A lot of words have been penned about hunting rifle accuracy. Some of them are mine even. I subscribe strongly to the concept that MOA is a useful benchmark for hunting rifle accuracy. In fact, any hunting rifle that can shoot between 1 and 2 MOA off the bench is going to deliver excellent results in the uncertain environments of field use. Here I am referring specifically to hunting game by stalking in bush, not varmint shooting and the like.
But first, what is MOA? It is the abbreviation for minute of angle. You don’t need to be a science whizz to have picked up that in turning a full circle you have rotated through 360 degrees.
Perhaps less well known is that those 360 degrees can be further broken down into smaller measurements. A single degree is split into sixty equal parts which are known as minutes. So, one minute of angle is 1/60 of one degree, which is 1.0 MOA.
The popularly accepted benchmark for hunting rifles is one MOA. That means the group of holes you shot in your target should ideally be within one MOA. Note also that it is the centre points of the bullet holes that are used to determine the group size.
One MOA is close enough to one inch (25mm) at 100 yards, a rough but convenient memory yardstick.
To complicate things, certainly in Australia, some rifle ranges have 100 yard target lines while others have 100 metre lines. The range where I shoot is a curious mixture with a 50 metre line followed by a 100 yard (91 metre) line.
While that one inch (25mm) rule is good enough for both 100 yards and 100 metres when accessing hunting rifle accuracy there is another convenient measure that is closer yet to the precise value. The Australian 20c piece, which is not good much for anything else, is a good proxy for MOA at the 100 m/y distance, being 28.65mm in diameter.
Now, I know there are a lot of folks out there who like precision, so here is the exact version.
At 100 yards a 1.0 MOA circle has a diameter of 26.60mm. A 20 cent coin is 1.08 MOA at 100 yards.
At 100 metres a 1.0 MOA circle has a diameter of 29.09mm. A 20 cent coin is 0.98 MOA at 100 metres.
A lot of angst is generated by shooters striving to get sub-MOA accuracy in the hunting rifles. Sure, a sub-MOA hunting rifle is great to have and I too try to tune my rifle and ammo to consistently achieve that. But, for success in hunting game while on foot in the field, sub-MOA remains nonessential in my book. With a rifle that can deliver accuracy in the 1 to 2 MOA zone hunting success is all about bushcraft, shot placement and the terminal ballistics of the projectile.