Pistol Accuracy Vs Rifle Accuracy - Pistolsmith

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Old 12-20-2001, 11:00 PM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 951
When we build a rifle, the customer will usually spec a certain weight bullet to shoot a certain size group. For example a .308 to shoot 165 gr hpbt under .50.

He doesn't want, or will not accept from us a target showing a .50 group. For him, on any day that conditions are favorable, as he shoots from the bench, or whatever rest he chooses, he expects this gun to shoot ten rounds under .50, unless he calls them out.

Now as I understand accuracy criteria as seems to be accepted on this forum, a target from the pistolsmith building the gun showing 1.5" groups qualifies said pistol to be a 1.50 gun.

I could say a lot more on this , but I'd like other opinions without being influenced by what I think.

Concerning the price to build an honest 1.5" pistol in our shop it's only done cost plus. First of all, unless God is smiling on us that day, there is a tremendous amount of barrel testing and load testing from a barrel fixture designed to be as immovable as possible. Not very many barrels are capable of this grade of accuracy. Many are rejected and marked for the type accuracy we can expect. Sort of like Ken Jarret and the rifle barrels he rejects. This post is long and I could go on. Barrel testing just gets us started. If anyone is interested, lets discuss this further.

Bill Caldwell
Wild Bill Caldwell Tactical Weaponry
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Old 12-21-2001, 02:31 AM   #2
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 152
I find the whole group size thing over rated. From a hunting arm, or a
sniper's rifle, what really matters is first shot accuracy. Almost any decent
off the shelf rifle is accurate enough for most purposes. Am I wrong?

In a pistol I'm really not sure that accuracy has won any gun fights. I would
think that the guys on this board with all the experience (Dane, David, Tom,
etc) would tell us that most pistols are plenty accurate enough. I think Dane
makes about the most handsome pistols I've ever seen, but what attracts me
most to them are the testimonials about reliability, longevity, and a certain
hard-to-define artistic quality. If I were buying a custom pistol, I'd only
require that it be as accurate as a handgun need be.

Completely off topic, I have a clipping of an old fighting knives article on
making combat knives by Wild Bill Caldwell, and I've been drooling over those
knives for years. The skinner and Damascus Bowie are the finest looking knives
I've ever seen.
Old 12-21-2001, 09:20 AM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Alabama
Posts: 139
Disclaimer: I'm no expert and this post should be considered in that light(purely
rhetorical in nature). If there are any real experts out there who care to shoot holes in my reasoning, fell free to re-edumacate me. :grin:
I do love a gun that puts them all in one hole, I must admit that I agree about off the shelf accuracy. The whole thing with sniper rifles is odd in that usually, he'll get off one or two shots, then have to boogie. One or two won't heat the barrel enough to move POI and if it will put the first few in there, why tote all of the extra weight of a bull barrel? :grin:
Old 12-21-2001, 10:45 AM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Richardson, TX
Posts: 1,580

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that kind of rifle accuracy guarantee not just with a specified bullet weight, but with a specified load (e.g. Federal Gold Match X-grain BTHP or something like that)? Forgive my ignorance, I ask because obviously with handguns differences in a specific load can produce very large differences in accuracy even with the same bullet weight.

If I had to hazzard a guess I'd say that handguns have less rigorous accuracy requirements because, well, they are so much less accurate than rifles to begin with. A good rifle shoots into 1 MOA and a really good one 0.5 MOA; a good handgun shoots into 6 MOA and a really good one 3 MOA (~1.5" at 50 yards). With about 1/6 the accuracy at equivalent levels of refinement I guess it is not considered reasonable to apply the same performance criteria to pistols as to rifles.

Then again, I don't know how difficult it is to build a 3 MOA 1911 compared to a 0.5 MOA rifle, but I'm going to hazzard a guess that the latter is alot tougher. As an aside, alot of the top pistolsmiths don't talk about meeting X accuracy with their guns unlike semi-custom builders like Les Baer... but it is hard to imagine a top-end rifle maker not touting the X MOA accuracy of their product.

