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Constitutional Conservative
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Discussion Starter #1
I’m a recreational shooter of both rifles and pistols. The subject of “accuracy” comes up now and then on assorted shooting-related forums to which I subscribe. It got me to thinking about “accuracy” and I decided that guns are neither accurate nor inaccurate. They can't be. Guns are just tools. Guns can no more be accurate than can a hammer. Accuracy is the province of the shooter. Let me explain.

Say, I go to the county fair shooting gallery and I find that I cannot hit those motorized duckies gliding by. Unknown to me, the sights of the rifle are misaligned. I’m not hitting what I shoot at. Some might say the rifle is “inaccurate”. Strangely, the carnival employee running the shooting gallery is scoring hit after hit with the same rifle I used. So I try again.

With careful observation I find that for whatever my Point Of Aim (POA), my Point Of Impact (POI) is low and to the right. Knowing this, I adjust my POA high and to the left of my targets. Now I’m able to hit my targets consistently. Did this “inaccurate” rifle suddenly become accurate? Of course not.

Take another example, this time imagine a rifle whose telescopic sight is properly aligned and zeroed at 100 yards. That is, it’s POA and POI coincide at 100 yards. If I put the crosshairs on a target at 100 yards and shoot, I hit my target. Now I put the crosshairs on a target at 600 yards and shoot. I miss. Is the rifle “accurate” at 100 yards but not at 600? Nope.

Now, I know that with a 100-yard zero, I have to aim above my target at longer distances to compensate for the bullet’s additional drop due to gravity at the longer distance. I have to hold a POA above the desired POI. This distance that I have to aim high is called the “holdover”, holding the POA over the target. When I have the proper holdover, I hit my target.

In both cases, the scoped rifle and the county fair misaligned rifle sights, it required the knowledge of the weapon’s characteristics for me, the shooter, to be accurate — hit my targets. Knowing the sights and how they are aligned and how to operate them is crucial. Knowing the ballistic characteristics of the round being fired is as well.

One more quick example. My buddy is consistently ringing a metal gong down range with his rifle and offers to let me try it. I can't hit squat. What I don't realize is that the wind has changed and I have failed to compensate for it. When I miss, it is not the rifle that has suddenly become inaccurate.

Hollywood has taught too many people that just putting the crosshairs on a target and pulling the trigger will do the job. Sometimes it will, but it is much more complicated than that.

It is not the job of a gun to be accurate; that’s the shooter’s job. It is the job of the gun to be precise and repeatable - consistent. That is, given the same POA, same ammo, same weather conditions and such, to place its shots in the same spot at the target — to have a consistent POI. If a gun can do that, it can be shot more accurately.

The key to a weapon's precision and repeatability turns out to be precision and repeatability of the assorted components making up the weapon system, the barrel, the bolt, etc. The ammo especially needs to be held to tight tolerances. The shell casing length and thickness, weight of the powder charge, weight and shape of the projectile, seating depth of the projectile in the case, the primer, all these need to be consistent for a consistent, repeatable POI.

The same weapon can be accurate in my hands but not in yours – or vice-versa. The key to accuracy of any weapon is in the knowledge and skills of the shooter. Often times, a gun “will shoot better than I do”, which is to say, the gun is capable of more precision and repeatability than my own skills can yield. I like guns that are consistent, but I do not make the mistake of calling them "accurate."

Lots of people say that this or that weapon is "accurate" or that some ammo is "accurate" or "inaccurate" - even "accurate in this gun but not in that gun" - but what they really mean is that some ammo or gun is consistent and thus can be counted on to perform predictably. This allows a shooter to be accurate.

Shooters can be accurate. Guns cannot. It is the job of a gun to be consistent.
 

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"Accuracy is the province of the shooter"

I submit that this is a flawed premise. But I can only go by personal experience. If it's the shooter and not the gun, why am I, the shooter, LESS accurate with any of my 22 rimfires than I am with my bull barrel Savage 17 HMR rimfire?

