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Thread: BR effect on accuracy

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
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    2

    BR effect on accuracy

    What is the effect of the front and rear rest cost/complexity/weight on the accuracy with which a rifle can be shot?
    Or
    With an accurate rifle and skilled shooter, what group sizes could be shot with a Hoppe's rest and Protector bags vs. a heavy expensive windage adjustable rest and wonderful bags.

    I'm trying to get some notion of the effect.
    Thanks;
    joe b.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Fresno
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    The Hoppes rest has several shortcomings. It is too light. and when you combine that with an inadequate spread between leveling points, and relatively high bag friction, you get a rest that tends to move as the gun recoils. Obviously one cannot be sure that the movement is the same for each shot, thus introducing a variable that will enlarge groups. Another weakness in the design is that the bag plate is secured to the top of the threaded elevation screw with a set bolt that has a small plastic head that is designed to be tightened without a wrench. Tightening it by hand, it is almost impossible to get it tight enough, so that the top cannot be made to rock on the elevation adjustment shaft. If one is on a budget, all of these issues are fixable. You can mount the rest on a heavier, broader sub-base, and either replace the set bolt with one with a conventional head, and tighten it with a wrench, or use a pair of pliers on the existing knob (carefully). The suitability of your bags depends to a certain degree on your shooting style, and this is partially determined by the design of your stock, and your rifle's balance. The crucial test being whether you can keep the cross hairs perfectly still as you are pulling the trigger. Better bags are usually more secure in this respect. Putting a number on all of this, is difficult to impossible. You may have other issues that prevent your rifle from shooting at a higher level, making it difficult to weight the value of one thing in the system. I am reminded of shooters who, after switching to a Wilson neck die and seater, find that their groups have not improved, because there were other issues besides reloading dies that were holding them back. This is not to say that better dies will not show an improvement, just that the whole system has to be performing at a high enough level for it to matter.

    Years ago, I can remember when I horse traded into my first rest and bags (Hoppes) and spotting scope. They were a wonderful improvement over what I had been using. At the time, I was shooting a 788 in .308 with the cheapest 4X scope. Having an adjustable rest, with bags, and being able to see bullet holes from the bench was huge. I was having as much, or possibly more fun then, hammering my loads together with a Lee Loader as I do today, with a full, load at the range, shoot over flags, Benchrest rig. It was all new, and I was learning by doing, and comparing notes with my friends. Generally, after I worked things out, I was able to keep my groups (5 shots) under 3/4", and I was proud of that, given my sighting equipment. It wasn't till sometime later when I came across a Benchrest shooter who was practicing at the same range, that I became aware of more sophisticated equipment, and what could be done with it.

  3. #3
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    Feb 2003
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    CA
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    763

    and then.....

    I discovered WIND FLAGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. #4
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    hopefully at a match somewhere in the southwest region
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    Oh boy, how bags and rests can make a difference. I cannot stress it enough! If you're going to be shooting free recoil (not touching the gun except for the trigger), then your gear needs to be just about perfect. I believe it was somewhere in Ratigan's book where he related a story of how he and Speedy Gonzales (?) walked up and down a firing line at a big match and checked out the bags and rests of a lot of the competitors and found the majority of them lacking in stability, smoothness, and tracking ability.

    SInce the bags are the first, last, and only thing holding your gun when you shoot free recoil benchrest, if there is something wrong with them it shows up on the target. Sometimes it will be obvious and sometimes not. If you're shooting "shotgun patterns", you can usually find out what the problem is pretty quickly. But if you're getting random fliers occasionally, it is much tougher to troubleshoot.

    To date, I've spent several thousand bucks trying to find the perfect rest/bag combination. It's tough. Not all equipment is created equal. I've found flaws in just about every major brand and their more popular models. You have to sort through and find a good one sometimes. Just because you paid $850 for your rest and $150 for your rear bag doesn't mean they are perfect right out of the box. Yup, free recoil style opens up a whole can of worms. Sometimes, having to death-grip a 300 ultra mag is much easier!

  5. #5
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    Dec 2003
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    washington.........STATE that is.
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeb33050 View Post
    What is the effect of the front and rear rest cost/complexity/weight on the accuracy with which a rifle can be shot?
    Or
    With an accurate rifle and skilled shooter, what group sizes could be shot with a Hoppe's rest and Protector bags vs. a heavy expensive windage adjustable rest and wonderful bags.

    I'm trying to get some notion of the effect.
    Thanks;
    joe b.
    You've gotten some informed answers.

    I am not a skilled shooter. Given time, I would expect to be able to shoot .200 groups using the Hoppes rest and Protektor bags on a condition-free day, the rest being the weakest link..... BUT..... that's not the whole story. The good bags help more with HANDLING than with raw accuracy. A tuned 6PPC will shoot teeny groups laying over a rolled up coat if there are no conditions to deal with, but rating the rifle's ability VS actually HITTING stuff are worlds apart. With all the time in the world to concentrate solely on returning to battery for the next shot the rifle will shoot OK.....

    And no, the rests/bags don't necessarily have to be costly nor complex.... just well thought out and well applied. Generally speaking cost/complexity equate directly to ease of use... ???? kinda' .... you can fix your car using a Crescent wrench, a Leatherman and baling wire, but a nice set of Craftsman wrenches sure saves blisters.... and some air tools sure save time!!

    That's not much of an answer

    But then, ??????...... Kinda' hard to quantify on the terms presented!



    al

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    25
    http://www.benchrest.com/FAQ/6.5.shtml

    Check out the FAQ regarding bags and set up. A kindly sole (thanks Mr Glenn) pointed me to this and there is nothing but good information. Nothing about cost but tons about what has to happen between the front and rear and how to get there.

    Also http://www.benchrest.com/FAQ/6.2.shtml all about free recoil.
    Last edited by TnTom; 03-14-2010 at 08:42 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Houston, Texas
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    7,869

    Bags

    Personally, I think fancy bags and front rest are the most overated aspect of Benchrest. Most of this hype has it's origins in those wanting to sell you a $1000+ rest.

    Most shooters find that a well tuned Rifle cures most of the so called "bag problems" that seems to plague so many shooters..........jackie

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Springboro, OH. That's between Dayton and Cinci
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    1,148
    An example:

    A new friend is looking to get into the game. He sat down with my rifle and rest and shot the bottom 3-shot group in the picture below. His son fired the upper which is one shot (but it's a wipe-out). First time either has shot a precision rifle. The group is a .141. Keep in mind that I'm a rank beginner myself. The seasoned shooters here could have coached him to a better group.

    A good rifle plus a good (not most expensive) rest setup will teach you how to shoot. Till you have the slop out of the overall system, you'll never learn how to tune or to read the wind and that's what, ultimately, wins.


  9. #9
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    Feb 2010
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    S.E. Washington State
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    74
    Quote Originally Posted by Boyd Allen View Post
    The Hoppes rest has several shortcomings. It is too light. and when you combine that with an inadequate spread between leveling points, and relatively high bag friction, you get a rest that tends to move as the gun recoils. Obviously one cannot be sure that the movement is the same for each shot, thus introducing a variable that will enlarge groups. Another weakness in the design is that the bag plate is secured to the top of the threaded elevation screw with a set bolt that has a small plastic head that is designed to be tightened without a wrench. Tightening it by hand, it is almost impossible to get it tight enough, so that the top cannot be made to rock on the elevation adjustment shaft. If one is on a budget, all of these issues are fixable. You can mount the rest on a heavier, broader sub-base, and either replace the set bolt with one with a conventional head, and tighten it with a wrench, or use a pair of pliers on the existing knob (carefully). The suitability of your bags depends to a certain degree on your shooting style, and this is partially determined by the design of your stock, and your rifle's balance. The crucial test being whether you can keep the cross hairs perfectly still as you are pulling the trigger. Better bags are usually more secure in this respect. Putting a number on all of this, is difficult to impossible. You may have other issues that prevent your rifle from shooting at a higher level, making it difficult to weight the value of one thing in the system. I am reminded of shooters who, after switching to a Wilson neck die and seater, find that their groups have not improved, because there were other issues besides reloading dies that were holding them back. This is not to say that better dies will not show an improvement, just that the whole system has to be performing at a high enough level for it to matter.

