Are heavier rifles more accurate solely due to their weight?

HoneyPigeon

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From what I gathered while googling a bit, recoil actually can affect the POI to some extent. So using my inexperienced intuition, that would mean the heavier the rifle is, the less it will move during the time the bullet is still in the barrel, is that correct? If so, is this a significant factor when it comes to keeping my groups consistent?
 

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  • Kind of. Assuming a barrel shoots straight accuracy is just poi being the same at trigger pull as it is at bullet exit. More weight means less reaction to a trigger pull and less reaction round being fired. That means less chance of poi being affected between trigger pull and bullet exit.
     

    Straw Hat

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    I've only built two customs, and currently building a third. What I learned from the first two is they always end up heavier than you think, especially when you get them "hunt ready" with any optics/ammo/bipod/can/brake/sling/cheek pad/etc. For this reason I selected all lightweight components for the 300 PRC build. Hopefully this will allow me some flexibility in selecting an optic, and better balance if/when I run a can.... TBD how it turns out.

    Regarding a different stock, for me the biggest reason to add that would be ergonomics. Reducing weight is just a bonus. However, sometimes it can add weight.
     

    GrumpyOleFart

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    That's part of it
    Sight alignment, aiming, breathing, trigger control.
    When you practice those, it creates a foundation for accurate and repeatable shots on target.
    @lowlight has some excellent training videos to look at.
     
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    mcameron

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    a heavier gun is not inherently any more mechanically accurate just because of the weight.

    heavier guns tend to be shot more accurately for a number of reasons, including:
    • less recoil causes less flinching
    • heavier guns are easier to steady in non-prone positions
    • ect.

    but if you take a remington 700 pencil barrel in .223, put it in a 6lb chassis and shoot a group......then pop the action out and put it in a 12lb chassis and shoot a group.....the group sizes will be exactly the same.



    now that being said, a heavier gun is generally heavier because it uses a thicker action, and a thicker barrel, which will give you a stiffer, more rigid system...which will aid in accuracy, or more precisely, a more consistent shooting rifle.
     
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    HoneyPigeon

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    Thank you for your comment Mcameron, although there seems to be a lot of disagreement when it comes to this issue. Two posters including you have said that it is not a significant factor, and two have said (as far as I understood) that it is at least a considerable factor of long range shooting, so I still am not sure what the fact of the matter is.

    I would personally do more research regarding this myself if I could, I just can not find anything other than old forum posts with differing opinions similarly to these, not that I'm complaining, it is what it is.
     

    bschneiderheinze

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    It really depends on the type of shooting you are doing hunting, PRS, just general plinking. My PRS rifle became more accurate lighter. The less weight helped me move through stages quicker giving me more time to setup.
     

    Texasflyer

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    For me, a lighter rifle recoils more. I had a 300 wby mag in a synthetic stock and it kicked like a mule. So i bought a boyds thumbhole and added a bunch of weight, it kicked percievably less, which in turn made me more accurate. Really it was my fundamentals that changed during that period. As i learned how to handle recoil and position myself, i became more accurate. That rifle was so violent i developed a flinch at first... and the only cure was to shoot it out. For larger calibers i would say a heavier rifle is easier to shoot mentally imo.
     

    Rocketmandb

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    From what I gathered while googling a bit, recoil actually can affect the POI to some extent. So using my inexperienced intuition, that would mean the heavier the rifle is, the less it will move during the time the bullet is still in the barrel, is that correct? If so, is this a significant factor when it comes to keeping my groups consistent?
    Think about the extremes. Consider having an infinitely heavy rifle with an infinitely massive barrel. It will not move at all, yielding a point of impact equaling your point of aim (adjusted for drop, of course). Within some level of reason, this would lead you to believe a heavier rifle is more accurate.

    Let's look at another extreme. Let's say that every time you line up behind the rifle, you do so absolutely perfectly. And no matter how heavy the rifle is, you will shoot perfectly because your technique is perfect. This would lead you to believe that technique is everything, and the weight of the rifle is immaterial.

    So, which one is true? The answer is both.

