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Rifle accuracy - 3 vs. 5 shot Something I do not get?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by tackleberry45, Aug 1, 2012.

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  1. tackleberry45

    tackleberry45 Member

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    So I work with someone and he shoots a Sako. I am really leaning toward buying one. He touts "Sako has a 5 shot MOA guarantee" Other manufacturers I have seen tout 3 shot accuracy ratings. Should I realy place a lot of weight on this when considering purchasing? I guess I am having a hard time substantiating what the extra 2 shot difference really means
     
  2. BrainOnSigs

    BrainOnSigs Member

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    [since this was pasted verbatim without proper attribution, I'll provide it: http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_3_118/279218_.html written by Molon of AR15.com and one of the first links in our rifle reading library sticky. visit this link to see the several graphics that accompanied molon's article -taliv]

    Yes...my bad...I am at work and only had a Word document to paste from and not the exact link....my apologizes for not waiting to get home so I could have credited it properly...BoS

    The Trouble With 3-Shot Groups

    (The distant prequel to The Trouble With Tribbles)


    As our story begins, we find our Hero sitting down at the shooting bench on the 100 yard line at his local range. Our Hero is a real Internet Commando. He has watched the movie Heat 87 times, is registered on all of the important Internet firearms forums, knows the difference between a “clip” and a “magazine” and attends every local gun show without fail.

    His latest acquisition from the local gun show is a 16” barreled Frankengun that originally belonged to a Delta Force operator who was at the Battle of Mogadishu. (He could tell you the name of the operator, but then he’d have to k……well, you know.) The seller at the gun show let our Hero in on another secret too. Eugene Stoner himself helped the Delta operator assemble this particular AR-15.

    Our hero settles into position on the bench and fires his first 3-shot group. (He only fires 3-shot groups because everyone from the Internet knows that you only have to fire 3-shot groups to test the accuracy of your rifle and ammunition.)

    His first group forms a nice little triangle at the bottom of the 10-ring. Our Hero just knew this was going to be a good day. After all, he was using that XM193 ammunition. A former SEAL who was selling beef jerky at the gun show had told our Hero that the SEALs used ammo just like XM193 in Viet Nam and that a single shot in the buttocks from this ammo would “blow your head clean off!”

    At the cease fire our Hero checks his first target. (Our Hero’s targets are NRA High Power type targets reduced for 100 yards. The X-ring measures 1.5” and the 10-ring measures 3.5”). Much to his satisfaction, his first group measures 1.16”, almost minute of angle! Now most Internet Commando wannabees would have stopped right there and gone home and spent the next 3 hours posting threads on the internet about their great accomplishment, but not our Hero. He makes the decision….to fire a second group!

    Our Hero has read reports of other Internet Commandos who have been able to achieve sub-minute of angle groups using XM193. After all, this ammo uses “Full Metal Jacket” bullets and is made to “Mil-spec.”

    Our Hero carefully watches the bench-rest shooter three lanes down and only fires immediately after the bench-rester does. He does this for three shots and then checks his target at the next cease fire.

    Our Hero measures this target three times just to be sure. The group measures 0.93”! Hooah, a sub-minute of angle group! Our Hero is now one of the few, the proud, the real Internet Commandos who can claim to shoot sub-minute of angle groups using XM193!

    There’s just one little problem with that second group our Hero fired. It is centered in a different location on the target than the first one. The second group is centered 0.12” above the center of the target and the first group is centered 1.44” below the center of the target. Hmmm…

    Well our Hero is a real Internet Commando so he can’t let details bother him. After all, sub-minute of angle is sub-minute of angle!

    As our Hero starts to pack up his targets, something in the back of his mind starts to nag at him. He recalls the reports of the other Internet Commandos. They didn’t just shoot sub-minute of angle groups with XM193; they did it “all day long.”

    Well, not wishing to be looked down upon by the other Internet Commandos our Hero decides to shoot one more 3-shoot group. After all, if his carbine and ammo could shoot two, sub-minute of angle groups, they could surely do it “all day long.”

    So, our Hero settles back into position and again taking his cue from the bench-rester fires a third 3-shot group. Upon retrieving his third target and measuring the group our Hero can not believe his eyes. The group measures 2.5”! How can this be possible? He was using XM193 and not just any XM193. It was the fabled LOT #3, the most accurate and hard to come by of all the lots, yet this third group was larger than the first two groups combined! Hmmm… Our Hero wonders how he can ever show his avatar on an Internet forum again after firing such a group with XM193.


