Heavy varminters should shoot into two inches out of the box, hopefully better. Find the right ammo and this can go below an inch. Reloading will probably ensure sub one-inch groups. Bed and do a trigger job and the rifle should shoot handloads from one-half to one inch consistently. Some rifles will create groups that are significantly better than one-half inch, but try to do that four or five times in succession.
How does this compare with custom-built rifles? My GA Precision rifles shoot inside one half inch with factory loaded Black Hills Match ammo all day long IF I am up to the challenge. They will beat that accuracy if I do a bunch of tedious handloading chores – with one-quarter to one half-inch groups not uncommon. Fact is, so are one and one half inch groups if I shank one because of lack of concentration on the basics of marksmanship.
I have some semi-custom rifles that are significantly more accurate than factory models. The Cooper Phoenix is just plain amazing. Point that sucker right and the bullets pile-up on one another. My H-S Precision rifle also makes their one-half inch accuracy guarantee easily. Although the rifle is a varminter I carry it on deer hunts with ease.
I have shot several Dakota rifles recently that were also solid sub-half minute shooters. Dakota does things right with Lilja barrels and incredibly precise actions and bedding.
Now let’s go back to factory rifles. The best shooting factory rifles that I have encountered recently have been the Vanguard MOA models, in calibers right up to .300 Weatherby. At a recent Weatherby writer seminar I managed to put three factory one-eighty grain rounds into exactly one inch with an out of the box Vanguard. This was at two hundred yards! What makes the MOA so accurate – one remarkably simple fact. They are hand-selected during the final accuracy assessment. Put the really hot shooters aside and market them as such – that
is a clever idea isn’t it!
Another rifle that continually amazes me is the Thompson Center Encore. I have shot Encores shoulder to shoulder with some very expensive custom-built rifles on prairie dog shoots. And held my own. Matter of fact my Encores kicked-butt on one occasion against someone shooting a rifle valued at over eight thousand bucks! I understand that the Encore is about to get even better.
Rifle accuracy ranges from “minute of eyeball” to “minute of deer”, depending on the individual’s standards. Bottom line for me is that most factory rifles can be significantly improved by having the lawyer-proof triggers corrected. Add a skim-bedding job that will hold the barreled-action consistently into the stock and accuracy will usually improve significantly.
There is one other secret to accuracy that just plain works. Get out there and pull the trigger. Learn from your misses so that you can prevent bad shots. Stay with the basics of breathing, trigger control, natural point of aim and effective rests. Learn to shoot in wind. Matter of fact we should practice in lousy weather and shoot from improvised field positions as much as possible. I have never heard of a deer being shot from a bench-rest. I do keep hearing about half-inch groups with out of the box rifles and factory ammo. Sure wish I could do that…Join the discussion of this article with the author HERE at the Article Discussion Forum.