In doing research for a .308 LEO Sniper Rifle review I was writing recently, I ran across an article written for a police magazine regarding desired tolerances for a S.W.A.T. “Sniper Rifle”.
I was completely shocked to read the author suggesting that anything more accurate than an out-of-the-box Remington 700 was overkill. Not his exact words, but certainly his point.
It got me thinking, though. Is there a point where you can be too accurate? Let’s discuss.
First, in my most recent purchase and test of an “out of the box” Remington 700, I was lucky to get two-inch groups at 100 yards.
Note, I am not talking about groups averaging 2 MOA. I had exactly one factory choice that provided sub-2 MOA accuracy in its best group.
As a comparison, I was able to get ½-to-1 MOA groups with the same boxes of ammunition out of a non-factory rifle.
I must state, the article I read was written in 2008 and my factory rifle was produced in 2019. Quality control may have gone down in the meantime or I got a poor example.
I can only assume that 2-4 MOA was not what the author was discussing. He did, however, categorically deny the need to run guns capable of consistent ½-MOA groups.
Accurate Doesn’t Have to Mean Expensive
That also shocked me. Why would you not want a very precise rifle, especially when every bullet fired has at least one lawyer attached to it?
Notice, I am not stating that agencies need to spend $7,000 on a Barrett MRAD if they ever plan on fielding a sniper rifle.
There are tons of choices that come in well below the $7,000 mark that will get the job done. My factory-to-budget precision rifle article shows a way to build a rifle for under $2,000 that shoots ½ MOA.
Simply change the Shilen barrel from a .270 Winchester to a .308 Winchester (or whatever caliber the agency desires) and follow the article.
Advanced Weapon Technologies has a .308 LEO Sniper Rifle. The author shot just over 1/3 MOA with four different ammunition choices and very close to 1 MOA with nine options.
That rifle (minus the scope) runs $2,495 and has an LEO discount available as well.
It just seems to me that the extra money spent on a quality rifle is cheap insurance. The cost of the officer’s salary is likely in excess of $50,000.
The cost of his ammunition for practicing is likely at least $1,500 per year. The radio on his hip? Likely exceeds $3,000. The cost of a missed shot hitting grandma? Potentially measured in millions.
Accuracy vs. Penetration
In that same article, the author was very concerned about over-penetration and was very keen to discuss using 110-grain Hornady Tap bullets to reduce over-penetration issues.
He did realize the 110-grain is a poor window/windshield penetrator and suggested the Black Hills 180-grain Nosler Accubond for such uses.
He doesn’t seem to realize that a .308 rifle may not stabilize both a 110-grain and a 180-grain bullet. A rifle with a 1:12 twist will have difficulties stabilizing a 180-grain projectile.
If the barrel is 1:10, either should work fine, although the 110-grain will be overspun by a bit. That causes its own issue, but rarely within the 100 yards common for police engagements.
That author also did not consider the point of aim vs. point of impact is going to have a HUGE difference for a 110-grain vs. a 180-grain projectile.
I do not happen to have any 110-grain options to test, but I do know from a recent test of 150-, 168- and 180-grain options that they are not close. (See below.)
The rifle was zeroed with 150-grain and had a 2-3” point of impact shift at 100 yards when 168-grain bullets were used.
After a re-zero for the 168s, the 180-grain bullets were less than an inch off. Some quick math using a ballistic calculator indicates the shift should be at least the observed three-inch move.
I know what happens when you assume, but I think I am correct that a 3-5″ point of impact shift is NOT going to be acceptable for an LEO Sniper.
I know it isn’t for me at the square range or from the deer stand. I certainly hope it would not be acceptable for the agency fielding the shooter.
How accurate is too accurate? Is there such a thing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.