I was reminiscing about a conversation I had with Jim Shepherd at Gunsite about how spoiled the modern generation of shooters is, especially when comes to the mechanical accuracy of firearms these days. Think about it for a minute: you can go to your local gun shop and for $600-$1000 buy a commercial AR-15 that will shoot right around 1 minute of angle with commercially available factory ammo. When you read magazine articles from quite some time ago, this kind of accuracy was what was expected of precision rifles, a lot of time high dollar custom jobs. Now, if you buy a rifle that “only” shoots a 2 inch group at 100 yards, it’s “not very accurate”.
This doesn’t stop at just rifles, though. Modern commercial handguns are so accurate it’s stupid, capable of accuracy far beyond what the average shooter can wring out of them. A perfect example of this was demonstrated at this year’s Bianchi Cup, where Dave Sevigny using a stock Glock 34 was able to score 1806-101x, a score which put him ahead of many shooters using customized 1911s with optics and other gear. While that’s in no small part due to Dave’s ridiculous shooting ability, it doesn’t hurt that his Glock is more accurate from the factory than most factory handguns of 2 generations ago.
I don’t want people to think for a minute that I think it’s a bad thing how spoiled we are, mind you. I think it’s awesome that our levels of precision and engineering are such that we can mass produce tremendously accurate firearms for as little money as it costs us to so do. Technology is cool, and the advent of CNC machining has allowed us to make tremendous leaps in accuracy with firearms.
It’s not the CNC machining, it’s current firearms development and design. CNC just lets us make the guns both accurate and cheap. With older techniques and the same designs we’d be stuck with one or the other.
Precision machining is part of it, too. Think about it, holding sub-.001″ tolerances is standard today, where it was difficult and expensive years ago.
it’s current firearms … design
In Pistols, I don’t think that there has been much new, popular development. Browning made short recoil popular (ok, and blowback) and we’ve been using the same principle for around 100 years…
No, there hasn’t been much development in terms of design for rifles or pistols in the past 100 years. What we have seen however is a massive improvement in manufacturing techniques, which is what has allowed us to get tremendous leaps in accuracy.
Exactly – but what JB said wasn’t the CNC machining…
Think about heat treatment alone – it used to be case hardening on S&W lock work, and now the entire part is heat treated and tempered…
Ditto for the old, soft-steel Argentine 1911’s – nowadays the entire slide and frame is heat treaded…
Awesome stuff, indeed, this technology…
Not only is the accuracy higher, the reliability is a s well. It used to be you had a choice between accuracy and low-cost. Now you can have both. It’s all due to tolerances
This highlights the challenge I find in shooting. I’m a fairly green shooter, owned a gun for 8 years, pistol for 4, but haven’t really practiced and advanced a lot until this year.
What do I need to do to shoot as well as my gun is capable of?
I score reasonably well at the pistol club with a bare bones Springfield GI 1911. I hit 3″ spinners with my Marlin 60 at 100 yards (when it doesn’t jam). What can I do to make myself a better shot so that its worth my money to invest in a firearm that can do MOA groups?
Learn how to shoot well when you’re caught by surprise on the absolute worst day of your life. Shooting at a stand at a range is good and fun and a noble exercise, but learning to shoot well in conditions of stress may save your life one day.
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