Author Topic: Realistic expectations for accuracy.  (Read 7852 times)

m1garand_man

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Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« on: May 03, 2018, 06:03:50 PM »
At the risk of asking to many related questions, what should should a person realistically expect a flint lock rifle to be able to shoot for group sizes at 100y?

I'm not taking about the best 3 shot group ever fired but the average accuracy of a 5 - 10 shot string.

As I have said before my rifle will put 10 or more shot into an 8" circle at that distance from a rested position off a bench with the majority of the group being smaller. My concern is missing a deers vitals at that distance in the field, the results of which would be undesirable.

I feel the rifle should do much better but don't know if that is a realistic expectation as 8" is my average group size with 10 or more shots.

I have chased the accuracy dargon before with rifles only to realize that well into my my frustrating venture that what I was trying to achieve was impossible.

I'd like to avoid weeks of frustration again this time around.

Offline Daryl

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2018, 07:01:26 PM »
Many IF'S:

If you have a good set of sights
If the light is good
If the wind is light to non-existant
If the target matches the sights and your eyes
If you use a good, sealing load
If the balls are without voids
If you use a previously discovered "accuracy/hunting load"
If you have really good bench technique

I would expect 5 shot groups to have a an average of 2 - 3"- that would be for .45 's and .50's.
If shooting .60's and larger, I would expect 1 1/2" to 2".  .54's and .58's similar.

Any more, I likely could not average that without an aperture sight- maybe. Sometimes my old 14 bore girl just shines
and hints at groups of old - 1" to 1 1/2" for 5. Likely average at 1 1/2".

I would say that ignition type is not important, although the faster the ignition, the better the potential accuracy will be.

A good hunting "accuracy" test is a paper pie plate. As long as you can keep your shots on that pie plate, you have deer hunting accuracy.

You could also say, that as long as you can keep your shots on a beach ball, say 24" in diameter, you have moose and likely elk hunting accuracy at THAT range.

I prefer better accuracy than the pie plate and ball analogy provides.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2018, 07:02:22 PM by Daryl »
Daryl

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Offline Frank

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2018, 08:04:28 PM »
The variable here is the shooter. How good are his loading technique, eyes, and consistent shooting technique, (breathing, trigger pull etc,,)? The barrel most likely can put them all in one hole at 50 yards, but how consistent is the shooter?  I had no problem getting consistent 2-3 inch groups at 50 yards when I had good eyes. I was not alone. Many guys could do 2-3 inches. Just takes practice.

Offline hanshi

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2018, 08:42:38 PM »
M1garand_man, Daryl knows a lot more than I do about distance accuracy and I agree with him on his post.  All I can offer is to post my experiences at 50-100 yards.  At 50 yards I can average 2" to 3" with any of my rifles but certain ones very often get 5 shots into an inch or less.  At 100 yards I can most always keep 5 or 10 shots on a paper plate.  The very best I've been able to shoot at one hundred yards is 3.5" to 4" with several of my rifles.  The shots were taken from various positions including "standing" while using a post for support.  I'm not the shot I used to be and my eyes are not that good.  A basket ball or paper plate makes a good stand-in for a deer's vital zone at 100yds, IMHO.
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Offline WKevinD

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2018, 08:47:59 PM »
Every rifle/ smoothbore I have shot, built or borrowed can shoot better than I. My realistic expectation for accuracy changes with all the variables that Daryl mentioned and how well I get to them.
And then there is luck.

Kevin
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Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2018, 09:46:17 PM »
I'd be thrilled with 8" group at 100 yards.
I have only kilt one deer past 100 yards. All my others were kilt at 50 yards or less. You shouldn't ever have to take a poke at 100 yards or past.
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m1garand_man

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2018, 09:54:43 PM »
Well if rice barrels shoot as well as the brags I hear about them then this rifle should shoot better.

There must be something wrong with the rifle and how I interface with it. Maybe something isn't fitting right to me and I don't know it, though it feels comfortable. Maybe the sights need to be replaced again with something else. The last time I did sight work I got a brass shark fin type front sight that I blacken in and I widened the rear sight notch. This improved things greatly.

I wish I knew someone could coach me where I live. I'm generally a good shot. I wouldn't be asking these questions if I wasn't stumped. I do appreciate everyone's help, I just need to meet someone I person who knows a lot more than me about these things.

Offline Darkhorse

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2018, 10:18:02 PM »
I'll add to Daryl's reply,
There can be no glare on the sights.
Your eyes must be good enough to see definition between the sights and target at 100 yards.
Your rifle, loading technique and chosen load must be consistent every single shot.
My locks are tuned and polished for maximum  speed and consistency.

