Reasonable group size expectations from an AR

Feb 20, 2017
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#1
Just started handloading for my 18" 223 wylde SS PSA gun. Using 77s and 75s. It has shot manu sub MOA groups with Hornady Black being the favorite out of all the factory ammo even better than Hornady Match 75s. I assume because the gun likes slower ammo. Here are some groups of my first try at handloads with Hornady brass, CCI br primers, varget and 77s/75s. And the one tight group is how it shoots with hornady black about 1/3 of the time. Also a group with Norma match which it seems to like the best.

I dont care if the load it likes ends up being a little slow I just want some accuracey 99% of shooting is 700y max.
 

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Feb 20, 2017
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#3
Alot of it could be me as well. Still learning how to maintain fundamentals with a gas gun.
Upgraded to a Larue 2 stage, I see a WOA 18" or 20" Barrel in my future sometime down the road after ive done everything I can with this barrel.
Here is the gun 20180809_144224.jpg
 

VegasHKShooter

Always Learning
Feb 28, 2013
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Las Vegas, Nv
#4
If you’re asking what’s reasonable to expect day in and day out, I’d say .75 moa is very attainable. A good, accurate rifle, that is still very reliable should be able to lay down .75 moa. Now, if the shooter can do that or not is another story. I have AR’s in both large frame and small, and shoot gassers more than my bolts. I don’t personally feel under accurized when I’m shooting gas guns, BUT, most will shoot a bolt gun better. When you’re talking about locktime speed, follow-through, unusual positions, etc. that all favors bolts.

I guess I’m saying this: a gas gun can be as accurate as a bolt, but day in and day out, bolts are easier to shoot accurately.
 

DeftSystems

New Hide Member
Sep 11, 2018
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#5
Shooting gas guns as precision rifles is challenging. When I shot long guns for a living, I could routinely hold under 1/3 MOA with bolt guns. In some cases I was better than the gun. That was never the case with gas guns.

These days, given how comparatively little I shoot, I'm satisfied to hold 1 MOA with my 5.56, 77grn BTHP.

Ohh and don't beat yourself up too bad comparing your groups to others'. Most shooters slightly exaggerate their ability, and they rarely post groups they are ashamed of!
 

TimK

Gunny Sergeant
Jan 13, 2010
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#6
Assuming the trigger puller has his act together and had done good load development, accuracy is going to be determined by the barrel. I've had many WOA barrels that would readily shoot into 1/2" consistently. I have one JP barrel that shoots about the same.

I've also had barrels that were good for no better than 2" no matter what I did.

My personal expectation in a precision AR is that I want to hit the 1/2 minute mark pretty consistently. I'm talking about true accuracy testing, not field shooting. I do my testing indoors in perfect conditions to eliminate as many variables as possible. I'm living with 3/4 minute in a particular rifle that has a particular purpose, but I'm not happy about it. The last rifle I had that didn't meet my expectations went back to the manufacturer who is re-barreling it as I type.

As you are surely aware, it's difficult to judge the accuracy of a rifle if you're not confident in your fundamentals. It's a tough problem to solve. In my case, I frequently take a known great gun with me when I'm testing something new. In my case, it's a JP. I flop down on that first and make sure I'm still shooting groups in the 3/8" range before moving on to the new gun. Without that luxury, you're left wondering how much is you.
 
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Feb 20, 2017
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#7
Imiss finding that it's all in how you load, setup and handle the fun. I'm finding tighter groups when I cam in to level the bubble while loading the bipod taking out tthe slack between upper and lower.
 

Greg Langelius *

Resident Elder Fart
Aug 10, 2001
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#9
For an off the shelf rifle, I'd expect 1MOA or better, 1.5-2MOA from an inexpensive gobang-toy and mil-spec ammo; and if you can get that off the shelf rifle down to 1/2MOA you're doing especially well.

For the most part I've got factory rifles and uppers of several flavors, and work at marksmanship skills and load development to draw out the Rifle/Upper's better potential. I'm becoming a fan of the 1/7" twist, yet have had good experience with 1:9" and 75gr HPBT Match in a 24" barrel out to 600yd, holding the 9-ring or better for 20 rounds.

Some tell me the AR's are harder to shoot well, but that's not much been the case for me, using bipod and bag or machine rest and bag.

I find that a good barrel and a good trigger are the best upgrades for me. That's not especially news. The Hornady 75gr HPBT Match and Varget (23.5gr to 24.4gr) are my development components, but when going with the shorter barrels, I prefer a 1:8" twist or faster).

