When it comes to accuracy, a gun is only as good as the sum of its components. Unfortunately, most of us just concentrate on the obvious; the sights or scope. But, reasons for missed shots go deeper than just sights or scope; they go beyond even our own human element. If your shot groups are good, but a little inconsistent, there could be a deeper issue that needs addressing that you may not have thought of yet. Here’s a way to help tighten your shot groups with one easy fix…
Let’s look at the five variables, the components that make up a rifle: barrel, trigger, sights, scope, butt pad, and stock, and each component plays a role in accuracy in one way or another.
Barrels. When we buy the rifle, we expect it to be accurate – not sighted in, of course – just accurately made and consistent in its shooting. Some barrels are more accurate than others, and there are match-grade barrels that are made to higher-quality specifications, but not as practical for the average hunter or shooter. So, regarding barrels, you are pretty much stuck with what you get. Thankfully, most barrels are fairly accurate right out of the box – with some rare exceptions, thank God.
Iron sights. Steel on steel, these sometimes need a little encouragement to get to move, but once adjusted, they stay put and remain fairly true. You can pretty much count on iron sights to deliver accuracy year after year.
Though an action isn’t generally considered something that affects accuracy quite as much as sights or scopes do, it is another component of the gun variable that we can consider as we drill down to what variables can affect accuracy, but one which we usually don’t consider, especially when it comes to “easy” fixes.
A scope is mounted on a rifle and this component is not a contiguous part of the gun; it is an add-on. As such, its points of attachment come into play in the accuracy formula, and should be checked regularly and secured with thread-locking dressing. Scopes can be touchy and finicky at times when it comes to keeping them on a solid zero, but that’s usually an issue of attachment or a handling issue. Bump a scope, and it can move, and so will your shot.
Triggers are often last to be considered when people think about accuracy. Triggers can have a great deal to do with accuracy. If you get a trigger that makes you yank rather than squeeze of a shot, you’ve got a problem that needs fixing for sure. Nothing puts a shot off target faster than a tough-to-pull trigger. Yank-yank.
But let’s say that you’ve looked at all these components, and feel that they each have been addressed appropriately. Let’s say that you have even had a new recoil pad installed, and it is secure in its new home – solid as a rock – what then? The one component that people rarely think about as being a contributor to shot accuracy is their stock. And, oddly enough, that’s one easy fix we can make to help tighten shot groups – and in most cases, it’s the cheapest, too.
Now why on earth would you change out your gunstock? Because if your gun stock doesn’t fit the gun well enough, then that is a component that can move with every shot. A stock that fits a gun properly is worth its weight in gold. A stock needs to be tight where it needs to be tight, and loose where it needs to be loose, to allow the action to work. And the added accuracy benefit in glass bedding a stock is no secret to professional shooters and serious gun-owners alike.
The fit of a stock to a gun is one of the key components in accuracy. The fit of the stock to a shooter is another! When you shoulder a gun, if your cheek doesn’t end up in the right spot on the comb of that stock, you’ll miss your shot way more than you’d want to admit. Getting the right length of pull measurement in your stock is a no-brainer. A stock that fits, is a stock that wins.
Most hunters and shooters don’t even mention comfort when it comes to a rifle or shotgun. Why? Because we are out in all kinds of elements, suffering through all sorts of unimaginable pain in our pursuit of our hobbies, so comfort is more than just an after-thought; it’s not even on our radar. But comfort, as most professional shooters know all too well, is a major component in accurate shooting. If the gun doesn’t feel good in your hands or tight to your shoulder, you will not be able to use it to its full advantage, and you won’t get the accuracy you deserve.
The data is clear – a gun is only as good as the sum of all its parts. Be sure to check every component – even experiment a little – but remember, replacing a stock is an easy fix…and a low-cost one, too; it can make the difference between a hit and a miss.