Here is the tough part, the shooter must be capable of shooting small groups with a flintlock rifle. Tiny groups with a percussion or CF don't count. The flintlock will bring you back to earth because shooting a flintlock is a learned process and entails more than other rifle types.
Don't take this the wrong way, I'm only mentioning this for your own good and have been through the learning curve myself. You mentioned earlier that your new to Flintlocks, so right off I don't think your ready to shoot your best groups with a flintlock.
So far you have attributed your accuracy problems to humidity, patches, lubes, shooting with the RR in or out, etc. But not once have you taken into consideration the shooter might have a lot to do with your problems. You have to really learn to concentrate, more than you think is necessary, and to follow through. For example: I don't even see the smoke I'm so focused on the front sight, and when the smoke clears my front sight is still on the target. It takes A LOT of practice to get here.
You still have the flinchlock flinch to some degree. Even just a small amount will open up those groups. To shoot your best you gotta beat the flinch.

I have no doubt you and your rifle are capable of those little groups your after, and I know it can be an obsession. Because I have it too. Regardless of the weapon I can't be satisfied until I get it shooting those tiny groups. I don't shoot at 100 yards with a ML much anymore but I did when I was much younger. In the mid 70's and 80's all I had was a .54 Renegade with a 26" barrel and it consistently shot 3" groups off the bench at 100 yards. I won a lot of matches with that rifle.
The last (only) time I shot my .40 flint at 100 yards I had a bad glare on  the rear sight yet it still turned in 3 to 3.5" groups.
My advice to you is keep practising, a quality shot each time. Analyze both you and the load and rifle to find the root of the problem, then work on it until it's fixed. You are building both muscle and mental memory and that doesn't come overnight.
I work out my accuracy loads at 25 yards to find the most accurate several days in a row, then I move back to 50 and do it again. The best one's I would test at 100 yards.

I am attaching a photo of a sighting in group shot last fall with my .54 Haines, this rifle will do this consistently. If not then it's my fault not the rifles. You decide if a Flintlock rifle can be accurate.


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Offline EC121

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2018, 10:21:23 PM »
What is your load?  Have you developed an accurate load?  Move in to 50yds. and see what it will do.  If it it will shoot tight groups at 50,  then 100yd. groups  should be slightly larger plus an allowance for your sighting error.  You could also tape a scope to the rifle and see what it will do, but bench groups aren't offhand hunting groups.   Look at the 100yd. scores shot at Friendship for a reference.  They use a 100yd. target with a 6" eight ring, and the good shooters will shoot in the 40s with an X or two offhand.
Brice Stultz

Offline smokinbuck

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2018, 10:25:24 PM »
M1,
Where are you located? Perhaps an ALR member is close and can do some coaching.
Mark
Mark

Online smylee grouch

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2018, 10:48:10 PM »
Are you shooting off of sand bags? Do you leave the ramrod in when sighting in you gun and how do you hold it on the rest. Make sure you are not canting the rifle when working up loads. Do you rest the gun on the bags or do you have your hand between gun and rest?  This is all included in the good bench technique. It might sound like too much to keep track of but it will be worth it in better groups if you do.

Offline Joe S.

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2018, 11:44:13 PM »
Daryl covers it pretty good,I will tell you this,you pick these things up but a couple times a year your accuracy will suffer.These things aint like a modern one,scope,lot more forgiving.With lots of shooting your technique,muscle memory,especially true for flintlocks, should go a long way.Hows your rear sight,to be honest if I was going to do a lot of my shooting at 100 yrds or more,I would knock the one of the rifle I just built and make another.I would close up the notch,thinking about it anyways.I have no problem out to a hundred yards,groups are good and know its only going to get better when we get to know one another better.I also know if the notch was closed up abit it would help but IMHO,atleast for me my kills will be closer than that,dont take that shot till you know you can do it over and over.

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2018, 04:08:09 AM »
Hunting can be a bit different than target shooting.  Generally.  The first shot out of a squeaky clean barrel will give a velocity lower than rounds fired out of a barrel after several shots have been fired even though you swabbed the bore between shots.  I used to document that using a chronograph when testing various powders.  So when you sight in for hunting watch to see if your first shot is a bit lower on the target compared to subsequent shots.  To get the same point of impact you may need a little more powder on that first hunting shot compared to what you saw in a string of shots in target shooting.

Bill K.

m1garand_man

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2018, 05:25:55 AM »
M1,
Where are you located? Perhaps an ALR member is close and can do some coaching.
Mark

I live in central Texas near Ft Hood.

m1garand_man

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2018, 05:43:37 AM »
Since getting the rifle I have been shooting it nearly weekly for almost three months now. I'd do more but work prevents that. I'll typically shoot 40 or more rounds in a session, basically I shoot until my powder flask is empty.

I shoot off a rifle rest and always rest the rifle in the same spot between the first two ramrod thimbles. I do also place my support hand on the underside of the fore stock but I let the full weight of the rifle lay on the rifle rest. I ensure my shooting hand and cheek end up on the same place on the stock every time. Finally I put all of my mental focus on the sight picture to take my mind off the trigger. I learned that technique while learning how to shoot modern big bore revolvers at extended distances. I have a SW 460 that will far out shoot the flint lock on the same range trips and at 100y but that's another story for another forum.

I guess I just a bit of patience, and a few more boxes of bullets down range.

Offline Darkhorse

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2018, 06:59:55 AM »
I see you have a Rice barrel? Speaking from experience my Rice needed about 2 hundred shots down the tube before it began to shoot consistent accurate shots. About the same time it started to load easier too. I know what Rice claims but it didn't work out that way for my Rice, yours may differ.
I shoot off a front rest also and never rest my hand beneath the gun. My front rest has a hard faced cloth for the forend to set on. I rest it just behind the entry thimble. Between the thimbles also works, the important thing is the rifle must free recoil without a thimble touching the rest.    We are maybe the only 2 shooters here who rest the forend directly on the rest, most of the others place the forend on their hand. Works for them. My way works for me.
If you keep shooting like your saying then you are on the right track to reach your goals. Sounds like you have good fundamentals.
Do you have a set trigger or single trigger? What is your trigger pull weight?
Do you ever have hangfires?

Practice is the key and it sounds like your getting plenty. I'm 65 and still shoot a lot. I have my own range so it's easy for me to grab a rifle and go shoot a little.
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Offline Daryl

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #16 on: May 04, 2018, 08:15:26 AM »
There are times I will rest the rifle's forend on the bag - that is a rabbit ear sand bag on the adjustable rest.
This technique usually gives slightly better groups - usually.
When I do this, I rest the forend behind the entry pipe - no matter what gun I am shooting.  I have tested
1/2 a dozen different rifles and none of them shot as well, if tested out on the rod, or on the pipes or at the muzzle. 
They have all shot best when rested just barely behind the entry pipe, exactly where I hold the rifle if resting in my hand on the bag.
I shoot out of my hand, as my rifles seem to shoot exactly the same offhand, as when I sight them in, holding in my hand, with my hand on the bag.
Daryl

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m1garand_man

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #17 on: May 04, 2018, 04:07:41 PM »
I see you have a Rice barrel? Speaking from experience my Rice needed about 2 hundred shots down the tube before it began to shoot consistent accurate shots. About the same time it started to load easier too. I know what Rice claims but it didn't work out that way for my Rice, yours may differ.
I shoot off a front rest also and never rest my hand beneath the gun. My front rest has a hard faced cloth for the forend to set on. I rest it just behind the entry thimble. Between the thimbles also works, the important thing is the rifle must free recoil without a thimble touching the rest.    We are maybe the only 2 shooters here who rest the forend directly on the rest, most of the others place the forend on their hand. Works for them. My way works for me.
If you keep shooting like your saying then you are on the right track to reach your goals. Sounds like you have good fundamentals.
Do you have a set trigger or single trigger? What is your trigger pull weight?
Do you ever have hangfires?

Practice is the key and it sounds like your getting plenty. I'm 65 and still shoot a lot. I have my own range so it's easy for me to grab a rifle and go shoot a little.

I have played around with front resting but not much for 2 reasons. 1 I can't get far enough back from the bench and still have a place for my elbow and 2 in the deer stand I won't be able to do it either. It will be hard enough to get the rifle through the gun port with out bumping and wall. Spot and stalk isn't allowed where I hunt due to the large number of hunters on Ft hood.

The only time I get hang fires is when I have a dull flint. When I have a sharp one it doesn't matter the position of the powder in my chambers early colonial lock pan, the thing just works. I did find that with chert (which seems to be a fair deal harder than English flint) that I get faster ignition because it keeps a straight edge longer and maintains better contact with the frizzen which means more sparks in the pan.

I'm not sure who made the trigger but it is a standard trigger that has minimal creep and a crisp 3.5 pound break. I love this trigger by the way. It's definally a welcome surprise for someone whose total muzzle loader experience up this this point was with military muskets of which I own two.

I'll keep plugging away at this and maybe I'll get to a point down the road where the rifle and I are shooting well.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2018, 04:11:33 PM by m1garand_man »

Offline WadePatton

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2018, 06:32:04 PM »
Slight diversion, but in the interest of accuracy testing and getting more data from less shooting, I have often thought of hanging multiple targets at different ranges such that the ball punches each.

