LM2

Accuracy testing is an important part of any firearms review. For pistol testing I have historically employed a sandbag rest, which makes for a pretty stable platform. However, it’s still up to me to line up the sights properly and consistently every time. I’m okay at this, but admit that I can have on and off days based on caffeine intake, tiredness, and myriad other factors. If I test the same gun on different days, the results are going vary to some degree. To take as much fudge factor out of accuracy testing as possible, I picked up a nice LaserMax Uni-Max Green universal Picatinny rail-mount laser. But herein lies the question I’d like to pose to y’all…

LM3

What is it that you’re most interested in seeing in the “Accuracy” section of a review? Mechanical accuracy of a pistol, or the reviewer’s ability to shoot a certain pistol accurately from a rest? By using a quality laser like the Uni-Green I’m able to be very, very consistent with point of aim. Maybe not quite Ransom Rest consistent, but pretty close. Much closer than aligning sights. It provides a way for me to test many different pistols and end up with meaningful accuracy numbers that can legitimately be compared from one gun to the next.

On the flip side, what it doesn’t provide is an accounting of how well a pistol’s sights work. Some guns have nice, clean, tight target sights that I can line up very consistently shot after shot. Some have much more open, tactical/defensive style sights and they just cannot be aligned as precisely.

My opinion is that the “Sights” section and the “On The Range” subjective portion of the review can and should address a pistol’s sights and how accurately I was able to shoot the pistol itself, whereas the “Accuracy” section of the review should attempt to quantify the actual, mechanical accuracy of the gun while providing results that are as consistent as possible across as many guns as possible. That’s where the laser in combination with a good rest comes in.

But…what would you prefer?

LM4

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71 Responses to Question of the Day: Should TTAG Reviews Use Laser Accuracy Testing?

    • I’d normally agree, but I have to ask the question:

      What will happen when the pistol shoots better groups with the iron sights than the laser?

      Will this be reported as a matter of fact, or at all? Usually when I’ve seen this, it is a “shooter problem”, but I’ve also seen some poorly made lasers or weak mounts cause expanded groups (a lot of testing is required to get to the point where a consensus can be reached that a pistol is shooting worse BECAUSE of a laser).

      Combine this with the fact that many pistols do not have a means to securely attach a laser (many/most small pistols and darn near all revolvers), and I think many folks will agree that the usefulness of lasers in accuracy testing can easily be overrated.

      If a pistol had the means to attach a laser, and it was showing signs of poor accuracy, then perhaps adding a laser accuracy test to the review would be helpful. But I don’t believe shooting everything with a laser and automatically assuming it should shoot to the highest level of accuracy when so equipped is an improvement over the normal testing procedure. You might get better results by using the time/money/effort to expand your base of test ammo to a wider offering of bullet weights, increasing the possibility of finding a highly accurate load in the pistols you are testing.

    • …didn’t you recently obtain an ammo sponsorship? Both measures give us useful data, so I’m not seeing a reason not to do both.

  1. trick question?

    both are important factors. unhappy with either one means bypassing the weapon.

    cheers,

  2. If possible, do both. The disparity will obviously be the greatest in micro pistols that don’t have meaningful sights like the NAA revolvers, Ruger LCP, etc. I’m curious how I could do with my 340 PD with laser grips, although I definitely struggle with the DAO trigger pull.

    Frankly, I like your reviews and honesty either way.

    • Yup. Just report both. I like the accuracy reviews because I won’t bother with a gun that won’t outshoot me. I can change sights to suit my preferences, cheaply enough. I’d rather not spend a week in the shop trying to finesse a gun to shoot more accurately.

  3. Most firearms are more accurate than most shooters. To take the human element out, the only real way to test the accuracy of the firearm itself is with a ransom rest. Accuracy tests without are meaningless.

    Also, ramsom rest tests need to be done with multiple ammo types as different guns shoot different ammo, differently. Manufacturers, bullet style, bullet weight, power and primer choice all effect accuracy. True accuracy testing is a MAJOR chore.

    However, the ability to shoot a gun to its accuracy potential is another matter. Perfect example is the J-Frame. They are highly accurate, but their long, hard trigger, poor grips, dismal sights and short sight radius make it difficult to achieve its maximum accuracy. Hard to define an accuracy test for such a firearm.

