What Group Size – Sports Shooter


By Nick Harvey | December 7, 2021

It only takes a few groups of 3 sub-MoA hits 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 groups of 3 shots because they are convinced that more shots heat the barrel too much, resulting in flywheels. However, I have noticed that sometimes when you test a rifle you will use groups of 3 shots, but another time you will use groups of 5 shots. Why the difference?

Andrew Hardy

A: If the test rifle has a thin, whipped barrel, I will mostly use 3-shot groups, but if the barrel is medium or heavy, I will use 5-shot groups. This is because a light gun heats up faster and often the next two shots will be leaflets. I have found that 5-shot groups tend to be around 35 to 50 percent larger than 3-shot groups and 10-shot groups tend to be larger than 5-shot groups for the same reason. . This is not set in stone, as some light cannons will fire groups of 5 evenly tight shots, even when hot. I guess a lot of it is about the quality of the steel in a barrel and how it’s processed and scratched. Nowadays, factory barrels, even economy class rifles shoot extremely well.

This group of 5 shots is a story in itself.  This was achieved with a .22 LR in the sanctioned Fly competition in Canberra in early 2018 by John Lavaring.  Wow!
This group of 5 shots is a story in itself. This was achieved with a .22 LR in the sanctioned Fly competition in Canberra in early 2018 by John Lavaring. Wow!
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