By Graham Baates
YouTube personality, Graham Baates, discusses real-world accuracy.
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- How many times have you heard claims that rifle X or ammunition Y is guaranteed to shoot sub minute-of-angle groups?
How many times have you or a friend owned such a rifle and ammunition and not seen those promised results?
Chances are neither the ammunition manufacturer nor rifle builder were lying, but rather those items weren’t given the “ideal” conditions.
Those who have spent some time behind a rifle understand there are several variables effecting accuracy. Barrel harmonics, barrel temperature, humidity, wind, reticle-to-target contrast, favorite baseball team, shirt color, and many more. Some of these are easily within our control and others not.
The point is that unless you are going to mount your barreled action in a laboratory rest you shouldn’t worry about the perfect group unless that’s the type of shooting you’re aiming for.
For Modern Sporting Rifles that are intended to be fired in a more spirited cadence than Olympic rifles, I argue that accuracy should be evaluated differently. This came about during a recent long-term evaluation of a rifle yet to be released to market. The Enhanced ELC rifle from Ranger Proof. To learn the specification of this incredible rifle watch the video linked here.
The Enhanced ELC is built to be a fighting rifle and a precise one at that. How can a rifle like this be fairly tested for accuracy? It’s not a bench gun, but more than just a bullet thrower.
The intent was to recreate the consumer experience. You’ve picked up the rifle from your local FFL and headed to the range with it. Realistic conditions, a variety of ammunition that may or may not be ideal for that particular rifle, and certainly not waiting between shots for the barrel to cool and calm. Below are the conditions that we’ve created and a video of this test in action:
- The rifle is mounted in the affordable, but quality Caldwell Stinger Rest: This helps reduce shooter error. We’re testing the rifle, not the shooter.
- Factory ammunition is used: In this test ammo used came from Nosler, Hornady, Gorilla, and Fiocchi.
- A variety of loads are used: Beyond rifling twist rate, it’s been our experience that each individual rifle has a preferred load. Sometimes it can be surprising. For this test 35gr, 62gr, 69gr, and 77gr was used including both .223 Remington and 5.56x45mm chamberings. The Ranger Proof rifle is chambered in .223 Wylde.
- Hot barrel: We do not pause to let the barrel cool or harmonics calm. Though this may hurt accuracy, but unless the rifle is built for bench shooting it’s unfair to expect a consumer to treat it like one, especially if it’s built to be a fighting rifle.
- Two Shooters: In order to further mitigate shooter skill, mood, and daily luck two shooters each fire five rounds.
- 10-Shot Groups: That’s right, TEN. Running half a box of each load gives a bigger grouping, but also a more in-depth look at how a particular rifle performs with that load.
- Included Optic: The 1-8x Shephard scope that came with the rifle was used.
What are your thoughts?
Is this a fair and practical test and demonstration of accuracy? Understanding the test methods how should one measure the groups? One thought is to look at the mode average of the shots. That is to consider the greatest concentration of shots to represent how that particular rifle is most likely to perform with that particular load. Tell us below how you judge the accuracy of your rifle?
About Graham Baates“Graham Baates” is a pen name used by a 15-year active Army veteran who spent most of his time in the tactical side of the Intelligence community including tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Post-Army Graham spent some time in the 3-Gun circuit before becoming a full-time NRA Certified defensive handgun instructor and now works as an industry writer while curating a YouTube channel and blog onthe side. Visit Graham on Youtube .