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Where can I find shot group accuracy charts for .223 vs .308 for 100m, 200m, 300m etc

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by :( I live in Cali :( :(, Dec 19, 2010.

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  1. :( I live in Cali :( :(

    :( I live in Cali :( :( Member

    Dec 18, 2010
    Well, first of all I guess I should say hello, and introduce myself, since this is my first post on here. I'll put my introduction of myself and my current experience with guns and shooting in italics, so, those of you who aren't in the mood to read that stuff can just skip down to where it's not in italics anymore if you wish:

    Hi everyone. My basic shooting/gun experience is as follows:

    From age 10 till about age 12, I went to the shooting range almost every weekend for that 2 year period, with my dad, and we would shoot .22 rimfire rifles, aperture sights, @ 50 foot distance on small-bullseye target papers, prone, but hand held, no sandbags or gun rests or anything, just hand held with a sling (we did prone instead of standing because I was only 10-11 years, so I was too small and weak at the time to hold the gun steady for very long standing, whereas with prone I could shoot accurately for many hours, without fatiguing my arms).

    We both became pretty decent at it over the 2 years that we did this, and by the time I was a late 11 or early 12 year old (we stopped going shortly after I turned 12), we were both getting our 5 shot groups within a quarter pretty much every time, usually within a nickel, and occasionally within a dime or better, which I think is pretty good, even though it was only a mere 50 foot distance and prone, considering that it was hand held aperture shooting, as in, we weren't resting the gun on anything, we were just holding by hand, and using just aperture sights, no scope to magnify the targets or anything. I don't know enough about actual marksmanship competitions to know if this is bragworthy sharpshooting or not, lol, but in my mind I think we were fairly decent shots by the end of our little shooting stint.

    We also had this weird custom break barrel Encore rifle that my dad got with this special barrel that had a very slow rate of twist for its rifling, and he got one of those cartridge making/loading thingies where you make your own ammo at home however you want it to be, so, he bought these real fancy low grain bullets that would hold together at ultra high velocity when used in his special slow-twist rifling barrel he had on that gun, and was able to shoot at slightly over 5,000 ft/s (not a typo). We didn't shoot it much, it was just a geeky sort of toy to bring to the range every so often to show off to the friends we had at the range and vice versa when we were messing around with weird guns that people brought to the range every so often. It didn't really have much practical purpose or anything, lol.

    And then after age 12, for the past 12 years I haven't done any shooting. My father passed away a couple years ago, and recently I became interested in guns/shooting again, and was browsing the internet, and found this site.

    Anyway, I think I want to get a new rifle, but I want to do longer range target shooting with it.

    I want to get the most accurate gun I can get for the least amount of money. And also one which shoots a popular ammo that isn't totally absurd pricewise compared to some of the rarer ammos.

    So, I guess I am mostly trying to choose between getting a .223, a .308, or a .30-06.

    I'm not sure which distances I'll be shooting at, but probably some fairly long range shooting, as well as some mid range.

    I don't really know much about current rifles, or how accurate the .223, or .308, or .30-06 rifles are per increasing distances, in terms of shot group diameter per distance.

    I was wondering anyone can point me to some results charts that show the shot group diameter values like:




    100m 200m 300m 400m 500m 600m

    Where it shows like, a chart of how large the diameter of the shot groups are per incrementally increasing distances for the various calibers.

    Just to clarify, I'm NOT looking for ballistics charts that show the bullet drop values per incremental distances per type of caliber.

    I'm also NOT looking for bullet velocity or bullet energy charts that show the velocity or energy of different bullet calibers per incremental increasing distances.

    I have found tons and tons of those sorts of charts. But that isn't what I'm looking for.

    I am trying to find something where they show the shot group accuracy (in shot group diameter size) per incrementally increasing distances (like 100m, 200m, 300m, 400m, 500m, and so on and so forth) for various popular rifle calibers, like .223, .308, .30-06 etc.

    If I remember correctly, good .223 ammo, in a good .223 bolt action rifle is supposed to be extremely accurate at 100 meters. However, I do not know how much the accuracy drops off for the .223 caliber compared to the .308 or .30-06 calibers as the distance increases.

    Like, what I mean is, I'm not sure if the shot group diameter widens at a much faster rate for .223 than it does for .308 or .30-06 once the distances get longer, and if so, by how much.

    So, if I were to be shooting at 500m for example, would a good .223 bolt action rifle with good .223 ammo still be able to shoot with anywhere near the accuracy of a good .308 bolt action rifle with good .308 ammo, is what I mean? Even if they might be the same at 100m, maybe at 500m, there is a wide gap in accuracy between the two.

    I'd like to look at charts, that do this sort of a comparison challenge. I'm sure they exist, I just don't know where to find them, and have been looking for hours without any luck.

