What the best way to test pistol accuracy?


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Thompsoncustom
July 8, 2011, 02:46 PM
I want to test the accuracy of some of my pistol and was wondering what is the best way to do so. I have never done any shooting with a rest tho i'm sure it will be needed? ideas?

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Robert101
July 8, 2011, 03:48 PM
I've never used a rest to test accuracy in my pistols but I'm sure it would provide valuable information.

My testing is done off-hand where I evaluate group size as an average of +-100 rounds and not so much based upon a sting of say 5 shots.

Shadow 7D
July 8, 2011, 03:52 PM
Locked down in a ransom rest...

Otherwise, shooting from a supported position, but YOU are still a HUGE factor in the size of the groups.

Thompsoncustom
July 8, 2011, 05:04 PM
that's kind of what I want to take out is me, I know I can do fine with my pistols but I want to see what there mechanical accuracy is. I thought they would probably need to be locked down in some kind of rest

Blue68f100
July 8, 2011, 05:24 PM
You will also need to try several mfg and weights of ammo. Not all are equal in all guns. I've seen brand X shoot 3" groups and brand y 1.5". Most hand gun accuracy is tested at 25 yrds but depending on the gun 50 yrds is not out of the question.

KurtC
July 8, 2011, 05:29 PM
http://www.ransomrest.com/images/ransom1.png

The Lone Haranguer
July 8, 2011, 07:04 PM
If cost is no object and you want to test the mechanical accuracy of the handgun itself - taking shooter error out of play - there is no real answer other than the Ransom Rest. You will also need a fairly substantial bench with no wobble to set it up on. Some public ranges have a concrete slab and sometimes even suitable benches, but if you have to set up on uneven ground you will need some way to adjust and anchor your bench.

wleoff
July 8, 2011, 07:13 PM
Many gun clubs have a Ransom Rest that usually one of the members keeps until someone needs it. Our club is that way and yesterday several of us borrowed it to check out several 1911s for Bullseye. One has to have a different grip insert for each type of pistol tested. Or you can buy the Ransom Rest from Midway for about $400.

Caldwell use to make one like the Ransom for half the price, but they pulled it off the market.

918v
July 8, 2011, 08:29 PM
The most cost effective way is to rest the gun on sandbags. Then match your target to the sights. Aim at the 6 o'clock. I test at 15 yards because it allows me to align the sights more precisely against the Bullseye. Colt, Sig, etc used to test at that distance when they supplied test targets with their pistols. It is a good compromise. Not everyone has 20/20 vision.

Chris Rhines
July 8, 2011, 08:39 PM
I'm going to go against the grain here. I do my accuracy testing standing, offhand, exactly how I most often shoot my pistols for real. I really don't care much about the mechanical accuracy of the pistol. I care more how accurately I can shoot it, and things like ergonomics, sight radius and trigger make a difference that you won't find with a Ransom Rest.

If you really need to know the mechanical accuracy of your pistol (ammo testing?), I'd use a sandbag rest.

-C

JohnBT
July 8, 2011, 08:59 PM
I'd just find somebody who is a great shot and let them do it.

Thompsoncustom
July 8, 2011, 09:46 PM
Lol I would like to think of myself as an OK shot as on a good day at 10 yards I can get a 1" group standing. There's no way I'm gonna spend 400 bucks even tho the ransom rest looks nice it's not that important to me. I geuss I should have title it the poor man way to test to accuracy. Sand bags are probably the way for me to go I'm just not sure if I can see all that well at 25yards let alone 50.

railroader
July 9, 2011, 09:46 AM
I have to agree with an above poster. Shoot it from sandbags or a rest at 15 yards. I seem to be able to hold my groups together at that distance much easier than at 25yds. Mark

dickttx
July 9, 2011, 10:20 AM
Do you rest the barrel on the sandbags, or your hands?

918v
July 9, 2011, 11:06 AM
I rest the barrel or the frame on the sandbag. This is more solid than resting your hand. Before I got my L-Tek rest, I used a three sand bag setup where I arranged them so that there were two on top of eachother and third immediately to the rear. The slide/dustcover would rest on the front bags and the grip would rest on the rear bag.

9mmepiphany
July 9, 2011, 02:15 PM
I want to see what there mechanical accuracy is.
The only way to do that is with a Ransom rest...we have a couple of guys at the local range who will do this for you for a fee (cheaper than buying the rest). If you have a common gun, there won't even be the cost of the grip inserts to fit the gun to the rest

I'd just find somebody who is a great shot and let them do it.
This would be the next best option.

The gunsmith who does most of my work tests service guns meant for competition off bags at 50 yards and they have to meet his personal standard (inside 2") before being sent back to the customer. Most guns are just tested at 25 yards while shooting off hand...but we refer to him as the human machine rest

Thompsoncustom
July 9, 2011, 02:58 PM
This looks like a much better buy than the ransom rest
http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=139272

Canuck-IL
July 9, 2011, 03:05 PM
This looks like a much better buy than the ransom rest
http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct...tNumber=139272

...other than the fact that's it's discontinued by the manufacturer and had a history of problems - short lived since they rendered it too inconsistent.
/Bryan

Thompsoncustom
July 9, 2011, 04:19 PM
ah thats to bad...

railroader
July 9, 2011, 05:13 PM
http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct/?productnumber=517357 This is a lot less and should work fine if you take your time and "squeeze" the trigger. Mark

9mmepiphany
July 9, 2011, 05:21 PM
The major issue will always be the trigger press. It isn't the smoothness, although pressure straight to the rear is important, but consistency between presses.

This is truly an instance where the Olympic style small bore rifle trigger management would come in handy...gradual pressure increasing until letoff, of course you'll have to take breath control and heart rate into consideration too

bds
July 9, 2011, 08:16 PM
I normally test pistol/ammunition accuracy off hand at 7-10-15 yards (5 round shot groups). For most semi-autos, they tend to produce 1"-2"-3" corresponding shot groups. If I achieve consistent, reproducible, tight shot groups with certain pistol/ammunition combinations (1"-2" at 15 yards), I continue my testing to 20-25 yards.

For very accurate pistol/ammunition combinations (usually match grade reloads), I'll use sand bags (1"-2" at 25 yards). Recently, I have started to use lasers for pistols with accessory rails - good training tool that really helps express what you are doing to the trigger at 10-25 yards.

Determining the slow fire accuracy of pistol/ammunition is one thing, I want to know the "real life" rapid fire tactical accuracy for me (my pistols and my "actual" trigger pulls). To test this, I do double-tap accuracy testing at 7-10-15 yards. When I can get all of my shots placed on several 1/2 sheets of copy paper targets on the card board (double taps and front sight flash rapid fire), I consider the pistol/ammunition "tactically" accurate.

Furncliff
July 10, 2011, 12:00 AM
Do a google search for
Shooting handguns from a rest.

There are a few articles out there with accompanying photos which will help you decide how you want to do it.

SwampWolf
July 11, 2011, 09:34 PM
I really don't care much about the mechanical accuracy of the pistol. I care more how accurately I can shoot it,

The op expressed a desire to determine to "test the accuracy" of some of his pistols, not how well he shoots. And the minimal use of a sandbag rest, as you suggested, would be a good start; and a Ransom Rest a good finish.

Walt Sherrill
July 11, 2011, 09:40 PM
Several mentions of Ransom Rests. That's good, but you have to have a specific "insert" for the gun being shot, to make it fit the rest properly, and it's effective only with steel-framed guns. (A Polymer framed gun won't give reliable results with a Ransom Rest, as the natural give in the frame may not allow it to return to exactly the same position each time.)

As noted, you can get good results from sand bags, cheap bags of beans or rice (in a second plastic bag) or two, or something else of a similar nature.

The key point is to use the rest to minimize YOUR involvement. I've been told to rest your hands on the rest/bags, and not the gun on the bags -- but don't know whether this is correct or not. I'm sure there's a way to do both (hands and gun.)

