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Bolt action vs. AR in .223 - Accuracy difference?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by gunsrfun1, Oct 4, 2020.

  1. gunsrfun1

    gunsrfun1 Member

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    Thank you all. This bolt-action would be a new toy for me, with a "possible" use in the future for some hunting (varmint, etc.). Sounds like there are a lot of variables here, but that the bolt action probably won't be a whole lot more accurate than my AR. But I wouldn't want to go hunting with an AR. (Just don't like the idea of an AR for hunting.)
    I'll have to think this over a bit more. A new trigger in my AR might be a better expenditure.
    Thanks again for all your input.
     
  2. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

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    Oh, just get the new rifle, shoot them both, and let us know. :D
     
  3. doubleh

    doubleh Member

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    Yep, you know you want the bolt action so go get it. Shooting guns is fun and the more guns you have to shoot the more fun you will have. The voice of experience speaking here.

    I bought an inexpensive bolt 223 for my oldest grandson to use coyote hunting as he couldn't afford one at the time. With a little tinkering and load work-up it became a less than minute of angle rifle at 100 yards off a heavy front rest and a solid bench at my gun club range. 3/4" on still days happened regularly. I bought a fairly expensive AR for me and with much more tinkering that was more expensive and load work-up it became the equal of the bolt action, 3/4" at 100 yards. I had a lot of enjoyment working with both guns but if dollars had been the only consideration the bolt gun would be far in front of the AR on that score and delivered exactly the same results. The bolt gun also weighed a little less than the AR if that is any consideration.
     
  4. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    We couldn't possibly answer this question without knowing how accurate your current AR is. An AR15 can be well under 1" at 100 yards all the way to 4" at 100 yards. I would expect a 783 remington to shoot 1.5" or less at 100 yards with capable ammo, optics, and a good trigger puller. If it was much worse than that I would send it back.
     
  5. zdc1775

    zdc1775 Member

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    I can say that I was also able to easily qualify as an expert on the USMC KD range* using an M-16 A2 and then do it again using an M-16 A4 with ACOG. I then went on the be a designated marksman and was eventually issued a MK12 that could easily keep all rounds under 1 MOA if I was doing my part so I can't see that the newer, modern versions of the M16 were any less accurate that the originals.

    *At the time the KD range consisted of 5 rounds standing, 5 rounds kneeling, 5 rounds sitting slow fire and 10 rounds sitting rapid fire at 200 yards; 5 rounds sitting slow fire and 10 rounds prone rapid fire at 300 yards; and 10 rounds prone slow fire at 500 yards
     
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  6. Offfhand

    Offfhand Member

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    Within the capability to do what? What size targets are we talking about, moose or mice?
     
  7. zdc1775

    zdc1775 Member

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    Mice might be a little small but gopher's should be doable, definitely groundhogs.
     
  8. d2wing

    d2wing Member

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    Thanks for the update. Good to know.
     
  9. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    Comparing an off the shelf budget bolt rifle to “an AR” is like asking, is a Ford faster than a Chevy?

    Somewhere buried in Photobucket I have pictures of two consecutive three shot groups slightly over dime size, shot at 268 yards by my son-in-law with my Windham Bushmaster AR. It has a Wilson air gauged match grade barrel, and I was shooting Nosler Ballistic Tips with Varget powder. It also has a 6.5-20x40 Leupold and competition quality trigger.

    If you think you will shoot that with a typical AR and factory ammo, you are delusional.

    There are too many variables to make any reasonable reply.
     
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  10. bearcreek

    bearcreek Member

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    Good question. Be an effective defense, offense or hunting weapon.
     
  11. Steve S.

    Steve S. Member

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    Moose or mice? I thought it was mice and men. Anyway, until both rifles are shot skillfully with tuned reloads, it is impossible to make any comparison. Depends on a lot of things, depends on most of the things, no way to tell in the theoretical blog world of mine did this or my uncle’s neighbor’s son’s girlfriend’s cousin that fought in the Spanish-American War.....!
     
  12. HankC

    HankC Member

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    Ammo and bullet make big difference. Before I reload, I could only afford FMJ and my Savage 223 shot just a bit better than my ARs, that is at 50 yds; now I reload, I can tune the load for the guns and my bolt guns shoot significant better than my semi-auto ARs including free float ones. My bull barrel 223 bolt gun is less sensitive to load but bullet is still a big factor.
     
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  13. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    For my part I can offer that the 783 is one of my favorites among the current crop of inexpensive rifles where feel is concerned but my new .243 only shoots around 1.5” at 100 yds with the factory loads I’ve tried.

    I suspect it might be brought close to 1” with development but it’s no target rifle and so I don’t pretend sinking further money would put a bigger smile on my face. I would imagine the .223 version is of similar accuracy and so money wasted if even semi-precision is the goal. These rifles have a place but at the bench shooting bug holes ain’t it.

    If you’re wanting better accuracy from your AR then a better barrel, lapped upper receiver, correct torque, and free float should get you there. On a budget consider a lapping tool and reassembly of your current upper. If you’re one who simply cannot manage a heavy trigger pull well then that would also factor in.
     