    Then, slowly our Hero starts to recall a word he has heard mentioned many times before on his favorite Internet forum. It starts with the letter F. Hmm . . .F . . .Fl . . . Flyer! That’s it, flyer! That low shot down at seven o’clock on the target is a flyer! It’s not the fault of the gun or the ammo, it’s a flyer. It's caused by user error, the loose nut behind the stock, the wind, the sun or any other excuse that can be dreamt of in your philosophy, but not the rifle or ammo.

    The flyer is something to be discounted as if it never happened. (Why be concerned with reality when you are an Internet Commando?) Since that shot is discounted, why not discount that whole group as if it never happened? (After all, isn’t that what an Internet Commando does?) Our Hero decides to discount the entire group and throws the target in the trash. He makes a solemn vow to never mention this group to anyone. After all, he is a real Internet Commando.

    Upon returning home our Hero makes all the usual posts on the Internet about his sub-minute of angle groups using XM193. True to his solemn vow, he makes no mention of his 2.5” group. At no time does he mention that these groups were 3-shot groups. Nor does he make any mention of the fact that the groups were centered in different locations on the target.

    Our Hero ends his day wondering if his grandson, or great-grandson or even great great-grandson will remember the accomplishments of the real Internet Commandos or if their contributions to the shooting world will eventually be lost in time? He even wonders what his progeny might someday be named, James or possibly Tiberius? Hmmm…
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2012
  3. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    Yes.. this ^^

    Shoot 10 shot groups... or go home.

    3 shot and 5 shot groups are statistically irrelevant.

    You want the "REAL" story on what's happening with YOU, your AMMO, and your RIFLE.. start at 10 shot groups and "go from there."

    I quit shooting 3 and 5 shot groups about the same time I got "real serious" about my ammunition - started neck turning, weighing components, etc for my bolt gun ammo.

    As of 2010, I could pull of legitimate 10 shot groups of 0.92" @ 300 yards with my 300 Win Mag. (That was my AVERAGE 10 shot group size over several sessions to the range - not merely my "best").

    ANY rifle can shoot a 3 shot group that's stunning... if you do it enough.

    NOT MANY rifles can shoot 10 shot groups that are stunning... unless you get ALL of the kinks worked out in EVERYTHING, including the bag of trembling muscle, meat, and bones pulling the trigger. :)
     
  4. The_Armed_Therapist

    The_Armed_Therapist Member

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    Sorry if I repeat anything; didn't read that last post.

    Statistics tells you that the larger the sample size (number of shots/group), the more valid and reliable the results. In other words, it's more likely that an SKS will shoot MOA 3-shot groups than 5-shot groups. We all know the average SKS can't do MOA groups, but if your groups are small enough, then you could get lucky. Guaranteeing 5-shot groups MOA is harder to do, and thus, indicates a better rifle.

    I chuckle a little bit when people brag about their 0.23" 3-shot groups. 5 should be a bare minimum for determining the accuracy of a rifle. I prefer 10-shot groups.

    EDIT: Ok, I agree with both of the previous two posts.
     
  5. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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    bingo!
     
  6. tackleberry45

    tackleberry45 Member

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    Love the first post. So is the SAKO then a good base to start from or should I be looking elsewhere? I am trying to avoid buying on one persons opinion that is in love with Sako. I belive it is a good deal for $900 with a Meopta scope and is chambered in .300WSM
     
  7. BrainOnSigs

    BrainOnSigs Member

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    Many rifle manufacturers (Cooper, etc) guarantee "1/2" at 100 yards"....Sako also comes with a guarantee.

    Out of their company catalog: "1 MOA or better at 100 meters with 5 cartridges using Sako LTD ammunition".

    A few questions...

    1) Do you or will you handload? Any accurate rifle isn't very accurate (for me at least) if you use commercial ammo.

    2) What is your intended use or purpose for the majority of your shooting? .300WSM isn't a chambering made for an afternoon of leisurely paper punching.
     