    The truth is that no one's technique is perfect, and the less perfect it is, the more other factors come into play. The heavier a rifle is, the more it will mask deficiencies in technique. When you exclusively shoot heavier rifles, the more your technique will begin to suffer. That's why many people will have something like an unbraked 308 to keep their technique up.
     

    supercorndogs

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    a heavier gun is not inherently any more mechanically accurate just because of the weight.

    heavier guns tend to be shot more accurately for a number of reasons, including:
    • less recoil causes less flinching
    • heavier guns are easier to steady in non-prone positions
    • ect.

    but if you take a remington 700 pencil barrel in .223, put it in a 6lb chassis and shoot a group......then pop the action out and put it in a 12lb chassis and shoot a group.....the group sizes will be exactly the same.



    now that being said, a heavier gun is generally heavier because it uses a thicker action, and a thicker barrel, which will give you a stiffer, more rigid system...which will aid in accuracy, or more precisely, a more consistent shooting rifle.
    If this was 100% accurate there would not be weight limits in bench rest.

    A heavier rifle will move less from the forces created by firing a round, before the bullet leaves the barrel.
     
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    Texasflyer

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    I know that my rpr 338 lm is probably the lightest recoiling rifle i have. Partly cause its almost 30 lbs, partly because of the tank brake. I would let my grandmother shoot it and she wouldnt move.... and she has been dead for 3 years.
     

    Milo 2.5

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    I put it like this, a heavier rifle is easier for most people to shoot accurately more consistently than say a light rifle. A heavy rifle is a newbies best friend, just more forgiving.
    That does not make them inherently more accurate though.
    Years ago, a Rem Varmint rifle was heavy, with a 6.5-20 Leupold on it, it probably weighed 9.5 lbs, today a 12lb rifle is a featherweight in LR shooting.
     

    Milo 2.5

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    If this was 100% accurate there would not be weight limits in bench rest.

    A heavier rifle will move less from the forces created by firing a round, before the bullet leaves the barrel.
    May be some merit to this concerning harmonics. But in BR, more rules than just weight, 5 shot group to 10 shot being the biggest factor.
     

    skl1

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    To get really into the weeds, Harold Vaughn, a scientist at Sandia Labs, wrote a book called "Rifle Accuracy Facts". Interesting book. His testing indicated weight (independent of rigidity) made for a more accurate barrel. This is counter to almost all common operating assumptions. I'm not sure I believe all his findings, but he was a smart guy and documents his testing. Had a bunch of other interesting findings on increasing accuracy. Said he was going to try a pencil barrel wrapped in a lead jacket, but he had trouble having it hold together.
     

    Vodoun daVinci

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    I find that a heavier gun is more forgiving of my technique than a lighter gun. I have been adding weight to mine and my groups are tightening up.....as much as I'd like to think my technique is improving (my consistency) I know that the weight helps because when I remove the extra weights attached to the chassis the groups open up again.

    I'm now concentrating on "balance" and that is become another tail chase.

    VooDoo
     

    LoCal247

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    It’s probably the fact that a person would purposely build a rifle heavy to be more accurate is what will make them more accurate. Someone focusing on a task to become more accurate leads them to be more accurate. Practice/range time and passion are more the keys to success. All things being equal a light or heavy rifle won’t make someone shoot better if they don’t give a shit or train. also I’m not a mechanical engineer.
     

    Texasflyer

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    I find that a heavier gun is more forgiving of my technique than a lighter gun. I have been adding weight to mine and my groups are tightening up.....as much as I'd like to think my technique is improving (my consistency) I know that the weight helps because when I remove the extra weights attached to the chassis the groups open up again.

    I'm now concentrating on "balance" and that is become another tail chase.

    VooDoo
    I think you are getting into adjusting harmonics more than seeing a change in weight causing accuracy... just my opinion.
     

    Texasflyer

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    I would say, that with tuned ammo. My lightest rifle, a .222 savage is as accurate at 100 yds as my heaviest rifle a 338lm
     

    skl1

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    The other thing is that thin barrels heat up faster, and often a hot barrel will cause groups to open up. You hope that you're minimizing this with stress relieved barrels and cut-rifled barrels, but it still tends to happen. It's also attenuated by having the large profile barrels everybody uses for target and competition disciplines.
     

    supercorndogs

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    I find that a heavier gun is more forgiving of my technique than a lighter gun. I have been adding weight to mine and my groups are tightening up.....as much as I'd like to think my technique is improving (my consistency) I know that the weight helps because when I remove the extra weights attached to the chassis the groups open up again.

