How accurate does a rifle need to be for hunting?
How accurate a hunting rifle needs to be cannot be answered definitively, the answer will be different for each person, depending on hunting location, length of shots taken, size of game and other factors. My personal thoughts and answer to the question is as follows.
For me a group of 2-3 inches at 100 yards, shot freehand, is plenty accurate for my hunting style. Even if I push my only personal comfort level and take a shot out to 200 yards, I am still looking at placing the bullet within a 4-6 inch circle. 4-6 inches is going to get me into the vitals on deer sized game.
Now the above statements on what I consider to be adequate hunting accuracy apply only to me.
When you are determining your accuracy expectations and testing it with your firearm, you should keep these points in mind. First, bench rest accuracy is useless in the field, you can shoot Ĺ inch groups all day long, but if you canít hit the side of a barn freehand, youíre not going to connect with the animal. Make sure all your shooting is done under field conditions.
Second, use the ammo your are going to hunt with. That hollow point, boat tail, match grade bullet that groups so well, is not a hunting bullet, make sure that you are using the EXACT load that you are going to hunt with, preferably from the same box of ammo or lot number.
Third, be realistic, if you are shooting ground hogs at 300 yards, your accuracy needs are much different than someone who is hunting moose at 50. Match your accuracy to the shots you plan on taking (read Ė can consistently make without wounding the animal).
Yes having an extremely accurate firearm will give you the confidence to make the shot, but under hunting conditions, it is more than likely that your firearm is going to offer more accuracy than you can use. I donít know about you, but I donít shoot my best when my heart is exploding in my chest, because a monster buck just walked out of the woods.
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