Accuracy, A Game Of StrategyBy Jerry Stordah
©Copyright Precision Shooting Magazine
Expectations vary. Few shooters expect a factory rifle to shoot with a custom built gun, but some rifles can come close. It all depends on how accuracy is defined and how the “accuracy game” is being played. Oftentimes, the checkbook says, “Close is good enough.”
This Winchester Model 70 in Heavy Varmint configuration is equipped with a McMillan A5 stock as part of its accuracy strategy.
Once a factory rifle is selected, we eventually discover whether or not it shoots under the magic inch at 100 yards. This criterion for group size is often used to judge normal weight hunting rifle accuracy. If our rifle can do this, we have thrown the dice and moved ahead one square. But not every rifle owner limits his hunting to big game only. Some of us try to hit tiny varmints at the limits of our vision. If the equipment and ammunition produces .5 inch groups or better, riflemen are ahead two spaces in the accuracy game.
Accuracy is for sale. That means instead of throwing dice on the table, we need to toss dollars. When it comes to accurate rifles, gambling is something to avoid. That means we don’t leave “extras” to chance, but instead, we thoughtfully adopt a strategy that will enhance the performance of the chosen rifle.
Not every shooter believes that quality is worth paying extra cash to acquire, and the factories have specific lower tier products for the less discriminating shooter. That is an advantage for all of us, because even though some may only fire three rounds a year (two at a target to ascertain bullet strike and one at a deer) the capability of entering the accuracy game is always there. Many seasoned shooters buy the inexpensive version of a rifle and sell the stock and use the barrel for a garden stake. They pursue the accuracy game, using only the factory action and trigger, and sometimes these are reworked with polishing and blueprinting.
This Colt HBar Elite is a contender in the accuracy game for those who enjoy semiautomatic rifles.
These types already have a game strategy, and it involves a bunch of cash, a skilled machinist/gunsmith and a lot of bullets downrange to sort out the rifle’s preferred load. They do this because they want to know their rifle and all of its particular quirks. Discriminating shooters above all...know their rifles, and that is perhaps the single most important accuracy enhancement strategy. To gain this experience, these riflemen shoot their guns...a lot, and they learn from their rifles and the weather conditions.
Though we really can not expect a factory rifle to offer extreme performance, there are a few sleepers amongst the factory over-the-counter rifles...most notably the Winchester, CZ, Remington, Savage and Tikka heavy-barreled offerings classified as varmint rifles. A rifleman has the best chance of finding a “shooter” amongst these factory offerings because the barrel will be of heavy contour, thereby offering less vibration. Also, the stocks usually have wider fore-ends, giving greater stability for the shot. The greater mass of the barrel and stock make a heavy rifle, but the weight enhances that perfect steadiness and alignment of crosshairs from bipod or field rest. Again, expectations vary, but a factory varmint rifle will shoot very well.
Factory rifles are not bench rest rifles. They lack the attention to detail found in rifles coming from precision-oriented gunsmiths. The factory receivers may not be perfectly true. The barrels may exhibit some roughness that will contribute to copper fouling, and the often seen aluminum bedding block may not be a true fit to the receiver. But, the factory rifles will not set you back an excessive amount of cash, and they will get a rifle aficionado into the shooting game.
One of the general sayings we often hear is, “You get what you pay for.” In optics, mounts, and rifles it is a reality. An inexpensive rifle will have a cheap barrel that might satisfy someone’s accuracy requirements, but in the accuracy game the strategy is about making wise choices that advance our rifle’s potential. It is not prudent to purchase the most inexpensive offering available, unless it meets certain quality standards. Nor is it smart to pay an excessive price for an object...unless it fulfills the needs, wants or requirements of the individual or group. Even then, it is sensible to compare the material and build quality to the price, in order to readily evaluate whether or not the purchasing strategy is sound.
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