    Even highly shootable handguns are subjected to human ergonomics. I shoot an XD much better than I shoot a Glock because of the way the gun fits my hand. Any accuracy test by hand will be subject to these concerns.

    The end result is that unless the test is done scientifically, the shooter and other variables will taint the results.

    • Not to mention doing some stat analysis, error analysis, and ensuring things are done in a significant fashion (hey, bubba, I just got a 0.5″ one shot group) Should cold and hot bbls be considered? What temps? How will they be maintained? Should frequent cleaning be done? What about dirty bbls?

      I’m not sure there is anything wrong with keeipng things with real world experience/usage. I guess I’m pondering the “to what end”, “how much more”, and “what’s the roadmap”.

      But, I shoot a mini-14, so what do I know.

    • Agreed – to an extent. I know that Nick and Jeremy S can shoot well. While the ammo variation can be limited – which detracts from results – I figure I can shoot a handgun about as accurately as they can.

      I get a little miffed when match ammo isn’t used, but TTAG doesn’t have bottomless pockets. Further, only one gun is being tested. A sample size of 1 isn’t necessarily representative. Production guns have variation.

      The only way to get a thoroughly accurate gun test would be to take 30 guns on 30 ransom rests with 30 different types of ammo, and that just isn’t feasible.

      I’m fine with the human factor in the hands of an accomplished shooter.

      • I agree partially. If results are good, it says that accuracy is possible. However, if accuracy is poor, there are too many variables to know what is causing the problem–including human interaction.

        Ex.: Precision rifle stocks are a personal choice. Some people can shoot a certain stocks well, others can not. That only means that combo is good/bad for that shooter.

    • +1 on the XD

      Not sure why, but I shoot XDs better than any other gun. Could be the trigger, fit, feel, weight placement, etc. I know everybody says practice helps, but I pick up some guns and they just feel “wrong”. Beretta 92 feels like it has the weight in the back, no heft in the barrel, so it moves off target easier. Idk.

  4. Do the testing with the sights and with the laser and rate both independently so a potential buyer will be able to make an educated decision on if the laser is needed or not.

  5. Self-defense pistols should be tested the way they are intended to be used, which is off-hand without sighting aids. Eliminating the effects of the user/pistol interface from testing is likely to yield results that have nothing to do with the real-world combat accuracy of the handgun.

    For example, shooting a snubby offhand will convince most people that they are five yard guns, meaning that they can be counted on to deliver accurate fire at five yards (although one can do better with lots of practice). Shoot the same snubby from a rest with laser sighting will convince most people that they are 25 yard guns, which they are not nor are they intended to be (unless the shooter is Jerry Miculek or Hickok45).

    “Absolute accuracy” is a nice concept that has little to nothing to do with shooting in the real world. When we test pistols offhand, even at a square range on non-moving targets, we can get a little closer to determining true combat accuracy.

    • Very true, but the shooter has more influence that the gun in most cases. For that reason I ignore accuracy tests from others

      • Understood. Two people can shoot the same gun with very different results. But tests with a Ransom Rest are equally spurious. In a combat situation, we are unlikely to have a Rest handy or to have the time to set it up.

        • I pocket carry a ransom rest, don’t you??

          My point being, “accuracy” tests aren’t very accurate. The only way to know for sure is for the shooter to test it himself with specific ammo.

        • Its a baseline using something like a Ranson test. You aren’t going to have two people who shoot exactly the same in combat, so basing a defensive weapon off the capabilities of someone you don’t know, who most likely hasn’t ever been in a defensive situation isn’t good idea.

        • Yes, but it is always nice to know that your carry gun doesn’t have sewer pipe for a barrel… While testing mechanical accuracy may not mean much in the real world, realizing that you are getting 6″ groups from a 2″ gun is a good reason to start practicing more.

        • How about an off hand accuracy competition between Nick, Jeremy S., Ralph, Rabbi, Robert, etc.? Make it near CA or AZ and I’ll join up.

          There’s also a huge difference in practical accuracy between SD, hunting, and competition guns. A rifle sled makes sense on a $3000-$8000 bolt gun, but I don’t think any of us even own a Ransom rest.

        • “accuracy” tests aren’t very accurate

          No, they aren’t very accurate. However, a good reviewer will note the reasons for accuracy and inaccuracy, which might guide the readers to make a better choice as to which guns the readers would like to try for themselves.

          Oddly enough, I think that the accuracy report is the least important part of a gun review. The most important reviews on TTAG were much more focused on problems with build quality and reliability, which is as it should be.

