Determing max range based on rifle accuracy


Active Member
Feb 5, 2004
How do you guys classfy your rifles? I mean, if for an instance you got a rifle (dont mind the cal) that shoots 1 moa a 100yards, whats the range you consider as max for that rifle? Let´s say it is small deer/coyote targets.

Just wondering where the limit for accuracy and range is. Dont mind that I used 1 moa @100Y... just an example..
For me, I prefer to have 1000 ft/lbs of energy for minimum killing power on deer/elk size game. That being said 1K of energy is also much farther out than I would be willing to shoot for an animal that I am going to eat.
For instance:
180gr bullet at 3000fps muzzle velocity
850yds = 1000+/- ft/lbs
but at 850yds the flight time is 1.17 seconds. To me a lot can happen in 1+ seconds in relation to where the target was and where it might be at 850yds. Additionaly if the gun is 1MOA your shooting a 8.5" group at that range. That would AssUMe that you have the wind and light doped perfectly
. All that being said I personaly am not comfortable at that range on game.

I make the distinction of on "game" on purpose.

I prefer a round that meets my energy requirements and arrives in .5 seconds or so. Which gets me roughly 400 - 500 yards max distance for a shot on game. That range also fits within the paramaters of everything I hunt with, 308, 30-06 & 300 WM.

Just my $.02

I'd say it's pretty easy. Shoot at something & if you miss, move closer til you hit it. Thats your max range.

I recently checked a rifle in .223cal(40grVmax). Fired on a 6" bull, cold barrel, at various ranges and conditions, over a two week period.
This was a factory rifle with a decent load worked up, out to 300yds. It would group under .3moa consistantly at my range, while warmed up, but everything changes in the real world.
In the field(literally,lying,off a bipod), I found that I could consistantly hit the bull still, out to 300, shooting single cold barrel shots. But the real world groups at this range were just under 1moa. And at 350, forget it. All over the paper.
My call on this is that it's a 300yd rifle.
Those tiny little groups at the range:
Hell, you can train a monkey to drive a clown car around a circus tent.
But let's see him drive to Baltimore.
As I've stated in previous posts (as I recall) I generally use a 2 MOA rule. I allow 1 MOA for the rifle and load and 1 MOA for me and the environment. So for a game critter that has a 12 inch kill zone (deer) I'm stuck at 600 yards. (I still have a 650 yard limit no matter the size of the beast (game animal).)

Varmints!!! There is no limit on distance for varmint, "wing a round and correct" if need be.
I've always figured energy like DOC 76251 can run program and come up with appr range and 1K energy is about right for elk and deer. Well good luck.
For mule deer, consistent hits on a milk jug size target with an impact vel of at least 1750fps.

This gives me excellent penetration and expansion for lots of internal damage. The size of the target is about the size of kill zone for the avg mule deer in my area.

Larger animal, longer range as long as impact vel is correct. This refers to 'small cal'. With something like a 300gr 338 MK, impact vel can go lower because you have so much weight at impact. MK seem to do well on game at vel above the speed of sound.


I presume you are talking about roe? As you say the issue is not killing power but accuracy.

For heart and lung shooting you are looking to hit something the size of a CD cover. That being around a 4-5inch square. Given a group the size you displayed with the Barnes the limit is determined by your ability to hold it steady, the effect a slight breath of unseen wind will have and the time of flight (in case the animal takes a step just as you release the shot)

I personaly feel that with a great rest and an absolutely immobile buck 100m away looking straight at you, a rifle should be accurate enough to allow a neck shot. This means no worse than 0.75moa

I have rifles that shoot .3moa and rifles that shoot 0.75moa. The range I can shoot with them is not affected by their accuracy.
1894: It´s not about roe or my shooting. My maxrange on roe is 200 meter. I´m 100% convinced of a successfull hit on that range. On 300 meter I´m only 95% convinced of a successfull hit. If I choose to shoot at that range, it must be a once in a lifetime buck. BTW target practice at 300 meter has still yet to fail. Not even 1 misplaced shot. Always hitting the target, but you now in the field there is so much variables that cant be controlled as well as on the shootingrange.