1SOW
July 12, 2011, 01:48 AM
"To test the pistol's accuracy" Taken literally, a form of ransom rest would have to be used.

Here's the rub: almost ANY pistol can be made more 'accurate' by improving the trigger, sights, grips, springs or a number of other factors including the ammunition where it interfaces with the "Shooter". Try adjusting the sights to agree with the ransom rest hits. I'd be willing to bet the sight adjustment will be way off for most shooters. The shooter interface/influence on the pistol is missing.

For me the pistol's accuracy is only as good as the interface WITH the shooter. Testing it in a ransom rest won't tell you if the pistol can be "accurate for your uses".

If you shoot "Bullseye", test it in bullseye.
If you shoot long range "sillhouette", shoot it that way.
If you shoot "action shooting", test it that way.
One handed, two handed, etc., etc, etc.

SwampWolf
July 12, 2011, 02:15 PM
Testing it in a ransom rest won't tell you if the pistol can be "accurate for your uses".

But it will tell you, as well as anything can, just how intrinsically accurate the pistol is which, if I understand his question correctly, the op wants to know. And if the handgun is determined to be inherently accurate, it will in all likelyhood allow the user to shoot more accurately than a handgun identical in all respects except for the accuracy potential.


Here's the rub: almost ANY pistol can be made more 'accurate' by improving the trigger, sights, grips, springs or a number of other factors including the ammunition where it interfaces with the "Shooter".

No pistol is made more "accurate" with "improving the trigger, sights, grips (or) springs" nor does ammunition make any pistol more innately accurate. Changes in the trigger pull, grips and sights might help the shooter to be more accurate with a given pistol but the accuracy of the gun itself is not affected by said changes. Similarly, different ammunition might (1) be more intrinsically accurate on its own merits or (2) correspond better with the interior tolerances, dimensions and/or finish in an accuracy sense with any particular handgun or (3) a combination of one and two, but ammunition, per se, does not make any firearm more accurate; it just allows it to be shot more accurately.
The intrinsic accuracy of any firearm is mostly accomplished at the time of manufacture and is largely a product of dimensions and tolerances of the barrel and chamber(s) and how they relate to each other. And to determine the intrinsic accuracy of any given handgun, the influence of human interaction with it (though impossible to eliminate entirely) must be limited as much as possible. A Ransom Rest best accomplishes this.

w2fnt
July 12, 2011, 03:01 PM
The gun doesn't make the shooter. The shooter makes the gun. There are days when I can't hit a darn thing and then there are days when I just can miss a darn thing with the same gun.

SnowBlaZeR2
July 12, 2011, 03:16 PM
Ransom rests aren't testing anything of value to me, so I just shoot off hand. ;)

springer99
July 12, 2011, 04:27 PM
I believe that for most purposes, shooting a pistol over sandbags is probably the most practical method for testing accuracy. A Ransom rest is great; our club owns one) but not needed unless you're trying different loads for Bullseye, etc.

I do think that testing at anything less than 25 yards is a waste of time though. Errors in sighting or bad ammo won't really show up at much less than this. For .45ACP Bullseye shooting, testing various loads at 50yds seems to be the norm.

buckhorn_cortez
July 12, 2011, 04:48 PM
Testing is an interesting activity as the test procedures can affect the results. You said you wanted to test the pistol's accuracy - what you're really testing is the mechanical repeatablity of the gun. HOWEVER, that is affected by the consistency of the ammunition - which is a combination of the potential bullet deviances (weight, concentricity, etc....) and the charge deviations which result in velocity / accuracy variations.

So, prior to testing the gun, one would probably want to investigate the ammunition being used first by weighing it and conducting chronograph testing to establish cartridge-to-cartridge and shot-to-shot differences to see if they carry through and influence gun accuracy.

What you are doing is trying to define all of the variables that can affect test results - if you can think of more things - then you try and define those so you can assess trends in test results.