          Case in point: the R51. I think that TTAG saved a lot of people from making a big mistake on that one.

    • Agree with Ralph on this one. “Real World” accuracy from a stock production gun is all that I’m concerned about. Pro’s like Miculek and KJW aren’t going to be using stock guns in their endeavors. The other 99% of us will be using mass produced pistols.

  6. Reviewer accuracy. The grip style, sights, and everything else about the ergonomics of the handgun determines the practical accuracy, or the ability of a skilled shooter to use the handgun. For competition handguns, a laser accuracy test would be nice in addition to a normal one. Otherwise, I don’t care how accurate the barrel is as long as it remains reasonable.

  7. Trigger pull still greatly affects accuracy, even with a very consistent point of aim. I agree that to isolate the accuracy from the shooter’s “subjective” fundamentals, you need a ransom rest or something in that vein. Otherwise, you might end up with a distorted picture of the truth that could do more harm than good. I applaud the effort, though!

  8. To be honest I’ve got pretty good faith that the TTAG reviewers I’ve seen at least decent shots I’ve got no problem keeping it like it is. I also agree with what Ralph said above

  9. Myself, I would rather know the capabilities of the particular firearm, rather than the skill of the shooter.
    A skilled marksman can score a lot tighter groups than the typical Joe plumber. Just because a pistol does well in a test does not mean the average guy can knock off tin cans at 50 yards with it.
    When I buy at firearm, I want to know the capabilities of it, that is, if I do my part, will the gun shoot accurately, which has nothing to do with someone else pulling the trigger.
    If it would be feasible, I would rather see handguns tested in a Ransom rest for the accuracy portion of the test.
    Then, if there is some particular problem with the firearm, that hinders it from preforming well, that can be addressed by the shooter in the write up.

  10. I’ve no issues with the current style here. All I ask is you test the stock sights. If you want to do a laser test as well, be my guest, it’s your review after all.

  11. I would like reviews that see if the laser can hold zero. Recently got a LaserLyte TGL for my Taurus TCP and just shaking the gun in my hand causes the laser to lose zero.

    • No offense, but what solid evidence do you have that it is the laser that is shifting, vs. one or more poorly fitted parts in the pistol, or poor shooting technique on your part?

      I’ve seen several folks that shot worse groups with a laser-equipped handgun, and I attribute it to sloppy execution of the remaining fundamentals. A stable position and aim point are important, but any advantages gained in those areas by use of a laser can easily be destroyed by inconsistent grip and poor trigger control. Particularly, if the dot is not steady in the exact center of the target, there is still a very strong urge to “shoot…right…NOW!” when the dot looks perfectly centered, which rapidly leads to jerking/slapping the trigger and anticipating the recoil, sending accuracy into the crapper.

  12. I’d like to off hand shooting and rested accuracy in all reviews. The off hand shooting gives an idea what the average shooter can do with a gun, and will highlight ergonomic limitations. Shooting from a rest gives a mechanical baseline for comparison. Frankly, I don’t see laser accuracy as telling me anything.

    On a related noted, I’d like to see accuracy testing done at consistent ranges – say 7, 15, and 25 yards if possible. Also note the ammo brand, weight, and bullet type used. I don’t expect truly apples to apples comparisons between guns, but it would be nice to know what methodology was used so any unusally good or bad results can be understood.

  13. Accuracy is an end to end process so it should be accessed taking into account all the factors, i.e., sights, trigger pull, ergomomics, ammo and barrel length. If you intend to use a laser sight then it is legitimate to test the gun with it. Absolute accuracy is best done with a Ransom rest because it takes the human element out of the equation.

  14. Personally I’d like to see Ransom Rest groups with both match and service grade ammo, combined with real worlds results from both a expert and a novice. Honestly though, I’ll bet most mass produced handguns will yield very similar results, so similar as to render accuracy testing pretty much useless.

    • I’d like to do Ransom Rest groups also, but the problem isn’t just the cost of entry for the rest itself, it’s the cost of the grip inserts. Those start at like $58 and that makes sense if you really need to test the mechanical accuracy of, for instance, lots of 1911s, but if you’re testing every random pistol on the market it’s way too high of a cost to spend on every gun. With a quality laser and decent rest, I think I’m closer to Ransom Rest consistency than to iron sight consistency.

