Acceptable Accuracy From Different Shooting Positions

I’ve seen a couple videos online where people are shooting from compromised positions and then using the results as a testament to the accuracy of their firearms and on the flip side I’ve seen a few people claiming ridiculously good results from their rifles as well. I thought I’d do a combo person+firearm accuracy averages article to show the differences and do a bit of research on what constitutes pro levels. I know I’m mixing meters and inches, sorry.

Pistol, Offhand Standing:

Pro Level: 10M Pistol: 4 MOA

Top ISSF 10M air pistol shooters get a smaller 17cm (6.7″) target, but top shooters punch most of their shots in the 11.5mm (0.45″) 10 ring.
This points to 4 MOA being acceptable for pro’s at close range for pistols.

Average shooters should be able to easily keep all their hits to within the 6″X11″ A-zone on an IPSC target at 10 meters (~60 MOA). If you take your time and shoot for accuracy, you should be able to do quite a bit better than this. My average groups when I’m taking my time at 10 meters is ~2.5″.

Pro level: 50M Pistol: 8 MOA

Top ISSF 50M shooters are expected to keep all shots within the 9 ring which is 10cm (~4″) wide, but really they’re getting most within the 10 ring which is 5cm (1.97″)
This points to 4-8 MOA being the acceptable average accuracy at 50M for pros shooting pistols at this distance.

Shooters of average skill level should be able to keep most shots within a 24″ radius at 50 meters (50 MOA) in a speed shooting environment, while Bullseye shooters will need to keep their hits within an 8″ target at 50 yards (16 MOA.)

Pistol: Mechanical Accuracy

Mechanical best accuracy on pistols varies quite a bit by the pistol. Custom bullseye pistols may shoot about 1″ at 25M, which is 4 MOA give or take. Excellent quality consumer grade centerfire pistols will do around 5 MOA, but most will be 6-15 MOA. The factory accuracy test on my Shadow 2 kept most of them within 3 MOA, but threw a flyer that brought it to 7.6 MOA. That sounds like a big group, but it’s far more accurate than most people can shoot with a pistol, especially if we’re talking about action shooting.

Some single shot and other specialty or custom pistols are capable of 1 MOA or better, but good luck getting that kind of accuracy from them without using specialty rests.

Rifle – Offhand Standing

Pro Level: 10M Rifle, Standing: 2 MOA

ISSF 10M air gunners try to keep most of their hits in the 10 ring. The 10 ring is .5mm (0.197″) in size.
This points to 2 MOA as being an acceptable average accuracy for rifle standing from pros

Most average shooters would be lucky to keep groups within 6 MOA while standing.

Pro Level: 50M Rifle, Standing: 1-2 MOA

The absolute best in the world will put most of their hits in the 10 ring, which is around 0.6 MOA. The 2016 Olympic 3 position rifle was decided because #2 threw his last shot of the round 2 MOA out instead of less than 1. Oh, and this is all with iron sights.

Rifle – Prone

Pro Level: 50M Rifle, Prone: 1 MOA

Top ISSF 50M rifle shooters will keep most of their shots inside the 10 ring which is 10.4mm wide (0.41″). This is without a bipod.
This points to 1MOA being an acceptable average accuracy for rifle from prone for the pros

Most average shooters can do about 6 MOA from prone with no bipod or other supports, but more practiced shooters will dial that down to 1-3 MOA.

Rifle, benched

With sandbags, a good bipod, or a full rail setup, pro shooters remove most of the human element. This is finally testing the rifle and not the shooter. Note: these are rules of thumb, your mileage may vary

  • Most mil-surp semi autos will keep shots within 5 MOA
  • Most mil-surp bolt actions rifles will keep shots within 3 MOA, and some might average 2 MOA
  • An AR15 with precision components including an aftermarket match grade barrel may shoot between 0.6-1.3 MOA
  • A good 22LR rifle with good quality ammo can do 1 MOA at 50 Meters
  • A precision 22LR can do 0.3 MOA at 50 Meters
  • Most of today’s hunting rifles can shoot between 0.8-1.5 MOA
  • A precision hunting rifle or hunting rifle that is hand loaded for, may turn in groups between 0.5-0.8 MOA.
  • Heavy barrel, tuned bolt action rifles may reliably turn in 0.5 MOA groups.
  • High precision, custom bolt action rifles may turn in groups between 0.3-0.5 MOA.
  • Rail guns can shoot 5 shot groups of around 0.2-0.4 MOA, but the on a good day will punch a group “in the teens”: less than 0.19 MOA.

Just for fun: Bows

The best outdoor recurve archers in the world will put about 50% of their arrows in the 10 ring at 70 Meters: a ~5.6 MOA target. They’re fighting with a lot of drop and sometimes wind.

Compound archers shooting indoors fire at a target 18 meters away. The 10 ring is 4 MOA, and they hit it about 75% of the time.

Why’d I write this article?

  1. I see people making accuracy claims that are hogwash and wanted to do some research to come up with reasonable averages. Your $300 bolt action rifle is not reliably punching 1″ groups at 200 yards.
  2. I see people shooting from awful positions and then making judgement on their rifle’s accuracy based on their results.
  3. I wanted a handy article that I could link to when I see people making the above claims.

See something wrong in your experience? Shoot me a message and I’ll update the article. I don’t do precision pistol shooting, so I grabbed what I felt were reasonable numbers from olympic shooting sports. Let me know if your experiences have been different

*Thanks for the correction on 50M ISSF targets Edmond!

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