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Rifle Groups

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by AR-10, May 26, 2003.

  1. AR-10

    AR-10 Well-Known Member

    What do you call a group, as in;

    "My Schootzenboomer 2000 averages 1/4 MOA groups."

    Ten shot?
    Five shot?
    Three shot?

    One shot? :D

    What do you usually shoot when you're trying to put a bunch of holes in a little spot? I use all of the examples above, depending on what I'm trying to show myself. Just wondered what the "industry standard" for the number of shots to make a group is.

    I have found one shot groups to be the most consistant, although I still get that occasional flyer.:confused:...:p
  2. TechBrute

    TechBrute Well-Known Member

    Five shots is what should be used, and that's what I use, but most people seem to like to use 3 shot groups so they can show how their hunting rifle "shoots the same groups as them fancy schmancy tackticamal black rifles." A five shot group is kind of the breaking point where the thinner barrels start to degrade.
  3. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Moderator Emeritus

    Depends on your use. If your use includes long strings of fire, then by all means includ that in the group testing. I test with 10 shot groups or two 5 shots per string.
  4. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Well-Known Member


    At my range (limited to 200 yards), I fire a 20-round magazine at a black human silouette target at 200 yards, from prone (with or without bipod). I walk down range. If there are twenty holes in my paper enemy, I'm happy.

    But that's just me. :eek:
  5. AR-10

    AR-10 Well-Known Member

    Yes, different methods for different applications.

    Which is why a "group" for me might consist of anywhere from three to twenty eight rounds going downrange.

    What got me to pondering this was a thread I read on another board. A poster was discussing his MOA prowess and made the statement "and that is not a three shot group." He seemed a little surly, so I did not ask if he preferred more or less than three holes to make a proper group.

    Just wondered if there was a standard. Five makes sense to me.
  6. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Well-Known Member

    I think five might be the standard since five rounds is the typical capacity of a bolt action rifle.

    But, why not more? Why not as many as you can shoot without reloading? If a 5-shot, 2" group is good, a 20-shot 2" group must be better, right? More consistent accuracy over time with barrel heat up, right?

    I don't even bother measuring groups myself. I guess I don't sweat the small stuff. I so rarely shoot at an actual bullseye target anyway. I just try to hit the silouette. If I can find a longer than 200 yard range, I'll challenge myself more, seeing if I can hit that same silouette at 400, 500, 600 yards...
  7. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    Five is pretty much standard, although some use three. Or you can do like Mas Ayoob: shoot five and count the three you like best! :eek:

    I believe five tests the breaking point of man and machine. Like the other guy said, the bbl starts to heat up and may walk if it's inclined to. And the shooter has to maintain his discipline to put those last two shots into the same group the first three went in to. ;)
  8. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    From my early days in centerfire, I was happy to accept the five-shot group as the standard. "Everybody does it" and that's the way I learned.

    I changed my style from sighting in for new rifles or new scopes on older rifles. That is, I move the "center" of a three-shot triangle, not just any one shot.

    Now, most of my shooting is hunting. So, it's rare to need more than one shot; certainly rare to miss on the first and then worry about group size when Bambi is at wide open throttle in overdrive.

    For a hunter, then, a three-shot group provides all the information that is necessary.

    For a competitor who shoots five-shot strings or ten-shot strings, it's a whole 'nother ballgame. Three shots won't provide adequate information.

  9. Soap

    Soap Well-Known Member

    I am borderline obsessive-compulsive about rifle groups so I fire 20.
  10. tex_n_cal

    tex_n_cal Well-Known Member

    ^ what Art said :)

    Five shot for target or varmint rifles. Or for my disgustingly accurate XP100:) Three shots for light deer or big game rifles.

    Three groups of five, when you're really showing off...:D
  11. tex_n_cal

    tex_n_cal Well-Known Member

    ...like this...

  12. cratz2

    cratz2 Well-Known Member

    It kinda depends. I like thre shot groups to post. And to really see what a rifle is capable of, a 9-shot group (3, 3-shot groups allowing the barrel to cool in between) is pretty indicative.

    I guess I'd split the difference and say a 5 shot group is probably what should be used.
  13. Swampy

    Swampy Well-Known Member

    Like Steve Smith, I shoot NRA and CMP Highpower.

    In this game 10 or 20 shot strings are the norm.

    When testing a new M1 or a new load for one of my Match Grades I always shoot a minimum of 8 shots and most times 10. I find that shooting 3 or 5 shot groups to determine a rifle-loads accuracy potential just don't cut it.

    How does I know this???

    By watching the groups form in the spotting scope.

    Shoot 3 shots and look at the group in the scope. Notice the distance between the two furthest apart.

    Shoot 2 more shots and look... Fully 90% of the time the group will be BIGGER than it was before.

    Shoot 3 more rounds (total of 8) and look through the scope. Two thirds of the time, the group will be bigger still.

    Shoot 2 more rounds (total of 10). About a quarter of the time the group will be even bigger than before.

    As you shoot more and more rounds into a single group you see two things happen. The chance that the group will get bigger with any one additional shot decreases..... and the SIZE of any additional increase goes down as well.

    This shows you that you are reaching the upper limits of the variables that go toward determining how far apart the next shot will be from the center of the group formed by the previous ones.

    Can you say "Statistics 101"???

    For the purposes of "braggin' rights", I could take every Garand or Mauser or Enfield in my vault out and shoot a single 3 shot group at 100 yds with it. A good many of them would put 3 shots under 1-1/2 or 2 inches. Pretty good for the old milsurps.

    If, however, I turned around and shot a single 10 shot group out of all these warhorses, very few would end up with a group size under 2 inches. Most would run around 3 to 3-1/2 and I'm sure some would hit 4.

    Looks like a whole different story then..... and not nearly so great for braggin' about.... BUT it's a more meaningful expression of what the rifle is actually capable of, regardless of how impressive it sounded.

    Another aspect I've not even heard anyone comment on is CONSISTENCY of groups. Once I fire a rifle and make a 10 shot group and have a "number" of MOA it's capable of, I have to ask myself..... CAN IT DO IT AGAIN??? and again.... and again???

    Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes not.... A rifle-load combo that put 10 into 2.0 inches first try, might put them into 3.0 the next (or 1-1/2).

    What's the average 10 shot group size after 4-5 groups??? Having THAT particular bit of information is a REAL indicator of how the rifle will perform over the long haul of competition shooting.

    The end result here is that determining the accuracy potential of a rifle used in Highpower Competition demands that you find out how it performs over a high number of consecutive shots fired. A rifle that won't keep 10-20 consecutive shots inside the 10 ring (X-ring??) of a target is not much use as a tool of competition. Firing 3 to 5 shot groups just won't cut it in making this determination......

    While this degree of accuracy labeling might be more than most folks demand for their particular purposes, I think that it's pretty much the norm for anyone who is really serious about any form of comp shooting.

    In any case.... for Highpower shooters the "braggin' rights" don't come from talking about your rifles last test group, but about the score that was posted next to your name at the last Match...... :D

    Just more of my ramblings.

    Best to all,
  14. Jon Coppenbarger

    Jon Coppenbarger Well-Known Member

    I must be different as I go by this way.
    when shooting with a scope (only checking zero's for hunting) once I can keep 3 or 4 shots in a 10 inch group at 200 yards I'am happy (I flinch alot with a scope).

    now with open sights laying in a prone position at say 200 yards I would think that 1 1/2" or less is about average. mow that is when i call the shot good and down the middle.

    now it does not matter if it is 200.300 or even 600 yards i find if you know how your rifle shoots when you look at the target 99% of the time I know exactly where the shot will show on the paper with open sights.

    I need to practice more with a scope but it will be at least sept. before that happens.
  15. Ledbetter

    Ledbetter Well-Known Member

    Just my opinion

    I think a small three shot group is an indicator that the rifle is good.

    A small five shot group attests to both rifle and shooter. I can't count the number of times I have turned an excellent "group" into a mediocre group on the last shot or two. It's a matter of concentration and consistency.

    Lately at the range I have been shooting at 1" black dots from 100 yards. Five shots each.
  16. Sactown

    Sactown Well-Known Member

    I've been using 5-shot groups, although the best group I have ever shot in my life was a 1-shot group.
  17. bogie

    bogie Well-Known Member

    If you're not using a series of wind indicators, you'll get a lot of big groups. With a sidewind, you'll see lots of horizontal.

    I saw a 0.158" aggregate of five groups fired last week at the Supershoot (by my gunsmith!). The "standard" is five 5 shot groups.

    At 200 yards, I shot a .328 group, which was followed up by a 1.314 group (sigh... gotta watch the wind). Even tho I'm pushing a 68 grain 6mm projectile at around 3,400 fps, the wind will still blow 'em around.
  18. hksw

    hksw Well-Known Member

    For me, at least 5 rounds. All of my bolt actions hold 5 rounds in the mag so I just load up the mag, shoot until empty, note the group size. (Don't have any single shots but if I did, 5 rounds it would be.) If I where to purchase a bolt action with a mag the holds less than 5 rounds, then my official groups would be how many rounds are in the mag. I would still shoot 5 rounds groups for data purposes to standardize with my other rifles though.

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