  8. tackleberry45

    tackleberry45 Member

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    1. Yes eventually. I just broke into this inexpensively with the class Lee setup. As I progress, yes I will but for now off the shelf ammo it is.
    2. I shoot a .243 now (Tikka T3). My brother moved to Northern Wyoming. So the answer is reaching out and touching across the wide open Montana and Wyoming land. I am hoping to get to an Appleseed class or to Gunsite as I do not want to learn these skills from current folk. Everyone has an opinion and so far it has done nothing but cloud me
     
  9. hawk45

    hawk45 Member

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    If for hunting.. who cares about 3 or 5 shot groups. What you care about is repeatable cold bore shots (both clean and dirty barrel). If for group size and anchoring the rifle down to take all human error out, then it becomes a bedding test. If you add the human factor of getting behind the rifle, it becomes a bedding test along with a test of proper and repeatable mechanics of the user.

    Most modern rifles can out shoot 90% of the users with quality ammo.
     
  10. hardluk1

    hardluk1 member

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    The rifle is a Sako 85?? and scope for 900 dollars should be a good deal IF the scope has enough power to do what you want like a 4-12 . Will it shoot as you are told??? Have him show you how good it is. For a hunting rifle it should not matter if it can shot a 3 or 5 shot group moa. Only that it can place that first cold barrel shot where you want it.

    3 or 5 shot moa is not something special today . With quality ammo and enough scope many rifles , even low cost can shoot that. If you want a larger caliber with the potential to shoot well, buy it. Sounds like a good buy.
     
  11. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    Hawk - good point. But to GET that first-shot cold bore target you need to zero properly; which involves shooting groups larger than 3-5 shots. Heck on a 2MOA rifle, if you're zeroing at 100 yards, you might get a 3-shot group "centered" that is actually in the upper right (or other) quadrant of the TRUE group. A 1" mistake high right or low left isn't a deal killer at 100 yards, but translate that out to 300, 400, or further.. and it's a HUGE mistake on zero.
     
  12. Redlg155

    Redlg155 Member

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    Whatever...ya'll are just jealous because I can shoot a .308 one shot group!
     
  13. browningguy

    browningguy Member

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    I'll disagree with most of the posters. FOr a hunting rifle 3 shot groups starting with a cold bore are perfectly fine ways to measure accuracy of a rifle. If you ever have to shoot more than three times at an animal then you need to take up a new hobby.

    Many, perhaps most, sporter weight barrels will really only hold their accuracy for 3-5 shots, then things start moving around due to the heat. My Ruger 77 RSI in .308 is a perfect example, 3 shots around .7-.8" everytime starting with a cold barrel. Then the 4th shot opens up to 1"+ and the 5th shot around 1.5", every time, it's just not good with long strings of fire.

    For playing shooting games then you need a different level of accuracy. And for 99% of us we faill the test more often than the rifle does when talking abut 10 shot groups. For my 3 gun AR I shoot 10 shot and 20 shot groups, for my varmint rifle I usually shoot 5 and 10 shot groups. But for all my hunting rifles I only care about 3 shots starting with a cold bore.
     
  14. meanmrmustard

    meanmrmustard Member

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    Agreed. What does a ten shot group with a warming barrel do? Well, other than fling lead in a gradually widening pattern.
     
  15. mshootnit

    mshootnit Member

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    If a factory is giving a 5 shot moa guarantee its a more accurate rifle than a 3 shot guarantee. Also though... sometimes they guarantee moa only at 50 yds which I do not like as much as a 100 yd target.
     
  16. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    What has worked for me since I got into handloading for centerfire in 1950:

    A five-shot group is a reasonable test of a hunting rifle. If you get decently inside of 1.5 MOA you will have no problem with Bambi or Wily within the common distances. I generally have been able to get inside of one MOA, and often down to one-half MOA. I am satisfied with one-half MOA.

    I use three-shot groups for sight-in, creating the "group center" to move for my intended point of impact.` I have also used three-shot groups to compare different loadings.

    Again, this is what I have found that works for me as a hunter. I am not a target shooter, other than testing for my own purposes and for casual amusement.

    IMO, target shooting in any serious form is a whole different deal, and competition is even moreso. Again, opinion, but for that I'd be thinking lots of tweaking on a heavy-barrelled rifle and 10-shot tight-group capability.
     
  17. 351 WINCHESTER

    351 WINCHESTER Member

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    For a hunting rifle the only shots that count are the first one and the second. If you are a target shooter blast away to your heart's content.
     
  18. MrDig

    MrDig Member

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    The whole point to target shooting is collecting data for other applications. ie knowing what the gun will do in a hunting situation.
    More data means generally better information when averaging out results.
    Think of it like taking a poll. If you only get 10 responses you don't have an accurate sampling to form a conclusion. If you get 1000 responses you get a much better sample to form the conclusion.
    Some rifles the cold bore shot is off as much as an inch compared to the next 4 shots. Some rifles actually shoot better slightly fouled. I've known a few shooters who take practice shots and then don't clean the rifle to shoot for the competition.
    Anyway the five shot group is a better sample and just gives you more data to work with.
     
  19. BrainOnSigs

    BrainOnSigs Member

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    LOL! Now ain't that the truth...... :D
     
  20. BrainOnSigs

    BrainOnSigs Member

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    Tackleberry45...interesting.....I also live in the Tampa Bay area (born and raised in St. Petersburg). I do almost all of my serious shooting in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.
     
  21. M1key

    M1key Member

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    Five-shot groups are good enough for benchrest competition.

    M
     
  22. TonyAngel

    TonyAngel Member

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    tackleberry, I'd quit tearing my hair out about it. These days many rifle manufacturers can lay claim to their rifle shooting MOA or better with a certain ammunition. Heck, lots of rifles that don't come with any such guarantee will do it.

    The fact of the matter is that the results of any test can be skewed in some way to yield a better result. For example, Sako makes their guarantee with the qualification that these results can be obtained using their ammo (from what I gathered by the info above). What does that mean? Maybe they're using a proprietary powder blend that burns cooler and doesn't yield a very high velocity; but delivers very good groups at 100 yards. Heck, I have a puff load for my .308 that spits 168gr SMKs at about 2400 fps and it'll put those loads through almost the same hole. It looks good on paper, but that load is way too slow for much else.

    I'm also wondering what the span of time was over which they shoot their groups.

    Still, bottom line is, if you like the rifle, buy it; but I wouldn't base my decision on their claim of MOA 5 shot groups with their ammo. I see plenty of rifles do that. The limiting factor is usually the guy squeezing the trigger. Heck, when I got my first "precision" rifle (a cheap Remington SPS Tactical), I went out to the range and went nuts. I got the barrel all kinds of hot and it still held MOA and that was with a barrel that was threaded crooked from the factory. I had to dial in something like 30 minutes of windage to zero the scope.

    Like I said, quit tearing your hair out. If you like it buy it. No matter what you buy, you will always run the risk of getting a lemon, so why worry about it. If you don't necessarily like it, but just want a good shooting rifle, then shop around and find something that you do like.

    BTW, your buddy that shoots the Sako and is touting its five shots into MOA guarantee, did you ask him how he does with his rifle? I wonder if he's getting MOA five shot groups.
     
  23. DRYHUMOR

    DRYHUMOR Member

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    I don't really understand a 3-5 shot guarantee, other than it's not likely the avg hunter would ever fire more than 3-5 rounds in a rapid manner.

    The more rounds through a barrel, the more it heats up, the more the metal moves. And, as the metal moves the impacts move.

    Depending on the expense of the loads, I use 3 shots to see if I'm close, then confirm the load with 5 or 10. And that depends on the rifle, and barrel weight.

    Some rifles shoot 1/2 MOA; some days I can't shoot 1/2 MOA.

    I say if you like the rifle, and can afford it, get it. If it doesn't shoot that well with factory ammo; learn to reload. You'll be more satisfied in creating good ammo, and having the ability to really experiment with different powders and bullets than you can imagine.
     
  24. tackleberry45

    tackleberry45 Member

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    BrainOnSigs - St. Petersburg here also. I am a true native
     
  25. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

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    If you can consistently put ten bullets where you mean for them to go, doing so with five--on demand, as in a situation--is almost automatic. Three is even easier.

    Imagine shooting free throws and hitting three or even five in a row. Statistically, you're overdue for a miss because randomness is still in play. But if you can hit ten in a row, the odds begin leaning toward you continuing to hit. That many on target means you have overcome randomness and are really causing it.
     
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