Bolt Action vs AR Accuracy


PDA






LubeckTech
September 5, 2011, 12:48 PM
Generally speaking what kind of difference in accuracy is there (or is there one?) between these two platforms??

If you enjoyed reading about "Bolt Action vs AR Accuracy" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Robert
September 5, 2011, 01:05 PM
The two firearms fill to vastly different roles. But for the sake of argument, a modern bolt action rifle will be more accurate than an AR. ARs are able to produce some pretty dang good accuracy but a bolt gun, for the most part, will be more accurate. Now if we are comparing my 1941 No1 MkIII* to my AR the AR will win every single time.

Are you looking to do something specific or just curious?

Tim the student
September 5, 2011, 01:30 PM
Bolt gun will get the edge I think.

But honestly, I'd be willing to bet that most ARs are just a bit less precise than most bolt guns.

Put a nice target scope on a DD/Spikes etc, on a nice rest, and shoot good ammo through it, and I bet it will hang. Not be embarrassed at least.

And I bet a lot of varmint/precision ARs will outshoot a heck of a lot of bolt guns.

LubeckTech
September 5, 2011, 01:31 PM
I currently have a Colt SP01 and an strongly considering getting a bolt gun if they are generally more accurate. I love my AR (and Mini-14) but also enjoy bolt action rifles and .223 is cheap to shoot. I also enjoy hand loading and would like to work on developing a load to squeeze the optimum accuracy from .223. Basically I posed the question because if my AR is about as good as it gets accuracy wise I probably not add a bolt gun to my collection. If there is not much to be gained I might consider using the money for a 6.8spc upper to my AR which has a very nice Timmney trigger

Kliegl
September 5, 2011, 01:34 PM
The action makes a bit of difference, but the barrel and the ammo used make more.

Robert
September 5, 2011, 01:37 PM
Mostly I am looking for an excuse to add a bolt action .223 to my collection.
Then just buy one ;)

basicblur
September 5, 2011, 01:47 PM
You might want to check out this link (http://www.shootingusa.com/TV_SCHEDULE/SHOW_30-06/show_30-06.html), or if you can get it, you might check out last week's Shooting USA show, which covered the story in the link above.

Got a relative that's a gunsmith, builds custom rifles, and competes in various disciplines, benchrest being his favorite-he told me years ago ARs had really taken a BIG chunk outta the bolt vs. AR accuracy argument.

wingman
September 5, 2011, 01:52 PM
Bolts as a group are more accurate over auto's,pump, lever, single shot of course there are exceptions. My Savage Model 12BTVS will consistently shoot .600 or less at 100 yards with a large range of ammo, My AR will shoot under one inch but more limited with one or two bullet powder combinations to do that. For the regular shooter won't make much difference but for the target shooter looking for the magic hole in one it does.;)

If you wish to stay with the AR then purchase a 20-24 bull barrel,with match trigger and you have the best of both worlds.

Having said that I enjoy both the bolt and AR but I like each for there intended use.

hardluk1
September 5, 2011, 01:53 PM
The best bolt and ar's are about equal" custom". A base ar will cost a about the same as many bolt rifles that should also be more accurate.

Tim the student
September 5, 2011, 01:58 PM
Basically I posed the question because if my AR is about as good as it gets accuracy wise I probably not add a bolt gun to my collection.

There is always room for improvement. How well does your AR shoot? What size groups are you wanting?

cacoltguy
September 5, 2011, 02:11 PM
Dollar for dollar a bolt action is usually going to be more accurate than an AR. A high end, expensive AR is capable of shooting as good or better than low end or older bolt actions, but I doubt your AR is as good as it gets accuracy-wise compared to many modern bolt actions.

68wj
September 5, 2011, 02:18 PM
A bolt gun is capable of better accuracy, but there are a lot of variables to account for. There are good and bad bolts, just like good and bad AR's.

One advantage to the bolt gun will be squeezing in a fire-formed/neck sized cartridge and having the leverage to close the bolt. It will also allow longer COAL's.

Jim Watson
September 5, 2011, 02:19 PM
A premium AR barrel and free float foreend will get right in there with a stock bolt action. So a new upper for your AR would be one approach. I can't see the attraction of the 6.8 anyhow.

Otherwise, there are Savage, Remington, Tikka, and CZ bolt actions that will do a good job for you. And they don't throw your prepped target brass in the weeds, either.

Robert
September 5, 2011, 02:21 PM
A high end, expensive AR is capable of shooting as good or better than low end or older bolt actions, but I doubt your AR is as good as it gets accuracy-wise compared to many modern bolt actions.
I am not sure about that. But this is where we get into the apples and oranges thing. Shooting off a bench and making tiny little holes in paper is just flat boring to me. I am far more of a fan of practical shooting. For my purpose being able to place a shot at center mass on a target at any given distance is good enough. Now if you are shooting for ultra tiny groups on paper or at distances greater than 600y then the advantage is squarely in the bolt action's favor.

The rifles are really set up to do two vastly different things so the comparison is a bit off. For the average shooter either one is going to do just fine. And really it depends of what your specific needs and intended uses are.

cacoltguy
September 5, 2011, 02:31 PM
Gus, I believe the OP was talking strictly about accuracy advantages so yes, punching tiny holes in paper is a good way to measure that lol. I like practical shooting exercises also, but if Lubektech is looking for better accuracy than what his AR is capable of, I'm assuming its a longer range/benchrest style environment since anything else is unlikely to show a noticeable difference in accuracy between the two designs. If you just want to make hits on man-sized targets out to 200-300 yards then yes it probably doesn't matter what gun you are using.

Robert
September 5, 2011, 02:34 PM
If that is the case the blot gun will win hands down all day long.

hawk45
September 5, 2011, 03:42 PM
For single shots, I don't think there will be a difference all things equal (ammo, barrel, trigger, shooter). Once you add in the way a semi-auto loads and has multiple recoils (cartridge, bolt back, bolt forward) compared to the bolt's one recoil (cartridge). Follow through with a semi-auto is much harder than with a bolt due to the muliple stages of recoil. Also the violent loading of cartridges in a semi-auto can cause more damage to the rounds as the load causing deviations in uniformity. Bullet seating depths due to magazine length restrictions can hinder performance in either platform as well opposed to single feeding to optimize accuracy.

scythefwd
September 5, 2011, 03:42 PM
You won't see AR's at a bench rest competition. I've seen a lot of great shooting AR's, I've never seen a .25 moa AR.

Zerodefect
September 5, 2011, 05:51 PM
Oh, I love the Fud's turning thier noses up at my AR15 SPR. Then outshooting their bolt action rifles badly. Usually they'll be useing mil spec ammo or thier really poor handloads.

If you build each right, the AR will shoot 1MOA the bolt action will shoot .75MOA, sometimes even .5MOA.

So yes the bolt action rifle is more acurate. A single shot bench rest rifle is even more accurate. You still need quality scopes, expensive scope mounts, and expensive ammo. If you skip any of those, just one shortcut, and then the AR15 shooter who didn't take that shortcut will surpass your accuracy.

I can't wait to build another bolt action scoped rifle. I have none right now. I'll probally go with a .308 Savage 10FP Micmillan or 6.5Norma BR Savage 12 F-class. Toss a Nightforce 12-42x Bench rest scope at it.


Why don't I stick to my AR? My SPR is built specificly to rule around 500yards. I'll need a different scope and stock to push it to 1000y. Minus well just pupose build a bolt action rifle specificly for long range.

TonyAngel
September 5, 2011, 06:26 PM
Benchrest aside, the biggest difference between an AR and a good bolt gun is cost. Just as an example, you can get a pretty nice bolt gun that will shoot MOA or better for under $1K. If you are talking ARs, it will likely cost you twice as much to get one that will shoot almost as well as the bolt gun.

The second biggest difference is more shooter related. It's just plain easier to shoot a bolt gun more accurately than it is to shoot an AR. The bolt gun is going to have a much faster lock time and follow through with a bolt gun is a lot easier because there is so much less going on after the primer is struck.

As far as accuracy goes, it's a question of how much accuracy you want. Rimfire aside, anything that will shoot sub MOA with the right ammunition is good enough for me; and the difference in accuracy between an AR and a bolt gun is more academic than anything else and most shooters aren't going to be good enough to really appreciate the difference.

If you are shooting benchrest, then it's going to be a difference story since you'll be striving to attain the all elusive "0" group, which I've never seen or heard of anyone doing with an AR; and if you're that serious about chasing that perfect group, you won't be doing it with a .223.

In short, get what you want, if you have the finances for it. Personally, if I wanted an uber accurate AR, I'd get on the phone with either White Oak or Krieger and get them to build me one. Just don't get the idea in your head that anyone can take a bunch of premium parts and assemble them into a super rifle. There is more to building an accurate rifle that will maintain its accuracy as it heats up than just throwing the parts together.

scythefwd
September 5, 2011, 06:57 PM
Benchrest aside, the biggest difference between an AR and a good bolt gun is cost. Just as an example, you can get a pretty nice bolt gun that will shoot MOA or better for under $1K

You can get a submoa vanguard for what the starting costs of an AR runs.

PreMod70
September 5, 2011, 07:39 PM
Until a company with the resources builds an AR on the principles of the Tubb rifle it will continue to suffer from the flimsy cross pins. I can't believe no one has taken the time to design a solid AR but I guess there is too much money being made "fixing" the current design.

VT Deer Hunter
September 5, 2011, 07:53 PM
Bolt may be a little more accurate. May depend on the rifle and shooter too.

taliv
September 5, 2011, 07:55 PM
Just as an example, you can get a pretty nice bolt gun that will shoot MOA or better for under $1K. If you are talking ARs, it will likely cost you twice as much to get one that will shoot almost as well as the bolt gun.

in my experience, most cheap DPMS/RRA types will shoot with most factory bolt guns (rem700, win70, etc). what costs twice as much in the AR is reliability AND accuracy.

Until a company with the resources builds an AR on the principles of the Tubb rifle it will continue to suffer from the flimsy cross pins. I can't believe no one has taken the time to design a solid AR but I guess there is too much money being made "fixing" the current design.

what's wrong with the cross pins? i'm not sure what you mean by solid AR. why would you want it more solid than it is now? granted, many of the monolithic and billet uppers do just that.

SlamFire1
September 5, 2011, 07:55 PM
What sort of accuracy do you need?

A match rifle, built around the AR15 action, will shoot under half MOA. Whether you can hold that hard is a different question.

I believe a NM AR15 is capable of that but the limiting factor is the post front sight.

I built a match rifle around a AR15, we used to call the things Space Guns, and my Space Gun is very accurate out to 600 yards. I use 80 grain bullets at 600 yards, I think bullet technology has moved on and some people are using 90's. The 80 grain bullet is ballistically equivalent to the 308 168 SMK at that distance.

Out to 300 yards I use 69 SMK's and I have won a number of medals in my class at Camp Perry with these bullets. Even though most people are using 77's now, I always shot well with the 69's, shot many a clean, so I have not seen a need to change.

I asked one AMU guy why they had changed from the 69, and the guy said, heck if he knew, he had set a number of National Records with 69's.

If you are talking about bench rest then I am certain that if you built a bench rest rifle like this around a .223, the bolt action would be more accurate.

The difference might be the thickness of a business card.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/Misc/UnlimitedClassBenchrestworldreco-1.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/Misc/UnlimitedClassBenchrestworldreco-2.jpg

Txhillbilly
September 5, 2011, 08:51 PM
I have a Savage 12 FLVSS and a RRA 20" Varminter AR 15.They shoot pretty close to the same,it all depends on the type of bullets your shooting.
I handload all of my ammo to each gun I own,and there really isn't much difference between the groups of the same weights/types of bullets between these 2 rifles. They both will shoot excellent groups with most bullets.

basicblur
September 5, 2011, 09:11 PM
You won't see AR's at a bench rest competition.
I dunno-my relative has one that has 10 or 15 lbs of lead in it-I assume he's using it for benchrest-I'd hate to have to shoot that thing for anything other than benchrest?

Tirod
September 6, 2011, 11:08 AM
Most of the components of a rifle can be made for either to the same level of precision, if anything, identically. Ammo is obvious, if both are 5.56, it's interchangeable. What tweaks either barrel might have with leade or chambering, nonetheless, could be identical using the same machining, twist, reamer, etc.

Deactivate the gas, single load them, and I doubt you could get enough of them built and shot to prove a point. The differences would be so miniscule I doubt it could be recorded and expressed as a number.

What does come up is that an actively cycling action does introduce some factors that add to the overall diameter of dispersion, and so far, it doesn't seem anyone has mentioned them - just the exterior differences that can be easily made the same.

Does tapping the gas at the block have negative affects in muzzle vibration as the bullet exits, and will the chambering of ammuniton create variances in bullet shape, setback, or move the center of the bullet nose off axis? There's where most of the difference lies.

Single load the ammo, you remove all that - which is exactly what some precision shooters do.

Science it down to nearly identical benchrest rigs, then all that can be left is how the ammo gets banged up chambering that affects accuracy. Moot point, self loading actions are preferred for repeated firing, and that's likely against live targets, where 2MOA is effective and all that's needed.

Art Eatman
September 6, 2011, 12:40 PM
From what I've seen of ARs over the last 35 or so years, a basic version, "plain vanilla", is about a two MOA shooter. However, my 9.5-pound Bushie Match Target was definitely a half-MOA performer. I played pawnbroker for a guy; bought it at $500 and later sold it for $700. (Some ten years ago.)

I gave $400 for a good used Ruger 77 Mk II in .223. It was 1/2-MOA from the git-go.

Most bolt-actions, today, will come close to one MOA out of the box. Seems to me it takes a higher-end AR to do that.

PreMod70
September 6, 2011, 01:52 PM
Study the Tubb rifle, he has the barrel, action, rear stock mated together as a solid unit unlike the AR that is two units haphazardly mated together with the lower unit containing the buffer/rear stock that reponses to the bolts movements with a variety of vibrations. Build a AR with the upper containing the buffer/rear stock and then mate the lower trigger/mag assembly similar to the Tubb, then you see consistent accuracy.

bgr2014
September 6, 2011, 05:10 PM
I own a Rem. R25 in 308 (built by DPMS) after I got the burrs around the gas port in the rifling lapped out using the Tubbs fire lapping bullets #4 & #5 only. With 165gr. Noz.BT it shoots a clover leaf hole with no center. Using T's Guns and Ammo Manuf. shells. However I have Bolt guns that will do same thing or better. The hole in the rifling (gas port) I'm not fond of but, it shoots great, after installing a JP single stage trigger.

SlamFire1
September 6, 2011, 08:54 PM
Study the Tubb rifle, he has the barrel, action, rear stock mated together as a solid unit unlike the AR that is two units haphazardly mated together with the lower unit containing the buffer/rear stock that reponses to the bolts movements with a variety of vibrations. Build a AR with the upper containing the buffer/rear stock and then mate the lower trigger/mag assembly similar to the Tubb, then you see consistent accuracy


Tubb won the National Highpower Championships with a 6.5 caliber AR action. I think it was 6.5. I think it was that year he had so many alibi's that the alibi rules were changed. That rifle was not reliable in feed or extraction, but the modularity of the rifle set David Tubb on the path to his Tubb rifle.

You can see the parentage, a box magazine, multi lug bolt. Tubb made his rifle a manual action and installed the Anschutz trigger.

A bud of mine shot this 100 yard 20 round slowfire group, prone with a sling and iron sights, with his 6X Tubb rifle. He won the match, might have been a reduced course State Championship.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/Targets/200-17XPhilCrowe6XCTub10Nov07.jpg

EarlyStarts
September 6, 2011, 09:18 PM
Generally speaking what kind of difference in accuracy is there (or is there one?) between these two platforms??
I am more accurate with an AR platform than the bolt when I fire from positions at a rate of a well aimed shot every 3 or 4 seconds. The bolt forces me to break my natural point of aim so I have to reset. If I shoot a group of 10 rounds in 50 seconds with a mag change, the semi-auto group will be better most every time.

I do know folks who can run their bolt faster than I can run my semi-auto though so I guess it depends on how much you want to practice.

PreMod70
September 6, 2011, 09:26 PM
Tubb won the National Highpower Championships with a 6.5 caliber AR action. I think it was 6.5. I think it was that year he had so many alibi's that the alibi rules were changed. That rifle was not reliable in feed or extraction, but the modularity of the rifle set David Tubb on the path to his Tubb rifle.

You can see the parentage, a box magazine, multi lug bolt. Tubb made his rifle a manual action and installed the Anschutz trigger.

A bud of mine shot this 100 yard 20 round slowfire group, prone with a sling and iron sights, with his 6X Tubb rifle. He won the match, might have been a reduced course State Championship.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/Targets/200-17XPhilCrowe6XCTub10Nov07.jpg
Tubb took the easy path but the better path has yet to be discovered, that will be when the buffer/buttstock is mated to the upper AR unit.

Sky
September 6, 2011, 09:35 PM
http://www.gunblast.com/Bushmaster_Varminter.htm

Dirty old cheap, held to gether by a couple of pins, AR out of the box shooting clover leafs at 100 yards; factory ammo.

cacoltguy
September 8, 2011, 06:19 AM
100 yard groups only tell so much. The differences become more apparent at 600 yards and up. Matt Kiline putting ten rounds into 2.8 inches at 1000 yards, Tom Sarver putting 5 shots into a 1.4 inch group at 1000 yards. Those feats just aren't possible with an AR type platform for a number of reasons. For many practical shooting exercises at more reasonable distances, human error often trumps the mechanical differences of an AR vs. Bolt action platform. Nevertheless, I just think the physics and engineering of Bolt guns gives them a raw advantage in the accuracy department.

Lloyd Smale
September 8, 2011, 08:21 AM
Ive 4 ars that shoot well under moa at a 100 yards. One does 1/2 inch at a 100 for 5 shots so there surely capable of accuracy. I think that maybe a bolt has slight edge if your buying a varmit or target bolt gun but to be honest ive had better luck with skinny barreled ars then i have with skinny barreled bolt guns

68wj
September 8, 2011, 09:23 AM
For many practical shooting exercises at more reasonable distances, human error often trumps the mechanical differences of an AR vs. Bolt action platform. Nevertheless, I just think the physics and engineering of Bolt guns gives them a raw advantage in the accuracy department.
I think this have been said a number of times in this thread already, but maybe never so concisely. Well put.

It is not that ARs, or semi-autos in general, are not accurate. It is that bolts are capable of more precise shooting when you really push the gun and the shooter to extremes.

Coal Dragger
September 8, 2011, 02:50 PM
To make a generalization I would postulate that given equal quality of parts, and workmanship, a bolt action will have an advantage over an AR in accuracy.

Eb1
September 8, 2011, 07:13 PM
My AR-15 was the most accurate rifle I have ever owned. With A2 sights I could shoot dime size groups of 30 @ 100 yards. Nothing I own bolt, lever or auto comes close to that.

Well my Marlin Model 60 can shoot a full tube @ 50 yards into a little over a nickle size group.

I would have to say that nothing in firearms is a definite or can be passed on as law except for a guided artillery round out of a rifled barrel.

There are no exacts in this hobby. It is a toss up, and the science is always screwed by to many factors to list. This is just my opinion.

Eb1
September 8, 2011, 07:35 PM
That is an honest statement, and I have groups somewhere in packing, but it was a Colt HBAR Post Ban upper with CMMG lower and a standard 4.5 lbs trigger.

I did this with Black Hills 55 grain SP blue box ammo.

FlyinBryan
September 8, 2011, 10:32 PM
my heavy barreled ar15 is the most accurate rifle ive ever owned.

ive only got 4 bolt actions though. (2 9130's, a savage, and a remington.)

Howard Roark
September 8, 2011, 10:43 PM
My .02 cents. The AR has a couple of disadvantages that a bolt gun doesn't.

1. Lock time. The fastest AR triggers (Geissele, X-Treme) have a lock time of about 4 milliseconds. A bolt gun like the Tubb 2000 has a lock time of 1 millisecond which is 3 times faster than a Win Mod 70. Faster lock time = less barrel movement.

2. Gas System. The gas block and tube affects barrel harmonics differently shot to shot. As the barrel heats up tension from the gas system varies. When something is bolted on the barrel and then passes through the receiver and contacts the carrier there is no way that it will stay the same through the temperature variations that a barrel sees both internal and external. The gas tube changes over time due to carbon build up internally as well as externally.

Looking at NRA high power records we see that some of the old records are falling. The 1000 point agg that stood for something like 40 years has been broken. The 600 yard record was broken 2 years ago. The first perfect 800 in a registered match was shot 3 years ago and has since been broken again. The person that shot the first 800 with a match rifle also shot an 800 with a service rifle in a nonregisterd match.

The people that shot these new records are not better holders than the competitors were 30, 40 or more years ago. What has allowed these people to shoot to levels not previously possible is simply technology. Guns are better than they were years ago. Triggers, sights, stocks and most likely barrel quality are better than the've ever been. Don't forget the invention of VLD bullets and improvements in powder and primers.

An AR can win the game of high power because it essentially is a 2 MOA game. I doubt that we will see AR's take over bench rest, see disavantages #1&2.

Coal Dragger
September 9, 2011, 02:14 PM
Jeff56,

I was referring to quality of parts given the design of the two operating systems. If you find that hard to understand then I should have made it more clear. The AR platform has inherent disadvantages compared to a bolt action (assuming we are talking about a target style action that is stiff and robust). The constraints of being forced to use a small detachable magazine that limits your options for ammo, alone is a huge disadvantage compared to a bolt action.

Not to say that an AR can't be made to be very accurate.

Eb1
September 9, 2011, 02:44 PM
Not neccessarlily, Coal_Dragger.
You can single load ARs as well, and what if the magazine length ammo is the most accurate in the said AR. I see zero advantage to either action.

Coal Dragger
September 9, 2011, 03:29 PM
Single loading an AR is a crutch that match shooters have to fall back on to run long heavy for caliber bullets that make the rifle competitive at the longer yardages of say a national match course. The magazine well is a limiting factor in the AR's design, and while magazine length ammo may be the most accurate at shorter distances I think you'll find that at longer ranges with an AR you'll need to be single loading long for caliber bullets.

If you want a rifle to single load and punch paper with off of a bench, a single shot Nesika will give you better results than an AR will. When I see an AR win a benchrest competition (not that I see benchrest shooting as all that useful) at the national level then we can say that it has no disadvantages in mechanical accuracy. Until then, you can believe what you want to but that will not make it so. I'll take proven results over speculation, and if absolute mechanical accuracy is what I am after I'll go for a bolt action.

Eb1
September 9, 2011, 03:39 PM
So you are saying that bolt gun shooters don't load longer than magazine length?
Your reasonings are not very solid. IMO.. You can only shoot one round at a time anyway, and the question was which was a more accurate action. It cannot be answered.

scythefwd
September 9, 2011, 03:49 PM
Since the stock and the receiver on a bench gun is bolted and custom fitted as one piece, there is a very slight advantage theoretically. Yes, the stock is removable, but the action is held firm, by screws and custom bedding blocks, so that the action isn't movable in the stock.

The AR's points of contact with the shooter are not one solid piece with the barrel and bolt carrier groups. There is potential (whether it actually surfaces or not) for the guns upper to shift minutely during the shot on the AR since it is not one solid piece with the buttstock. If the the upper was bolted so as to draw it down into the lower instead of having it pinned in place with smooth pins (threaded pins would eliminate the ability for it to theoretically slide side to side) there is potential for play. On old military rifles I had in basic... I could actually move the upper in the lower. I wouldn't expect to feel any play in a bench AR, but not feeling it move .0001 of an inch will still move your POI. Especially if that movement occurs during the shot.

chrome_austex
September 9, 2011, 04:04 PM
Its going to come down to the gun. In general, they're quite close (overlapping actually), with a slight nod to the modern bolt gun on average.

However, many ARs will out-shoot many bolt guns.

Howard Roark
September 9, 2011, 04:21 PM
If the the upper was bolted so as to draw it down into the lower instead of having it pinned in place with smooth pins (threaded pins would eliminate the ability for it to theoretically slide side to side) there is potential for play.

Bedding the upper and lower is a technique to help the AR shoot better. It's especially useful when shooting the larger calibers like the Hagar and 6mm BR off the smaller AR15 platform, rather than AR10. Service rifles are allowed to be modified by installing a draw down screw throught the through lower into the rear lug of the upper to make them more rigid.

coloradokevin
September 9, 2011, 04:34 PM
IMO the bolt action will generally win in accuracy when comparing any given class of rifle (box stock from a sporting goods store, custom jobs, low-end, high-end, or however you like to divide them). With this said, I think the margin of victory may or may not be substantial, depending upon your needs.

I can sit here and tell you that I always out shoot my $1,000+ AR-15's using my $800 bolt action rifle, but I have to admit that I can't give you a perfectly fair comparison on this subject, since my bolt gun wears a 10x scope, while my AR's are being shot without the aid of magnification.

But, regardless, I've seen some scoped AR's that can't hold an inch, and some custom job AR's that will shoot around 1/2 an inch. But, I think if you tried comparing the best AR's built to the best bolt guns built, the bolt gun will probably still win (though the margin of victory might be measured in the 0.1" range, or something like that). Does that matter? Depends on your purpose!

One BIG advantage to the bolt gun for range work, in my mind, is that I don't have to chase my brass all over hell and back every time I shoot. I fire, and the brass comes right out in my hand, exactly when I tell it to :)

SN13
September 9, 2011, 04:38 PM
As far as the bullet is concerned, accuracy begins at the chamber and ends at the muzzle.

If you can get a bullet to exit the muzzle at the same velocity, trajectory, etc. Every Time (Think consistency) then your point of impact will be the same. (ignoring wind and exterior forces)

From Chamber to Muzzle on an 18" barrel, 1MOA is a movement of .005" Considering the world record at 1000yrds is? 4.2"? or 40% of 1MOA... The barrel has to move .002" or less between all 10 shots. (this is approximately 50 MICROmeters)

And that's IF we don't consider wind a factor.

Coal Dragger
September 9, 2011, 04:52 PM
Eb1,

Sure some bolt gun shooters shoot longer than magazine length rounds, some don't even have magazines at all! You do realize this was a pretty open ended comparison of an AR operating systems mechanical accuracy vs basically any bolt actions mechanical accuracy right? Well the any bolt action can be a dedicated target action, and if absolute accuracy is what you are after that is what one would use right?

Well if we are talking about the most accurate examples of each type of operating system, especially at extended ranges then there is no comparison. The bolt action will win, not because an AR pattern rifle is not accurate it just has more limitations to it. Go ahead and stretch the legs of the most accurate AR you can think of out to say 1200yds or more AR15 or AR10 your pick, now compare that performance to what you could achieve with a bolt action built to the same level of precision in basically any caliber you want since you can find a bolt action that will accommodate it.

Do you think a .223, 6.5mm Grendel, 6.8SPC, or any of the AR10 chamberings will keep up with a .338 Lapua in a precision rifle at 1200 yards?

Even manufacturers that build both precision AR's and precision bolt guns, like Les Baer, pretty plainly offer better accuracy guarantees for their bolt actions than they do for their AR's. That should tell you all you need to know.

Coal Dragger
September 10, 2011, 03:20 AM
Well in defining what constitutes an AR I would insist that the very definition must include the capability to feed from the magazine. Otherwise you have a cumbersome and poorly designed single shot rifle with automatic ejection....

Coal Dragger
September 11, 2011, 02:47 PM
Yes I suppose you could, then it would be really cumbersome.

Eb1
September 11, 2011, 04:36 PM
I don't know. CD, we can agree to disagree. I have found and shot many of AR that will easily put bullets touching and in the x ring at 600 yards without a scope. I'd like to see the same done with an open sight bolt gun using hunter buck horns.
I doubt it can be done as easily.

To me the automatic action of the AR does not hinder accuracy. Neither does loading to mag length if the loads works good at that length.

I have seen bolt guns shoot at best 2" groups @ 100 yards. I am working on a load right now that in my .25-06, and because I pulled one out of the group it is over MOA. Other wise it would have been under MOA @ 100 yards.
As far as a 1200 yard shot goes. I don't know of a .224 bullet that has the weight or the BC to actually hold a group at that distance. Maybe some 6.5 or .308 to .338 bullets will.

That is to me apples to oranges, and takes the action completely out of the picture. If you're shooting a bolt .224 vs a auto .224 then I think you would be SOL with either action.

And cost is of no factor to me. As I have seen and also shot a $250 rifle that put the Kimber next to me to shame.
I agree that the bolt action is an accurate platform, but in today's world it isn't the only platform that can shoot top notch. Things have changed since 1960.

Coal Dragger
September 11, 2011, 04:47 PM
At that point I don't think it would qualify as an AR any longer. Once you have made the decision to operate the rifle like a single shot bolt action, you would be far better off just buying and building a single shot bolt action. A much larger selection of calibers for maximum accuracy and versatility will be opened up to you at that point. Not to mention stronger stiffer actions, and a much wider array of stock and trigger options.

In my own mind (and others are free to vehemently disagree) an AR is by definition an auto loading rifle, therefore it must be capable of automatically loading the ammunition it is being fed from the magazine.

Although an AR can be used in a single loading format and many shooters do this, that is not exactly what it was designed for. To give an outlandish example of taking a rifle action and using it in a way that it is not ideally designed for; you could take a single shot bolt action rifle and fabricate some electro-hydraulic device to mount to the rifle to automatically cycle the bolt and drop a fresh round onto the feeding raceway for you. Might be a bit heavy and bulky though.

Coal Dragger
September 11, 2011, 05:00 PM
Eb1,

Why would you try to compare an AR15 made for match applications with aperture sights and a hunting rifle with buckhorn sights? Sighting arrangements have no bearing on this comparison.

If you want an apples to apples comparison go ahead and take an AR15 with a match grade bbl, and a match type bolt action with a match grade bbl; and chamber them in the same cartridge. Put the same sights on each one, and then develop the most accurate load for each one possible. I'd wager that 9 times out of 10 the bolt action will win the accuracy contest.

Show me an AR that has won at the national level of benchrest competition against bolt actions. If the bolt has no advantage in mechanical accuracy surely the AR platform would be competitive in the game of extreme mechanical accuracy that is benchrest competition.

Eb1
September 11, 2011, 05:32 PM
I say the question cannot be answered. I have said that earlier in the thread.

I will say take a "Benchrest" shooter with an AR, and I bet he smokes you with any rifle you choose. Because they know how to shoot. I'd say take a Master HP shooter, and he'd do the same. Standing no less.
Your benchrest comments hold zero water. It is a platform they choose to shoot. Nothing more. So the odds are in the bolts favor.

You cannot answer this question without bias. It is not possible.

I am to intellectually dishonest to have this conversation any further.

Coal Dragger
September 11, 2011, 06:48 PM
You do mention that bolt actions are the platform that champion benchrest shooters choose, but you equate it to personal choice and not superior performance. Shooter skill does not enter into this argument.

You also assume that I am biased against AR's, but I am not. I like them just fine, I even own one. There was a time in the not too distant past where I carried one around with me everyday in a big sand box and used it on a regular basis. It is a great platform for what it is, but it is not the end all be all of rifles.

Eb1
September 11, 2011, 06:54 PM
No, I think your biased for bolts, and I did not surrender. I just refuse to go forth with the back and forth getting nowhere. It isn't high road to bicker. Maybe you'll learn something from this. If it makes you feel the bigger man that I refuse to go any further with this bickering, then that is your problem you will have to work on yourself.

I am also tired of you putting words in my mouth, and trying to re-post something I posted out of context. It is childish at best. Better to leave than to stoop to your level.

Eb1
September 11, 2011, 06:57 PM
unsubscribed

FlyinBryan
September 11, 2011, 07:08 PM
im proud to own both

Coal Dragger
September 11, 2011, 07:15 PM
Yeah, I guess I did get a little carried away there. Sorry if I offended anyone.

Sometimes I get into spirited arguments.

FlyinBryan
September 11, 2011, 07:17 PM
i have both and my ar is probably the most accurate rifle i own, but i dont have a high end bolt gun.

i have however seen some old timers at the range with some custom bolt rifles that i cant hang with.

Coal Dragger
September 11, 2011, 07:19 PM
Well I guess I should edit a post back there in that case...

Coal Dragger
September 11, 2011, 07:27 PM
I'll let rifle builders that build both very accurate AR type rifles, and bolt action rifles have the final say here in what they are willing to guarantee for accuracy.

GA Precision builds both and guarantees his bolt actions down to 3/8 MOA, and his AR's to 3/4 MOA. Frankly I'd be thrilled with either.
http://www.gaprecision.net/

Les Baer guarantees both bolt actions and AR's to be 1/2 MOA, however closer inspection shows that the AR's are held to 5 shot groups to meet that standard, and bolt actions are held to 10 shot groups.
http://www.lesbaer.com/

These are just two that come to mind that build both platforms, and I expect they make their guarantees based off of what they expect them to be capable of given equal quality of parts and assembly.

Coal Dragger
September 11, 2011, 10:34 PM
If we really wanted to play a semantics game we could define an AR as literally any autoloading rifle. In that context we would not be limited in any way to an AR15/AR10 type platform, and could instead be talking about a theoretical platform made specifically for maximum accuracy that happens to self load.

For example an engineer may design a self loading rifle with an extremely stiff action, and long barrel shank or some other method of very rigidly securing the barrel to the action. Freed from the constraints of an AR15 type magazine well, a magazine could be sized to accommodate just about any projectile length desired. We already know that an AR type rifle can achieve consistent bolt lockup so that is not an issue. The only limiting factors I can think of with a clean sheet autoloading rifle made for extreme accuracy would be chamber specs, and if gas operated the degree of deviation in velocity due to expanding powder gas being tapped off to run the action. The chamber I think would present more of a challenge, since the tighter you make the chamber the greater the accuracy potential, but the less forgiving it is of variances in feeding you might find in an autoloading mechanism.

SN13
September 12, 2011, 11:36 AM
You could bypass the Gas system altogether and go with an Electric feeding/extracting system.

At which point you wouldn't be limited to linear mechanical forces via gas/recoil operation.

Also, you wouldn't be limited to a typical MAgazine with springs etc. You could have a gravity fed box that drops a round into the chamber a-la hand feed and the box could be mounted to the sleigh, not the gun, which would eliminate any issues with recoil deforming the rounds.

Basically take a bolt gun and add electronics to it to automate it.

If you enjoyed reading about "Bolt Action vs AR Accuracy" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!