The accuracy debate regarding the AR-15 vs AK-47 has sparked so many fiery exchanges, one has to do their research well before making a decision on a platform.
To be honest, I don’t particularly lean too much on either platform — I love them both. Kalashnikovs look badass, and Armalite rifles are a customizer’s dream.
If you’re an AR-15 gun owner (chances are, you are), then you should also be aware of the fact that regardless of its reputation for accuracy, it also has its pitfalls if not used by someone with experience.
“The way an AR is put together, with the handguard affixed to the receiver, creates a point of flex that will cost you accuracy if you’re not careful,” says Glen Seekins, the owner of Seekins Precision.
Survivors, let’s go over some of the things you can do to be more accurate while using an Armalite Rifle.
A Light Touch
Seekins builds some of the most accurate gas guns around and puts them through the wringer himself in long-range tactical matches against shooters who are mostly using bolt guns.
The main rule, Seekins says, is that less is more.
“The less input you give to the rifle while shooting, the more accurate it will be,” he says.
In practice, what this means is that you want to keep the pressure from your cheek and hands on the gun to a minimum. Don’t bear down with your face on the stock, and avoid trying to force the reticle onto the target by pushing the rifle around with your hands after the rifle has been positioned. Instead, position the rifle so that its natural point of aim is on your target, so you aren’t torquing it after the fact.
Using a Bipod
The normal way to shoot a rifle with a bipod is to load it by putting forward pressure on the butt pad with your shoulder to take the play out of the legs. With a bolt gun, I typically tell my students to use about 5 pounds of pressure—which translates roughly to the force required to hold a book in place were you to place one between your shoulder and the stock.
ARs are among the most ergonomic firearms made, and with their easy-to-grasp pistol grips, you’d think you’d want to wrap your hand around them when shooting at long ranges. That, however, would be a mistake, according to Seekins. Most precision shooters—even those running bolt guns—place the thumb of the trigger hand alongside the grip, resting it gently against the stock.
The pad on the trigger finger, as always, should be centered so that it is in the middle of the face of the trigger and goes straight across the trigger at a 90-degree angle with respect to the axis of the barrel.
This is a critical point because triggers have a lot of slop and play to them. If you don’t believe me, check the trigger on your favorite rifle right now and you’ll see that it wiggles like a loose tooth. So unless your finger is dead center on the trigger and moves so that it comes straight backward, you’ll end up putting sideways pressure on it when shooting, leading to poorer accuracy.
Finally, rest the tips of the other fingers on your shooting hand against the front of the grip, with a slight amount of rearward pressure to seat the stock against your shoulder.
It’s All In The Mind
This is something that most shooters would never think about when it comes to being more accurate — having too many bullets.
With 20 or more rounds in your magazine, most of us get seduced into a false sense of security. I missed… screw it, I have a few more shots to go!
This is a mindset everyone must avoid if accuracy is the end goal. Shoot as if you’re AR-15 is a single shot, and make each trigger-squeeze count.
Don’t Load All The Way
Don’t load your 20-round mags to full capacity — the last few rounds you put in fully compresses the spring in the magazine, putting more pressure on your bolt, leading to additional drag, less consistency, and breaks down accuracy.
Be aware that the last shot from your magazine can alter your point of impact due to the different harmonics it’ll go through when the bolt locks back (it only goes through half the recoil cycle).