Friday, April 2, 2010

FNAR Review - Third Range Test (100 yards)

Before I start giving you the results, I think I need to state the obvious.  Can the rifle shoot?  Yes.  Can I shoot?  Debatable.  Now that I've been honest, I will be able to sleep at night and I can continue with the review.  Also, keep in mind that you will see every shot made while at the range.  I didn't hold anything back in an attempt to bias your opinion one way or another.  This is a complete disclosure reflecting the combination of the rifle, ammo, shooting rest, and my capabilities.

If you don't remember the post on my ammo selection, I decided to get one box of each of the following:
  • Hornady A-MAX® 168 gr. (Match Ammo)
  • Winchester Ballistic Silvertip® 168 gr. (Hunting Ammo)
  • Remington Premier® AccuTip™ 165 gr. (Hunting Ammo)
  • Federal Premium Vital-Shok® Sierra® GameKing® BTSP 165 gr. (Hunting Ammo)
I also got several boxes of PMC Bronze FMJ-BT 147 gr. (Plinking Ammo).
Since I already got the scope zero close at a 25 yard indoor range, I went directly to the 100 yard range.  I borrowed a friend's Caldwell Lead Sled for this range test.  Actually, I wish I hand not put all my eggs in this "rest" basket.  I became frustrated with the slop in the Lead Sled and you will be able to see that later below.

This is the 100 yard range and my setup for the test.  I also brought along my AR-15 to plink a little while I was waiting for the barrel to cool down on my FNAR.

  

My first 6 shots are shown below and I was using the PMC 147 grain FMJ-BT.  I used these shots to verify I was on the paper and to dial in my scope for the remainder of the tests.  The 3 shots in the upper left corner were my first three and they grouped 1.44".  After making a scope adjustment, my next three were closer and grouped 1.54".  I was pretty excited with these results for this cheap ammo, but was a little surprised to see the first three this far off from my initial zero.  Clearly this is the difference from shooting from the Bulls Bag to shooting from the Lead Sled.


Next I decided to see what it can really do with match ammo, so I switched to the Hornady A-MAX.  Really this was a big mistake because I only had one box and I didn't realize that the Lead Sled had freeplay at the back foot area where you fine tune the elevation.  It took me shooting three differen five shot groups to realize how I needed to hold this rest to keep it from having a side to side wiggle.  I don't think this wiggle was as noticeable with the PMC due to the lighter round (less recoil).  It wasn't until the fourth 5 shot group that I really was able to show what the rifle can do.  What you should also notice is that vertically, 19 out of 20 shots are within about a 1.5" vertical spread.  That says something.

Hornady A-MAX 168 grain, 100 yards, 2.79" group

Hornady A-MAX 168 grain, 100 yards, 2.14" group

Hornady A-MAX 168 grain, 100 yards, 1.87" group

Hornady A-MAX 168 grain, 100 yards, 0.94" group.  Finally, this is what I was wanting to see.  FNH said it could do it and I proved it could.  Also keep in mind that this is a 5 shot group.  What are the odds that I got all 5 to stack up like this from just luck?  I think I finally figured out how to shoot the rest.  The trick with the Lead Sled was that I had to hold all the slop in a single direction while shooting.  In my mind, you should not have to pay $200ish and get something with loosness.


Now I was out of the match ammo and I had just gotten the feel for how to shoot the rifle in the rest.  The more I thought about it, starting out with the best ammo first was a dufus move on my part.  I started with the best ammo and with a rest system I had never used before.  On top of that, why did I purchase only one box of match ammo?  All I can say is that in the future, you will not see this mistake again.

After I tweaked the scope for windage, I switched to the Winchester Ballistic Silvertip.  That is when things went  to crap.  I was thinking that if the match ammo (cheapest I could get) was doing good, then the more expensive hunting ammo should come close.  What is close?  I would have thought close would have been better than I got.  Honestly, I don't know if it was me, the ammo, or the Lead Sled, but you will see that the Winchester didn't do very well.  I shot my first three groups in a row and the held back a fourth group until the very end.  I thought that if I held it to the end it would make a difference once I figured out all the issues with my shooting style and the rest.  The four groups are below.

Winchester Ballistic Silvertip 168 grains, 100 yards, 3.30" group

Winchester Ballistic Silvertip 168 grains, 100 yards, 3.45" group

Winchester Ballistic Silvertip 168 grains, 100 yards, 2.85" group

Winchester Ballistic Silvertip 168 grains, 100 yards, 2.38" group

The best I could get out of the Winchester was a 2.38" five shot group.  This was a little disappointing, but I had more ammo to checkout.

Now I decided I would try the Remington Accutip.  Keep in mind that I did not make any changes to the windage or elevation on my scope for the first two groups with this ammo.  I was looking for how the ammo grouped and how it compared to each other.