Greg
 
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Likes: jLorenzo
Jan 14, 2012
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#10
I second that Greg with the 75gr BTHP. That's my most accurate load in my service rifle upper so far. It's a 20" 1:8 and it loves the 75gr BTHP and 23.5-23.7gr Varget. I'm loading some with CFE223 now but haven't tried them out.

I guess I prefer shooting my ARs. I can get 3/4" groups at 100yds but I'm still learning to be honest. I've shot bolt guns and semis for years. Only recently have I discovered that most of my best groups over the years were sheer luck. Had no idea how off I was on the fundamentals. So I'm in the process of retraining myself to shoot right. I was shocked to find out how much error was caused by myself. I spend a lot of dry firing time. Fundamentals are paramount, otherwise it's just luck.
 

Aimatdeer

New Hide Member
Sep 9, 2018
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#11
If you know the rifle and optic will do it with ammo it likes practice is whats left. Looks like your doing good. My build also likes the black when i can focus. i know they are only 3 shot groups i am a noob to the precision stuff...
 

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Sep 13, 2008
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socal, ca
#12
I think a nice trigger makes a difference as well as the ammo. How does it shoot at distance? I have a bunch of groups that are 4 in one hole and 5th shot flier.... heck sometimes the third shot is the flyer and the others are in one hole. I like to blame the rifle and ammo, but at some point I have to admit it's me :-/ But, I can still hit a hanging chain (steel plate fell off) at 400yrds pretty easily with PMC ammo, so at the end of the day, I don't complain.
 
Feb 20, 2017
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#14
Working up some hand loads with 75s, 77s and berger tactical 77s. Also surprisingly my 18" 223 Wylie 1:7 gun shoot American Eagle 50gr hp extremely well.
It's definitely how you drive the gun. Got a LaRue mbt 2 stage a month ago and frickin love that trigger. Prone I can consistently bang an IPSIC at 700. Going out to a range with steel out to a mile this weekend with my AR and .308 howa. Brings lots of stuff, 178 elds, 185 juggs, 178 bthps, 155 bthps, 155 elds and all the afore mentioned 223 stuff plus some Norma match 223 my gun likes with 77s. 20181023_193926.jpg 20181022_145727.jpg 20181022_145714.jpg 20181022_145721.jpg 20181022_145709.jpg 20181023_193926.jpg 20181022_145727.jpg 20181022_145714.jpg 20181022_145721.jpg 20181022_145709.jpg
 

Randy_Lahey

New Hide Member
Sep 25, 2018
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#17
I have found my 4150cmv PSA barrels to much prefer the lighter bullets in my reloads. I'm sure with time/testing I can find a heavier setup to work, but I'm still working on that. I'd say 1MOA or just under is a reasonable expectation with that barrel/combo. U seem to be hitting that :).
 
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Feb 20, 2017
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#18
I found my load, 23.8gr varget, 75gr bthps, LC brass, CCI br4, loaded to mag length. Been shooting consistently like this. Anybody have any guess as to what velocity I'm getting out of my 18" barrel? 20181101_133608.jpg 20181101_215828.jpg
 
Feb 20, 2017
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#20
Some Berger 77 otm tactical again, not as good as before, think it was the nut behind the butt. I think those pasties are 1.5" InShot_20181103_160324406.jpg
 

elfster1234

Gunny Sergeant
Jun 3, 2012
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#21
As for semi auto... Really depends on the rifle and it’s purpose... but for a precision semi auto with reloads. Below is realistic

1/4 godly
3/8 hot damn!
1/2 is extremely good
5/8 is very good
3/4 is good
1 is normal and average
1.25 acceptable but....
1.5 can do better
1.7 ahhhhh yeah
2. You suck
2.25 you really suck
2.5 sell rifle and stop shooting
 

Randy_Lahey

New Hide Member
Sep 25, 2018
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#22
LOL. I love this. I do however fluctuate anywhere from the sell rifle/stop shooting to ...is good range lol. Can't wait to get to ..is extremely good.
 

Reload10

New Hide Member
Jan 21, 2018
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#23
What fundamental differences are you guys seeking on gas guns vs bolts? I feel like I drive both the same, however my gas guns consistent,y have a flier or 2.
 