Same shooter, different guns, but one gun is consistently more accurate (and precise) than the others. Same thing with handguns. I have a 6 inch model 28 Smith and Wesson Highway patrolman that is my most accurate handgun depending on which ammo I use in it.

But if a gun is only a tool, and it's the shooter and not the gun, how can it be that with the same shooter, some guns are more accurate than others?

And what about ammo? if it's the shooter and not the gun, how can some types of ammo make the shooter a worse shot?
 

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It's simple enough to put guns in a ransom rest and determine mechanical accuracy.
And it's crystal clear that all guns don't have the same mechanical accuracy.
Going through the same procedure with a single gun using various ammo.
Will usually demonstrate different accuracy per what ammo is used.
But often when folks talk about handgun gun accuracy?
It seems they are referring to how well they shoot it.
For me - this has a lot more to do with trigger, grip, sights and other human dynamics
than mechanical gun/ammunition accuracy.
Seems like most modern quality handguns are capable of much better accuracy
than I can wring out of them free hand shooting.

I submit that my most accurate handguns, in my hands,
simply have the most favorable ergonomics for me.
 

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"Accuracy is the province of the shooter"

I submit that this is a flawed premise. But I can only go by personal experience. If it's the shooter and not the gun, why am I, the shooter, LESS accurate with any of my 22 rimfires than I am with my bull barrel Savage 17 HMR
That's easy, ammo. 99% of 22 rimfire are made using tooling that is close to 100 years old and the bullets haven't changed in about half that time. The .17hmr came out and required all new tooling for loading, new tooling is much more precise than that made 100 years ago, and totally new bullets. It's not rocket science.




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NRA Life Member
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I’m a recreational shooter of both rifles and pistols. The subject of “accuracy” comes up now and then on assorted shooting-related forums to which I subscribe. It got me to thinking about “accuracy” and I decided that guns are neither accurate nor inaccurate. They can't be. Guns are just tools. Guns can no more be accurate than can a hammer. Accuracy is the province of the shooter. Let me explain.

Say, I go to the county fair shooting gallery and I find that I cannot hit those motorized duckies gliding by. Unknown to me, the sights of the rifle are misaligned. I’m not hitting what I shoot at. Some might say the rifle is “inaccurate”. Strangely, the carnival employee running the shooting gallery is scoring hit after hit with the same rifle I used. So I try again.

With careful observation I find that for whatever my Point Of Aim (POA), my Point Of Impact (POI) is low and to the right. Knowing this, I adjust my POA high and to the left of my targets. Now I’m able to hit my targets consistently. Did this “inaccurate” rifle suddenly become accurate? Of course not.

Take another example, this time imagine a rifle whose telescopic sight is properly aligned and zeroed at 100 yards. That is, it’s POA and POI coincide at 100 yards. If I put the crosshairs on a target at 100 yards and shoot, I hit my target. Now I put the crosshairs on a target at 600 yards and shoot. I miss. Is the rifle “accurate” at 100 yards but not at 600? Nope.

Now, I know that with a 100-yard zero, I have to aim above my target at longer distances to compensate for the bullet’s additional drop due to gravity at the longer distance. I have to hold a POA above the desired POI. This distance that I have to aim high is called the “holdover”, holding the POA over the target. When I have the proper holdover, I hit my target.

In both cases, the scoped rifle and the county fair misaligned rifle sights, it required the knowledge of the weapon’s characteristics for me, the shooter, to be accurate — hit my targets. Knowing the sights and how they are aligned and how to operate them is crucial. Knowing the ballistic characteristics of the round being fired is as well.

One more quick example. My buddy is consistently ringing a metal gong down range with his rifle and offers to let me try it. I can't hit squat. What I don't realize is that the wind has changed and I have failed to compensate for it. When I miss, it is not the rifle that has suddenly become inaccurate.