Remington Premier Accutip 165 grains, 100 yards, 2.55" group

Remington Premier Accutip 165 grains, 100 yards, 1.75" group

Remington Premier Accutip 165 grains, 100 yards, 2.13" group.  Note that I tweaked the windage.

Remington Premier Accutip 165 grains, 100 yards, 3.28" group.  I also tweaked the zero on the scope again.

The last ammo that I planned to checkout was the Federal Premium Vital-Shok® Sierra® GameKing® BTSP 165 grains.  Actually this was the best grouping hunting round out of the three and will probably be what I head to the field with in the fall.  Although, I can see that many more range evaluations are going to occur between now and hunting season.

Federal Premium Vital-Shok® Sierra® GameKing® BTSP 165 grains, 100 yards, 1.54" group

Federal Premium Vital-Shok® Sierra® GameKing® BTSP 165 grains, 100 yards, 1.65" group

Federal Premium Vital-Shok® Sierra® GameKing® BTSP 165 grains, 100 yards, 2.17" group

Federal Premium Vital-Shok® Sierra® GameKing® BTSP 165 grains, 100 yards, 4.75" group.  This was the last of all my 5 shot groups and I believe that concentration fatigue was setting in since I had been at the range for 3 hours at this point and I must have let the rest start the side to side rattle again.  On the bright side, those three (yes three) shots in the center do look good.

I shot these next two groups with two different full 20 round magazines and tried to shoot a round about every 3 seconds (as fast as the range allowed).  I also let the barrel cool down between each 20 round group.  I was pleased so see how well the cheap plinking ammo grouped.  I'm sure I will purchase more of the PMC in the future.

PMC 147 gr. FMJ-BT, 100 yards, 20 shots, 3.58" group

PMC 147 gr. FMJ-BT, 100 yards, 20 shots, 3.05" group

This table below summarizes all the shots for this test and their group size.  Just for kicks, I decided to recalculate the group size by throwing out the worst shot for any group.  Is this fair?  Possibly, because it may be the best way to take a little of mine and the rest's inaccuracies out of the groups.


Ammunition
Number of Shots in Group

Group Size
Group Size Minus Worst Shot
PMC 147gr FMJ-BT
3
1.44
0.43
PMC 147gr FMJ-BT
3
1.54
0.55
Hornady A-MAX® 168 gr.
5
2.79
1.88
Hornady A-MAX® 168 gr.
4
2.14
1.15
Hornady A-MAX® 168 gr.
5
1.87
1.55
Hornady A-MAX® 168 gr.
5
0.94
0.65
Winchester Ballistic Silvertip® 168 gr.
5
3.30
2.20
Winchester Ballistic Silvertip® 168 gr.
5
3.45
2.55
Winchester Ballistic Silvertip® 168 gr.
5
2.85
2.25
Winchester Ballistic Silvertip® 168 gr.
5
2.38
1.72
Remington Premier® AccuTip™ 165 gr.
5
2.55
2.15
Remington Premier® AccuTip™ 165 gr.
5
1.75
1.17
Remington Premier® AccuTip™ 165 gr.
5
2.13
1.70
Remington Premier® AccuTip™ 165 gr.
5
3.28
2.05
Federal Premium Vital-Shok® Sierra® GameKing® BTSP 165 gr.
5
1.54
1.52
Federal Premium Vital-Shok® Sierra® GameKing® BTSP 165 gr.
5
1.65
1.55
Federal Premium Vital-Shok® Sierra® GameKing® BTSP 165 gr.
5
2.17
1.03
Federal Premium Vital-Shok® Sierra® GameKing® BTSP 165 gr.
5
4.75
2.28
PMC 147gr FMJ-BT
20
3.05
NA
PMC 147gr FMJ-BT
20
3.58
NA

While I was shooting, I did notice something about the way the cases ejected out of the rifle.  The PMC ejected completely different from the others.  Actually the PMC would eject very close to the side of the rifle.  Sometimes, it would actually hit the side of the receiver as shown in the photo below.  Since the brass is softer than the receiver material, a few good rubs with a cleaning cloth removed the marks and it did not damage the receiver.  If you are big into plinking, you will probably end up with the finish on the receiver wearing down in this area.  I'm curious to see what will happen with a different brand of plinking ammo.

 
 

Bottom Line: 
  • Did I prove that the rifle is capable of 1 MOA?  I believe so based on my 5 shot group of 0.94 inches at 100 yards. 
  • Was I frustrated with the Lead Sled?  Extremely. 
  • Am I still happy with the FNAR?  Yes. 
  • Would I recommend it to someone else?  Yes. 
  • While at the range, did the FNAR peak the interest of the people around me?  Most definitely. 
  • Am I really a bad shot?  You have the data and should come to your own conclusion.  Personally I didn't feel too bad because out of the other 8 people at the range during my 3.5 hours, I hands down had some of the best 100 yard groups.
  • Is my FNAR a good looking rifle? You decide.

