Accuracy versus velocity

sunsetpalms

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Joined
Apr 27, 2009
Messages
16
Location
Tampa Florida
When working up loads for hunting does it really matter to get that extra 150-200fps if your personal limits are 400yds and under , seem like I find pretty good load on the lower end of powder charges often or right around max , but I’m not a long range shooter don’t really see any benefit to pushing it to the limit. Is there another take on this? Or other reason I’m not aware of pushing faster
The biggest factor affecting your bullet after it leaves the barrel is gravity. The only way to minimize this is reduce TOF (Time Of Flight). The only way to do this is speed up the bullet. The faster the projectile gets to the target the less the effect of gravity. However, there is a catch, bullet stability comes into play, which involves BC, Barrel twist, DA etc. You can actually overspeed the projectile. Gyroscopic procession can actually over spin/Wobble the bullet in flight. At short distance you would probably never see this. out past 600 yards it begins to become a factor. I have some 6.5CRM loads that actually don't become fully stable until out past 200 yards. Love to play with this stuff.
 

thwatson2

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Joined
Nov 4, 2012
Messages
136
Accuracy and velocity do go hand in hand. That doesn’t mean faster is better. That’s why we work up loads and practice a lot. Each barrel stabilizes a particular bullet best at a given velocity. I have a 300 WM that loves max velocity(near 3000fps) with 200 gr bullets, I have a 338 RUM that likes 4 grains less powder than max for awesome sub moa accuracy. I shoot a 7-08 out of a weatherby that loves to shoot super fast or super slow, blue dot loads, that kick like a 22 but it hates everything in between(and it drops deer under 200 yards). And then there is my sharps 45-110 that sends 545 grain bullets at 1400 FPS and can hit steel at 1000 yards all day long. Your barrel will oscillate and finding that perfect velocity that causes that bullet to leave at middle of that oscillation is what practice will get you. Shot accuracy is way more important then ft/lbs or speed. Know your gun and know your scope or sights, then wind and environment can be overcome
 

msmith57

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Joined
Nov 9, 2015
Messages
66
Location
western Montana
When working up loads for hunting does it really matter to get that extra 150-200fps if your personal limits are 400yds and under , seem like I find pretty good load on the lower end of powder charges often or right around max , but I’m not a long range shooter don’t really see any benefit to pushing it to the limit. Is there another take on this? Or other reason I’m not aware of pushing faster
Try different loads, every Rifle is different and yours may shoot better with a little more or a little less?? make up a bunch of different loads nd go to your range and see what hits your target best and most accurate.
 

jarnold37

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Dec 21, 2010
Messages
76
Sorry, have to answer this thread twice. Probably too much sitting inside and not enough to do right now :) For me its not accuracy vs velocity.......its accuracy WITH velocity. Thats why sometimes it takes me a couple years to work-up the perfect load for each cartridge. I try way more than one powder before I pick one, and then there's OCW test, Distance off lands ladder, different primers, and at least two style bullets (match and hunting). Maybe its being a barrel nut guy but I never worry about shooting out a barrel, heck they are $275-350 and take less time to change than eating dinner. Maybe it's not PC....... but it's how I approach it and it's probably why 3 out of 4 of my load work-ups are a tad on the warm side, but manage to shoot pleasing groups.
Sorry, have to answer this thread twice. Probably too much sitting inside and not enough to do right now :) For me its not accuracy vs velocity.......its accuracy WITH velocity. Thats why sometimes it takes me a couple years to work-up the perfect load for each cartridge. I try way more than one powder before I pick one, and then there's OCW test, Distance off lands ladder, different primers, and at least two style bullets (match and hunting). Maybe its being a barrel nut guy but I never worry about shooting out a barrel, heck they are $275-350 and take less time to change than eating dinner. Maybe it's not PC....... but it's how I approach it and it's probably why 3 out of 4 of my load work-ups are a tad on the warm side, but manage to shoot pleasing groups.
I tend to agree. Started out with a 25-06 and was told to use biggest bullet possible. Turned out at 2800 fps it usually poked a hole. One hit at 209 yds and the deer acted like wasnt even hit. Then went to smaller bullets and found the 87 grn to be the ticket. At 3550 fps yes the deer could tell the difference. Longest shot with that fast little bullet was 440 yds facing head on. Dropped. Eventually experimented with bigger cartridges. The longer yardages need better accuracy. 1.5" straight taper barrel with big single shot action, Jewell trigger, 12-42 NF scope and 30-378 and 338-378 with no freebore and You can have cake and eat it too. Have different twist barrels for both and can shoot small to large bullets. Velocity is addicting and yes you can also have accuracy.
 

Tree Farmer

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Dec 30, 2013
Messages
113
I'm just starting to develop an accuracy load for a new 300WSM. Less than 75 rounds down the barrel and new brass. Best accuracy is at/above max (stiff bolt lift and prominent ejector marks). Backing down to acceptable pressure reduces velocity by about 70 fps and opens groups to around .6 moa (vs .4 moa at top end). Shooting a mono for deer/elk, so velocity and accuracy important. Maybe another 50 shots and fire formed brass will get me more speed and better accuracy?
 

Roughwater

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May 14, 2011
Messages
291
Location
Eastern North Carolina
The idea that accuracy and velocity are competing objectives is a False Premise. With modern powders, the high node often appears near max.

Over and over, I see people make statements about ceasing load development because groups opened up above a certain velocity or powder charge. People who do this are often leaving quite a bit of performance on the table because they stopped testing well short of max, never reaching the high node (where groups tighten again). The high node with modern powders is often MORE consistent than the node below it. ES and SD numbers from a chronograph will often reflect this.

Treating accuracy and velocity as competing objectives is likely to rob the shooter of higher velocity, flatter trajectory, reduced wind drift, and possibly improved terminal performance, in addition to greater consistency. This is true, regardless of the range to target. A shorter range to target only makes these factors less observable.

Accuracy and Velocity are NOT trade-offs. They are COMPLEMENTARY to one another. Is it possible that a given rifle, with a given component combination will be more accurate at a lower node? Of course it is! But, if BOTH the lower node and the high node are not tested, it is not possible to know. People who accept the idea that accuracy and velocity are competing objectives WILL NEVER KNOW!
Sounds totally logical to me. But case life matters too, at least to me anyway, but if case life isn't suffering and no signs of over-pressure then why not go with the higher charge? Brass is so expensive now a days and the better brass seems to disappear completely for a period of time making brass life very important.
 

30calyooper

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Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
88
Location
Michigan
Well, this is an old question...

From experience, there are some powders that seem to do their best at max velocities, with one caveat - this may be true in one caliber with that powder and bullet weight, but not quite the same in a different caliber, same caliber with a different bullet weight, or even with a different bullet of the same weight! This is why we start low and build up to higher powder charges - watching both accuracy and pressure signs as we go. It's certainly not uncommon to watch accuracy degrade with a heavier powder charge, way before we see pressure signs, right?

So - over the years, those of us who've been playing the game have developed our own set of pet loads, and even these may be great in one rifle but not so great in another. I won't launch into how many variables there are...but I will say this - nothing wrong with looking for max velocity, as some bullets perform better on game at the high end of the velocity spectrum. And it's hard to say that more ft-lbs of energy on a critter is a bad thing!

But - as several others have already pointed out - all possibilities go out the window when accuracy AND consistency are lost! Personally, I'll hunt with a load that gives me about one MOA at all temperatures, over a load that gives me tiny groups until the temperature warms up. My general goal is to find a load that groups around 1/2 MOA and does that consistently across the spectrum of temperature and altitude, but lets be honest here - if I can get ONE MINUTE OF ELK without worrying about temp or altitude, AND get it across a reasonable spectrum of ranges, I feel like I'm in a good place.

What I won't do - automatically go with the fastest OR the most accurate load if the bullet does not suit the game! Ran into a guy once who insisted on hunting mulies with a 30-06 and a Sierra 110 hollow point! Ummm, no thanks...
 

TRG65

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Dec 21, 2017
Messages
249
There are certain windows where cartridges provide good accuracy, for instance a mid-range 6.5 frequently is very accurate between 2800 and 2850. However, if you want to go to 2950 or 3000, you should go looking for a different cartridge. Now, if you are pushing a 308 at only 2400 from a 20-24" barrel, then yes you can get another 200 fps and have good accuracy and safe operation levels. Ultimately, I want accuracy and consistency. If I want more speed outside of known windows, I'll pick a different cartridge.
 

charliewhisky

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Joined
Sep 7, 2010
Messages
21
I am certainly not an expert but my reading and personal experience suggests that velocity, BC, and bullet design choices interact to allow farther shots (500+yds) with excellent knockdown.
Last year I decided I would like to get better at 500yds with my model 700 LR in 30-06. I am primarily a hunter and wanted to be able to take deer or hogs at long range if possible with the rifle I was shooting at the range.
I was advised that the amount of practice I would be putting in would burn out my barrel, at the near maximum velocity I was loading and the 160gr bullets I was using, within about 1500 rds and that I should switch to a different caliber, at least for practice.
Because I knew the original military specification for the 30-06 barrel was somewhere in the 6000 rd range and that the 30-06 was originally intended to address man sized targets at 1000yds I decided that there had to be an another answer.
I think I learned that answer. Instead of relying on velocity to improve performance, I needed to rely on bullet performance, both in flight and terminal, and to improve my shooting skills.
I finally started loading 200gr ELD-X (BC .626 G1) at 2695fps and a PBR of 230yds. This is significantly lower than the max velocity of 3000+fps available for 160gr bullets I was advised to shoot. I chose the 200gr bullet for advertised terminal performance at both close and long range.
Long story short, I have improved my iron shooting skills. I rarely miss under 400yds and am somewhat reliable at 500 yds.
I took three deer this year, all under 200 yds and the ELD-X performance was great.
I competed in a friendly LR competition and although my rifle is slow for this kind of shoot, I did not totally disgrace myself at 500yds.
 

Eagleye208

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Joined
Apr 2, 2020
Messages
5
Location
Northern British Columbia
I agree with those who assert that both velocity and accuracy can be achieved in most cases. I have a number of rifles that qualify as long range "thumpers" I do not settle for mediocre velocities just to gain a quarter moa. All my heavy hitters shoot sub-moa, and I like the fact that they have enough residual energy way out there to humanely dispatch whatever my quarry is. A good example is my 8mm Rem Mag. A 220 grain bullet at 3090, and .6 moa avg for 5. Another is a 308 Norma Mag and the 210 LRAB. 3005 fps and .5 moa avg. In the latter unit, I had to try several powders to come up with the combination that worked.
 

LRNut

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Joined
Dec 4, 2004
Messages
69
Location
Arizona/Colorado
They could be trade offs. If you get in to pressure just at the edge of your high node, that max load might be a bit less accurate than a lower node, let's say 5/8 MOA opposed to 3/8 MOA at a lower node.

If you suck at reading wind and take very long shots, the wind drift might be more important.

It's a corner case but some people live at the corners.
I notice no one has commented on the fact allowable wind reading error is driven far more by accuracy than by velocity. For example, let's say I am trying to hit a 10 inch target at 800 yards. I have two cartridges shooting identical bullets (suppose a 7mm 195 Berger), but one shoots .4 MOA @ 2800 and the other one shoots .8 @ 3000. The 2800 fps bullet is going to group 3.2" at 800 yards, which if perfectly centered, leaves 3.4" on either side of the widest bullet impact. At 800 yards the slower bullet is drifting 3.2" per mile of wind speed. So your allowable error to keep that entire group size in the 10" vital area is 1.1 mph. The faster bullet drifts 2.8" per mile of wind speed, but since the group is 6.4" if perfectly centered, you only have 1.8" on either end, which means you must estimate wind speed to within .64 mph. The slower but more accurate load has TWICE the allowable wind reading error. I will take that every time.

Bullets don't travel in a straight line; half hit to the left, and half hit to the right. Half are higher than your point of aim and half are below.

Some of you are probably thinking you can hit that 10" target quite frequently and yet cannot estimate the wind within 1 mph. Remember, if the wind is left to right and you call it too high by 1 mph (pushing your "group" 3.2" left), there is a 50% chance the bullet will be one that hits to the right of your point of aim, potentially resulting in what looks like a perfect wind call.

One thing is rather obvious: at some point your ability to call the wind and/or shoot a small enough group at extended ranges will result in wounded animals. You can work up loads and spin on custom barrels till the cows come home, but unless you are out there shooting at LR at least weekly, you are going to suck at reading the wind. And if you are shooting in a mirage-less condition, you are really going to suck.
 
Last edited:

FlyGuy11

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LRH Team Member
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Feb 4, 2019
Messages
48
Location
Phoenix
I would not worry about velocity as long as the energy threshold goal is met. I am an Elk hunter and I prefer to harvest my animals at a maximum range of 500 yards and I regularly practice out to this range and further. The energy minimum at 500 yards for me must meet or exceed 1500 ft. lbs. of energy. This has not been an issue since I have moved to the 28 Nosler.
 

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