Hollywood has taught too many people that just putting the crosshairs on a target and pulling the trigger will do the job. Sometimes it will, but it is much more complicated than that.

It is not the job of a gun to be accurate; that’s the shooter’s job. It is the job of the gun to be precise and repeatable - consistent. That is, given the same POA, same ammo, same weather conditions and such, to place its shots in the same spot at the target — to have a consistent POI. If a gun can do that, it can be shot more accurately.

The key to a weapon's precision and repeatability turns out to be precision and repeatability of the assorted components making up the weapon system, the barrel, the bolt, etc. The ammo especially needs to be held to tight tolerances. The shell casing length and thickness, weight of the powder charge, weight and shape of the projectile, seating depth of the projectile in the case, the primer, all these need to be consistent for a consistent, repeatable POI.

The same weapon can be accurate in my hands but not in yours – or vice-versa. The key to accuracy of any weapon is in the knowledge and skills of the shooter. Often times, a gun “will shoot better than I do”, which is to say, the gun is capable of more precision and repeatability than my own skills can yield. I like guns that are consistent, but I do not make the mistake of calling them "accurate."

Lots of people say that this or that weapon is "accurate" or that some ammo is "accurate" or "inaccurate" - even "accurate in this gun but not in that gun" - but what they really mean is that some ammo or gun is consistent and thus can be counted on to perform predictably. This allows a shooter to be accurate.

Shooters can be accurate. Guns cannot. It is the job of a gun to be consistent.
Let me say upfront that I am probably misunderstanding the premise of your post. Parts of it I do agree with, like your statement about gun consistency.

To cut to the chase, there is no question that some guns are more accurate than others. Don't believe it, go shoot some groups with a military surplus in your favorite configuration, say the 7.62x54R bolt action or a military trainer in .22LR and compare groups shot with it vs an anshutz, cooper, or accurized 10/22. If not, I don't think competitive shooters would be dropping big bucks on custom or customized guns- if not, they might as well shoot the cheapest thing on the market.

No doubt some shooters can get more accuracy out of a gun than other shooters or that more accuracy can be squeezed out using a Leupold 6.5-20 scope than open sights.

I dont think you will find many that will subscribe to the theory that all guns possess the same accuracy potential.
 
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That's easy, ammo. 99% of 22 rimfire are made using tooling that is close to 100 years old and the bullets haven't changed in about half that time. The .17hmr came out and required all new tooling for loading, new tooling is much more precise than that made 100 years ago, and totally new bullets. It's not rocket science.

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Yes but if it's the shooter and not the gun, no gun should be any more accurate than any other one and for that matter there are 22 rimfire rifles that are more accurate than my savage 17 hmr but I just don't happen to own one though I do have a couple that come pretty close to being AS accurate has the 17 HMR that I have.

Not only that, but there is 22 rimfire ammo that is not made using tooling that's over 100 years old like the Eley ammo. and as far as the projectiles, there's no need to fix what isn't broken.
 

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Nuthin' worse than having somebody shoot very well with one of your guns that you've blamed being a POS. I've been on both ends of the equation. Just because the sights aren't lined up right for your eyes and sight picture, doesn't mean the gun is not accurate.
 

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from the science books..


Accuracy and precision tend to get mixed together in the target shooting world for some reason, maybe in part because you can adjust sights or hold
In usual language saying a gun is accurate means the gun is mechanically accurate, which more specifically means the gun is precise when we eliminate as many shooter and ammunition errors as possible :)
 

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Constitutional Conservative
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Discussion Starter #11
Yes but if it's the shooter and not the gun, no gun should be any more accurate than any other one
No one claimed that all guns can be shot equally accurately.

I should have done a better job of explaining that some guns are more precise than others. A 1/4 MOA gun is more precise, repeatable and consistent than a 1 MOA gun. But it is not more accurate. Guns do not have accuracy. Like a hammer, whether or not you hit what you aim at is up to the shooter.

