Rifle Shooting Myth 9: My Rifle Shoots Better at Long Range
I have occasionally heard shooters purport that their rifle shoots more accurately at long range than at close range. This is simply untrue and cannot be.
One of the major factors in accuracy has to do with the yawing of the bullet. Yawing is when the back of the bullet begins to wobble in flight. This eventually results in the entire bullet moving about in a circular manner, as it makes its way to the target.
The theory is that the yawing eventually begins to settles down, resulting in a lessening of the size of the bullet’s circular movement. Nevertheless, whether the yawing is lessened in flight or not, when the bullet initially starts to oscillate, its destiny is then cast.
Having begun these movements, it is impossible for the bullet to lessen the size of its rotation and get itself back on a straight-line track. In reality, if your rifle is capable of shooting, say, a two-inch group at 100 yards, it won’t be capable of one-inch at 300 yards—in fact, under the best conditions, that same rifle will most likely shoot a six-inch group at that range.
Rifle Shooting Myth 10: You Can’t Beat Factory Ammo with Handloads
Without a doubt, factory loaded ammunition has never been better than it is today. A shooter has more choices in bullets styles and weights than were ever available in the past. But mass production can never equal attention to detail—and that is why factory loaded ammunition virtually always falls short in the area of accuracy and performance, when compared to handloads.
For years, it puzzled me why that was the case. The factory frequently loads the same bullets that handloaders use, using the same primers and cartridge cases, and, while the factory seldom divulges what types of powders they’re loading, I feel their choices are of equal quality to what handloaders use. I eventually decided to investigate the situation a little closer and began pulling the bullets from a wide variety of factory-loaded cartridges to check the weight of the powder charges.
I took five cartridges from each manufacturer and each load type, weighed the charges, and what I found shocked me. While most handloaders attempt to hold their charges to within plus or minus 0.1-grain or less, apparently the ammo factories aren’t so critical. To my surprise, the factory-load charge weights varied from a low of 0.5-grains all the way up to a whopping 1.7-grains! In most cases, I found the cartridges containing the heavier powder charges usually possessed the largest amount of deviation in their charge weights.
Also, it was the larger cartridges that typically contained the coarsest grained powders, which can pose a problems when it comes to metering accuracy. I wondered how such a slack standard could take place, so I followed up by contacting several mainstream ammo manufacturers and was told by each one that their powder charges are metered out in volumetric form, rather than being measured by weight.
Of course, the factories usually run their own in-house checks to make sure they fall within their own preset standards. But my issue is with what those standards are, when it comes to fluctuations in powder charge weight. I am quite sure that, if my own handloads contained powder charges that varied that much, my loads would be shooting on par with those of the factories.
This article appeared in the 2013 Annual Gun Digest book. Click here to get your copy.
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