Better Gear Doesn’t Make You a Good Shooter…But it Definitely Doesn’t Hurt

“A poor carpenter blames his tools.” “It’s not the arrow, it’s the Indian.” We’ve all heard those old aphorisms and they’re generally true. For the most part. But that doesn’t mean that having good tools — and knowing what to do with them — doesn’t help.

Jeremy and I were at Copperhead Creek last week filming some videos and testing some gear for upcoming reviews. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

After zeroing a Leupold Patrol 6 HD 1-6×24 scope on a Stag Arms Project SPCTRM rifle (fitted with a SilencerCo Hybrid 46M can), we headed to the long range area. Jeremy was shooting a Mossberg Patriot rifle and a Zero Tech scope (reviews of all of the above to follow). He was using some very good Hornady ammo and, given the affordable rifle’s impressive accuracy and the optic’s reach, he was having no trouble at all banging steel at 600 yards.

The Stag SPCTRM AR will never be mistaken for a starter rifle. Aside from the cool factor of its “50 shades” finish, it’s built using first rate components from stem to stern including a great ATC Gold Trigger and a Ballistic Advantage Hanson barrel. That definitely contributes to the rifle’s accuracy.

Topping it with the best-in-class optics of the Leupold LPVO doesn’t hurt either. While it only has a maximum magnification of 6X, that’s enough to allow someone shooting 5.56/.223 to reach out and touch anything within the caliber’s practical effective range from a carbine length AR barrel.

All I brought with me last week was some standard range ammo…we’re talking bulk pack American Eagle XM193 55 grain stuff. It’s snot bad, but it’s certainly not precision ammunition. That didn’t matter, though. I’m a passable shooter. But I’m good enough to use those very good tools — even shooting big box store range ammo — to consistently hit steel at 600 yards with a 16-inch rifle.

I’m not saying you can’t do that using a lower priced gun with a mil spec trigger and a less expensive scope. What I am saying is that using an upgraded rifle and a scope with excellent glass, I had no problem at all hitting everything I wanted to hit at all the ranges at which a carbine needs to be effective.

Stay tuned for those reviews.

2 Responses

  1. Ammo box, tree limb, edge of wall…whatever helps you to stabilize your shot. I’m kinda jelly of Dan’s AR setup in the photo. Leupold glass FTW.

  2. The title question is ambiguous, open to widely varying interpretations. