Practical Accuracy


October 5, 2012, 09:39 PM
Good Evening,

I had a good day at the range today testing some loads for my rifles.

When I start load development I usually have a velocity target in mind and I want the load to be accurate. I'm developing these loads for hunting and informal paper punching. My "standard" measure of accuracy is to shoot a group at 100 yards and put a quarter over the target upon retrieval. If the quarter touches or covers all the holes and the velocity goal is met the load is a keeper.

My 257 Roberts is being a bit stubborn. I've been experimenting with various combinations and it seems that 1.5" groups are about the best I can come up with. Is this level of accuracy common? Is 1.5 MOA accuracy o.k. for hunting?

I have been doing somethings which have improved the overall accuracy. I now take two rifles to the range and shoot short strings and alternate rifles to allow for cooling.

Comments and recommendations appreciated. Thanks.


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October 5, 2012, 09:51 PM
IMHO... 1.5 MOA is plenty accurate for mid sized game.....

not every rifle will shoot 1 moa groups... in fact, I'd wager most wont.

October 5, 2012, 09:59 PM
30 years ago you could hardly buy a sporting rifle that would shoot 1.5 MOA consistently with factory ammo of the time, no matter what you paid for them.

A 1.5 MOA Model 70 Winchester 30-06 in 1955 would have made a lot of hunters really happy.

1.5 MOA = approx 1.5" at 100 yards, or 3.0" at 200, or 4.5" at 300, or 6" at 400.

How may shooter do you know that can hold 6" at 400 yards with a 1/2 MOA rifle under hunting / field conditions??

Somehow, those old guys filled the freezer every year, regardless of the missing .5 MOA of their rifles.

BTW: A .25 cent quarter measures about as close to 3/4 MOA as it does to 1 MOA.

If all your other hunting rifles will shoot 3/4 MOA consistently, congratulations!!
You are in a small minority in my neck of the woods!


October 6, 2012, 08:23 AM
Practical accuracy for me is being able to hit what I want with a small margin of error. I mostly shoot 40 to 100 yards with the 40 being the usual so extreme accuracy is not that important. But I have several rifles that will deliver MOA accuracy at 100 yards with my developed handloads. I also have some that will delver a shotgun pattern at 20 yards.:eek: I still have fun trying to make the poor shooters more accurate but do not loose any sleep over this.:D If I can reliably shoot my deer/whatever with minimal suffering at a reasonable range then I am happy with my results. I agree when you hear all the rifles are one hole shooters take it with a grain or two of salt.:D IMHO the Savage rifles are consistently the best overall bang for the buck when wanting accuracy without breaking the bank as far as factory production off the shelf shooters.

41 Mag
October 6, 2012, 08:37 AM
Usually when I get the velocity I want with a particular powder and bullet combination, but still not getting quite the groups I want I will start to play with the seating depth a bit. I will load a couple of boxes up a bit long, then take one of my small single stage presses out to the range and start off as long as will function in the magazine. I will shoot 3-5 rounds at that length, then seat the next 5 in around .005 deeper. I will continue to do this until I run out of shells or see a marked improvement in my groups compared to what the original length was.

If I get down to the original length and still haven't seen any improvement, or I run out of shells, I will come back with another couple or so boxes and start where I left off and go a bit more. Usually I find at least two groups which will be smaller either on the long or short end. Similarly, while working up with the powder charge there is usually one load on the low end and one on the upper end of the data which show better accuracy than anything else.

If none of the above works I might also switch to a little less primer, as I normally use the Win-WLR for 98% of my loads. They are a solid hot primer and I have for the most part not had issues with. However I have a few loads which threw groups like you speak of that dropped right into tightly clustered balls when I simply switched to a CCI or Fed. Everything else being the same, sometimes it is simply a matter of ignition which makes the difference.

This all said, I do have a couple of VERY particular rifles which took me a long time to find "THE" load in. Sometimes it is simply a matter of persistence and trying a few combinations which might not be what you thought they should, no matter how many other people get great results from them. I have a Rem BDL in .270 which will shoot 46.5grs of IMR-3031 and the 130gr Nosler BT into literally one hole groups if I do my part out to 200yds. It is simply the most accurate load I have ever developed for the rifle. I worked it up for my mom when she was still hunting in her late 60's and early 70's. Recoil is almost non existent in the 7.5# rifle and it has dropped more deer than any other load I have shot through it. Bottom line is it simply works, but you won't ever see anyone recommending it as something good over any of the 4350's or 4831's. Which in mentioning none of them has ever shot a decent group from that rifle with anything less than a 150gr bullet. When my daughter as only 11 she dropped a feral hog with it at a lasered 365yds with one perfect shot. It just works.

As for your groups, would I hunt with them, heck yes, and not think twice about it. There are plenty of folks out there that consider pie plate accuracy at 100yds a decent load. I am not amongst them, but it don't matter. If you are confident with the load, pick your shots reasonably, and can put the bullet through the boiler works your going to have meat on the ground. Me personally, I like those little multi-shot ragged edged holes at what ever range I have my rifle sighted in at. I like to know that I have done all I can do for the rifle and load, and the rest is on my. That way if and when something does go wrong, I am not second guessing my equipment the rest of the weekend. I also know up front that I am usually the weakest link in the equation, and come crunch time, I don't want to have in the back of my mind, "is this shot going to be the one which flies 3" out of the group or will it be the next one?"

I have a little Ruger Compact chambered in .308 which has never shot much if any better than what you have, even with handloads. In fact it actually shoots the cheap Remington CL's better than anything. Still in all, it is the most used rifle I have in my safe, and has taken enough deer and hogs to fill several folks chest freezers many times over.

Like I said if your confident in the combo, go hunt with it, and be happy. Work on the tweaking after the season.

October 6, 2012, 08:39 AM
I re-thought this, and answer the question with a question; "Can you kill stuff with it?"

If YES, then it's practically accurate.

If NO, then you need to figure out why

October 6, 2012, 08:41 AM
Depends on what you are shooting at and how far away. I have read and heard many people over the years say keeping them all in a pie plate was good enough. If that's the best your gun can do you had better be able to shoot them all into the same hole with a good rifle or once the rifles inaccuracy stacks with the shooters you'll be doing a lot of missing or tracking.

October 6, 2012, 09:17 AM
in 2011, I practiced for a week at ranges up to 600 yards before hunting.
Then antelope season opened and 10 minutes later a herd walked in front of me. That shot was less than 100 yards.

Then my brother saw a nice buck antelope in a herd at 500 yards. He has never shot at a target at more than 100 yards in his life. He took 5 minutes of aiming prone with a bipod, shot, and missed. Later he settled for a doe at closer range.

So what is practical accuracy depends on what shots you get.

October 6, 2012, 02:13 PM
I think this question is pretty much answered id just like to throw this this in. Its nice to see there are people who take the time to practice shooting and take everything into account before hunting season. almost everyone i know around here only shoot there rifle during hunting season. Most of the time the rifle is off, they are not use to the recoil and flinch, or they just cant hold the rifle steady. when you hear stories about people shooting at 6 deer and not one was hit or someone taking more than one shot to take the animal down its pathetic.

I hunt with a single shot rifle. i know the limitations of how far i can shoot and i can place a shot pretty well. i also shoot quite a bit and like most of you take time to develop a load.

I think i need to start talking to some new people :)

October 6, 2012, 04:54 PM
Most of the time the rifle is off, they are not use to the recoil and flinch, or they just cant hold the rifle steadyThis is correct, it is amazing to see folks that can shoot better groups at 100yds with a 22lr than they can do with a "deer rifle".

October 6, 2012, 05:09 PM
hunting accuracy to me is hit 2" a 100 yards Cold bore ; ) PS I'm lucky to shoot past 50 yards on my lease ;) Unless I want to hunt a Clear cut.


October 8, 2012, 08:36 AM
Hi All,

Thanks for the feedback. I guess I'll be 90% content with my rifle that shoots 1.5" groups at 100 yards and thankful my others seem to do about 1/2" better.

I'll fiddle with seating depths, different primers (Match?), and some other things but won't drive myself crazy over it.


October 8, 2012, 07:56 PM
This is my practical accuracy. Target was at 50 yards. Shooting open sights unsupported offhand as fast I could work the lever and acquire the target positively. This is unrealistic scenario. I have never taken more than one shot. I shoot with a sling in the field. Longest shot I would get on a whitetail is 100 yards.

Yes, it's way more than a quarter. But all shots are within half of, minute of deer accuracy. I'm sure if I sat down w/ a rest I could shoot a good group. But it's not necessary. It's also satisfying to use bullets that you cast yourself :) I just got a Lubesizer so the shots may get closer together.

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October 12, 2012, 05:18 PM
Hi Guys,

Here's what I've been able to come up with.

257 Roberts, 117 gr Sierra Pro Hunter, 43.8 grains Hunter powder, CCI 200 primer, 100 yards. All hits are in the "8" ring of a B2 pistol target (50 ft. slow fire pistol). The circle is just about 2" so that's about 2 MOA which is not fantastic, BUT, none of my shots is more than 1 inch off target at 100 yards. I think that should do for hunting.

I'm practicing digital camera/uploading as well so sorry if it a bit fuzzy.


October 12, 2012, 07:23 PM
Since I only shoot coyotes and 98% of my shots are within 100 yards, I use a 3" orange circle for a target at 100 yards. If I can get all 5 shots in that circle, the load is good to go. Mind you though, if you're talking about longer yardages, it's a whole different ballgame.

October 12, 2012, 08:18 PM
The more accurate you can make your rifle the better your odds are of making a clean ethical kill with it. If my load wont shoot 1" or better I either work a different bullet powder or I get rid of it. I'm no long range marksman but I want every bit of accueacy I can get.
This is how my 7 mag was shooting
This is where I worked it
This is where my varmint rifle was shooting
This is where I'm at now and still working it
This is how my 22-250 shoots most of the time

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