I´m going to do some "scandinavian" varminthunting at sea on birds. There is so much birds floating around, sitting on small isles etc. so the ranges there is the maxrange of my rangefinder.

This thread I just started cause I wondered how you determines your range versus rifleaccuracy. It´s been very informative. Thank you very much.
Nice to see a couple of sensible posts on this issue .
As far as varmints go a fairly solid hit anywhere in the torso with a sufficiently powerful rifle should result in a relatively quick if not instantaneous death . Unfortunately the same can't be said for medium to large game unless you shoot a 20mm cannon with explosive heads.
If you have a rifle that will consistently put 5 inside 3/4 inch from a cold barrel then in the field you are more likely to be the limitation .
Above all else , before you fire on game ask yourself how quickly you can guarantee a finishing shot if you cock up the first one.
If the answer is 10 minutes or more then IMHO you should be 100% certain that your first shot will be a clean kill . That's a big ask at 1000 yards or more .
Respect for your quarry is one thing that differentiates hunters from shooters . There are a few guys around that either haven't worked that out or are skillful enough to have NEVER wounded an animal .
If you need something to brag about, head shots on small varmints at 500 yards beat the hell out of gut shot elk at 1500 .
Maybe I'm one of those newbie morons but most times I can sleep with a clean conscience.

[ 08-06-2004: Message edited by: Aussie ]

[ 08-06-2004: Message edited by: Aussie ]
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><HR> Maybe I'm one of those newbie morons but most times I can sleep with a clean conscience.
"Newby Moron" or not you can hunt in my camp anytime.

If your planning on first shot kills or one shot through the neck or heart sell your guns and take-up needle point.My father and myself have been doing it since before the age of cheap personal computers and the internet.We have never done it the "Sniper way" but if anyone on this board can they are truly awesome and one of a kind.We set up benches use a front and rear rest and a rangefinder.We used to use range cards but have since switched to the laser etched turrets as they are much faster.The key isn't the rifles accuracy because the wind at long range will elminate that,it is shooting a couple test shots so that you can get dialed in before going to the animal.The last buck i shot fell like it was struck with lightning and the distance was 800 yards using a 25-06 and 117 gr spbt from Sierra.He was following a doe uphill and i broke his back with one shot.I took more than 10 shots before going to the animal and the rifle honestly groups around 1 moa.Your best 2 or 3 groups shot from a bench during a calm don't really mean much when your shooting across very rough canyons during a breeze with your adrenaline pumping.1 moa accuracy and 800 ft/lbs of energy is what i limit it too.Remember you'll let more walk away than your ever going to shoot at even if it means going home empty.We shoot blacktails that weigh 65-100 pounds field dressed and weighed not estimated and they have less than a 13 inch chest top to bottom.

I believe you'll find that there are a lot of "first round hit" hunters on this board. I know it's the way I do it and I believe it's the way many others do also. My, and probably others, range limits and suggested limits are based on a first round kill shot, no spotter round(s). Like you we probably let many more walk than we shoot but that's part of the equation. It's not too difficult but there are certainly more limiters if there's no second chance.
I have seen guys do it at Squirrel wars in northern Caleeefornia but have never done it myself.One guy took a rather small squirrel at over 500 yards with his first shot in the morning.I kept an eye on him all day and his hit ratio was pretty decent.We shoot on a private ranch and the owner shoots a 25-35 lever action.He doesn't like modern rifles so we are only allowed to shoot long range.4 to 5 sighters never seem to spook the animals and the wind can be fairly tricky so we just don't try it.We never get to shoot down a long ridge only across fairly steep canyons and sometimes several gullys or draws.This Saturday is opening day and Tuesday we'll be putting some new plywood tops on some of the semi-permanent benches we shoot off of after doing some spotting.I shoot NBRSA 600 and 1000 yard benchrest and respect anyone who can do it first shot.
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