But again, being precise and repeatable is not the same as being accurate. A more precise gun has, in the hands of a competent shooter, more potential to be shot accurately. But the gun itself is not more accurate.
 

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But again, being precise and repeatable is not the same as being accurate. A more precise gun has, in the hands of a competent shooter, more potential to be shot accurately. But the gun itself is not more accurate.
I think you walked into the "no duh" zone :)

Precision is what people mean when they talk about mechanical accuracy.

Everyone already knows the gun might not be sighted in yet. So you might not hit anything until you verify where the sights are aiming.
 

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Constitutional Conservative
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Discussion Starter #14
Accurate/precise are pretty close to interchangeable words when talking guns.
My point is that we should not be using the terms interchangeably because they are two different things. See post #2.
 

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My point is that we should not be using the terms interchangeably because they are two different things. See post #2.
That's why we have two different phrases in everyday language.

1. Accuracy of the gun. Also known as mechanical accuracy. Also known as precision.

2. Accuracy of the shooter. Also known as sucks. Also known as can't hit the broadside of a barn :)
 

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I think you are way too concerned over this. No one cares about this particular term confusion. As Ithaca and AK have stated, in gun parlance, accuracy refers to the mechanical accuracy of the gun in question.
Maybe look back into the mag/clip debate. It might get a more vigorous conversation started.
 

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Yes but if it's the shooter and not the gun, no gun should be any more accurate than any other one and for that matter there are 22 rimfire rifles that are more accurate than my savage 17 hmr but I just don't happen to own one though I do have a couple that come pretty close to being AS accurate has the 17 HMR that I have.

Not only that, but there is 22 rimfire ammo that is not made using tooling that's over 100 years old like the Eley ammo. and as far as the projectiles, there's no need to fix what isn't broken.
Are you shooting the same ammo in all your 22s? Are they all set up exactly the same? Are they the exact same gun and all the part made/fitted exactly the same? Nope. No 2 guns shoot the same even if made as close to the same as humanly possible. Some will easily shoot 1/2 moa and others will struggle to get under 1 moa. Go to any custom rifle builder that offers an accuracy guarantee, look at his scrap barrel pile.

22 rim fire projectiles....."if it ain't broke, don't fix it." I am glad that theory hasn't been used for the rest of the industry or we would all be shooting wheel guns with semi wad cutters as the only choice in bullets.

I know there is good, match grade ammo out there. That is why I said 99 percent of 22s.

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No one claimed that all guns can be shot equally accurately.

I should have done a better job of explaining that some guns are more precise than others. A 1/4 MOA gun is more precise, repeatable and consistent than a 1 MOA gun. But it is not more accurate. Guns do not have accuracy. Like a hammer, whether or not you hit what you aim at is up to the shooter.

But again, being precise and repeatable is not the same as being accurate. A more precise gun has, in the hands of a competent shooter, more potential to be shot accurately. But the gun itself is not more accurate.
"I should have done a better job of explaining that some guns are more precise than others. A 1/4 MOA gun is more precise, repeatable and consistent than a 1 MOA gun. But it is not more accurate. Guns do not have accuracy. Like a hammer, whether or not you hit what you aim at is up to the shooter."

We can argue semantics all day long but whether or not I hit what I'm aiming at can depend on whether or not the gun the I'm using is a 1 MOA gun or a 1/4 MOA gun especially if I only miss by an half inch or less and I'm a reasonably good shot, because I'm actually a better shot with a more accurate gun.

And as for the hammer analogy, a tack hammer has a face which has a diameter of 1/2 of an inch. And a 20 ounce smooth face framing hammer has a face with a diameter of 1 1/8th inch across.

If you were trying to drive an 8 penny nail it would be easier to hit the nail that you're aiming at with the framing hammer than it would be with the tack hammer.

I started doing carpentry work back in the Mid '70s before everyone started using air-powered nail guns. I was very "accurate" with a hammer but not all hammers are the same just as not all guns are the same.

 
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