Oftentimes a friend will send me a note and say, “Have you ever thought about doing a test about this?” I get a lot of good ideas that way.
My buddy doc540 recently asked me, “How much accuracy should someone expect from a “cheap” AR-15 rifle set up?” That’s a great question.
We know that AR-15 rifles can be fine-tuned to be very accurate bench rest rifles. But what about an inexpensive out-of-the-box “stock” rifle? Turns out that doc540 had a new one for us to test.
Here’s what he bought:
It had a collapsible stock.
It has the M-4 contour barrel.
And doc mounted a nice Mueller 10-25 scope on it for the experiment. He will not be leaving this scope on it and will probably put a red dot on it, but we wanted to see how accurate it was at 100 yards and the scope will help us to measure that.
The rifle, without scope, cost doc $465 out the door. That’s a pretty cheap AR-15 these days.
I loaded up some handloads that I have had good luck with. They are accurate in my rifles. That should remove the ammo question from the equation.
I started out by shooting a couple of groups with my bench rest rifle, a DPMS Sweet Sixteen that I have placed in the “One MOA All Day Long Contest” with and qualified. I know it will shoot.
Here I am on my rifle.
We shot the groups at 100 yards, which is further than many remember.
Here’s my 5 shot group for today.
It was windy, but I still managed to shoot a .62 MOA group. The ammo is good.
We took doc’s rifle and oiled up the bolt group to assure good functioning. Then we shot at a 25 yard target to get the scope zeroed in. I used IMI Ball ammo for the scope zeroing. It took a lot of adjustment to get it where I wanted the group to hit.
We then moved the target out to 100 yards and I got ready to shoot.
I loaded up with the handloads and shot two 5-shot groups.
As you can see, they were excellent, and averaged a remarkable .95 MOA.
Sometimes when I do these tests I get the results I expected before I started. Sometimes I get surprised. Today was a surprise.
I expected an “inexpensive, stock rifle” to shoot “OK” groups, but never expected less than one MOA out of it. I would have been very happy with a 2+ inch groups out of such a rifle.
It was windy and we shot several other kinds of store-bought ammo, and it shot “OK, but larger” groups with the non-handloads. Will this rifle “always” shoot into 1 MOA? I seriously doubt it. But it did so today.
1. The AR-15 system is well known as an “inherently accurate” system. Apparently this applies to inexpensive rifles also.
2. Is it possible to have a very accurate AR-15 that is not really expensive? It seems so.
3. Do you get something when you spend $2000 on a bench rest AR-15 rifle? Sure you do. Better barrels, better triggers, etc. will almost always make them shoot “better”. But even a cheap AR-15 can be a good shooter.
4. Will all cheap rifles shoot this good? I doubt it. But this one did and there is a lesson in that surprise.
You never know how well they will shoot until you test them.
And it’s fun to shoot stuff.
(A word of friendly warning………If anyone posts, “That is nothing, I have a rifle that will shoot one MOA all day long”, your name will be added to the “Wall of Claim” in the “One MOA All Day Long Contest”.)