AR-15 Fliers, Part 1

Stoner design flaws that contribute to fliers and how to address them.

by Joe Carlos

Most of us probably have some idea what constitutes a flier. I’ll give you my interpretation: “A flier is a round that, without explanation, impacts outside the rest of the group.” Closely related to fliers are fat groups and “walkers”, two additional topics that we will give a little time to in this article.

There are four causes of fliers that I am aware of. The first are marksmanship errors caused by the shooter. Second, sudden changes in range conditions that the shooter fails to notice. Allow me to climb up on my soapbox for just a moment. Every long-distance shooter eventually gets caught by sudden changes in wind velocity or direction that occur on ranges. Masters and High Masters have cultivated skills that alert them to these changes but even these “walk on water” marksmen eventually get caught. So smart hombres use bullets with high ballistic coefficients at long distances to minimize the penalties of unexpected wind shifts. Third is gun and sight issues, Fourth is ammunition imperfections.

The first two causes are outside the purview of gunsmith fixes, though they’re important topics that can only be earned with plenty of quality live and dry practice. Eugene Stoner designed a fine rifle that has stood the test of time. The basic platform has been sold and copied in many foreign countries and has performed admirably in combat across the globe. Right from the factory, with no modifications, it shoots much better than it has any right to. That being said, it was designed for reliability in combat, not super precise target shooting. There are certain features of its design that actually promote fliers. In the half century since its introduction, shooters, gunsmiths, and gun makers have recognized some of these shortfalls and compensated for them.

Read more in the February 2021 issue.

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