Diagnosing Hunting Rifle Accuracy, Part One

Diagnosing Hunting Rifle Accuracy, Part One

Three things I’d rather not hear are, “I’m from the IRS,” “We’re out of beer,” and “This damn rifle won’t shoot.”

by Wendell Dwight Deaner

I’m a chicken when it comes to difficult subjects but some things have got to be addressed. The first two have fixes of their own, so let’s talk about rifle accuracy. When a customer puts his rifle on the counter for you to fix, he may have preconceived notions of what needs to be done to get it shooting at that ½ MOA (minute of angle) mark they know it’s capable of. If you’re really a good gunsmith you can make that happen; if not… well.

The first thing that comes to my mind is questions. Is it a lever, pump, single-shot, or bolt action? Is it new or just bought used? Is it a trusted rifle that suddenly quit shooting as well as it used to? There are many more questions that will come later. Let’s start with the kind of firearm, what kind of accuracy is expected, and what level the manufacturer maintains is “in spec.” All of these types of rifles can shoot well for their intended purpose if they are properly cared for. Levers and pumps are not renowned for being more than 2-4 MOA shooters, but many will surprise us. Single-shots and bolt actions are the accuracy kings, with the nod going to bolt actions.

Along with the action type the next question should be what is this rifle intended to do? A heavy-barreled varmint rig with a powerful scope should generally shoot anywhere from an inch down. A big-bore double intended to shoot elephants at close range is a viable rifle if both barrels will overlap at four, five, or even six inches. Elephants and Cape buffalo have a huge kill zone compared to a prairie dog and are shot at much closer range.

Read more in our May 2015 issue. Back issues are available.

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