  15. I agree with Ralph and Scrubula … test the handgun according to its intended application.

    If you are testing a combat handgun, then a “decent” shooter (such as you describe yourself Jeremy S.) shooting offhand is an extremely valuable real world test.

    If you are testing a precision or hunting handgun, then a “decent” shooter (such as you describe yourself Jeremy S.) shooting from a stable rest is an extremely valuable real world test.

    Gene also has an important point in that barrel temperature, ambient temperature, ammunition selection, and how clean/dirty the firearm are also could have a serious impact on accuracy. Controlling for all of those variables is a massive undertaking.

  16. Jeremy, sounds like a reasonable approach. Someone may want to know about the mechanical accuracy of the gun. Everything else though depends on the ergos and those can be different for different shooters. A pic of the sights is a good thing. Grip angle and fit, however, is probably impossible to gauge from a photograph and what works well for thee won’t work well for me, in all likelihood.

    On the other hand that IS a CZ in those pictures (heavily customized I think…it doesn’t say Shadow on the slide but has at least some of the features, and that trigger is very non-standard even on their competition models, unless CZ has been changing them). Proves you have good taste and probably hands similar to mine. (He wrote, with his bonestock CZ-75 compact, affectionately nicknamed “Junior”, right next to his keyboard.)

    • That trigger would be an SAO trigger, possibly a conversion, possibly a CZC job, or a shadow that for some reason wasn’t marked. Looks pretty damned good.

    • I’ll always do pics of the sights and I’ll most definitely always discuss how accurately I’m able to shoot the gun under normal conditions. That always happens in current reviews, but there’s also an accuracy section that is really about putting the gun on a rest and shooting very carefully and attempting to get the tightest groups possible to try and show how accurate the gun is capable of shooting. To those ends, I was considering supplementing that part of a review with a laser, because I have experimented in the past and know that I can keep my point of aim quite a bit more consistent this way. The desired outcome is more consistency and a better feeling for the mechanical accuracy of the gun.

      …that’s my SP-01. Of all the guns I’ve had in and out of the ‘collection,’ this pistol is “my gun” and it won’t be going anywhere. It’s the one I shoot in competition and it’s the one that has been tweaked to perfection. The trigger is a single action only flat blade trigger (adjustable for both pre- and over-travel). CZC is great, but most of the work and parts on my gun are from Cajun Gun Works. David there rocks.

      BTW, as an example of comparing actual shooting to accuracy testing, my last few reviews already made the distinction fairly clear:

      Walther PPQ .22 review:

      Accuracy:

      Pretty dang good. This target is from 15 yards with the butt of the pistol rested on the shooting bench at my local indoor range. Average 5-shot group size is 1.77 inches.

      [target photo]

      On The Range:

      So, yes, the groups above show that PPQ M2 .22 is pretty accurate. That is, mechanically accurate plus however much I was screwing up sight alignment that day. What a target like that doesn’t say is how easy a gun is to shoot accurately when you’re out on the range.

      The answer to that is “ridiculously easy.” I can’t miss with the darn thing.

      DW Valor:

      Accuracy

      While quick to acquire, the sights aren’t ideal for ultimate precision. The rear notch is just too wide for me to align exactly the same every time. At least that’s how I felt. Five-shot accuracy groups from a sandbag at 15 yards looked pretty good, though.

      [target picture]

      On The Range

      The white target ring around the front tritium dot is a nice touch, and I found it easy to pick up. Again, the wide rear notch makes finding the front sight fast and this all works very well for shooting steel on the range. I even drilled my FBI Q target from 50 yards offhand a few times. I think I’d be even more accurate with a narrower rear notch, but I obviously wasn’t suffering here.

      Some from the VP9 review…

      Despite excellent mechanical accuracy, when fooling around on the range I didn’t shoot this gun as accurately as the PPQ. The difference there is the trigger.

      …so that sort of thing will remain. The difference is that I think those accuracy targets can become more indicative of the gun’s potential and have less variability based on my physical/mental state on the day of the test. I actually shot the DW Valor accuracy test twice. I felt like I maybe wasn’t pulling my weight the first time, so I went back again like 5 days later and, sure enough, my groups were better. Better by a decent amount. Same ammo, same gun, no rounds in between sessions, no cleaning, same indoor range at the same temperature and location, same rest, same target at the same distance, etc etc. Only I was different. From some previous tinkering I honestly feel that using a quality laser would eliminate nearly all of that personal variability for me.

      • I’ve done OK (but I don’t shoot competition) with strictly bone-stock CZs so far. Though I did change out those metal mag floors for rubber ones, because the metal would bend if you looked at it crosseyed. When I made the swap I actually had to cut one of the metal ones off, it was so badly deformed. The only mod I am contemplating now is some sort of improved sights since the stock ones are hard to see against a black target. Apparently the fiber optic ones lose their fiber all too often–meaning they’d go bye bye in a DGU, in accordance with Murphy’s Law–so I’m not sure what I want to do.

  17. Since part of the bidness is reviews to include accuracy testing, as others have noted, invest in a Ransom Rest and the attendant accoutrements if you want definitive results. You could also add a laser to assist in aiming but unless you obtain a laser device that is much substantial than the LaserMax you’re showing, you’re not going to get results any different from using the irons. I’ve had 3 of those, one I bought and two they sent as replacements and none of them would hold zero for any period of time, i.e., 3 – 5 shots. As a side note not affecting the accuracy issue, their battery life could be measured in minutes.

    • Lasers attached to the pistol’s frame seem to do a better job of holding zero than lasers attached to a rail. Frame mounting is simply more secure.

      • Ralph, I’m confused by this statement.

        When I think “rail”, I think “frame-mounted accessory rail”, in most cases.

        What rail are you referring to, that isn’t itself part of the frame?

        • Lasers mounted to short pistol rails — on the dust cover — with a couple of small screws and a small mount have a way of shaking loose from recoil. It doesn’t take a lot of “play” to blow accuracy all to hell.

          Grip-style lasers are more securely mounted directly to the grip frame, not the dust cover. I also have good experience with revolver lasers that mount to the frame using slightly longer frame screws. They provide a very solid setup.

          Yes, there are other reasons for a laser to lose its zero, but a loose mount is a common problem.

        • Thanks for the clarification, Ralph, and I agree on all points. I will say that most of the “loosely mounted” lasers I’ve seen were installation errors vs. screws loosening or being absolutely incapable of holding the device securely by design, but I probably don’t have enough personal data to draw any big-picture conclusions.

          Unfortunately, the rail-mounted lasers are all the rage due to the ease of installation and use, and the fact that they are usable and transferable to a wide range of firearms, which means that this type of laser may be the type most likely to be used in new-pistol evaluations.

  18. I think both the Ransom rest scientific and offhand practical accuracy tests are valuable, since the former can isolate variables to see if the practical accuracy can be improved (trigger job, better sights, etc) and the latter shows how the firearm will likely perform out of the box and in the real world. It’s certainly better than doing the practical test, complaining about a substandard performance and sending what could be a perfectly serviceable firearm with a little tuning back to the factory.

  19. As far as reviews go, I think it’d be a bit more helpful to try the laser
    on multiple platforms and write a separate article rather than as an
    addendum to a firearms review.

    However, if you happen to have a laser and want to comment, by all
    means do so.

  20. I think the question is how does it serve the reader to quantify accuracy? Can the reader cross reference test results to identify absolute pistol accuracy or are the results dependent on variables that require different pistols to be tested at the same time? Generally tests sums up accuracy in two ways. The first way is to shoot unsupported at close range with a variety of ammo. The results are generally a reasonably tight group that are on target and you would think adequately stop forward progress of an aggressor. The second is a supported pistol with a myriad of ammo looking for that eharmony match. How does that the old adage go? “No gun is accurate enough for a target shooter. Any gun is accurate enough for a professional.” TTAG has a trusted reputation for accurately reporting good guns and turds. Continue and get the slomo camera.

  21. I would do both. It is nice to see the mechanical accuracy but it is also nice to see how well the sights work/practical accuracy.

  22. I can see both sides of this coin. As a scientific-method guy, I bought a Ransom Rest, and I am more interested in knowing what the gun can do, than in what some given individual can do with that particular gun. I know there are folks who can’t shoot particular guns worth a plugged nickel, and others can do great with that same gun, so … to me, I like to know whether the problem is the gun, or it’s me. One can be fixed, the other can’t…

    But a Ransom is a hefty expense, and it never ends — you pretty much need to buy a new set of $60 grips for every gun you intend on testing. It adds up. Fast.