    I'm now concentrating on "balance" and that is become another tail chase.

    VooDoo
    Weight eats recoil. Recoil management is easier with less recoil. You can be much sloppier and still get groups shooting an 8 pound 223 vs an 8 pound 300wm.
     

    parshal

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    In the NRL Hunter series with a 12 and 16 pound class, the light class won the overall match in two of the first three matches. Good fundamentals makes the difference in accuracy more than weight in my opinion.
     

    Vodoun daVinci

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    In the NRL Hunter series with a 12 and 16 pound class, the light class won the overall match in two of the first three matches. Good fundamentals makes the difference in accuracy more than weight in my opinion.
    Good fundamentals will never be the weak link - if yer technique and skills are good then yer golden. My point is that, all things being equal (and they never are) that a person with "perfect" technique, with the same gun, and the same caliber, on any given day, will possibly shoot better with a heavier gun than he will with a lighter variant. The extra weight matters. It will dampen excursions and less than perfect technique because the added weight adds mass to the equation and extra mass makes it harder for things to move under recoil, with an offset trigger pull, and all the other tiny variables.

    Mass = Stability and less opportunity for stuff to shift when all other things are equal. IMO.

    VooDoo
     
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    GrumpyOleFart

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    Technique and the rifle that best suits you.
    My "go to" rifle is considered heavy by some people.
    I can consistently hit ferals from standing, sitting/kneeling or prone, because it fits me.
    Had to eat my words years ago, calling people with custom balanced rifles, "woosies" or "pooferies"... till someone let me have a go on a Les Baer set-up.
    It's part of the journey isn't it?
    Making a rifle do your bidding, instead of you struggling with it.
    Have fun, and all the best.👍
     

    sjmpcc022

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    That's part of it
    Sight alignment, aiming, breathing, trigger control.
    When you practice those, it creates a foundation for accurate and repeatable shots on target.
    @lowlight has some excellent training videos to look at.
    The fundamentals of marksmanship!

    Where have we heard that before?????:unsure::unsure::unsure::unsure:
     

    Steel head

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    I’ll tell you what having a rifle that fits you and you can be comfortable on goes a LONG way as well.
    It took me a while to figure out exactly how to fit a rifle to myself that actually worked day in and day out.
     

    sjmpcc022

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    I’ll tell you what having a rifle that fits you and you can be comfortable on goes a LONG way as well.
    It took me a while to figure out exactly how to fit a rifle to myself that actually worked day in and day out.
    Couldn't agree more!

    I took the Frank/Marc class last year. I took what I had at the time, a Mossberg MVP in .308. All I was able to do to it was put on a slip over cheek riser to get my head up a bit. At the time I had zero experience shooting prone, it wasn't easy and was quite uncomfortable. This was after spending months with my shooting mat and rifle on the living room floor trying to get comfortable.

    Fast forward to now. I was in the process of building a rifle when I took the class, but hadn't decided on a stock. After the class, the trapshooter in me took over. I know how my trap gun fits and also that I needed that same type of adjustment in the new rifle.

    I decided on an MPA /BA stock and am damn glad I did. Comb, length, and especially pad cant. All adjustable, it is very comfortable to shoot.
     
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    lte82

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    Had to eat my words years ago, calling people with custom balanced rifles, "woosies" or "pooferies"... till someone let me have a go on a Les Baer set-up.
    It's part of the journey isn't it?

    Like many people here, you just didn’t know what you didn’t know. And unfortunately people that know even less will interpret a confident post as being gospel. That’s how we get regurgitated online myths like “carbon fiber barrels cool faster”, or “the 6x47 Lapua is finicky” lol.
     

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    StLPro2A

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    That's part of it
    Sight alignment, aiming, breathing, trigger control.
    When you practice those, it creates a foundation for accurate and repeatable shots on target.
    @lowlight has some excellent training videos to look at.
    Add position building and recoil management to your list.......and maybe the day of the week.....:0 :) :)
     

    Snuby642

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    I think the thicker barrels shoot much better and worth the extra weight.

    But I'm not doing long walks in the mountains with them iether.

    All of the center fire pencil barrels I have owened were gtg for 2 shots and that was it.
     