I figure a sheet of paper shouldn't have a profound affect on ball flight, and it would be rather easy to test by adding/subtracting targets and noting trajectory (speed/TOF) changes. 

This also could give the tester an observed trajectory table with no theory or calculations involved. Shoot and see.

Maybe someone has tried this?  I figure the nearest target helps the aging eyes punch the farthest target as a pass-through sighter eh? Also, with a trajectory table, one could calculated his avg. velocities, if so inclined.

I simply haven't had time or resources to get out and shoot a bunch like I like to.  But that's a changin'. The new shop location will have a deck with railing and targets upon yon' hillside (which isn't as far as it sounds).

Happy shootin' and stack 'em in there!
« Last Edit: May 04, 2018, 06:35:38 PM by WadePatton »
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Offline Daryl

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #19 on: May 04, 2018, 07:04:45 PM »
Wade - this method is noted in Forsyth's book to test the trajectory of large bore rifles. Of course, it would work with about any decent sized bore.
Seems to me, he used surveyor's equipment to get the horizontal lines of his targets square with his aiming point.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2018, 07:05:58 PM by Daryl »
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m1garand_man

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #20 on: May 04, 2018, 08:30:14 PM »
I have definitely encountered this technique. I also belive the army did the same thing to get multiple down range velocity readings off single rounds of ammunition during ballistics testing before the advent of doppler radar chronogaphing. Going as far back as the turn of the last century iirc there were chronographs that used a series fine copper mesh screens spaced in close pairs so a bullet would make and electrical contact as it passed through and to start a clock and then a second pair to stop it. Once a trajectory was known you could have multiple sets of these down range.

I'm pulling this from recollection of something read years ago so I may have my wirewires a bit crossed. But I digress.

Doing the test you describe would be an entertaining and educational experiment. You could also see how the group opens up as well this way to get even more real world data.

I wish I had also range close enough and cheap enough to shoot a slot during my lunch breaks like when I was stationed in alaska. I was so spoiled. Load development took a week at most that way.

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #21 on: May 04, 2018, 08:58:29 PM »
Back to what sort of accuracy to expect: a new club member bought a Lyman Great Plains Rifle. Out of the box he was getting 2 groups at 50 yards without tinkering with patches, lube, charge, or ball size. I was impressed with him and the gun.
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Offline bones92

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #22 on: May 04, 2018, 10:39:39 PM »
I believe the biggest variable here is the sights... many rifles have sights that will get you into the black at 100 yards, but you need the right sight (with the right clarity of eyesight!) to consistently form the same sight picture over and over, and a precise sight picture, at that, in order to shoot 2"-3" groups.

I myself prefer a really thin front sight blade.  I feel like I can form a much more precise sight picture than a thicker sight blade.  For me, it is like poking the bull with a needle vs a 2x4.  A very thin front sight blade may only cover 10% of a bullseye's width at 100 yards, whereas a thicker blade will cover 50-80% of the width.   So I can point to a much more specific spot on the bull with a thin blade, as long as I consistently align it with the rear sight.

Beyond that, I find that shooting off a rest makes a LOT of difference in my flintlock shooting.  But I generally practice shooting off-hand because that's what our club competitions require.

Otherwise, it is as Daryl says... consistency in all the little things.   I think good sights and good form will give you good groups, though changing temperature, humidity and light conditions may move the group.

Lastly, I would probably avoid deer shots over 50 yards unless you can reliably put them into about 5" circles.  There is also something to be said for the loss of killing power in a round ball at 100 yards vs 50.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2018, 10:40:47 PM by bones92 »
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Offline bones92

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #23 on: May 04, 2018, 10:42:30 PM »
Back to what sort of accuracy to expect: a new club member bought a Lyman Great Plains Rifle. Out of the box he was getting 2 groups at 50 yards without tinkering with patches, lube, charge, or ball size. I was impressed with him and the gun.

Rich, you're making me want to drag my GPR .54 out to the range.  Never fired it yet, but I'm itching to...
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Offline Arcturus

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Re: Realistic expectations for accuracy.
« Reply #24 on: May 04, 2018, 11:17:01 PM »
I agree 100% with Daryl that you will not get maximum accuracy from your rifle by resting the gun on the rest out beyond the entry pipe as you are doing.  I always have my hand between the gun and the rest;  the rifle (or smoothbore) is in my hands at all times, just as it would be firing offhand or from field expedient rests while hunting.  If you can't do this at your range or blind, you need to make adjustments to your setups until you can.
Jerry