Accuracy: AR-15 vs Bolt Action 223

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Dr.Zubrato, Apr 5, 2014.

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  1. Dr.Zubrato

    Dr.Zubrato Member

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    asking out of curiosity
    I've heard some very respectable accuracy can be achieved with the AR, and I've been able to bench rest about 1/2 MOA at 100 yard with a non free floated 1/7 LW barrel and m855 surplus.

    For let's say comparable price points, and both rifles are free floated, how much more accuracy can an bolt action squeeze out of the 223/5.56 cartridge?

    Let's assume both platforms could have competent reloaders working up handloads for optimal accuracy, how close or wide is the margin?
     
  2. amlevin

    amlevin Member

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    Adding to your assumptions "a more than competent shooter", I'd only guess that the spread would be about 1/4 MOA at most.

    Autoloaders don't have to be inaccurate but do as a rule suffer some from the fact that there are parts getting tossed back and forth during the firing process.

    Results vary. I've seen shooters with AR's shoot tight groups that would fit inside the best groups shot by some bolt action shooters using the same caliber and vice versa.

    Other than the "moving parts" issue, the only real factor is the handloader and shooter.
     
  3. moxie

    moxie Member

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    That's impressive shooting as it is. Especially with surplus M855. (Where are you getting surplus by the way?) Try some heavy match ammo, factory or reloaded, and you'll be shooting one holers.

    Parts "getting tossed back and forth" isn't much of a culprit. Bullet's gone by then. The firing mechanism and subsequent lock time is a big difference.
     
  4. jakk280rem

    jakk280rem Member

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    By the time all that stuff begins to move, the bullet is already on its way. Bullet and barrel quality and chamber dimensions play a much bigger part in accuracy than how the cartridge happens to become present in the chamber or how the firing pin becomes energized with spring energy.
     
  5. Cee Zee

    Cee Zee member

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    Self loaders have to be able to feed which means they can't be as tight as a bolt action as a general rule. And even the slightest variation in how a bullet rests in the chamber before being fired is going to have an affect on accuracy. Semi-autos can be made to work and shoot accurately but it takes more effort and better tools which means more money. So although you can get an AR that shoots very well you're likely going to pay a premium for it. There's always that chance you'll get a regular AR that shoots very, very well but the chances of that aren't as great as the chance of getting a bolt action that shoots very, very well. I've seen auto-loaders shoot great right from the factory though. It's just not that common. I've shot a lot of AR's and none of them compare to the accuracy of my varmint rifle .223. There are some that shoot great but I've never shot one.
     
  6. dprice3844444

    dprice3844444 member

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    se fla i love claymores 01/sot
    alot of the military snipers are using 18 inch larue tactical ar-10's.if set up properly,they are every bit as accurate as a bolt,with faster second shot capabilities
     
  7. M1key

    M1key Member

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    1/2 minute with green tip out of a LW non-floated barrel AR?

    That would be legend class in my book. Forget the boltie.

    M
     
  8. IndianaBoy

    IndianaBoy Member

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    Assuming quality rifles with equally good barrels and equally good triggers....

    It would take a damn good shooter to notice the difference. It really boils down to practical accuracy.

    For benchrest, the ability to chamber a cartridge that EXACTLY fits the chamber, with consistent neck tension and perfect COL with the bullet being at the sweet spot with respect to the lands.... Of course a bolt action is superior.


    For shooting steel out to 4-600 yards, or shooting groups for bragging rights against your buddies with factory ammo or run of the mill handloads, I prefer the AR.
     
  9. Dr.Zubrato

    Dr.Zubrato Member

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    It was cabela's m855, and came in small boxes of 300.
    the real credit goes to a calm day with no wind, BCM and a RRA 2 stage.

    after watching some bolt action guys baby their handloads into the chamber, I think it could be the chambering when the round hits the cut outs in the barrel extension, i guess if all things are the same.

    actually, does anyone have a concentricity gauge and some time for science? :D
     
  10. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    Obviously when it comes to bench rest rifles, bolt guns are leading the gas guns. When you get down to equipment only, eliminate the person, bolt guns will always have the edge.

    I have been shooting Across the Course Highpower for more than two decades, I used to see 223 bolt match rifles, but they sort of died out and were replaced with gas guns. I am seeing more and more gas gun match rifles in larger calibers, particularly 6 mm and 6.5mm. When you start talking about how well a human can hold and judgments on wind, etc, whatever little accuracy advantage a bolt gun has is not that great of a factor in XTC, and in fact, the groups fired by gas gunners in rapid fire are smaller. XTC requires you to shoot standing, sitting rapid fire, prone rapid fire, and prone slow fire. It is very hard work to accurately shoot a hand held rifle in these positions, and the human aiming error and shooting error tends to be orders of magnitude greater than anything else.

    I have scored for friends shooting a 223 match gas gun at 600 yards and I cannot say they would have done any better with a 223 bolt rifle. At long range, wind reading ability is far more critical than the accuracy differences between gas guns and bolt rifles. But, it is my opinion that bolt rifles are better long range prone rifles for reasons other than inherent accuracy. Bolt rifles don't have the operating pressure constraints that gas guns have, triggers on bolt rifles are lighter, lock time is better and I believe, a little less jarring.

    Start shooting competitively and in a couple of decades you will have a better basis to judge.
     
  11. Cee Zee

    Cee Zee member

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    Well I've shot a lot of rifles at 500 yards including my share of AR's whether they were 15's or 10's. I've yet to see even one of those AR's match the accuracy of my Savage bolt action varmint rifle. It actually hasn't been close. Yes the military uses some rifles that are about as accurate. If I had their budget I'd have one of those rifles too. Those Larue's are 3 times the price of my Savage.
     
  12. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

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    If I remember correctly, spec for M855 is roughly 2 MOA from a test fixture so you might have some miracle ammo there.
     
  13. Dr.Zubrato

    Dr.Zubrato Member

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    Besides being zeroed for 100 yards im really not doing anything special to the rounds. admittedly, it was only 3 shot group,but who would want to open up a group like that with a flyer, lol. I won't say I can shoot like that all day anyday, but m855 can pretty consistantly hit 1 moa at least from a cold barrel.
    now xm193 I don't have the same kind of luck and it's pretty consistently 2-3 moa, so I stick with m855, and my 55gr handloads.
    I had luck shrinking handloaded groups at 75yds to a tiny cloverleaf when I started duplicating m855 OAL 2.26"
     
  14. Jackal

    Jackal Member

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    I personally have always shot more accurately with a bolt action than any of my AR's. I cannot seem to shoot any pistol gripped rifle as well as a traditionally stocked one.
     
  15. GaSwamper

    GaSwamper Member

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    It just so happens me and my father are putting this to the test right now although its .223 vs. 6.8. I just finished a 6.8 build and he decided to get a Browning x-bolt in .223 at the same time both barrels are still being broke in and we're still playing with the loads but as of right now the 6.8 is shooting a little tighter the x bolt is hovering around 1 to 3/4 at 100 and the 6.8 is around 1/2'' @ 100. I'd say price difference is about 300 dollars more for the ar but it could have been done cheaper. Although the xbolt is a fine rifle dad was a little more impressed with how the 6.8 shot but not a good comparison since the ar is muzzle broke and has a custom drop in 3.5 trigger but still he was impressed enough to put me to building him one the same.
     
  16. tuj

    tuj Member

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    The big difference between a stock AR and a bolt gun is going to be lock time. With a good AR trigger, you can get lock time down to close to the bolt gun, so the rest comes down to how good your ammo and barrel are.
     
  17. Jason248

    Jason248 Member

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    I can't tell the difference personally but the furthest I shoot paper is out to 300yds
     
  18. bullzeye8

    bullzeye8 Member

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    I remember hearing which makes sense to me that AR-15's can be very accurate but for the same price the bolt is usually going to beat out the AR accuracy wise.
     
  19. jpwilly

    jpwilly Member

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    Really?! I'm not going to go as far as saying this is one of the tallest tales I've heard in a while but M855 doesn't do 1/2MOA all day long and I'd love it if it did. Would save me a lot of time at the reloading bench.

    What is the use for the rifle? Semi-auto's are for action shooting sports and great for plinking. If it's Across the Course highpower, 3 Gun etc the AR is the gun to use. Bench Rest or F-Class shooting (precision) it's still the bolt action.

    Bolt action will offer more precision than an AR but if the game is simply sub-moa than both offer that and can be had with a good barrel and ammo selection.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2014
  20. George44

    George44 Member

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    I've seen some really accurate AR's that shot excellent groups but not with m855 ammo.I believe the acceptance of M-855 is nearly 4 inches for a 10 shot group.
     
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