How Accurate is Enough in a Hunting Rifle? - Shooters Forum
» Advanced

Go Back   Shooters Forum > Rifle and Rifle Cartridges > Rifles and Rifle Cartridges
Register FAQ Members List Donate Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read



Like Tree216Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
  #1  
Old 03-02-2017, 06:56 AM
M1Garand's Avatar
Beartooth Regular
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Michigan
Posts: 2,341
How Accurate is Enough in a Hunting Rifle?


Registered Users do not see the above ad.


On another thread there was mention of a rifle only liking one bullet and others giving 2-3" groups. That got me thinking of how much are we getting caught up in the marketing and hype of if a rifle isn't shooting 1" or less groups, it won't work?

I was going to load up some rounds for my M700 Mountain in 280 Rem, one of my more finicky rifles, and as I went through my records, I realized I had many groups with several different bullets that are more than adequate for hunting the ranges I do.

I know we all strive for the best accuracy, but a reality check is most of us aren't benchrest shooting nor are we shooting the precision type rifles they do. I have some rifles and loads that shoot 1" or better and in this rifle, some that are smaller, but for hunting I could do well with any of these:

150 Nosler BT, 1.5", The orange sticker is 3":



150 Winchester PP, 1.75"



160 Nosler AB, 2.5"



160 Sierra HPBT, 2.0":

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 03-02-2017, 07:22 AM
Beartooth Regular
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Woodstock, Connecticut
Posts: 263
I think part of the issue regarding accuracy arises from the fact that bench rest accuracy is only part of the equation. When hunting you also have to factor in human error. If the hunter is only capable of shooting 3 inch groups at the bench at 100 yards then your bench rest three inch group becomes a six inch group when hunting.

Part of the reason shooters strive for sub moa groups at the bench is knowing all too well when shooting offhand while hunting the human error factor is going to increase point of impact, sometimes significantly.
CharlesB and Purist like this.

Last edited by onelongshot; 03-09-2017 at 05:01 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 03-02-2017, 07:41 AM
Beartooth Regular
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Oakland Co MI
Posts: 229
Depending on the rifle, anything an under 1.5" or less on the bench at 100 yards is good enough for me. Sometimes anything under 2" is good enough for me if I only plan on shooting out to 200 yards.

Similar to what onelongshot mentioned, when I am hunting in the field, be it in a blind with a rest or standing offhand/kneeling/etc, I'ts unlikely that I would be able to reproduce a 1" group in that environment. So squeezing shots down to .5" or even 1" is just a waste of time, powder and other components if I cannot recreate that tiny group in the field.

What is more important to me than a 0.5" or 1" group is what happens with that same load when I shoot a 10 or 15 shot group.

Shooting a large group is now my last step in load development. I discovered/experienced it by accident even though I'm sure it's practiced by many.

This past fall I tested loads for my 30-06. I was content and chose a load that shot 2 different 4 rounds groups under 1". So I put together 50 rounds with that load data. I used 5 rounds to give the rifle/scope a final zeroing. And used 15 rounds to practice the new load without the thoughts of load data, chronographs and group sizes and all that. The end result of those 15 rounds was a group over 3".

That started to concern me. Knowing myself, I would probably be thinking about that 3+" group while I am hunting and try some fancy shooting to account for it when that deer was in my sights. Grumpily I put together 15 new rounds with my 2nd best load. During testing, that load averaged 1.1" with two 4 round groups. This "2nd best load" did a 15 shot group at 1.9". I was much happier with that result. So I pulled bullets, made up 40 of those loads, used 5 to finalize the zero of my scope, and 5 to shoot at the same target of that 15 shot 1.9" group. All 5 stayed in that 1.9" group.

So a small group size is good. A reasonable group size with a bunch of shots is better.
broom_jm likes this.

Last edited by Dimner; 03-02-2017 at 07:44 AM. Reason: clarity
Reply With Quote
 
  #4  
Old 03-02-2017, 08:15 AM
Beartooth Regular
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 9,554
Knowing a rifle will constantly shoot the smallest groups possible is a confidence builder for me. Its also in my nature to try tuning the best performance from anything I put my hand to.

