Acceptable group size?


Well-Known Member
Jun 12, 2001
Palmer, Alaska
At what size does a group enter into the not happy with/not acceptable catagory for everyone here? Where do you draw the line and become satisfied.

My line is .8 MOA or under consistantly or it just doesn't cut it, I just don't feel satisfied until then for a few reasons I guess.
Rather than shooting at paper targets ("F" class or whatever) we are getting a lot of practice shooting from 700 to 1000 yards on steel plates and trying to learn as much as possible about doping wind, etc. One objective is to get cold bore shot hits within the vital area of a deer out at where ever we have the steel - and to shoot five shot groups within that same 12-15 inch vital zone. This is pretty easy out to six hundred, that is why we mostly shoot 700 and longer. We have big plates to catch "groups" and small standing ones that we knock over. Small plates range from 12x12 to 18x18, all 1/2" thick.

Jerry has an excellent point, we should be trying to beat the vital aiming zone area by a margin. Having said the above, I doubt that we would shoot at 700 yards on an animal with our gear unless there was absolutely no wind and a backup shooter was on also.

What calibers are you using to shoot those plates? Do the bullets punch through?
The plates are 1/2" thick standard steel, not hardened as far as I know (also have a big one that is 0.375"). We have just started playing with the big ones and have no significant impact damage from .300 Win.mags and 190 Matchkings at 700. The .308's only take the paint off and we have shot them a bunch out to 1000.
We shot the smaller plates last week at 4, 5, 6, and 700 with one shot from the .308 Win. (168 Sierra) and one shot with the .300 Win. mag. (190 Sierra) and the .300 made a significant crater at 400, enough that I wouldn't do it again. Estimate 2/3's penetration and a nasty crater that could snag a person's hands - we have to carry these things to a storage area. 500 was also significant, 6 was a distinct dimple and 700 you can barely feel. The .308 did a bit of a dent at 400 but not bad (very small crater), good dimple at 500 and only takes the paint off at 6 and 700. These plates were hanging, we also shot them sitting on the ground and got pretty similar results.

I believe that a person could use much lighter steel plate at 700 and longer - probably 1/4 inch if you had it hanging or angled forward to deflect the bullet downward.

We don't shoot the big boomers, can't say what they will do to this type of steel.

Best sound we get from hitting steel with the .308's is on a huge plate of steel that is suspended on coil springs. Steel pipe frame in the ground with three coil springs welded on, then the big buffalow shaped steel plate welded on the springs. We are pretty disapointed at how little sound we get off our smaller plates.
A tip, we just mooched an old swing-set and will be hanging targets on it way out there.
We shoot 1/2 inch thick steel half sillouette targets they are welded to stop sign posts just slide the post into the PVC pipe that is burried in the ground. Our 400 yard one has a ton of little craters, as it was shot at two hundred yard a few times.

We have only shot 308 win on them. Just wondering what the big boys will do to them. Don't want to punch holes in them.

It looks pretty cool when it snows, because when the bullet disinigrates from hitting the steel square on, then there is a line of splash marks around the target in the snow.
Since most of us here are interested in long range shooting, this may be useful. For me, I try to maintain an accuracy equal to no more then 2/3 the target size at my longest range. This is shot under avg. conditions for at least 3 rds. The rest I use would be equal to the conditions this rifle will be used in the field or competition.

Remember that good 100yd groups does not mean that long range accuracy will be guaranteed.

This is a very broad description but covers all of my uses from bench match rifle to long range big game hunting. If I can maintain this level of consistency, I will always be in the "tens".

Good luck...

We haven't shot our steel at 200 but I would bet that the .300 Win would penetrate as it made a hell of a crater at 400. Understand that the fast .22's will penetrate steel really well, we are pretty heavy into .308 Wins so haven't tried that.
Did compare some hunting ammo vs match ammo last week and saw no difference in the dimpling at 700 with the .300 Win. Had some Winchester 180 Ballistic Silvertips that shot very nicely at 700 yards, outshot the Federal GM, although that was only on a couple of groups.
Good idea putting the post into the PVC pipe. We are trying a variety of target holders, need something cheap and portable since we take my targets to two or three places.
For my varmint/long range rifles, I like at least half MOA. For competition, less than that is desirable. One thing I have observed is people giving up on rifles too soon. A friend had a custom built and always said it wouldn't shoot. After a year of sitting in the gun case, he got it back out and tried a new load that shot well under half MOA at most any range. All that time wasted because he thought the rifle wasn't accurate.
We were shooting 3/8" plate out to 1000yds and the 338/378wby with the 300gr MK at 2975fps was still punching holes through at 700yds, and at 1000yds it almost went through.

The 8mm Mausers were punching cleanly through at 300yds, but never fired on the 700yd plate to check there. We'll try some 1/2" plate next time.

We're going out this weekend with the M14 and the Win. 308 for a shootout on the plates, my wife and I. It will be her first time shooting the steel, she'll love it.
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