1/4-1/2 MOA at 1k LR Rifle- Reality or Wishfull Thinking


Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2007
Wilmington NC
Here are some interesting stats from the IBS 1000 yard National Championships held in Iowa on Labor Day weekend.

To put this in perspective, these stats are "ONLY the top 20" of over 100 of the best 1k shooters with 17 lb light guns 20-42x scopes, 10-40 lb benchrests and 5 shot groups. Most are tight neck guns, with only .001-.0015 neck clearance, set up single shot with bullets soft seated in the lands in many cases. Bullets and cases sorted by weight, ogive, run on Juenkes etc.

The heavy guns range from 30-100 lbs and 10 shot groups.

So when you see the proverbial this hunting rifle off a bipod, "Shoots 1/4 MOA all day long", or " It holds 1/2 MOA at 1000!" take it with a grain of salt as most are in reality really posting "I shot this group one time, and therefore I am going to claim it it is always that, (before I have to shoot again)"! :D

Remember these stats below are the top 20 of over a 100 of the best.



Light Rifle average group size, top 20 shooters:

80 five shot groups average fired by top 20 shooters---6.381"
Smallest group of those 80 groups-------------------3.342"
Largest group of those 80 groups-------------------11.181
(Richard Schatz, ND, shot smallest LG group @ 2.756".)
(James Isaacson, FL, shot largest LG group @ 23.844".)

Heavy Rifle average group size, top 20 shooters:
80 ten shot groups average fired by top 20 shooters----8.313"
Smallest group of those 80 groups-------------------4.322"
Largest group of those 80 groups-------------------14.092"

Heavy Rifle approximate average group size, not incl. DQ's:
257 groups--------------------------------------------11.909"
Smallest group (Tod Soeby, ND)----------------------4.322"
Largest group (William Ice, WV)--------------------27.077"
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Those numbers always give good perspective-Thanks.

One thing about shooting at 1K matches is that you have to shoot under the conditions of the moment whether good or bad, and most guys here when going for "group" will likely be shooting a 3-shot group, instead of a 5-shot LG or 10-shot group Heavy Gun for IBS.

If you asked some of those guys what some of their 3-4 shot groups are, it can get pretty impressive at times.

IF, I could shoot 1/4 or 1/2 MOA @ 1K all day I would be more than pleased with myself. I am not holding my breath on this one though:D

You are correct, many a time I have shot 3-4 shot groups at 1k of 1.5-2 inches and thought wish I could hold the whole group like that.

However, they have a seven minute period to shoot in.

in reality, I think that you take your "normal" 100 yard group in MOA and give it 2-3X for 1k and you will be in the ball park.

I was just posting this as to put some perspective as you say on all the 1/4 MOA or 1/2 MOA at 1K "internet" guns that you constantly see posted with no group photos other than the carefully selected "once in a time" group and then at 100 yards normally.

interesting tidbit--Never did see one of those miracle guns show up at a match to win and clean up even with $30,000 of prizes on the line.

Iinteresting tidbit--Never did see one of those miracle guns show up at a match to win and clean up even with $30,000 of prizes on the line.

I just wish I had one of those guns and had the ability to read the conditions perfectly-Well, it is nice to dream:)

Can you imagine averaging a 2.5" group for a ten-shot string at 1,000 yards from field shooting conditions consistently?
Almost everyone who claims a 1/2MOA or a 1/4 MOA gun is doing so based upon performance at short range under good conditions.

The simple truth is that wind of any significant movement will push a bullet a lot, and since wind is not steady, that variation will easily take a 1/4 MOA gun at 100 yards to the results of 3 or 4 MOA gun at 1000. That doesn't make it a 4 MOA gun.

For instance, my F class 7mm WSM's bullet moves 53 inches, or 5+ MOA at 1000 yards if the wind is only 10 MPH. Add in just a little 12 MPH gust and it moves 1 whole MOA between shots! Drop it to no wind, and without correction, my shot is 4 feet from the X!

It might be a sub 1/4 MOA gun at 100 with no wind, but wind plays a huge part in long range shooting, and since wind is NEVER steady, the results we get vary widely!

I have customers all the time get excited and make a comment about how excited they are to get their 1/4 moa rifle. I always have to put the brakes on them and bring them back to reality. Generally the discussion goes like this:

"In ideal conditions with good ammo, a quality marksmen this rifle will be a 1/2 moa rifle for three shots." If any of these things are compromised in any way, there is no way you can expect to see consistant 1/2 moa groups.