But the reality of it, if a person can hit a paper plate everytime from field positions and at the ranges you engage game, thats good enough to fill your freezer.
__________________
Still Learnin' as I go!

NRA Endowment Member
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 03-02-2017, 08:35 AM
tdoyka's Avatar
Beartooth Regular
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: windber, pa
Posts: 704
take a circular 6" target (paper plate works just fine) and put it 100, 200 and 300 yards. you can shoot it off hand, against a tree, your rucksack, etc... if you go 5 for 5 on a 6" target at 300 yards, then you can kill a deer.
Timc likes this.
__________________
I am proud member of Basket of Deplorables!!!

“Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
― Nikola Tesla

​Μολών λαβέ !

todd
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 03-02-2017, 09:08 AM
IDTrapper's Avatar
Beartooth Regular
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: N Idaho
Posts: 508
I am in the same camp as Monty. I like to tune my rifles, for the smallest possible groups that I and that rifle can shoot. I'm kind of a stickler for accuracy, even though I know a 1.5 or 2 in group will do just fine, I'm not satisfied with any rifle unless I can put, at minimum 3 shots under a inch. It's possible with most rifles, I have only had a few that wouldn't group any less than a inch. In fact, I may be lucky, but most, if not all of my rifles with handloads will shoot half MOA. It's a matter of pride, and a sense of personal satisfaction knowing my rifles are extremely accurate.

On the other hand, my best friend has a model 70 featherweight 308. He has a old weaver 4x and shoots factory federal fusions. He does the pie plate out to 300 off hand, and shoots three at each plate. If he hits each plate with 3 rounds he loads up and goes home. I've never seen him miss in the field and he fills his tags each year and spends a lot less money on shooting then I do. But I enjoy the process, even though it's not necessary to do so
broom_jm, Purist and GeronPG like this.
__________________
Just where is it I could find bear, beaver, and other critters worth cash money when skinned?

Ride due west as the sun sets. Turn left at the Rocky Mountains.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 03-02-2017, 09:33 AM
Beartooth Regular
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Nericia in Sweden
Posts: 186
What sort of rest do you use? Some of the patterns tend to string a bit vertically, but are fine horizontally.

P.
__________________
...don't count out lever guns such as the Winchester Model 88. This rig, chambered to .308 Win, will handle nearly any deer situation.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 03-02-2017, 09:42 AM
Tnhunter's Avatar
Beartooth Regular
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 6,875
Small groups are wonderful, all gun guys LOVE them! But, tiny groups or even groups with 8, 10 or 15 shots on a range session do not overly impress me. Know what does? A rifle that spits a bullet out of a cold barrel to a known point of impact.

Personally, I'm not worried that my hunting rifle begins to "throw" shots 4,5 or 8 after it shows me a good 3 shot group with consistency. I'm looking to have my small 3 shot group where I want it and then later that day, or days later, show me that the first shot fired from a cold (dirty) barrel is going where it's supposed to.

Like many other things with guns & shooting, YMMV.
MZ5, StretchNM, CharlesB and 12 others like this.
__________________
A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote
a blank check made payable to The United States of
America
for an amount of up to and including my life.
That is honor, and there are way too many people in this
country who no longer understand it.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 03-02-2017, 09:58 AM
Beartooth Regular
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Oakland Co MI
Posts: 229
Cold barrel impact is something I always test with cast bullets. Not sure why I have never considered it for jacketed bullets. I'll have to see how my 30-06 performs with a few tries on a cold barrel.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 03-02-2017, 10:13 AM
Beartooth Regular
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Remote Idaho
Posts: 6,376
What are you hunting?

What ranges? What rifle? What shooter? What conditions? Where?

Be confident of a clean kill.
Jack, nachogrande and holmegaard like this.
__________________
There is no safe direction to point an unsafe gun.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 03-02-2017, 11:33 AM
Beartooth Regular
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: West coast central Florida
Posts: 3,422
Different strokes...

