Latest Firearms News and Updates

Improving Your Rifle’s Accuracy

We ask a lot from our rifles and sometimes even more from our ammunition. We’d all love a factory cartridge that can clip the wings off a deerfly at 1,000 yards; lacks recoil, drop and wind drift; will stop a charging grizzly with a poorly placed shot and only costs 7 cents per round (delivered). But, until that unicorn-cartridge exists, we’ll have to settle for less. Fortunately, if reliability, respectable accuracy and a reasonable amount of expansion/deformation/upset top your list, suitable factory loads are available in many modern sporting rifle chamberings.

Since 2009 and as of this writing, I’ve test-fired slightly fewer than 1,300 MSRs that either belonged to someone else or became theirs soon afterward. While standard-length rifles made up most of that number, approximately 220 SBRs and large-format pistols were included. Whether they were in for repair work, accurizing or were newly manufactured in my shop, each MSR was evaluated for function and accuracy before leaving my hands.

Among the uses indicated by those firearms’ owners, hunting and/or home defense ranked high in importance for all but a handful. In addition to match-grade and ball ammo, I included loads with expanding or deforming projectiles whenever possible. Because top-of-the-line, tissue-destroying, ballistic buzz saws tend to be pricey, I instead sought out lower cost, reliable factory loads with historically strong records afield.

Overall, I expended a hair less than 100,000 rounds testing these firearms, which excludes personal shooting or evaluations for this and other publications. Although serious competitors, firearm trainers, professional testers and our nation’s most elite warriors shoot far more than that and in far less time, I’ve popped enough primers during this phase of my life to have spotted a few trends among factory hunting loads. Still, this is not an exhaustive list of MSR calibers. Many excellent rifle chamberings that fill freezers or defend the innocent each year don’t show up here. While I may have worked with several of those, they numbered too few for use in identifying practical loads.

Unless otherwise noted, the following cartridges typically delivered sub-MOA, five-shot groups at 100 yards (or meters) during testing. Keep in mind that these are average results, not absolutes. Every barrel is different, and every so often one bucks the trend. Firing was mostly done from a prone, bag-supported position with occasional bench or bipod use. Barrel lengths were predominantly rifle, with 66 percent of barrels measuring between 16 and 20 inches, while 33 percent were 14.5 inches or less.

.223 Rem./5.56 NATO
This chambering comprises nearly half of the guns I’ve built or worked on, so I have definite go-to loads for field accuracy. At the lighter end of the spectrum, Federal’s 50-grain JHP varmint load groups slightly less than 1 MOA most of the time. Also in the varmint class, 55-grain Hornady and Fiocchi V-Max loads often print between .5 and .75 MOA. Winchester’s 55-grain PSP and Federal’s 55-grain SP ammo have hovered around 1 MOA in most rifles. Barnes’ hard-hitting TSX projectiles really shine in this caliber, with Black Hills’ 55- and 62-grain versions shooting closer to .75 MOA most of the time.

6 mm ARC
Hornady’s 103-grain ELD-X is the sole hunting bullet among the three 6 mm ARC factory loads available. While it’s been the least accurate for me, it was still sub-MOA out of every 6 mm ARC rifle I’ve built.

6.5 Grendel
Most Grendel ammo is geared for target or match use, but American Eagle’s 90-grain JHP regularly shoots sub-.75 MOA and Hornady’s 123-grain SST load stays sub-MOA for me.

6.5 Creedmoor
My best expanding-ammo groups in this long ranger typically come from 143- and 147-grain ELD-X projectiles, either loaded by Hornady or Black Hills (143-grain only). However, Hornady’s 129-grain Interlock and the 131-grain SP load from Sellier & Bellot yield sub-MOA results and sometimes rival match ammo accuracy.

.300 BLK
There’s no shortage of expanding .300 BLK ammo choices. I count on Black Hills’ excellent 110-grain TTSX, Hornady’s 110-grain V-Max, 120-grain SST and Federal’s 123-grain Fusion for steady, sub-MOA accuracy. For subsonic needs, Hornady’s 208-grain V-Max and Engle Ballistic Research (EBR)’s 220-grain SP reliably deliver .8 to 1.2 MOA accuracy for me.

7.62×39 mm
As the third most common MSR chambering with which I’ve worked, this stubby Russian round has several factory hunting loads that really stand out. Hornady’s 123-grain SST, Federal’s 123-grain Fusion and EBR’s 220-grain SP subsonic “Jackhammer” have all shot very well. Topping them all is Federal’s 123-grain SP load, which often shoots less than .75 MOA in my testing. While not marketed as a hunting round, the bi-metal “HP” loads offered by Wolf and TulAmmo typically hover between .9 and 1.2 MOA and are used successfully by several of my customers to hunt predators, varmints and whitetail.

.308 Win./7.62 NATO
This trusty .30-caliber holds the number-two spot for frequent appearances in my shop. I’ve had MOA or better accuracy with Federal and Hornady 150-grain soft-point loads in many MSRs (and several Remington Model 742s) that I’ve worked on. Hornady’s 150-grain SST shoots tighter from most barrels, but also costs more. On the lighter side, I can always count on Federal’s 130-grain JHP ammo to shoot well, often printing five-shot groups smaller than .75 MOA.

9 mm
This cartridge isn’t likely to come up in conversations about 100-yard accuracy. However, I’ve built and worked on a large-enough number of 9 mm PCCs and SBRs to know that it’s certainly capable of it. Specific ammunition preferences vary widely from one barrel to another, but I generally see Remington’s 124-grain Golden Saber, SIG Sauer’s 124-grain V-Crown, Hornady’s 124-grain XTP and Federal’s 147-grain Hydra-Shok stay well inside of 1.5 MOA.

While the ammunition above has worked well for me, your mileage may vary. I recommend buying a box or two of new ammo types to try before mortgaging the farm to buy a pallet.

Read the full article here

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy