Who Makes the Most Accurate Bolt Action Rifle?

If there is one question perpetually asked, next to the omnipresent questions about recoil, it is who makes the most accurate rifle. The question of accuracy never goes away, but the answer isn't all that clear.

Barrel makers suggest that it is the barrel that makes the rifle, stock makers suggest it is the stock, trigger suppliers suggest it is the trigger, scope-makers claim their scopes are the key to accuracy, ammunition makers suggest it is the ammunition. Reloaders like to think their hand-loads are the key component, and so it goes. Some tout the esoteric notion of “inherent accuracy” of a cartridge. Some claim a certain brand of rifle is always more accurate, only because it is what they own. While they aren't all wrong, they are all a very, very long ways from being entirely, perfectly correct.

As you might guess, there is no one component that makes a rifle accurate, although people like to suggest that it is. Nevertheless, there are some clear trends based on the last one hundred center fire rifles I've tested, trends that are too clear to ignore. The “one inch accuracy” is no longer that big of a deal, for with the right ammunition, economical hunting rifles that shoot at ½ inch or even inside ¼ inch are not that unusual.

A recently reviewed Savage Axis chambered in .223 Remington shot inside ¾ inch with several loads, and with Federal Sierra Match King BTHP rounds it shot .3 inches CTC at the factory. A Savage Model 11FCSS Accustock in .270 Winchester shot .6 inches with Nosler 130 grain ballistic tip ammo, and prior to that a similar model in .30-06 shot inside 1/10th of one inch.

The recently tested Browning AB3 in .270 Winchester shot inside 1/10th MOA at 100 yards, not just one hole but one round hole, with 140 grain Winchester Accu-Bond ammunition. Not one of these rifles is my idea of a fabulously aesthetically pleasing rifle, not remotely close, but obsessing over accuracy once you get inside a quarter of an inch @ 100 yards on a sporter profile barreled hunting rifle is a waste of time, for there is nothing to struggle try to fix in a big game hunting application, to say the least. When was the last time someone walked up to a whitetail deer and claimed that if the bullet hole was a quarter of an inch to the left the deer would somehow be “really dead”?

While there are no guarantees on one individual rifle, ammunition plays a significant role in every firearm I've ever tested, Browning, Savage Arms, and Weatherby are the most consistently accurate center-fire rifles on the market, based on extensive testing. They are all worthy of anyone's short-list. After you get to a certain point, your preference may not be based on accuracy alone, for weight, handling, gun fit, durability, and ease of operation become quite important, once the accuracy issue becomes a settled matter.

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