IF you can manage to hit a baseball every time from whatever position/range you will be hunting from, that "SHOULD" do the trick. Some "hunters" at the public ranges a few days before season opens, struggling to get on paper from a bench @ 50 yards, then proclaim loud & proud when they succeed "I'M GOOD TO GO".
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 03-02-2017, 11:36 AM
M1Garand's Avatar
Beartooth Regular
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Michigan
Posts: 2,341
I'm as guilty as the next guy to try to achieve the tightest possible groups and am always tinkering. I've been as retentive as to weigh cases, bullets and all sorts of measuring tools. All for hunting.

I've done very well on most of my rifles with only a few not being 100% stock but got me thinking how much is enough for hunting? Esp given the size of vital zones of the most common animals hunted such as deer or elk.

A good point on as accurate as we can get the rifle, but we also have to consider the weak link: The shooter. I've seen some guys who are such terrible shots that I don't care if they have a rifle capable of 1/4" groups, they can't hit a barn from the inside. The flip side is I've seen amazing shots by some with rifle that with their best groups on a good day do 2". A bad marksman is bad, no matter how good the rifle and a good marksman is good even with 3" rifles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Shatterhand View Post
What sort of rest do you use? Some of the patterns tend to string a bit vertically, but are fine horizontally.

P.
I use sandbags, these groups are not the rest, it's a finicky rifle. This one has a very thin barrel and tends not to like full charge loads. I have others from other rifles that are much better...not that I can't always use the practice
holmegaard likes this.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 03-02-2017, 03:42 PM
recoil junky's Avatar
Elk Whisperer (Super Moderator)
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Craig CO. Elk Hunting Capitol of the World!
Posts: 6,867
M1, how does it shoot from a cold barrel (probably already asked 'n answered), say one shot then play a hand or two of cards, (10 min) then another shot, then another hand or two of cards then another shot . . . . and so on?

My 35 Whelen is the same way if I shoot 4-5 in say 5 minutes, but groups "in the same hole" doing a shot every 8-10 minutes. Two shots as fast as I can cycle the bolt are under 1/2 inch (from my sled)

RJ
__________________
Keep your powder dry and when you go afield take the kids and please..........wear your seat belts.
I am the ORIGINAL recoil junky ©, often imitated, but never equalled.
Proud Father of a SoldierMedic in The 82nd Airborne 325thAIR White Falcons
IUOE Local #9
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 03-02-2017, 03:51 PM
Beartooth Regular
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Mooresville, IN
Posts: 11,844
Quote:
Originally Posted by nachogrande View Post
IF you can manage to hit a baseball every time from whatever position/range you will be hunting from, that "SHOULD" do the trick. Some "hunters" at the public ranges a few days before season opens, struggling to get on paper from a bench @ 50 yards, then proclaim loud & proud when they succeed "I'M GOOD TO GO".
I'm not sure you even need to be that good, depending on what range you're shooting at. A baseball is just under 3" in diameter, whereas the heart/lung region on a small deer or antelope is considerably larger. For our bigger north-country deer, you basically need to be able to hit something the size of a basketball. In fact, as I was teaching my girls to shoot, I told them to imagine there was a basketball just behind and in between the front legs of the deer...they just needed to let the air out of the ball.

I've seen guys do exactly what you're talking about at 50 yards. It's almost always the first time they've shot a rifle since they put it away after last season, and it wasn't sighted in properly then! That reminds me, I've got a buddy I need to invite over for a shooting party.
Tnhunter likes this.
__________________
"My serious suggestion is to buy one rifle and then buy another one. And another." JBelk
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 03-02-2017, 04:24 PM
Beartooth Regular
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: West Virginia
Posts: 58
It's all about confidence for me. Most of my hunting rifles are sub 1". At this accuracy level I feel like I can cleanly harvest an animal at rather long distances. On the other hand the few times I've taken another rifle which I've not dialed in my confidence is poor and it all goes down hill from there.
nachogrande and GeronPG like this.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 03-02-2017, 04:25 PM
Beartooth Regular
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: S.E. Georgia U.S.A.
Posts: 68
I had to inject my opinion ,so here it goes . When deciding on a bullet for a hunting rifle I always shoot once allow barrel to cool completely then another shot . When taking a shot at game the barrel is always cold unless I screw up . So with that reasoning I try to best simulate hunting conditions . When follow up shots are used they are normally rushed and scattered anyway . Forget your groups , sure they're fun to talk about , but in reality it's number one that counts .