    Maybe some of you have seen some of these sorts of charts and could point me to them, thanks!
  2. taliv

    taliv Moderator

    Oct 23, 2004
    welcome to THR!

    that's a good question, but I believe the simple answer is that there's nothing magical about the caliber that changes accuracy. If you fired the cartridges in a vacuum, the size of the group at 200 yrds would be twice the size of the group at 100 yrds, for all of them. generally, the groups don't get wider as they go out...

    except for these two things:
    1. some bullets have a higher BC than others, which means the wind affects them less. that wouldn't make a difference at all unless the wind is changing while you're shooting your group, which it always does. so practically, the higher the BC the smaller the group at distance.

    2. some cartridge/bullet combos will stay supersonic further than others due to lower drag of the bullet shape, mass of the bullet, and the amount of propellant behind it. when bullets go transonic, they do weird things which opens up the groups past this point.

    unfortunately, i doubt you will find charts explaining that exactly
  3. :( I live in Cali :( :(

    :( I live in Cali :( :( Member

    Dec 18, 2010
    Yea, I understand both of those things, Taliv, (that the lighter .223 bullets lose velocity at a faster rate than the heavier .308 or .30-06 bullets), thus the reason why I asked this question, since, of course, I will not be doing my shooting in a vacuum chamber, and thus, it does come into play.

    Basically, what I am trying to find out is at approx what distance the .223 will go transonic compared to the .308 or .30-06 (and yes, I also realize that this also depends on how many grains the specific bullet being used is, since there are a variety of bullet weights for each caliber, like 160 grain, or 180 grain or 200 grain for .308, or 40 grain, 50 grain, 62 grain etc for the .223 etc etc)

    So, for example, if the typical 60ish grain .223 goes transonic at around 400 meters, whereas the typical 180ish grain .308 goes transonic at around 800 meters, then, obviously I would be a lot more inclined to get a .308, since I'd be able to shoot accurate to twice as long range as the .223, if that were the case (I have no idea if it is, I'm just using random made up numbers for the sake of explaining what I'm asking about). whereas, if it was like, the .223 goes transonic at like 650m and the .308 at like 750m or something, then the difference would be small enough that I'd maybe be more inclined to just get the .223, since it would be lighter, kick less, maybe cost less, just be more fun and practical etc while not sacrificing accuracy as long as I didn't shoot longer than 600m or whatever.

    So like, I'm just trying to find a chart that shows this, so that I can see which it is, so I can decide whether to get a .308 or a .223, basically.
  4. WNTFW

    WNTFW Member

    Jul 16, 2006
    The main practical difference in target shooting in my opinion is:
    .223 will be a little cheaper on ammo when comparing equivalent qualities.
    .223 will have a bit less recoil.
    .223 will have more brass available if you reload. Then that may depend on your particular location or even range you are at.

    A good rifle and load at 600yds and either will do fine. .308 and .223 will give you the option to shoot F Class T/R.

    I have really enjoyed the .223 bolt guns I have shot. It have also noticed the .223 don't have the resale value of the .308 in my area and have seen some really attractive deals on used .223. Twist rate can be a problem sometimes.

    My best shooting at 600 was with a .223. I don't own a .223 bolt gun though.
  5. :( I live in Cali :( :(

    :( I live in Cali :( :( Member

    Dec 18, 2010
    Oh, that reminds me, another kind of n00bish question I have (lol, sorry guys):

    In general, are single shot bolt action rifles significantly more accurate than multiple-round capacity bolt action rifles?

    I mean, I know that bolt action rifles have historically always been considered a lot more accurate than semi-automatic rifles with everything else being equal between the two other than one being bolt and the other being semi-auto.

    However, I don't know what the current state of affairs is in regards to single shot bolt action vs multi shot bolt action.

    Actually, I didn't even know if it was supposed to make any signficant difference even back 12 years ago when I was shooting.

    I assume the difference is probably small, and shrinking even smaller with every year, but, I never really looked into it.

    Obviously I would much rather have a bolt action rifle with magazine rather than a single shot one if it doesn't affect the accuracy at all, but, if it does, then I'd rather just get a single shot one. So I'd like to know which one is the case if someone could tell me, thanks
  6. courtgreene

    courtgreene Member

    Apr 21, 2009
    most of my shooting is with a bolt action (I do have semi's, and one single shot, but i prefer the bolt)... but to further complicate things, your last question depends on if you are talking about a single shot that breaks open and has a hammer (handirifle for instance) or a bolt gun with no opening for a magazine at the bottom. If the latter, then that makes for a stiffer action. I do not have one, and cannot tell you what difference that makes. I've just read it here before, from some reputable folks.
  7. :( I live in Cali :( :(

    :( I live in Cali :( :( Member

    Dec 18, 2010
    I meant the latter. A bolt action rifle with a magazine vs a bolt action rifle with no magazine where you have to put a new individual cartridge into it after each shot. Like, whether there is really any significant difference in accuracy between the two, or whether having a bolt action rifle that has a magazine doesn't make it any less accurate than the ones that don't. Cuz, if they are equally accurate, then obv I would rather have one that has a magazine, but if it affects accuracy then I'd rather have one that doesn't have a magazine.
  8. Pete D.

