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3-shot groups vs. 9-shot groups


Welcome back to 9 hole reviews. Today we’ll tackle the age-old debate of “how many rounds does it take to check accuracy”?

It’s not arbitrary why we believe in shooting a single cold-bore shot, and then 9 shots to check the accuracy of rifles. Lets explain.

Today we’ve got our Remington 700 5R out, and 80 rounds of my handloads.

To preface, I know that the enlightened ones of the internet will tell me that accuracy does not mean precision, etc. etc.

If you look at my last 9-hole groups at the end of this, you will see that my lazy bum finally decided to make my 0.1mil adjustments to hit the target square...

I’m sure we’ll still get comments about it, but all intents and purposes, lets bug them and mix the terms accuracy and precision to mean the colloquial, “mah gun’s shoot’n good”

Now this is a 0.3-0.4 MOA rifle and load combination, but I admit that I had been very lazy reloading this batch of cartridges. These were 4x times neck-sized cases, and I had never trimmed or prepped them.

Sacrilegious… I know.

With this exercise, we will show why 3-shot groups are inherently deceiving, 5-shot groups may not be a clear indication, but still have their place, and 9-shot groups can more consistently check a rifle’s performance.

If you search the web, you will find that Bloke on the Range had explains, I quote, “why three round groups… aren’t”.

This exercise will reinforce his video with us analyzing 14 groupings of various round counts.

His link will be posted in the description.

We will shoot 6 strings of 3-shot groups, 4 strings of 5-shot groups and 4 strings of 9-shot groups. This totals to 75 rounds to be expended, including the cold bore shot.

We are testing this at 100yards.

Cartridges are Federal Gold Medal Match, CCI BR-2 primers, 175 SMK bullets being pushed out of the 22inch target barrel with 43.5grains of varget behind it.

So let’s get into some shooting. We started the 6x 3-shot groups first.

Easy. Looks impressive!

Then came the 5-shot groups… and now, by shot #39, we’re finishing the exercise with 4x 9-shot groups.

Now it’s time to run some analysis. Of the 14 groups, we have 6x 3-round groups, that range from 0.325 to 0.874 MOA, averaging 0.540MOA… but wait, if we call some fliers, and not consider them, our average group size shrinks to an impressive 0.343MOA.

Moving to our 4x 5-shot goups, we averaged a 0.686MOA performance with that reflected the two 0.6 MOA range groups and bridged the 0.4 and 0.9MOA groups.

Finally, the 9-shot groups were respectively 0.623, 0.835, 0.801, 0.871 MOA, averaging a 0.783MOA per 9-hole group.

Now you can see that the group averages were considerably smaller when you shot the 3-round groups, and if you cherry picked, you would think this rifle with this load is a 0.325 MOA piece of kit. Where in reality, you are looking at rounds falling in a 0.783MOA diameter around your 3-shot group.

While this doesn’t really matter at 100yards, it does matter when you stretch the distance out to 700-800 with wind consideration.

Essentially these 3-shot group sizes are covering 44% of our 9-hole group sizes, and the 5-round group sizes are covering 88% of our 9-hole group sizes, with the assumption that the 9-hole groups are a good indication of the rifles performance.

On top of that, we all know the guy who cherry picks the single 3-round group out of the six groups to brag to their friends about their super-natural capabilities.

So what are some suggested purposes of these test group sizes?

3-shot groups can impress the uninformed, young children, and be used to sell a crummy used rifle to some poor bastard.

It’s not all bad. 3-shot groups are great for shorter-range hunting rifles. Hunting ammunition is often more expensive, and if you are not engaging your game over 300yards, a 1MOA group is more than sufficient to hit your target.

5-shot groups are a much better indication to a rifle’s capabilities, but not entirely indicative.

There are times, like when you are working up a load, and cannot burn up as many resources to figure out an ideal load, that a 5-shot group could help you effectively identify your recipe.

9-hole groups are great for testing a rifle’s accuracy potential, but take up considerably more resources than the 5-hole groups if you need to test loads.

However, you have to take shooter fatigue into consideration at round 40+.

It’s about being confident in your equipment by putting it through it’s paces and thorough testing to become a better shooter.

We shoot 9-hole groups to further reveal into our equipment’s potential.

In this case, I learned that I was a lazy bum who really needs to start trimming and prepping my cases much sooner, unless I can accept a discounted performance.

So that’s it for this episode! Stay tuned for more videos. Feel free to browse around for accuracy reviews. Until then, see you next time.

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