(Originally published on kyledefoor.tumblr.com)
I had a couple of experiences recently that got me thinking about group size/accuracy in the shooting and gun industry.
How many rounds are a “group”? There is no set standard with this, which is sad. And, if you think about it, the smaller number of shots someone uses for their group, the more accurate their weapon is.
How much time does this take?Again, there is no set standard for this. I’ve seen a five shot group take 5 minutes simply because the shooter wanted to let the barrel cool and as I was told “that’s what they do in the matches”. Yeah, ok. So if we are gonna use time standards from 1915 why do you have a red dot and match barrel? I think the answer is scared to perform as a human and scared of the performance of the investment.
The most popular group by far is the 3 round group. Why? ; it’s cheap, it makes people feel good about the money they spent on their gun, it’s what they did in boot camp, and most importantly- people can make the claim they have a 1 MOA rifle since mathematically not even (3) .30cal rounds close together will measure over an inch in the hands of a decent shooter. Why I think a 3 round group sucks; all of us, me included, can get lucky 3 times, there is no fatigue (heat) for the barrel or ammo and there is no fatigue for the shooter.
5 shot group. Its not bad. I use it sometimes when ammo is scarce or I’m in a hurry with a monster size mil class. However, over the years I’ve noticed that more often than not a 5 round group results in a split group of sorts. It may be one round here, four rounds there or any combo possible but there is generally a noticeable difference. Measurement wise it can be as little as ½ inch or more between the two groups. This is caused by the above mentioned heat on parts and pieces and a small bit of shooter fatigue ( mostly eyes).
10 round group. IMO, this is where the money is. Ten shots guarantees a lot of things; true performance of the weapon both cold and with a warm barrel, true performance of a human that is repeatable and measurable over 10 rounds (small split groups become one, which is reality), and a realistic combo of both the weapon and person together over time.
Time. The ‘no time limit’ thing is just out of control. As a general rule I like to shoot my 10 round group under 2 mins. That’s plenty of time to recover, breathe, and realign. I’ll sometimes go down to 90 seconds with certain units/shooters. At fastest, that’s 9 seconds per shot after you’re already in position.
Ammunition. Obviously, using match ammo will make shot groups tighter, but if you carry a hollow point round you should use it or an equivalent when training. I witnessed an LEO swap ammo to match grade just so he could have a tighter group at 25 yds, then switch again when the class was over. Most troubling was that he had a different hold with the two ammos. So what will he revert to on the day?
Don’t believe the hype. Another travesty witnessed was a “gun author” shooting a target at about 5 yds on a range, but when the article came out in the magazine it was “author’s group at 25”. What a load of crap. Second worst is this whole sandbagged thing. Who cares what a gun will do when bench rested?
“I have a 1 MOA gun”. Really? At what distance and how many rounds should be the next question asked. If we are talking a 3 round group at 100 yds with match ammo, yes, there are tons of guns that will do that and some guys who can do it with irons. Make that a 5 round group and the numbers get cut dramatically. Take away match ammo and replace with carry ammo and the numbers get cut again. Regardless of all the variables, remember this- if it’s a 1 MOA gun at 100, that doesn’t mean it’s 1 MOA at 200. I’ve rarely seen guns that can hold a set accuracy standard over multiple yard lines. The ones I have seen do that are all bolt guns in the .30 cal family. All kidding aside, buy a ruler and carry with you. The majority of people eyeball group size. Some use a unit of measure off the target itself. Rarely does anyone actually measure it. Of the mag fed scoped rifle classes I do for the mil, only recently, after I brought this up to them, can guys correctly estimate their group size. This isn’t regulated to one service either, it’s everyone. As you can imagine, a lot of higher ups are a little pissed at the misleadings of some weapon manufacturers claims after they think it out and see it for themselves.
These are my suggestions on the subject based on my experience;
Pistols- group size for pistols should be done at 25yds from the standing freestyle position utilizing carry ammo. 10 rounds in 2 mins. A 4″ group is a good shooter.
Rifles/carbines-should be done from 100 yds (since some calibers/barrel lengths are sketch at 200) from the traditional prone position, i.e..- no mag on the deck, no bipod, utilizing terminal performance or hunting ammo, not match grade target stuff. 10 rounds in 2 mins. A 4 MOA group is a good shooter.
I bring all this up simply because of the misleadings, lies, and half truths I see out there. Once again, people wanting to make themselves feel good. Targets and timers don’t lie, but what you put into the target and how long it takes is decided by you.
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