All too often, firearm accuracy and precision are described in terms which are intended to inflate the owner’s sense of self worth or help a reviewer sell a firearm to the reader instead of accurately describing the true capabilities of the weapon and/or ammunition. Case in point: three shot groups.
Put simply, three shots are not enough to determine if a firearm is shooting at any particular level of accuracy or precision. The next three shots might go in between the first three, or they might go in different places. However, shot groups rarely grow past the ten shot mark, which is why military standards require ten shot groups for ammunition and firearm acceptance tests. For hunting or self defense purposes, ten shot groups are an excellent idea, because they give the shooter a better picture of the real world performance of their rifle and ammo combination.
Take a look at these two photos. First, three shots, with one of the staples used as a point of aim to ensure consistency.
Certainly, this would be described as a “sub-MOA” three shot group. Technically, it is. But it isn’t a true depiction of where the next shots will go. Therefore, seven more shots are taken.
As you can see, the next shots went way outside where the first three landed. The sad thing is, even though this is an excellent group for a semi-auto rifle without an optic or free-float handguards, many people would rather lie about their rifle’s capabilities just so they can belong to a meaningless “sub-MOA” club. This is how the internet is rife with claims of sub-MOA AKs, sub-MOA anythings shooting cheap imported ammunition, and so on.
The next time you sit down at a bench to see how accurate your rifle is, be honest with yourself and fire ten shots.
This guest post was written by Andrew Tuohy, who writes at the Vuurwapen Blog.