Feb 20, 2017
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#24
What fundamental differences are you guys seeking on gas guns vs bolts? I feel like I drive both the same, however my gas guns consistent,y have a flier or 2.
Gas gun feels like you have to do everything the same every shot. I have to pull it into my shoulder a little harder and grip it a little harder than my bolt. Taking out the slack in the tolerance between the upper and lower. Probably different with higher end guns like H&K, LaRue, JP, etc. A nice 2 stage helps but you can shoot good groups with a single as well. My personal checklist is
1.look over scope making sure gun and spine are in line with target.
2. Pulling gun into shoulder canted
3. Loading the bipod as much as possible (even on a steel bench which isn't much)
4. Camming the gun into level using my bubble as reference to keep things consistent, the more I shoot the less I check it but it helps me with a consistent position.
5. Make sure rear bag is cut in half by the butt stock, (not off on and edge or something).
6.check parallax and take up first stage, fire.
7. Keep that trigger pulled until well after the shot has gone off, be a slab of meat to absorb the recoil with as little tension in your body as possible.
Sounds like a lot but happens pretty quickly.

That's what I've found I've had to do to consistently get the better groups my gun has shot. That plus handled work up.
Frank has good videos on driving semis.
 
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hlee

Sergeant
Jul 14, 2012
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#28
I’m not sure if it is reasonable or not, but I recently did some load development for my 6.5 Grendel. Loading in 0.2 gr increments I had 6x5 shot groups that measured 0.64, 0.68, 0.95, 1.00, 0.76, and 0.88 moa at 200 yards.
 
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AMP!

Three sheets to the wind
Feb 17, 2017
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#29
I just sold one Grendel I got MOA consistently out of. I have another one with a Geissele (other was a mil spec.) and haven't tried her out yet. I'll take a video of it and some live shooting for groups later this month.
 

bigjake83

Golden Shellback
May 19, 2013
2,520
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Southern Idaho
#30
Gas gun feels like you have to do everything the same every shot. I have to pull it into my shoulder a little harder and grip it a little harder than my bolt. Taking out the slack in the tolerance between the upper and lower. Probably different with higher end guns like H&K, LaRue, JP, etc. A nice 2 stage helps but you can shoot good groups with a single as well. My personal checklist is
1.look over scope making sure gun and spine are in line with target.
2. Pulling gun into shoulder canted
3. Loading the bipod as much as possible (even on a steel bench which isn't much)
4. Camming the gun into level using my bubble as reference to keep things consistent, the more I shoot the less I check it but it helps me with a consistent position.
5. Make sure rear bag is cut in half by the butt stock, (not off on and edge or something).
6.check parallax and take up first stage, fire.
7. Keep that trigger pulled until well after the shot has gone off, be a slab of meat to absorb the recoil with as little tension in your body as possible.
Sounds like a lot but happens pretty quickly.

That's what I've found I've had to do to consistently get the better groups my gun has shot. That plus handled work up.
Frank has good videos on driving semis.

That's about the best fucking verbal instruction I've ever seen somebody give.
 
Jun 19, 2008
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#31
What fundamental differences are you guys seeking on gas guns vs bolts? I feel like I drive both the same, however my gas guns consistent,y have a flier or 2.
To me, the fliers are a combo of lock time and round loading. An AR has a lot longer time from trigger pull to the shot leaving the barrel. I think that leads to more chances of something being off. That and how the round feeds could be causing slight differences. I find that in my Wylde JP barrels, the 223 loadings do better than the 556. Never Chrono'd them though for a speed difference. That was a few years ago and with BH ammo.
 

rcnut

Private
Mar 11, 2009
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#32
Most of us think that MOA is good under an inch, BUT here is a short story about my son., Got a phone call from him from Afghanistan wanting to know what he should expect out of his M4, seems that he was on the roof of a guard tower and had a target out at 100 yds sighting in , quick response without thinking I told him 1 moa would be good, then all of a sudden I heard sh-t this and a few others before I could get in a word. finally he listened to me, I told him I forgot he was using Military ammo not civilian stuff and that 2-3 MOA would be great with military crap, he calmed down and said thanks, sometimes we just have to work with what we have at the time.
 
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honuswagner

Sergeant of the Hide
Oct 29, 2018
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Utah
#33
Got that right, ammo can make all the difference. Sometimes I shoot military ammo from my .50 BMG (it's more affordable) but it's certainly no better than 2-3 MOA, whereas Barrett ammo will hold sub MOA easily. Anyway, I digress...

My personal experience with AR style rifles is that ammo and loads can still make all the difference. I have a 6.5 CM built on an AR platform that shoots 1-1.5 MOA with factory ammo. My handloads didn't shoot much better initially, but once I played around with seating depth I was able to find a sweet spot that my gun liked. One challenge with an AR is you're limited by your mag lenth, can't seat at the lands. I backed mine off in increments until I found a happy place at .110 jump.

So, for what it's worth, I've found that accuracy is attainable with an AR, however I've also found that it takes more tweaking than you might have with a bolt gun.
 

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DeftSystems

New Hide Member
Sep 11, 2018
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#34
Most of us think that MOA is good under an inch, BUT here is a short story about my son., Got a phone call from him from Afghanistan wanting to know what he should expect out of his M4, seems that he was on the roof of a guard tower and had a target out at 100 yds sighting in , quick response without thinking I told him 1 moa would be good, then all of a sudden I heard sh-t this and a few others before I could get in a word. finally he listened to me, I told him I forgot he was using Military ammo not civilian stuff and that 2-3 MOA would be great with military crap, he calmed down and said thanks, sometimes we just have to work with what we have at the time.
This is correct. I approached the OP's question assuming an accurized AR. For a stock battle rifle/carbine AR, 3 MOA is the standard. It enables point hits at 500 meters (546y), where that 1 MOA is just under 18", the width of the chest.
 

milanuk

F'ing nuke
Mar 23, 2002
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#35
Very interesting thread, folks. Good reading for sure.

I had moved from relatively 'stock' ARs like a Bushmaster V-Match 16 or 20, to 'building' my own from parts, etc. It wasn't uncommon to put 3-5 shots in groups we could cover with a dime.

Shot NRA Service Rifle and Match Rifle for a while, using White Oak Armament uppers. Nothing too fancy; Wilson barrels if I recall correctly... but very well executed. They shot great - easy sub half MOA with dang near anything I put thru them.

Around that time, I also had a 'parts' gun that I'd put together, misc. lower, RRA carbine upper... stupidly accurate with the Weaver 1-4x scope I had on it at the time. 3/4 moa easy with the same handloads I used for short yard lines in my Match Rifle space gun. Then I put a suppressor on it :(

This was back when 'adjustable gas block' meant that big honkin' monstrosity from JP Enterprises, which wouldn't fit on my build. A lot of the other toys and fixes available now weren't, back then. Broke some pins, and the gun shot like crap. Fixed everything, took the can off. Still shot like crap. Started a long upgrade / tinker path... one of those where you mess around with it for a bit, get irritated, set it aside for 6-8 months, then dust it off and try again. And then stick the bloody thing back in the corner again. Etc. etc. etc. Changed almost everything out on that gun (including the barrel), never did get it to group worth a damn again. It's still in the corner waiting for me...

More recently I got an MSR15 Recon from Savage. Nothing too fancy, just a run-of-the-mill 18" AR carbine. Put a Geissele 2-stage SR trigger in it, which helped immensely. But again, it never has shot 'great'. After tracking down some optics/mounts issues (which I half-way expect to have been the problem with the 'other' problem child, since I swapped one scope/mount between the two) it's doing 'better'... but 'better' seems to be a little under MOA with H75BTHP, ~24 gn Varget, mixed LC brass and CCI 41 primers. Tried a few other loads, and thats the best so far.

I've got lots and lots of components and all winter to kill, so I'll keep after it but I sure have been surprised at how much of a PITA it seems to be to get half-ways decent groups out of these last couple ARs. Every once in a while I pull out the old Match Rifle with it's 26" heavy barrel and run some loads through it and go "Nope, it's not the trigger puller" as it still puts pretty much everything in 1/2-3/4 moa without much effort. Granted, it's got a 'match' barrel and a lighter trigger, but still...

Fun & games, for sure ;)
 
Aug 18, 2013
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#36
This is a 10 shot group with number 10 just outside of the main group. Shot by a 20in 8twist Rock River Predator Pursuit @ 100yds. Ammo: 50g Fiocchi .223

This particular box shot another 10 round group @ 165yds that was 1in. It was an amazing box of ammo. Should have saved a few but did not. The gun never really shot as well afterwards, but as you can see it has potential.
 

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bigjake83

Golden Shellback
May 19, 2013
2,520
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#37
This is a 10 shot group with number 10 just outside of the main group. Shot by a 20in 8twist Rock River Predator Pursuit @ 100yds. Ammo: 50g Fiocchi .223

This particular box shot another 10 round group @ 165yds that was 1in. It was an amazing box of ammo. Should have saved a few but did not. The gun never really shot as well afterwards, but as you can see it has potential.
Everytime I see a flyer like that I can hear in the back of my head somebody at the range screaming... FUCKER!!!!
 
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