  14. cdb1

    cdb1 Member

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    Guilty your honor.
     
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  15. Vlad3572

    Vlad3572 Member

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    With me, all things being as equal as possible, I get better mid to long range accuracy with my Rem bolts vs my ARs. I qualified expert with Uncle Sam's M16 A1 back in the day as well so have years of experience with America's most popular sporting rifle. My most accurate lower cost rifle by far is a Rem 788, a real tack driver, it outshoots my newer Rem 700. Hard to go wrong with a new rifle especially when you already shoot the caliber!
     
  16. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

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    Like had been mentioned, if you're feeding them both plinking grade 55gr FMJ's you might see a small advantage with the bolt gun.

    If you start feeding them Federal Gold Medal Match or other similar loads, or even better well tuned handloads, the stick shift should start to walk away.
     
  17. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    My experience here is limited. I've had a total of three .223s, a Savage 111, a Contender Carbine, and an early Bushmaster vietnam style AR. The 111s best groups with a variety of worked up loads was a hair over 1". The TC can duplicate that with most loads. Bushie does 5/8-3/4 regularly with its pet load:. LC brass, Sierra 55 sp, and 25 grains of Varget, a relatively mild load. The AR is the best out-of-the box grouping gun I've owned in my 60 some odd shooting years and that includes some goodies like a 112V, a 700BDL varmint, a few M70s and so on.
     
  18. Picher

    Picher Member

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    I don't own an AR, but have a few .223 bolt-actions that I've bedded, and with handloads they will all shoot 3/8" or better groups at 100 yards. I've gotten several 2/10" groups with one of the rifles. Just keep in mind that I've shot benchrest matches and been a varmint hunter for many years, so know how to shoot pretty well and how to accurize rifles. Even some of my hunting rifles shoot under 1/2 MOA.
     
  19. 270OKIE

    270OKIE Member

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    Technically from the small amount I know about ballistics, a bolt action rifle (should) be more accurate that a semi auto rifle due to a lack of moving parts and also having 100 percent of the gasses pushing on the bullet instead of a small amount going through the gas system and cycling the gun for you, and also moving the gun differently than a bolt action would move from just recoil alone.
     
  20. Picher

    Picher Member

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    Semi-autos centerfires fire from a locked bolt; however, chambers need to be a bit larger to allow easy extraction and to prevent jamming. Therefore it's rare to find a semi-auto that shoots MOA, but I've seen/shot some. Ammo plays a big part also, so testing various brands/types will often make a difference in accuracy.
     
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  21. Captcurt

    Captcurt Member

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    I can live with an AR for plinking and informal shooting, but I have never seen an AR at a Bench Rest Match.
     
  22. earplug

    earplug Member

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    A typical bolt gun has a better factory trigger then a AR type rifle. A typical bolt gun has a free floated barrel, A bolt guns ammunition has many options for reloading while a AR is limited by the magazine size, gas system and semiauto loading stress on the cartridge. Given equal amounts of money spent on a bolt gun or a AR platform my bet would be on the bolt gun shooting better. The discussion is much like the various comparisons between a tricked out 10/22 and various 22lr bolt guns.
     
  23. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    If we’re talking about some of the worst factory ammo available on the market, used in low-end rifles, flipping a coin is assuredly more valid at predicting relative performance than any theoretical comparison or generality. The Stag may well be a bit more expensive and may well be a bit “upgraded” compared to a conventional $450 mil-spec-ish bottom end carbine, but that may not actually mean it’s any more accurate, especially with cheap bulk ammo.

    “Dollar for dollar,” a bolt gun should and typically does outshoot an AR, AND a bolt gun is typically more “shootable” than an AR, such most guys will always bet on the bolt gun. But if the particular AR happens to like this particular factory ammo and the 783 doesn’t, the expectation could easily be reversed.

    But maybe more importantly, for me at least, even when used for the same purpose, an AR and a bolt gun FEEL very different in use. I used to ride super and hyper bikes, and in top end performance, there’s a considerable difference between a 1000cc and a 1400cc bike... one’s going to be undeniably quicker off of the line, but the other will handle considerably better. It makes comparing the two almost impossible for nondescript, general riding. Given a specific application, say drag racing instead of road coursing/GP, the gap between the two widens. But for messing around on 2 wheels on a Saturday evening, comparing the two isn’t sensible - they’re different, and that’s enough.

    I wouldn’t personally buy a 783, certainly not for target shooting, and if my objective were to practice long range, or at least longer range shooting, I would put that money towards ammo, glass, trigger, or barrel for the AR you already have, in that order, instead of wasting money on the low end bolt gun.
     
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  24. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    There might now be a plurality of free floating, higher end bolt guns on the market, but the “typical bolt gun” on the shelf certainly does not have a free floating barrel. Especially not the cheap 783’s in question.
     
  25. gunsrfun1

    gunsrfun1 Member

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