What did I learn or should have done differently? 
  • First, I should have taken more match ammo.
  • Second, I should have spent some time at home messing with the Lead Sled to see where I would run into problems using it.
  • Third, I should have taken some shot bags to weight down the Sled to assist with stabilizing it.
  • Fourth, maybe I should have purchased a higher grade of ammo instead of trying to stick with the middle of the road quality ammo.
If you read this post and can give me some other pointers or comments, PLEASE use the comment feature below.

Update 4/4/10:  After reflecting on this day and looking back at the 25 yard indoor range results from a few days earlier, I think I would have been better off using the Bulls Bag with it sitting on my gun case.  I really believe I would have had better results.

You can see all of my posts on my FNAR rifle by going to my Summary Page.

5 comments:

  1. I read a review about this gun and I believe the author used Snipers Buffalo Bore 175. grainhttp://www.gunblast.com/FN-AR.htm
    Not sure about the rifling in the FNAR but my remmy has a 1:12 and I need to shoot at least 175 grain (I perfer 180 grains), and I tell you the results are like night and day. I started off with 150 grain and was every where, I would say the results with the 168 grain was about what you where getting. Then went to 175, got WAY better, then to 180 and now it shoots great. 1 inch three shot groups are childs play. I would like to see you try something a little heavier and see what you get but thats just me being interested in this rifle. great review!! very informative. and finally Thank You.
    (by the way the 180 grains pills that my rem 700 loves arent even match ammo just federal 180 grain soft points. but i hear and have read the federal gold match are top notch.)

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  2. Sounds like a good idea switching to the 175 grain Buffalo Bore. I'm already searching for my next round of ammo for more range testing.

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  3. Have owned .308 Win in a Savage 99 (lever) for 30 years and in Browning BAR lightweight stalker (semi auto) for 5 years.

    Both have had great function and accuracy (+/- 1” groups @ 100yrd for BAR and 2”or less for Sav 99) with the cheaper Federal Power Shock 150gr. I will not buy anything else for them in factory ammo and do my best to duplicate its performance with handloads using Hornady 150gr SP – H335 – CCI primers (tweaking it down slightly from 2800fps to 2750fps for better semi auto performance).

    150gr .308 Win has been a fantastic one shot stopping cartridge for Canadian Whitetail and Mule Deer for me for over 30 years. It is a rotten weight for moose (first animal I have ever needed three rounds to drop and the last). If I need more weight I upgrade to .300 Winchester Mag, 180gr Federal Premium Noslar Partition, (Expensive, but does everything else needed).

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  4. It is OK to zero off a sled, once.

    Then get the gun in your own hands. Zero with the plinking ammo that way, firing enough to really know the center of the group before making a scope adjustment. Get the center of your adjust right on, don't delay it just looking at group tightness. This lets the actual bullseye do work for you, and eliminates subtle variations in the point of aim that can readily creep in otherwise.

    Practice your cheek weld and get it consistent. Practice your eye relief and the picture you see in the scope, and get it consistent. Check your "cant" - twist of the rifle off straight up and down - and get it to zero and consistent. Keep the bipod locking screws tight, and always shoot with the bipod low (extenders retracted). Practice your trigger pull, and keeping your eye on the target as the gun recoils. Practice patiently eliminating "swing" from your hold. Get your stance and hold completely relaxed and comfortable, so you can hold patiently without effort. Practice the breathing.

    Do all that with the 147 grain plinking ammo. Get so you can put everything in the black at 100 yards with that stuff, even with its variation, on a standard SR-1 100 yard target. You will gain loads of confidence and learn a ton doing all of that above, and 147 grain ball is fine to learn all of it.

    Next pick one type of match ammo. Only one. Every type is somewhat different and what you want is consistency. Keep in mind that the 147 grain M80 ball is actually likely to be "hotter" - faster muzzle velocity - than your match ammo. Match means a heck of a lot more consistent from shot to shot, and less fall off in speed with range (through even straight M80 ball is no slouch on the last).

    Now, try with that at 100 yards. Your groups shot just magically halve in size. You will need to do an adjustment to center them, because the speed is different. Do so after 3-5 rounds. Verify you are on the bull with another 3-5. Repeat if you need to, until you are on.

    Now, shoot match ammo at a clean target, no existing splashes. Really concentrate on every one of the fundamentals above. Shoot slow. You want every round in the 10 ring, minimum. With no sled, no rear bag, just you and the bipod.

    When you've done that you are ready to go to longer distances. Get used to the gun at 200, 300 yards. After all that, you can learn the differences of one chosen hunting round - and it will be different.

    What worked for me, your mileage may vary. There is nothing like knowing you can hit every single time with just you and the gun doing it...

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  5. Jason, great info. Thanks for taking the time to share solid tips on improving shooting skills.

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