After that you would start testing the gun itself with multiple shot strings of different types of ammunition as you will find that ammunition repeatability influences gun accuracy. Optimally, you would start each test run by thoroughly cleaning the barrel. That in-and-of-itself could affect accuracy so you would have to use exactly the same cleaning technique each time finishing with the barrel being as dry as possible.

After cleaning you would then put the gun in the rest and shoot a 3-5 shot string of the ammunition to be used for testing to condition the barrel and seat the gun in the rest, then retighten the rest and proceed with the remainder of the test.

What you will end up with is a set of targets that will give you a range of accuracy with different loads and allow you do extrapolate the standard deviation of accuracy and mean accuracy of the gun over the range of ammunition tested.

The test results will have no bearing on attempting to determine potential accuracy of ammunition that has not been tested.

What the test will give you is the performance you can expect from the gun with a range of ammunition...but not the performance of you shooting the gun - that's the one where you hold the gun and shoot it.

Thompsoncustom
July 12, 2011, 05:05 PM
Both guns have light trigger pulls so it should help me when I do the sandbag testing. Not gonna be really testing the mechanical accuracy but it will be close I hope.

I also plan on getting into reloading and handloading so that should help with the ammo part.

1SOW
July 13, 2011, 01:41 AM
SwampWolf, My first sentence agrees about testing the "gun's" accuracy with the ransom rest. I agree with you.
In my next next statements about "accuracy", I state factors that affect " how the gun interacts with the shooter"---not that the gun is more accurate.

Sorry if my wording/meaning wasn't clear.

bds
July 13, 2011, 03:40 AM
Let's say you did do a ransom rest testing and got an "X" inch shot group at 10-15-20-25 yards. This would be the "mechanically repeatable" accuracy for your pistol.

But ultimately, what will matter when you are hunting, plinking, match shooting or defending your life is the accuracy you can produce with the pistol in YOUR hands as it is difficult to do these activities with a ransom rest strapped to the pistol. Anyone who may need to use their pistol in SD/HD situations should be very curious as to what level of accuracy they can produce off hand at realistic "defensive" distances.

I used to test pistol accuracy off sand bags, but moved to testing off hand when I started action pistol match shooting as what "realistically" mattered was the shot groups I was able to produce with my hands while engaging different targets at different distances while drawing/moving/changing magazines etc. For me, slow fire single shot accuracy is one thing, rapid double-tap accuracy while you are actively moving and engaging multiple targets brings true accuracy of the pistol to light.

We fight like we train. I want to know the "realistic" accuracy of my pistols ... just in case I need to use it to defend my/family's lives.

Another factor to consider when testing pistol accuracy is the accuracy of the ammunition used. Different factory ammunitions will produce varying levels of accuracy for the same pistol. If you are not getting anticipated accuracy out of your pistol, it may not be the pistol but the ammunition. You may need to try a range of ammunition to determine which produces consistently tight shot groups. For this reason, many match shooters reload their own "match grade" ammunition that has proven to be accurate in their match pistols.

SwampWolf
July 13, 2011, 11:38 AM
SwampWolf, My first sentence agrees about testing the "gun's" accuracy with the ransom rest. I agree with you.
In my next next statements about "accuracy", I state factors that affect " how the gun interacts with the shooter"---not that the gun is more accurate.

Sorry if my wording/meaning wasn't clear.

I got you. And I'm not disputing the fact that guns can't be made more accurate to shoot-as you say, how it "interacts with the shooter"-by changing grips, trigger pulls, sights and/or ammunition nor that shooting from a rest (be it sandbags or a Ransom) will necessarily translate to how well (accurately) a person will shoot the gun, sans a rest. As you pointed out:

If you shoot "Bullseye", test it in bullseye.
If you shoot long range "sillhouette", shoot it that way.
If you shoot "action shooting", test it that way.
One handed, two handed, etc., etc, etc.

But there's nothing wrong with learning how intrinsically accurate a firearm is and that's best accomplished shooting from a rest, with as much human interaction divorced from the testing as possible. I rest my case. :)

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