Recently at a gun board community that shall not be named, a user complained that the Savage Precision Carbine he purchased only grouped 1 MOA with Federal Match ammunition, and that his handloads only did about that good.
There were two very different schools of thought on the matter.
1, It’s an out of the box factory rifle grouping a solid minute of angle, not bad for a rifle designed to be hauled around in the trunk of a police cruiser.
2, It has “precision” in the name and therefore should group much tighter than 1 MOA at 100 yards, clearly it’s a lemon and will need at least a custom barrel to fix.
There wasn’t much consensus between the two schools of thought. I fall firmly into school of thought #1 simply because a rifle that groups an honest 1 inch from the bench at 100 is not going to be the difference between a hit or a miss. The shooter is, that old tricky nut behind the trigger is the cause of more misses than any other factor.
I have yet to find a real “shooter” who would gripe about a factory rifle. The ones who can shoot tighter than 1 MOA with a 308 Win (Palma, F T/R class masters) generally don’t both using factory rifles. Doesn’t mean you can’t have a lot of fun competing with a factory rifle, just that once you get to a certain level of competition you have to pay to play (or someone has to pay for you).
I also think it is idiotic to complain about “only” one minute of precision when that is tighter than the sniper rifles issued through the Vietnam war. It wasn’t until the M40 and M24 that the US military got real minute of angle sniper systems.
But, and there is a big but, the benchrest game is the sport that pushes the boundaries of accuracy, and people often set unrealistic expectations of accuracy based on the very small groups that custom built rifles shooting carefully loaded custom ammunition can produce. But benchrest is equipment oriented much more than shooter oriented (although the skill of the shooter in picking consistent conditions to pull the trigger does weigh in a lot at the top level). But in seeking accuracy only for for the sake of accuracy, it loses sight of everything else that is part of the world of marksmanship, especially the martial aspect of marksmanship.
So there you have it, if you have a rifle that shoots an honest minute, count yourself lucky and practice, practice, practice. In the prone, standing unsupported, kneeling, sitting, with artificial support (door frame or tree trunk). You can always buy a better rifle, but you can’t buy better skills.