It only takes a few sub-MoA 3-shot groups like this from a .338 Win. Mag. to give a valid indication of the rifle's accuracy potential.

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It only takes a few sub-MoA 3-shot groups like this from a .338 Win. Mag. to give a valid indication of the rifle's accuracy potential.
It only takes a few sub-MoA 3-shot groups like this from a .338 Win. Mag. to give a valid indication of the rifle’s accuracy potential.

Q: I notice that most hunters shoot 3-shot groups because they are convinced that more shots heat up the barrel too much resulting in fliers. However, I have noticed that sometimes when you test a rifle you use 3-shot groups, but another time you’ll use 5-shot groups. Why the difference?

Andrew Hardy

A: If the test rifle has a thin, whippy barrel most often I’ll settle for 3-shot groups, but if the barrel is medium weight or heavy-barreled, I’ll use 5-shot groups. This is because a light barrel heats up more quickly and often the next two shots will be fliers. I’ve found 5-shot groups tend to be about 35-50 percent larger than 3-shot groups and 10-shot groups tend to be larger than 5-shot groups for the very same reason. This isn’t carved in stone, since some light barrels will shoot uniformly tight 5-shot groups even when hot. I suppose it’s largely a matter of the quality of the steel in a barrel and how it is treated and rifled. These days factory barrels, even the ones in economy class rifles shoot extremely well.

This 5-shot group is a story on its own. This was achieved with a .22 LR in sanctioned Fly competition in Canberra in early 2018 by John Lavaring. Wow!
This 5-shot group is a story on its own. This was achieved with a .22 LR in sanctioned Fly competition in Canberra in early 2018 by John Lavaring. Wow!


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Nick Harvey

Nick Harvey is one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He has been writing about firearms and hunting for more than 65 years, has published many books and uncounted articles, and has travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject is unmatched. He has been Sporting Shooter's Gun Editor for longer than anyone can remember. Nick lives in rural NSW, Australia.

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