Now to answer the question one that puts the one where you want it !!!!!
Tnhunter and GeronPG like this.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 03-02-2017, 04:39 PM
M1Garand's Avatar
Beartooth Regular
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Michigan
Posts: 2,341
Quote:
Originally Posted by recoil junky View Post
M1, how does it shoot from a cold barrel (probably already asked 'n answered), say one shot then play a hand or two of cards, (10 min) then another shot, then another hand or two of cards then another shot . . . . and so on?

My 35 Whelen is the same way if I shoot 4-5 in say 5 minutes, but groups "in the same hole" doing a shot every 8-10 minutes. Two shots as fast as I can cycle the bolt are under 1/2 inch (from my sled)

RJ
It does well on the cold barrel. It's so thin it heats up quick. This one has been floated and bedded with a trigger put in by Williams Gun Sight...I've actually thought about putting a different barrel on it.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 03-02-2017, 05:12 PM
coyote_243's Avatar
Beartooth Regular
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: various areas of pa
Posts: 483
I dont expect the same level of accuracy from my deer rifles, let alone all of them. If I'm hunting in dense cover I might take a light lever rifle. But if I'm watching a field or 3 where shots might be 300 yards plus, i will take a heavier, better shooting bench rifle.

As has been mentioned before, the rifle must be capable of hitting the vitals of given quarry, at the expected distance or greater.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 03-02-2017, 05:56 PM
Beartooth Regular
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: West coast central Florida
Posts: 3,422
Kill zone size

IF you are gonna try for a behind the ear/neck/heart/ high shoulder shot (I'd strongly) recommend being able to keep those shots in that baseball, or app 3" group size, as those sweet spots are not that much bigger (if at all). If lungs are good enough, then yes, that zone could be basketball sized on an elk, or big deer, & hope you enjoy & are good at trailing. Then there is the, whatever the smallest group you shoot relaxed at the bench, double it for field condition/excitement/buck fever, rule of thumb. If hitting a basketball is the best you can manage, do everyone (yourself included) a favor & stay at the range some more.

Last edited by nachogrande; 03-02-2017 at 06:07 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 03-02-2017, 06:06 PM
Beartooth Regular
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Mooresville, IN
Posts: 11,844
Quote:
Originally Posted by nachogrande View Post
IF you are gonna try for a behind the ear/neck/heart/ high shoulder shot (I'd strongly) recommend being able to keep those shots in that baseball, or app 3" group size, as those sweet spots are not that much bigger (if at all). If lungs are good enough, then yes, that zone could be basketball sized on an elk, or big deer, & hope you enjoy & are good at trailing. Then there is the, whatever the smallest group you shoot relaxed at the bench, double it for field condition/excitement/buck fever, rule of thumb.
Any hunter worth his powder is.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Ways to reduce the recoil of a hunting rifle? Tswitz109 Rifles and Rifle Cartridges 63 01-17-2016 12:46 PM
The hunting partner. alleyyooper Hunting Stories 18 06-16-2015 07:29 PM
22 cal shootfirst Rimfire Ammunition 15 04-07-2011 03:46 AM
Hunting Rifle Dilemma north1 Rifles and Rifle Cartridges 23 01-19-2010 05:44 PM
Shouldn't long shots be for targets only? Twelveknuckles Rifles and Rifle Cartridges 102 08-12-2008 09:55 AM


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:56 PM.

< Contact Us - Shooters Forum - Archive - Privacy Statement >

 
 

All Content & Design Copyright © 1999-2002 Beartooth Bullets, All Rights Reserved
Privacy Statement | Contact Webmaster
Website Design & Development By Exbabylon Internet Solutions
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
SEO by vBSEO 3.6.1