    And, as others have said, the ammo used makes a big difference. Testing the RJM at 25 yards, one type of ammo delivered 6″ groups, a different type of ammo delivered 2″ groups. And testing multiple types of ammo gets expensive, especially when you need to fire off at least 10 “settling” shots to make sure the gun has snuggled itself down in the Ransom grips, before you even start firing your group. At $1.50 to $3.00 per round for .454 Casull ammo, I can tell you, that started to become a substantial expense very quickly.

    The laser is a good middle ground; there’s no doubt I shoot better and more accurately with my XDS when using the laser, than without using it. But as others have said, just using a laser doesn’t guarantee 100% that you’ll get better results — some lasers are cheap, some just don’t hold zero well, some depend on how they’re mounted, etc.

    For validity of testing, minimizing the variables is vital. For Jeremy, using the exact same shooter, from measured distances, on the same targets, are all good steps and deliver useful info. It may not be scientifically valid but it’s still a good data point to know that, for example, he shoots the Shield much better than the PM9 (or whatever pistols are being compared). It’s impossible to compare how Robert shoots the PM9 vs. how Jeremy does, but knowing how Jeremy shoots both gives us at least another data point.

    More info is better than less; if I HAD to choose, I’d say give me the laser results, but, as others have said, shootability of a defensive pistol is important info to know. Example: a DoubleTap might do great from a Ransom, but from user reports it appears to be a very not-fun gun to shoot, and difficult to shoot well. Or, the NAA mini-revolver — it might be possible to get great groups from it in a Ransom rest, but how difficult is it to actually grip and shoot that little thing? Both are important data points, so if at all practical I’d like to see both.

    You do a great job on your reviews Jeremy, so I’m happy with either way you decide, but — heck, if at all possible, we’d all like to see both data sets!

  23. “What is it that you’re most interested in seeing in the “Accuracy” section of a review? Mechanical accuracy of a pistol, or the reviewer’s ability to shoot a certain pistol accurately from a rest?”

    I’d vote for both as well for many reasons. Plus, it’s a reminder how much practice I really need.

  24. Both, of course. If you can’t afford the Ransom Rest, see if you can get them to sponsor one for you.

    Jeremy, Nick, and others are establishing TTAG as the No BS review site. You might as well bring the already established accuracy metrix into the equation.

    I agree with what Ralph and others say about the human element, especially in close. That does not detract from the accuracy of the gun issue, only highlights that the human element is key. But at some point, especially at longer ranges, the weapon capabilities matter, and there is no way to be sure, unless you reduce the human being variable, in that comparison.

    Now the issue is out there, I would have to look elsewhere for those accuracy findings, if TTAG didnt.

    • +1000

      Agreed on the Ransom Rest and the shooter. The Ransom Rest will tell you what the gun can do, the human test will tell you the shooter fudge factor.

      The nice thing about the Ransom Rest, you can tell if a gun likes one kind of ammo versus another. For example, I have a much older Sig 226 police turn in that for whatever reason, only shoots its best groups with 124gr bullets. It simply does not like 115gr. in terms of nice tight groups.

      My club has a Ransom Rest for pistols and a lead sled for rifles and I can mechanically zero my guns and then know just how bad it is me versus the gun. In the case of the Sig 226, I found it was not all me.

    • Considering R.F. has mentioned in past months about picking up a one-million-frame-per-second video cam, a Ransom should be fiscally viable. TTAG’s testers are not all in the Austin metroplex, however. Costs of shipping a heavy lump of metal to various places a few times per year should be considered.

      Personally, the way TTAG is doing it it now works for me.

      • I mentioned it above but will put it here also, the $400-$550 cost of a Ransom Rest isn’t even the biggest obstacle, it’s the fact that you need a $58-$100 grip insert for nearly every different pistol model out there. That’s not really practical for cost and convenience (advance planning becomes more necessary) reasons. I also like to shoot out in the woods, and a Ransom Rest would complicate things because it needs to be solidly mounted to a totally solid object.

  25. PS- having the Ransom Rest results on reviews on AR platforms for hunting,

    would go a long way to resolving the question- is it worth the money and extra weight, to invest in one for the accuracy needed to truly justify all-around use, ie HD and hunting,

    or is it better to simply have two more basic platforms, and spend the money saved learning to shoot each better in separate roles.

    So far, I have found nothing to justify the investment in one-rifle-to-do-it-all for ranges out to 500-600 yds.

  26. Focus on developing a consistent protocol before worrying about equipment. Two Ransom Rest tests of two different pistols still won’t tell you anything if you’re shooting different ammo, different numbers of shots in your groups, different numbers of groups, and different distances. Same goes for lasers and bags.

    • Exactly so.

      There are pretty standard testing protocols that have been used to judge handgun accuracy for years. Five round groups, 25 yards, Ransom rest. As for the ammo, well, that’s left for the reviewer to choose – ball, defensive, match, etc. I agree that the choice of ammo should be consistent.

      Some guns are designed to use one, and only one, type of ammo. Eg, the S&W Model 52 – designed to use .38 Special wadcutters, match ammo.

  27. I would like to see that a given firearm has it’s sights aligned (-able) with the barrel, assuming the sample you are testing is likely to be similar to one I purchase off the shelf. This would tell me the manufacture has produced a gun capable of being accurate with the sights supplied. (Ignoring variables like barrel temp., and ammo selection, of which you guys already do a good job of using a variety in reviews). Testing the POI aligned with laser against iron sights seems like a good way to see if sights are aligned. And, a good way to keep producers “on their toes”.

  28. Seems worth trying. If it turns out to not be a good use of your time you can scrap it. If you don’t want to experiment in published reviews you could do a small test run. Maybe conduct only that part of the test on a small sampling that includes a pocket pistol and one used for precision shooting. Perhaps try it with a gun that you know you shoot well vs. one that is not a good fit for you but know is acceptably accurate for others. It might help for determining how useful it will be.

  29. Well, I don’t hunt or shoot competitively or operationally. So my demands for accuracy are a little relaxed. I do instruct, though, as well as shoot for fun and in preparation for defense. So it’s still an issue.

    What I’m looking for in a review of either the gun or the ammo, is confirmation that the shooter himself is the largest variable to shot placement, and that you can’t really blame too much on the equipment.

  30. As an engineer, I would NOT use an add-on laser to test the accuracy of the gun. It introduces its own set of error points and tolerances that are not inherernt to the gun.

    And, as others have said, it gives the iron sights short shrift.

    • I’d have to do some testing to vet the laser choice to first have a high level of confidence that it can hold zero. This won’t replace normal shooting and accuracy commentary with the gun, as designed, on the range. It just might become a protocol for me for rested accuracy testing where the goal is consistency and attempting to determine the gun’s actual mechanical capabilities. The laser doesn’t have to be perfect, it only has to have less error points and tolerances than I do to improve consistency. Even if it has some tolerance, if it’s consistent tolerance that’s a step up. I know for a darn fact that I’m better or worse on some days vs. others due to the things mentioned in the post and certainly due to eye stress and other factors. As mentioned above, I did the Valor accuracy test twice because I didn’t feel good about the results the first time and, sure enough, I was definitely having an off day after doing it a few days later and getting tighter groups across the board. Absolutely nothing else changed.

      I do see a vague possibility that a gun exists where the slide-to-frame fitment is really sloppy but the barrel-to-slide fitment is tight, meaning the gun might be mechanically accurate if you’re using the sights (which are mounted on the slide), but not mechanically accurate if the frame is responsible for the aiming (i.e. using a frame-mounted laser). Sounds like a shi77y gun no matter how it’s tested though hahaha

    • I agree.

      The only accuracy in which I’m interested in handgun testing is the inherent accuracy of the handgun, using the sights supplied with the gun.

      From my perspective, handguns should be tested with a Ransom rest. Everything else is pretty much noise to me.

  31. I would vote YES PLEASE. I at least once a month review different manufacturer’s pages and review different ones. Being a novice I would appreciate the reviews.

  32. Laser only when manufacturer makes a claim about accuracy.

    The 90% of us whose gun shoots more accurately than we do trust you are a better shot than we are.

  33. The group fired by hand with irons is more important. The mechanical accuracy of most pistols with the right ammo is well past minute-of-badguy, but actually shooting by hand shows how the sights, grips, and trigger affects useful, real-world accuracy. Leave the benchrest shooting for those who care about that sort of thing.

  34. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

    Gun vise. Get one. You guys can afford it. They have them for handguns too. If you’re not going to use a vise, then just stop with the accuracy testing, PERIOD.

    You are providing no useful information when YOU shoot a gun that I might want to buy. Lock the gun in a vise (properly) and show us the target. Now we know what that gun is capable of.

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