“What kind of groups does it get from the standing position?”

by B.B. Pelletier,

We get this question from time to time, so today I thought I’d try to answer it. This one came from a reader who calls himself TB, and here is his entire comment.


I’ve been looking into PCP airugns for a while, and I am impressed with all of the accuracy claims. I am very intersted in the Air Force Condor rifle. Apparently many people on the web get sub-1″ groups with the Condor. However, all of those claims seem to be with perfect conditions and from a shooting bench. Before I make the choice to spend over a $1000 for a PCP rig, I would really like to hear about PRACTICAL group sizes.

I have heard enough claims of the people shooting 1″ groups at 50 yards. I am not planning on sitting around with a bench rest, waiting for pests to show up. So, what accuracy can I expect from an airgun like the Condor, unsupported, standing up with light wind at 50 yards? I am very curious… your input is greatly appreciated.


Can you see why his question cannot be answered by me or anyone else?

Here’s the deal
TB’s question is similar to asking what sort of golf score would Tiger Woods get if he wasn’t a professional and didn’t have all those fancy clubs! I’m not picking on him, because this same type of question is asked all the time. And, I cannot answer it – any more than anyone else can. There simply is no answer for this question.

I have no idea what kind of shooter TB is. I have a friend who was state champion for four straight years with an M1A rifle. He could shoot 10 shots of match 7.62x52mm into LESS than three inches offhand (standing) at 100 yards. The only other person I know who can do as well was the Olympic high-power gold medalist in 1960 and 1964! You and I, if we are very good shots, might be able to put the same 10 rounds into a 6″ group offhand on a very good day (for us). The average rifle shot would be hard-pressed to keep 10 shots under 10″ at 100 yards if he didn’t rest the gun some way.

Because nobody knows what kind of shooter you are, they tell you about the GUN!
The gun is the one thing that remains constant from shooter to shooter. A gun that will group inside of one inch at 50 yards will be best in the hands of a great marksman and only mediocre in the hands of a mediocre shooter. But here is the important thing – a lousy gun will not shoot well in the hands of a good shot. If a gun can’t hold a 5″ group at 50 yards, nobody in the world will be able to shoot a 4″ group with it – offhand or from a rest. So, we report how good the gun is, and you determine how well it shoots for you.

I’m not just mincing words!
I know quite a few field target shooters who can shoot sub-1″ groups with an air rifle. Not just any air rifle, but with their own rifle. They can do this from the seated AAFTA position, which is not as solid as a benchrest. I know one who can shoot a 1″ group offhand at 50 yards when he is doing well. Very few shooters can do that.

TB – the reason we quote accuracy from a bench with no wind is because THAT’S AS GOOD AS IT GETS! I have shot a couple of half-inch 5-shot groups at 50 yards with an AirForce Talon SS. The Condor is no less accurate than the SS, nor is it more accurate. I have never shot a half-inch group at 50 yards with a Condor, but that’s because I don’t own one. I’ve shot maybe 10,000 shots from a Talon SS and not even 1,000 from a Condor. So the odds are that I will have done better with the SS, just from the greater number of opportunities.

What some people REALLY want to know!
They really want to know which rifle is the most accurate out of a Condor, an FX 2000, a Falcon and a Daystate. Believe it or not, all those rifles are pretty much equal in the accuracy potential department, because they all have wonderful barrels. I think the guns with the more conventional stocks (everything but the Condor) are easier to shoot accurately because of their stock configuration, but I learned how to shoot an AirForce rifle years ago, so a conventional stock is no longer an advantage. The others do have better triggers – of that there is no doubt. The Condor has a sporting trigger, and everything else I mentioned has very close to a target trigger. But if you learn your trigger, the advantage goes away there, too.

Shooting a Talon SS from a bipod, I believe I can hit an American quarter or a one Euro coin 7-8 times out of 10 at 50 yards, as long as there is no time limit (so I can wait for the wind to die). How is that different than potting a squirrel at the same distance? The American quarter measures 0.955″ in diameter and the one Euro measures 0.915″.

TB – and anyone else who might have the same question – I have tried to answer this as thoroughly as I can. But tell me if I missed your point.

10 thoughts on ““What kind of groups does it get from the standing position?””

  1. BB,
    Thanks for covering that topic. I admit, that was a bit of an interesting question for me to ask.
    I was just curious to know if there was a group size for offhand shooting that was comparable to the bench rest group size of 1″ at 50 yards.

    Thanks for the blog too, I just set it as my new internet explorer homepage. This is a great, honest place to be introduced to airguns. I will be back here very frequently for advice, I am sure.
    Thanks again,

  2. Great article, your telling it like it is. Shooting an air gun is like anything that has a person in the loop. The inherent accuracy of the gun is not the critical determinant of the on target accuracy in the field. In field shooting, or for that matter at a bench rest, you have a “system” that consists of a person, a gun, an ambient atmospheric quality and what ever the person is leaning or standing on. Together this is a SYSTEMS and accuracy that is going to determined by the interaction of all of these things. It’s a truism in systems theory that the system will never exceed the accuracy of the least accurate component in the system. In shooting, the least accurate component is usually the shooter and his/her ability to reduce the influence of all of the other factors that stem from the persons position and behavior while holding the gun. Things like breathing, muscle tone, how the trigger is pulled, balance, sight picture, how the gun is held, and on and on, all influence the final accuracy of the shot. I find that even having too much coffee in the morning can make my accuracy decline. The great thing about shooting an air rifle or air pistol is that you can practice at home and learn to manage your behavior and thereby improve your accuracy. The alternative, and something many of us are prone to do, is “blame” the gun for our own moment-to-moment variability. I tended to do this and the way I got around it was to buy a target grade air pistol. Now I have nothing to blame but my own behavior for the level of accuracy that I achieve on target.

  3. dsw,

    AirForce has kept the Talon SS a single-shot for the same reason Ford has kept the F-150 a pickup truck and not turned it into a sports car. In other words, they designed it that way.

    The difficulty of making the Talon SS a repeater has prevented AirForce from doing so thus far, though they are working on it.

    Most airgunners who shoot long-range prefer single-shots for their improved accuracy. Repeaters can feed pellets incorrectly and are seldom used when absolute accuracy is required.


  4. BB

    I’ve tried 3 times to say this correctly only to delete and try again. Screw political correctness, here goes.

    The best PCP in the world (possibly) is limited in the hunting arena because there usually isnt a second chance for long to get another shot. Yes, don’t miss is good, but we all do, that’s why we don’t hunt with one pellet.

    I agree that single shooters are best for target and precision shooting.

    But when considering entering the PCP world and looking at the expense of doing so, I want the most for the $, and it’s alot of $! A gun that can shoot 200 shots without needing refill is great, but a gun that shoots 100 shots at the same velocity AND HAS 8 ROUND MAGAZINE is better for real world varmint hunting, providing it’s not too heavy or cumbersome….

    You know where I’m going with this, right? We all miss in the field more often than we like to admit and the time for a controlled second shot is critical, if you even get a chance at having a second shot!

    Yes, I am “dreaming” of the “right” gun as you say in you post today, BUT!, because of the cost of the PCP stuff and the fact that it’s gotta be “extra money” I have time to shop and “dream” while I save up the $2000 or so! 🙂

    Anyway, when I buy I will buy a multi shot, maybe by then the Condor with the SS “kit” will have a magazine.


  5. BB

    What would you classify the ’06 Ford Lightning? It,s a supercharged 5.4 that will do 12 seconds in the 1/4 mile and can take corners left and right like it’s on rails.

    My point is that Ford CAN and DOES make an F150 sports car and AirForce CAN and DOES NOT make a multi-shot PCP.

    I promise do drop the subject if you’d like.

    just funnin, dsw

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