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Bolt Action vs AR Accuracy

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by LubeckTech, Sep 5, 2011.

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  1. LubeckTech

    LubeckTech Member

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    Generally speaking what kind of difference in accuracy is there (or is there one?) between these two platforms??
     
  2. Robert

    Robert Moderator Staff Member

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    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?
     
  3. Tim the student

    Tim the student Member

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    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.
     
  4. LubeckTech

    LubeckTech Member

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    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
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2011
  5. Kliegl

    Kliegl member

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    The action makes a bit of difference, but the barrel and the ammo used make more.
     
  6. Robert

    Robert Moderator Staff Member

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    Then just buy one ;)
     
  7. basicblur

    basicblur Member

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    You might want to check out this link, 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.
     
  8. wingman

    wingman Member

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    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.
     
  9. hardluk1

    hardluk1 member

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    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.
     
  10. Tim the student

    Tim the student Member

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

    cacoltguy Member

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    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.
     
  12. 68wj

    68wj Member

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    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.
     
  13. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    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.
     
  14. Robert

    Robert Moderator Staff Member

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    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.
     
  15. cacoltguy

    cacoltguy Member

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    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.
     
  16. Robert

    Robert Moderator Staff Member

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    If that is the case the blot gun will win hands down all day long.
     
  17. hawk45

    hawk45 Member

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    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.
     
  18. scythefwd

    scythefwd Member

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    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.
     
  19. Zerodefect

    Zerodefect Member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2011
  20. TonyAngel

    TonyAngel Member

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    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.
     
  21. scythefwd

    scythefwd Member

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    You can get a submoa vanguard for what the starting costs of an AR runs.
     
  22. PreMod70

    PreMod70 Member

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    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.
     
  23. VT Deer Hunter

    VT Deer Hunter Member

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    Bolt may be a little more accurate. May depend on the rifle and shooter too.
     
  24. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    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.

    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.
     
  25. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    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.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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