I also tell them that if they are in the market for a rifle that will consistantly shoot 1/4 moa, they need to go to another smith because I will never garantee that for any of my rifles.

That said, I have seen many rifles and shot many three shot groups at 1000 yards that were WELL under 1/2 moa. Best to date is just over 1/4 moa for three shots. I do not shoot 5 shot groups, certainly do not shoot 10 shot groups. Imagine the bore temps on a 338 AM with 10 shot groups!!!

Generally, the "Come back down to earth" discussion generally ends with something like this:

"Find a good load, and get off the loading bench developing loads and get out and do practical field practicing. Develope and tweak your drop chart. Once that is all done, and you have a drop chart that is matched to your trajectory, if your a quality shooter and can dope conditions, you WILL be able to put that first shot within 1/2 moa of your point of aim. That is my goal for my customers rifles as they are big game rifles, not bench guns."

At 1000 yards, most conditions prevent anything even close to a 1/2 moa average and 1/4 moa groups are simply a rare treat. Do they happen with three shot groups, certainly they do, but to say a rifle does this all day long is simply admitting your either full of it!!!

I once shot a 4.3" ctc three shot group at an even mile, 1760 yards. I sold that rifle and commented that the rifle had 1/2 moa accuracy potential even though it has shot a legit 1/4 moa group at one mile. I probably could have shot a dozen more groups that day and not broke 10" ctc.

Sometimes the planets align and special things happen. Thats why the FCSA gives out screamer patches for anything under .6 moa. It just does not happen all that often and its special when it does. Those that shoot enough and are honest enough with themselves and have no need for false ego boosts have no need to brag about their rifles, unfortunately, some out there still have this need.

Thank you, much better said than I did!

I'm always amazed at the rhetoric I hear about this rifle or that rifle and the results it posts!

I do know my rifle is capable of more than I am, and I'm happy with what it gives me. That should be everybodies goal!

I shot two screamers in a row with my .5 MOA APS rifle. I even did it while verifying my load work.

Three shots at 1. 1", 1016 yards. Next group was at 1152 yards. Three shots went 4".

I make zero claim to be able to do it again. But, it sure makes you grin when you are doing load testing. It'd sure be fun to shoot one indoors that far an' see.

I see a pattern in your post. The small group guys are from North Dakota. Think they learn to read the wind up there?!
Thanks for posting this. I've always wondered what i was supposed to aspire to.


I thought i might add...
I've only shot 5 sets of groups with this rifle.
The first was around 3 inches at 100 yards, iron sights, factory ammo.
The second was 5 inches at 200 yards, iron sights, factory ammo.
The third was 2.5 inches at 300 yards, iron sights, hand-loads.
My forth was 1.75 inches at 300 yards, Bushnell 3200, hand-loads after load testing.
My fifth was 1 15/16 inches at 300 yards, Bushnell 3200, hand-loads after load testing, (different bullet.)

The validity of my signature came-up in a post not too long ago, which doesn't say "all day long" but I thought I'd say something about it since this post seemed convenient... And when, (not if,) I shoot a smaller group sometime down the road, I'll be editing my signature! ;)
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i laugh to myself all the time over the small group claims.
with guns that accurate, they should be competative shooters.
lets not forget the 10 shot 1000 yd. record stood for 14 years untill very recently. then beaten by an amount not visable without calipers.
tons of lead from guns built by some great gunsmiths tried to change that.
but there seems to be lots of hunting rifles that are up to the job.
!/4 to 1/2 MOA @ !,000 Yards is just wishful thinking. But I would like to think that
most people that claim to have a 1/2 MOA hunting rifle realise that that is at 100 to 200
yards and under perfect conditions and 3 to 5 perfectly matched loads.

I base the performance of all rifles hunting or match on there performance at 100 yards
because the shooter has less effect on group size at that distance and it "Only" shows
what the rifle is capable of not what you can expect every time under real hunting

If a rifle shoots a 1/2 " group once it is capable of doing it again but not likely to do it every
time even at 100 yards.

As to the claimed group size It is like every thing else that a person does he refers to his
personal best not the worst he ever did, So I find no fault in a person saying his rifle will
shoot 1/2 MOA groups as long as he realizes that it does not mean it can every time.

We all kid ourselves by thinking/hopping that our rifles will perform as well under hunting
conditions as it did at the range with a good rest and no pressure to make a perfect shot.

So like the other posters I would recomend that a person not set himself up for disappointment
by thinking that there rifle and there abilities will allow them to shoot 1/2 MOA at 1000 yards
much less at 1500 yards.

Just some comments from an old target shooter and hunter.