    Pete D. Member

    Sep 13, 2010

    Look for a gun that has a barrel with a very fast twist, something like 1-7/ 1-7.5.
    There are bullets available for the .223 that range up to 90 grains and which make even 1000 yard shooting a viable option.
    Other options are the 6.5mms which have become very popular in highpower Match Rifle shooting.
  9. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    I doubt "accuracy charts" like you want actually exist.
    You can take conventional ballistics charts or software and study each caliber and loading for its trajectory and windage over the ranges of interest. Trajectory is not a major problem for midrange target shooting; no rifle shoots "flat" enough at 500 meters that you do not have to know the range and allow for it with sight/scope adjustment or reticle features. (Meters? Most target shooting in the USA is done at ranges measured in yards.)
    So look at the windage values. Wind is always a problem to deal with and the bullet that is blown around the least is the easiest to shoot well with, assuming it is accurate to begin with.

    A .223 with high ballistic coefficient bullets in the 75-82 grain range will shoot as well as a .308 with 168 - 175 grain bullets to at least 600 yards. Its lighter recoil will make the shooting more pleasant, too. I have actually shot a rather specialized .223 out to 1000 yards with 90 grain bullets and while it is mathematically equivalent to a .308 at that range, it seems tougher to get equal scores with. So I take my .223 to the 200-600 yard range and the .308 to the 800-1000 yard range. I shoot F-T/R where those are the only calibers allowed. Other events like F-Open and NRA Match Rifle allow other calibers that will do better but the cost and labor are greater.

    A single shot bolt action will on average be more accurate than a repeater. Whether it is SIGNIFICANTLY more accurate depends on your requirements and the luck of the draw in buying a gun. For a pure mid- to long range target rifle you will be firing in single shot mode anyhow; most people who own a repeater have a "sled" or other single shot adapter installed.

    If you wish to do well at centerfire target shooting you must either have a very large ammunition budget or get one of "those cartridge making/loading thingies" and get good with it.
  10. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 25, 2002
    Down East in NC
    If you are asking about inherent accuracy of those three calibers at various distances, they are pretty much the same. Accuracy of a given caliber will be determined by the rifle shooting it, the quality of the ammunition, and the skill of the shooter, not by the caliber.

    Of the three you mention, .223 is the cheapest and the most pleasant to shoot. If you were interested more in hunting than target shooting, the larger calibers would be more suitable for deer and larger game than .223 would be, but that is due to greater energy and momentum rather than accuracy.
  11. jpwilly

    jpwilly Member

    Aug 10, 2007
    Phoenix AZ
    For the distances you mentiond the 308. But the 223 will get out to 600m with long high BC bullets...the 308 gets there easily with any 168gr match ammo so to the 30-06 with more energy but the largest selection of match ammo is in .308 or .223.
  12. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

    Jan 27, 2006
    West Tennessee
    Get yourself a good .22LR rifle and attend an Appleseed. Learn the fundamentals with a rimfire before tackling long range shooting with a centerfire. It sounds as if you have much to learn.
  13. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    Dec 22, 2002
    Terlingua, TX; Thomasville,GA
    I'm strictly a hunter, using sporter-weight barrels. But I've been around this center-fire game for some sixty years and moderating on two Rifles forums for almost a dozen years.

    If target shooting is The Deal, the consensus generally is for a heavy-barrel in the Remington 700 or a Savage. I see no particular comparative advantage for accuracy between the .223 and the .308. Many a group's photo has been posted of cloverleafs at 200 yards, from both cartridges.

    The majority of serious shooters, as near as I can tell, load their own ammo. For some, it's cost. For some, it's the striving for the perfect load for that particular rifle.
  14. vaupet

    vaupet Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Belgium, Europe
    I love my 223 for distances up to 300 metres.

    for bigger distances, i want a bolt action rifle. Currently i'm leaning towards the 6.5x47 lapua. Other possibility 308 or 6.5x55 swedisch.

    6.5 mm bullets seem to have better BC and thus are better suited for long range, especially when they are not meant to deliver letham amounts of energy to a target.

    nice site: http://demigodllc.com/articles/ and http://demigodllc.com/articles/practical-long-range-rifle-shooting-equipment/?p=1
    by Zak Smith

    have fun

  15. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

    Jul 28, 2005
    Lewisberry, PA
    Some shooters who strive to squeeze that last bit of accuracy out of their shooting will use single shot bolt rifles. The function of moving from a magazine into the chamber can slightly alter the round's shape and profile. The effect is minor, but we're talking about guys who measure groups much tighter than most care to, and the winner of the match might be decided by differences measured in thousands of an inch.

    Sometimes a round is loaded to beyond industry standard lengths, making it impossible to fit into a magazine.

    Some of the specialized, high-end actions are made for shooting sports that don't demand a magazine. Times for the course of fire allow the shooter to load each round individually. So since there's no need for a magazine, the makers of those actions don't build the gun with one. It's an additional, unnecessary cost to an already very expensive rifle.
  16. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 24, 2002
    Fort Collins, CO, USA.
    The closest you can get with a priori "accuracy" charts for long-range shooting is to look at the relative wind drift and drop rates. This is why when I compare a series of long-range cartridges, I sort by wind performance first and drop second.
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