what makes a gun accurate: the gun or the shooter?

sometimes i read articles that say XY is a very accurate gun etc.

so what does accuracy depend on ? the gun or the shooter ?

and what makes a gun more accurate than another gun ?

22 Answers

  • 5 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    So, this really isn't that complicated.

    Fundamentally, there is something called "practical" accuracy. It is made up of three factors: the shooter, the weapon and the ammunition.

    The weapon has "inherent" accuracy. Meaning that if you put it on a gun sled or in a vice (or for a pistol on something called a Ransom Rest), use optimally chosen ammunition and have extreme care in pulling the trigger to not change the alignment of the weapon when you shoot it - you'll get some type of spread for the group. This is the best the weapon is ever going to shoot - and as indicated by Missourian, 90% of guns have a high enough "inherent" accuracy that it isn't relevant. (Jeff calls this Mechanical accuracy which I've heard of too.)

    Ammunition then matters. Basically, once the bullet is out of the barrel it's a pure physics problem. So how fast the bullet came out of the barrel determines the time to target, which determines the drop. How well the bullet fits the barrel impacts that velocity, so impacts the accuracy. Bullets are not perfectly made, some better than others. The better ones when they are spun by the rifling don't wobble much, but some do. In some cases they won't stabilize and you get "key hole" tears in your paper which does not help accuracy. (This is really pretty common with cheap .22 bullets and short barrel .22 pistols.) How consistent the powder load is also impacts velocity, etc. There is some interaction between bullet and weapon - thus the comment about optimal ammunition above.

    Then you have the shooter. If the shooter is mechanically sound, doesn't flinch, has good trigger control and a steady hand then most can start to get close enough to the inherent accuracy potential of the weapon to where ammo selection matters. - Go to a public range some time and see how many fit that bill. It probably varies from place to place, but where I live, you can pick out people who know what they are doing in a second.

    Now you have more interaction between shooter and weapon. Are the sights such that the shooter can create a consistent sight picture? Is the trigger smooth, crisp and light to minimize error from that interface? Does the gun point naturally so there is less tendency to pull the sights off target at the last second? These tend to have much more effect than ammo choice.

    Personally - I'm probably a better than average pistol shooter. Not great, but competitive. There are definitely guns I shoot better than others in exactly the same caliber for many of those "interaction" reasons. I can probably shoot about anything reasonably well - but not everything the same.

    At the end of the day - what matters is the practical accuracy. I've seen people who are really good with guns they know really well get far more out of them than you might expect. I've also seen good shooters with stuff they aren't familiar with or that doesn't fit them look pretty ordinary. At that point it probably doesn't really matter what the inherent accuracy was - the question was could you make the shot.


  • 5 years ago

    Accuracy depends on both the shooter and the gun but more on the shooter. The #1 key to accuracy is practice. The keys to help being accurate is shooting with both eyes open and holding the gun properly. probably at least 70% of it is on the shooter basically. Any gun that shoots straight can be accurate in the right hands. Any number of things can make a gun more accurate than another gun: sights, scopes, barrels (rifled vs smoothbore)+ barrel length, caliber, recoil can impact accuracy as well.

  • 5 years ago

    Accuracy is based on three things - well made ammunition, a well made gun, and an experienced shooter.

    Ammunition needs to leave the barrel a spread of 20fps or less and be perfectly straight (.000" to .004") to be called extremely accurate. Factory ammo in your local store - even match grade expensive ammo - can have a 130fps spread and be up to .026" off center. People who don't hand load or work up a load for their match rifle will use a scale to remove any cartridge that weight too much or too little.... and a coaxial gauge to find the most uniform bullets.

    Gun - obviously needs to be well made. No sense beating a dead horse here.

    Shooter - experience matters. Indoor target shooting is much more forgiving than outdoor 600 yards and more - where you are dealing with cross winds and reverse cross winds, mirage, etc. Here - you need 'situational awareness' to notice when the wind has picked up or slacked off where you are and the whole area between the shooter and target.

    It's 1/3, 1/3 and 1/3. People who don't pay attention to their ammo (not unusual at all) will usually hit a plateau they cant seem to get off. Only thing that makes them get better - is someone gauging their ammo and showing them how to make their own or pull the best rounds out of a factory box.

    People who buy the most expensive rifle and ammo........ but their only skill is from getting to level 'what ever' in Call of Duty - they get a real education first day on the firing line. Example. My wife was shooting her bear protection pistol (Ruger Redhawk in 480 Ruger) when this guy and his posse of friends and girlfriend set up next to the wife. He's got this 'tacticall' Remington 700 in 308 Win with a scope that rivals the Hubble telescope..... and he puts his target at 200yds next to my wife's. Range goes hot - after 20 mins the wife has most of the black blown out with only a few straying into the 7 or 6 ring. The guy showing off his new toy - practically nothing in the black and a few hits all over the place. You cant buy skill.

  • 5 years ago

    With most firearms produced today it is mostly the shooter. The bench accuracy of most service grade guns is relatively similar especially at ranges the average person shoots at. If the gun fits the shooter is also a big factor. An ergonomic grip, good sights and crisp trigger will help a shooter shoot at their highest potential. If the grip is to large and the trigger is poor ( heavy, gritty, long pull) it can affect the shooters accuracy. There are certainly guns that most people can take to easier than others like the CZ-75 for example. Here's a pic of proper handgun grip.

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  • 5 years ago

    The results on a target were achieved with a combination of: Firearm, Ammunition, the Shooter and the "environment".

    The firearm quality & features determine its "mechanical accuracy" (as other's have mentioned).

    The quality of the ammunition used will affect the situation. Good ammunition will have a proper fit & function within the chamber & barrel and will propel the bullet to a consistent velocity (which makes for a consistent flight path to the target).

    The Shooter holds the firearm and operates it. How well they do that will affect the results on a target.

    The "environment" will also affect the situation. Wind, rain, snow, and other factors may influence the path of the bullet during its flight.

  • 5 years ago

    I'd say 90% of the guns off the shelf are more accurate than 90% of shooters can shoot them.

    Myself included.

    I cannot duplicate the accuracy that 90% of my rifles can produce in a gun vice at the range.

  • 5 years ago

    Probably a little of both. But I suspect that guns that are considered the most accurate simply are the most user friendly, that is, they are easiest to be accurate with.

  • Archer
    Lv 7
    5 years ago

    There is the manufacture of the gun, how one sets it up and the skill of the shooter. Nothing will work unless the shooter has some skill.

  • 5 years ago

    you should have asked what makes a shot accurate the firearm or the shooter? a firearms accuracy doesn't change unless altered or outside factors are implied. such as lead or copper fouling. the differences in each cartridge. altitude, humidity. the shooter is hungry, tired, cold, distracted etc.

  • 5 years ago

    Both. I shot at a target about 20 yards with a Beretta PX4 Storm. I aimed at the target but it was hitting the ground in front of the target. Got rid of the Beretta and got a Glock 19 and I aimed at the same target at the same distance and it hit where I aimed. I don't know what it was about that Beretta but I won't be buying one of those again. I'll stick with my Glocks.

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