    Years ago, I can remember when I horse traded into my first rest and bags (Hoppes) and spotting scope. They were a wonderful improvement over what I had been using. At the time, I was shooting a 788 in .308 with the cheapest 4X scope. Having an adjustable rest, with bags, and being able to see bullet holes from the bench was huge. I was having as much, or possibly more fun then, hammering my loads together with a Lee Loader as I do today, with a full, load at the range, shoot over flags, Benchrest rig. It was all new, and I was learning by doing, and comparing notes with my friends. Generally, after I worked things out, I was able to keep my groups (5 shots) under 3/4", and I was proud of that, given my sighting equipment. It wasn't till sometime later when I came across a Benchrest shooter who was practicing at the same range, that I became aware of more sophisticated equipment, and what could be done with it.
    This post is a down to earth,I am not better than you answer to a mans question.I know I learned somthing by it,just my .02 Thanks.
    Wayne.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    El Paso, Texas
    Posts
    124
    Quote Originally Posted by Boyd Allen View Post
    Years ago, I can remember when I horse traded into my first rest and bags (Hoppes) and spotting scope. They were a wonderful improvement over what I had been using. At the time, I was shooting a 788 in .308 with the cheapest 4X scope. Having an adjustable rest, with bags, and being able to see bullet holes from the bench was huge. I was having as much, or possibly more fun then, hammering my loads together with a Lee Loader as I do today, with a full, load at the range, shoot over flags, Benchrest rig. It was all new, and I was learning by doing, and comparing notes with my friends. Generally, after I worked things out, I was able to keep my groups (5 shots) under 3/4", and I was proud of that, given my sighting equipment. It wasn't till sometime later when I came across a Benchrest shooter who was practicing at the same range, that I became aware of more sophisticated equipment, and what could be done with it.
    Amen to that! Been there, done that. Unintentional ignorance. But what's a fellow to do when he doesn't know any better? Thank God for the internet and the information exchange that occurs here.

    Cheers,

    Mark

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    2
    Thanks for the answers.
    I can shoot under 1" 5-shot 5-group averages off of a Hoppe's rest with good bags. At least, I could in the past, and can now with cast bullets, on occasion, while experimenting.
    With a Savage 99 or a J C Higgins single shot 22, one can probably shoot as well off a Hoppe's rest as with anything.
    With a new-made Savage bolt 223 Rem that will shoot under 3/4" averages, what effect does the rest have?
    With a custom BR gun that shoots 2s from a great windage adjustable rest, what can a good shooter average with a Hoppe's style much-less-expensive-and-simpler rest?
    Thanks;
    joe b.

  12. #12
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    Jul 2006
    Location
    Springboro, OH. That's between Dayton and Cinci
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    1,148
    Quote Originally Posted by joeb33050 View Post
    Thanks for the answers.
    I can shoot under 1" 5-shot 5-group averages off of a Hoppe's rest with good bags. At least, I could in the past, and can now with cast bullets, on occasion, while experimenting.
    With a Savage 99 or a J C Higgins single shot 22, one can probably shoot as well off a Hoppe's rest as with anything.
    With a new-made Savage bolt 223 Rem that will shoot under 3/4" averages, what effect does the rest have?
    With a custom BR gun that shoots 2s from a great windage adjustable rest, what can a good shooter average with a Hoppe's style much-less-expensive-and-simpler rest?
    Thanks;
    joe b.
    This is my opinion, take it for what it's worth:

    Precision (hereafter "Accuracy", though they are slightly different) is the absence of error.

    Accuracy in the context that we're talking about is the accuracy of a bunch of different parts that make up the overall system.

    So, how you should think about it is minimizing total error:

    Etotal = Erifle + Erest + Ebench + Ewind + .....

    If you do think about it that way, it's obvious that the rest adds to the error in the total system. It is also independent of the rifle.

    It could make a good rifle look bad or a bad rifle look even worse. It won't ever make a bad rifle better.

    That Erest isn't a fixed value. It's an average and it'll have a wide range of values (high standard deviation).

    So, it'd be hard to say how much Erest is. It'd be a statistical thing.

    Cutting to the chase, I'd recommend:

    1. That you get as sturdy a rest as makes economic sense for your application. Look on the classifieds here, 6mmBR.com, ebay, etc. I bought a Caldwell Rock off ebay for $60. It served me well for a while. Throw lead shot bags over the legs of your Hoppes rest. Screw it into the bench if you can. Do something to securely attach the front bag to the top of the Hoppes. *anything* that you believe will reduce slop.

    2. Get a squeezeable rear bag like http://www.sinclairintl.com/product/8029/Rear-Bags , if you don't have one. Others here will know better what makes a good bag for a "squeezer".

    3. Start using 3-shot groups.

    4. Call your shots. Take notes. If you know you pulled it out, mark it in the notes and throw that one out even if it looks like it went into the group. If everything felt right, count it even if it goes out of the group. No cheating either way.

    Hope that all makes sense.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Singleton ,Australia
    Posts
    229
    I think the main thing is getting bags to suit YOUR equipment. I,m sure most here will say you cant beat a SEB rear bag. Well I have one for sale going cheap. The big long SEB bag I have is suited to sloping BR stocks, not straight F class or 1000yd BR stocks, so it is not good for me. Same with my front bag. For some reason, I couldnt get my SEB front back to track as well as my last one, maybe its due to the type of sand in it, who knows. I know others with the same gear love them.
    I think we need to do more experimenting with types of sand, mixing course with fine sane , or maybe adding some moisture to get the right consistancy?

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