    8pointer

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    I can't say on accuracy just yet, but I took a new rifle out briefly yesterday that is balanced really nicely now vs very front heavy previously and what a pleasurable experience. I have to shoot off a bench at this stage in my life and it sucks, but I can already see the huge benefits of having it more balanced with recoil....it's also got to be about 5lbs heavier than it was...22" Bergara barrel to 26" Proof comp contour plus a ton of weight in buttstock to balance out.
     

    Wiillk

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    Two groups, both shot in testing, admittedly not enough shots to make a true determination of accuracy, but it makes a point. One group was shot with a 7 pound hunting rifle and one group was shot with a 12 pound PRS rifle. Guess which one.
     

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    Actionjksn

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    I would like to weigh in on this one.
    If it's just random added weight then I wouldn't expect much if any effect.
    However if it's heavy for a reason, as in a thicker barrel then very much so. Also a thicker heavier reciever where the barrel attaches.

    If you make a rifle stiff then you enhance accuracy. Thicker barrels and recievers weigh more and make a rifle more accurate. I don't think randomly adding weight helps though.

    I think a lot of this depends on what you mean by more accurate. If some feature makes it where most people are able to shoot a rifle more accurately like a good trigger or a heavier rifle. Did that make the rifle more accurate or did it make the shooter more accurate?

    If you can shoot a heavy recoil lightweight rifle without flinching then adding weight isn't going to make you shoot more accurately. But if it helps with that then you will shoot more accurately. I personally don't consider that making the rifle more accurate I consider it something that helps the shooter to shoot more accurately I guess it's the same result at the end.
     
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    pineoak

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    If it's just random added weight then I wouldn't expect much if any effect.
    However if it's heavy for a reason, as in a thicker barrel then very much so. Also a thicker heavier reciever where the barrel attaches.

    If you make a rifle stiff then you enhance accuracy. Thicker barrels and recievers weigh more and make a rifle more accurate. I don't think randomly adding weight helps though.
    Actionjksn hit a lot of great points.

    WHY it's heavy and WHERE it's heavy makes a difference. How the rifle balances off barricades, stiffness in the right places makes a huge difference.

    Think of a fully suspended lightweight mountain bike designed with sh*t geometry and poor engineering/made in China knockoff vs a $12,000 much heavier weight mountain bike with the same suspension components but the frame and geometry is designed by Yeti. One will be noticeably faster and better performing by a huge margin.

    Weight in general will dampen recoil impulse from the shooter's perspective to some degree. But there are a lot of factors that mean more than just general weight.
     

    chevy_man

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    I think the thicker barrels shoot much better and worth the extra weight.

    But I'm not doing long walks in the mountains with them iether.

    All of the center fire pencil barrels I have owened were gtg for 2 shots and that was it.

    Were those good custom barrels, or factory?

    I have an AR with a pencil barrel that doesn't open up at all. I have one with a heavy bull that opens up as it gets hot. Obviously one was fully stress relieved and the other not so much.



    I think it's all mental. People sit down behind a big heavy rifle at a bench and they take a minute, concentrate, and squeeze off a good shot. People sit down behind a light rifle and just jerk on it because they don't expect it to be as accurate. Put anything in a vice and it will show you its true potential.
    Light guns can be picky. My dad has a cooper that the slightest variation in cheek pressure on the comb will move the group around. Bipod and bags, it is just light and needs an ultra consistent shooter. It took a vise and some messing around before he figured out what he was doing. It will shoot .2's every time out of the vise, but few people can actually make it do that.
     

    Packfan

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    Until my recent experience with precision rifles, I used to dable in NRA/CMP Service Rifle shooting. Most of the top shooters in that discipline, including the top military teams, routinely add a lot of weight to their AR's as it is easier to stabilize the rifle when shooting offhand. Lead weights under the hand guard and a lead wedge in the butt stock is common. The same configuration has to be used for sling supported sitting and prone stages. It works or they wouldn't be doing it.

    I recently picked up an MPA PMR Pro in 6.5 CM with an M24 barrel and am surprised (almost alarmed) at how heavy it is. I will say that it is a different experience shooting it on the bench or prone compared with my much lighter Bergara B-14 HMR in the same caliber. Much more stable.

    I will be adding even more weight as I will be replacing the Viper PST Gen 2 5-25x50 scope on the gun with the heavy Razor Gen 2 4.5-27x56 in the near future. Hopefully I don't hit the point where the rifle is unusable for off-hand or sitting unsupported. It may already be there.