I get a bit of a kick out of 1/2 moa accuracy garantees from some rifle manufacturers as they are stated as simply that the rifle will be a 1/2 moa rifle, period. One that comes to mind is HS Precision. Then of course it has to be smaller then 30 cal to have this accuracy garantee. Just seems like this leaves them open to alot of complaints.

Most of you that have talked to me about a rifle build have heard or read this comment. "My rifles are held to a 1/2 moa accuracy potential garantee for three shots at practical ranges." The key word being POTENTIAL. I fully admit that many or even most of my customers shoot the rifles I build them better then I shoot them. This is for several reasons, I test them pre barrel break in, very little if any load development for the test ammo I use and simply many of my customers are simply better shots then I am, no question about that.

I learned long ago that I better add the word "Potential" to my garantee simply because there were far to many variables that will prevent 1/2 moa groups then I can control once the rifle leaves the shop. I realize this seems a bit on the "Policitical side" making a comment like this but it simply means, in ideal conditions and with ideal componants and shooters, this rifle has the ability to put three shots into a 1/2 moa group.

I do not say this level of accuracy can be expected at any specific range. Why not just say 100 yard only? Well, most of my rifles are on the extreme side of performance pushing long, heavy bullets at moderate to high velocity in faster twist barrels. As such, its not uncommon to see these bullets print into the 3/4 moa range at closer ranges, even out to 200-250 yards but then see them settle in and print groups at or under 1/2 moa at longer ranges after the bullets "go to sleep"

In fact this happens enough that I tell my customers to never pass up a load that produces nice round or even triangle shaped groups at 100 yards before testing that load at longer ranges just to see how it shoots before giving up on the group. Certainly many of them will shoot 1/2 moa at 100 yards and if they do, look out at long range!!!

I guess personally, I will develope a load more by velocity and if it shoots well I will generally not look for greener grass. In reality, I seldom shoot groups at longer range once the initial load development is done and even then I do not shoot all that many groups. I will shoot for velocity spread checks over a chrono, then shoot at long range, generally 800-1000 yards to check for any vertical stringing and if things are consistant, I start drop chart development and then onto practical range practicing which is generally one shot per range to duplicate a long range hunting situation.

In ideal conditions, I am not overly happy unless my first shot at long range is within 1/4 moa of my point of aim. I am not saying 1/4 moa grouping, in fact, 1/4 radius from point of aim which would be 1/2 moa diameter with point of aim in the center of that circle.

If there is any wind at all, that standard instantly increases to putting that first shot within 1/2 moa radius of my point of aim. Thinking practically, if you have a deer at 1000 yards and your drop chart is proven and accurate, if you can put your first shot witin 1/2 moa of your point of aim and to take a center hold on the bucks shoulder, you will have roughly 8" above and below your point of aim where the bullet will land on meat. If your shot lands within 1/2 moa of your point of aim, you will solidly be in that bucks chest cavity. Again, in ideal conditions I would expect to see that first shot land within a 1/4 moa radius of point of aim. In that situation, it would be 5" circle in the middle of a vital zone that is much larger then that. Again, thats under ideal conditions.

This is why shooting conditions greatly determine what range we should be shooting. A 1/4 moa rifle in an ideal situation will rarely do this in the field. Conditions determine the range at which your rifle holds its accuracy level.

In the end, accuracy garantees are really not all that important and that is one reason I test my rifles to prove that they show they have the potential to shoot 1/2 moa groups and that is what I hold them to and that is what I tell my customers about their rifles.

Anyway, may be a bit off topic but its a good discussion to have and one I have had with dozens of my customers.
200 yard target, new load, new COAL.

Moved from the 1000 yard zero on this rifle to 200 yard so that I could do some load development more easily. 1/4 value wind from the back left, at about 5-7 MPH.

1st shot was top right. Down 7/8 MOA and left 1/2 MOA gave me second shot shot. Up 1/4 MOA and left 1/4 MOA gave me the group. That is six shots in that touching group.


Does that make the gun a 1/4 MOA gun?

Does the fact that my 73 year father can hit 1"x2" pieces of clay pigeon at 430 yards make it a 1/4MOA gun?

Not in my book, but I really am happy with the way it shoots!

Be reasonable about what you expect, and enjoy shooting!

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In my opinion, it means your rifle have 1/4 moa or better potential. Again, "POTENTIAL" being the important word. And that my friend is a special thing in a rifle and more honest then saying the rifle is a 1/4 moa rifle.

Just my opinion, again, everyones got one!!!
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