In the end, I guess it boils down to comparing apples and oranges.

Visit The Pit: http://www.geocities.com/mr_motorhead/

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: CastleBravo on 2001-12-21 10:59 ]</font>
Old 12-21-2001, 12:03 PM   #5
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Alabama
Posts: 876
I think a good part of the difference is in the ammo. A friend has a bolt action .45ACP! He had a spare Mauser and some spare money. More money than he planned, that is one Nice big-bore plinker.

It is more accurate than a pistol (sandbags & scope vs accurized 1911 in Ransom rest) but not by a factor of 6, or even 3. Maybe two at best, and that with match ammo. Of course it is easier to get hits with offhand, but that would apply with most any rifle.

On the other hand, a good .22 pistol is as accurate as all but the very best target rifles. High Standards at MOA are not uncommon with the best ammo.
Old 12-21-2001, 12:04 PM   #6
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: People's Republik, Komrade
Posts: 934
A target demonstrating X inches of accuracy, just means that the gun was able to achieve that kind of accuracy with a particular load at a particular time. Changes in load and environment could cause variation in that accuracy. Now, any gun that can shoot to a certain level would probably maintain that level fairly consistently, but if someone came up to me and said he wanted a gun that will shoot into X inches anytime, no matter what load I put in would probably not be someone I'd want to do business with, because his expectations are unrealistic, and probably won't ever be a satisfied customer.
Old 12-21-2001, 12:16 PM   #7
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Issaquah, WA
Posts: 3,831
Bar-Sto claims (quoting from their 1994 price list and before) and I have varified many times that a "drop-in" barrel from them will shoot 2 to 3 inches at 50 yards if well fitted. There are a few out there that can actually shoot better than that hand held, but not many.

I believe in having the most accurate 1911 pistol available to me but getting that isn't all that hard IMO. Buy a quality barrel...any of a half dozen, and have it fit by someone who knows what they are doing.

The gun will shoot better than the owner I suspect.

Rifles are generally guaranteed with specific and detailed load data, case brand, primer, powder and bullet, including OAL and crimp info. Hand guns can indeed change accuracy and POA by just changing a grain or two of powder.

I suspect most of us (pistolsmiths) don't make accuracy claims because we expect our guns to always be more accurate than the owner is capable of shooting. I do anyway. You pay me a lot of money to make it right the first time. Accuracy is a given from any top maker. We had this discussion else- where on the forum but if you buy a new barrel from me and I install it, I only do it one way. I have had dozens of guns that will shoot better than I can from a rest or freestyle.

I only have one price for installing a barrel. And one guarantee....It will work and be capable of better performance than you or me.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Dane Burns on 2001-12-21 15:08 ]</font>

Old 12-21-2001, 12:36 PM   #8
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 213
The problem with many handguns that have been 'accurized" is compromised reliability. Smiths with a bullseye shooting background tend to tighten slide/frame fit too much, etc and wind up with guns that won't work dry, dirty, or with a poor grip. Smiths like Dane who understand defensive shooting achieve outstanding practical accuracy by fitting the barrel properly and giving the shooter a VERY good trigger pull, which of course makes the gun easier to hit with.
I only demand 2-2.5" @ 25 yard groups of a working gun, but total reliability. I have never missed a shot because the gun wasn't accurate enough.
Old 12-21-2001, 02:52 PM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Richardson, TX
Posts: 1,580
According to the Bar-Sto web site they guarantee no more than 2" at 25 yards for semi-drop in barrels. Of course, that is for their entire barrel line, not just 1911s.

What have I observed? The semi- (but not really) drop in Bar-Sto in my Delta Elite shot into 0.8" at 25 yards once with a particularly good load. It was fit by -- you guessed it -- Dane. Of course, if you want to give Dane more work to do, then by all means have him fit an oversize Match Target barrel instead. :grin:

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