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: 12 MOA

Top ISSF 50M shooters are expected to keep all shots within the 7 ring which is 20cm (~8″) wide, but really they’re getting most within the 9 ring which is 16cm (6.3″)
This points to 12 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.

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