Accuracy question

nwihunter

Active member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
234
Location
Valparaiso, IN
I’m in the process of sighting in my new Howa .308 and have a few questions for you guys. I just finished the barrel break in process that is recommended by Howa and that Randy has posted on YouTube. Now I’m working on sighting it in and finding out what ammo it likes. I’m starting off with Nosler trophy grade partition 165 gr. and Nosler trophy grade accubond 165 gr. As I finished the day I got a 3 shot group with the accubond at 200 yds. just under 2 3/4”. This was my best group and i probably sent 40 rounds through it by the end of the day with the finishing up the break in and sighting in with the new ammo. I’m trying different ammo to see what the gun shoots best. Is a 2 3/4” an acceptable group for this gun or should I be able to get this gun to shoot tighter groups at that distance? I’m not new to shooting but hunting in my home state I’ve always practiced at 50 to 100yds., so 200 and beyond is pretty new to me. I know I have a ways to go. Does a gun shoot more accurately after say it has had 50 or 100 rounds put through it or does it matter? Also what about shooting with a dirty barrel ? Is there a certain number of rounds you want to send through a barrel before you feel it is shooting at its best? Thanks in advance for any help or advice.
 

VikingsGuy

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 2, 2017
Messages
2,905
Location
Twin Cities
1.35 MOA is not unusual for factory ammo out of box. Things that can make a 1.0 MOA gun look like a 1.35 MOA gun -- shooter error (flinch, wrist torque, etc), catching front swivel on bag rest after first or second shot (failure to slide rifle back forward after prior shot recoil), variable wind conditions at 200y, less than great scope mount, scope mechanical shortcomings, gun doesn't like bullet shape, gun doesn't like bullet weight, gun doesn't like seating depth, gun doesn't like muzzle velocity (all things that will change as you try different brands/types of ammo), letting the barrel get hot (these sporter contour barrels tend to need 5 minutes between shots after the first 3 or so), insufficient space in stock’s barrel channel to be truly free floater, insufficiently tightened action screws, and probably a bunch of other things I haven't thought off the top of my head. 1.35 MOA is not bad for a hunting gun shooting factory, but to know whether your particular rifle is a "shooter" you would need to work through these variables. Most current production rifles I have tried out (dozens) out of the box shoot between .9-1.2 MOA with factory ammo and I tweak handloads down to .7-.8 MOA and then I call it good for hunting. YMMV
 
Last edited:

Brian in Montana

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 20, 2017
Messages
1,248
Location
Ramsay, MT
Sounds like you'd worked that gun pretty hard that day. You might clean it up real well, put a couple fouling shots through it and try that ammo again. 2 and 3/4 isn't bad, per se, you can probably do a little better. I'd say its good enough to take hunting.
 

Witherall13

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2019
Messages
64
Whats the rifling twist on the barrel? Not enough won’t stabilize the bullet and too much puts too much spin on it and makes it Webber wobble in flight, certain twist for certain weights, some say it’s a load of crap but I had trouble trying to shoot lighter loads in my .308 and couldn’t get them to stabilize went to 180gr and she’s a tack driver now. That’s just my input.
 

danwolf

Active member
Joined
Mar 10, 2019
Messages
101
Location
South Texas
Whats the rifling twist on the barrel? Not enough won’t stabilize the bullet and too much puts too much spin on it and makes it Webber wobble in flight, certain twist for certain weights, some say it’s a load of crap but I had trouble trying to shoot lighter loads in my .308 and couldn’t get them to stabilize went to 180gr and she’s a tack driver now. That’s just my input.
Good point
 

sbhooper

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 7, 2012
Messages
3,708
Location
North Platte, Nebraska
Good point
I would just about guarantee that barrel is twisted properly for the lion's share of the .308 ammo out there. I would not worry about scrubbing copper out of it. If you want to run a couple patches down it to get out the carbon, then that is fine. After that, do not worry about where the first two bullets go. The barrel has to be fouled to be consistent. Too many people put too much emphasis on cleaning a barrel. I have several Criterion barrels on Savage and Remington actions and the only thing that I have ever done, is to clean some of the black out of the barrel. The bullets need a layer of copper to ride on, or barrel wear is accelerated. Any good barrel maker will tell you that.

The group that you shot will do well for you at your ranges. A bit more practice at that range will make a difference. Everybody wants at least moa-size groups and that is good, but another 3/4 inch is not going to matter at moderate ranges. Make sure that the barrel is floated, all the action/scope screws are tight and the barrel is not touching your rest.

If all you are hunting is deer, you do not need the expensive ammo. Get some cheap Winchester, Federal, Remington, Hornady etc. and go shoot it. Often times, the cheap ammo shoots better than expensive stuff and will not break you in the process.

My buddy is re-barreling a Howa 6.5x55 (I think?) that flat would not shoot to his desired level. All barrels are not the same and need to be tested, without assuming anything.
 

std7mag

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 23, 2016
Messages
895
Location
central pa
It's a 308 shooting 165gr bullets.
The typical twist rates will shoot them just fine.
It's not like the OP is trying to shoot 220gr match bullets out of a 1:16 twist.

For a new shooter, new gun, factory ammo your groups aren't too bad. Certainly good enough for minute of deer.

Go forth and take up handloading! Lol
 

nwihunter

Active member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
234
Location
Valparaiso, IN
I could also add that I was letting the barrel cool between shots for probably 3 to 5 minutes. It was warm to the touch but not hot when I would shoot it. As far as twist rate, I’m having a hard time finding that for some reason. I leveled and mounted the scope myself. I lapped the rings and torqued everything down to factory specs. I’m setting up the gun for my elk hunt this year in New Mexico. It’ll be my first rifle hunt outside of deer in my home state. I just need to shoot to more. I’m sure my ability to shoot it accurately is probably the biggest issue. I’m finding out shooting well at 200 is not near as easy as it is 100.
 

Brian in Montana

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 20, 2017
Messages
1,248
Location
Ramsay, MT
I think a lot of the time a factory rifle seems to get a little more accurate after a couple hundred round through it. I think there is a break in aspect to this, but also it takes a little time for the shooter to get accustomed to a new rifle - little subtleties in the trigger, optics, where you get your best check weld. Things like that.
 

88man

Active member
Joined
Jan 31, 2011
Messages
732
Location
Pa
2.75 group at 200yrds is not bad for a factory rifle with factory ammo. Any wind that day? Must have been at the range a long time or that barrel would have been pretty warm. If you wanna play around try 180's. If not leave good enough alone.
 

nwihunter

Active member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
234
Location
Valparaiso, IN
2.75 group at 200yrds is not bad for a factory rifle with factory ammo. Any wind that day? Must have been at the range a long time or that barrel would have been pretty warm. If you wanna play around try 180's. If not leave good enough alone.
I was at the range a long time. The wind was around 5 to 15 mph. Because of the banked sides and hill at the end of the range it kinda swirls.
 

sbhooper

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 7, 2012
Messages
3,708
Location
North Platte, Nebraska
I could also add that I was letting the barrel cool between shots for probably 3 to 5 minutes. It was warm to the touch but not hot when I would shoot it. As far as twist rate, I’m having a hard time finding that for some reason. I leveled and mounted the scope myself. I lapped the rings and torqued everything down to factory specs. I’m setting up the gun for my elk hunt this year in New Mexico. It’ll be my first rifle hunt outside of deer in my home state. I just need to shoot to more. I’m sure my ability to shoot it accurately is probably the biggest issue. I’m finding out shooting well at 200 is not near as easy as it is 100.
That is plenty of accuracy for elk. I would stretch the range to 300 yards, though, if you have the room. If you shoot at small targets at 200 and 300, it makes the chip shots real easy. You picked good ammo for elk, but I would still shoot the cheap stuff for practice and if necessary, re-sight a bit for the expensive stuff. Shoot at a 2-inch circle max at 200 and 3-inch circle at 300. It will make you aim small, miss small.
 

Gila

Active member
Joined
Jun 8, 2019
Messages
274
Location
New Mexico
I think the twist is right on the Howa barrel, you can be sure of that. Keeping the barrel from getting too hot is good advice. I don't clean out the copper very often but I try to keep the residue cleaned out every 20-30 rounds or so. I hunt with clean and cool rifle, so that is how I will sight in. After sighting in at 200, should walk it out to 400-500 yards to check tracking on the scope.
 

JLS

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 26, 2012
Messages
7,532
Location
Somewhere in the basalt rocks
You should do this anyway, but test the cleanliness issue. Clean all the copper out, and then shoot 10-15 rounds. Let the barrel cool between each shot, and number each shot. Watch what the gun does on a clean bore and note where the POI settles in (how many shots). I've had some take 4-5, and my current gun doesn't need any.
 

std7mag

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 23, 2016
Messages
895
Location
central pa
If that thing is copper fouled so bad the OP needs to remove it after say 100 rounds, then it would be on Gunbroker if it were mine!

NWI,
As was mentioned, practice with some cheaper ammo. If you can find some Hornady with the SST, ballistically identical to the Ballistic Tip and Accubond.
Clean the carbon out. Leave the copper in!
 

nwihunter

Active member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
234
Location
Valparaiso, IN
I do like the idea of practicing with cheaper ammo for sure. I’ll try the accubond and partitions one more time to make sure which one the gun shoots best. I feel like I need a little bigger sample size before I settle on one. Any other suggestions on factory ammo to try for elk with my set up? I also plan on heading to a different range that has targets out to 750yds. That’s getting way out over my skis, but I will work on 300 and 400 yds. I know this all novice stuff, I’m just trying to get better.
 
Top