but also "force train" the shooter to continuously eliminate the variables and shoot more consistently as if shot groups are erratic, the causes are investigated (pulling/jerking trigger, etc.). Holes on target don't lie - they reveal what you are doing wrong.

Many shooters tell me they bought their pistols because of certain published shot groups that were particularly small with a certain ammunition (either from ransom rest or pistol rest/sand bags). But I ask them, "How does it shoot in your hands with your choice of ammunition?"

CraigC
December 13, 2010, 01:47 AM
Maybe I'm not making myself clear. Bench testing is just that, testing. It is to test your guns and loads to find the most accurate combination. It is NOT to take the place of real practice. It is merely the first step. I don't view it as "nice to know" but critical. So I will know without doubt what my gun will do at a given distance, with a given load. This is also so that I know that when the metal hits the meat, I'm using the most accurate, most appropriate load possible. This is my baseline. I treat them the same as rifles. Therefore I will know where I stand when I shoot offhand, which is a test of the shooter.

If you do not bench test, how do you know what part of your 4" offhand groups is the gun and what part is the shooter? You don't.

Pete D.
December 13, 2010, 08:04 AM
I have to say that I agree very strongly with Craig C. about the purpose of testing a gun/ammo combination from the bench.
Once I have determined what ammo a particular firearm shoots the best and once that it is zeroed, then I stand up and practice with the knowledge that if I am not shooting Xs, it is because of me, not the gun nor the ammo.
That question How does it shoot in your hands with your choice of ammunition places the emphasis on the gun rather than the shooter. Inherent in that question is the implication that if another person picks up the gun, it may shoot differently. That is just not so. Another shooter may get different results but that is not because the gun changed.
Effectively it is not so much how well it shoots but how well do you shoot it. That is not just playing with words. The important point is how well does the person shoot the gun...bench testing will already have determined how well the gun shoots
Pete

CraigC
December 13, 2010, 05:51 PM
Exactly!

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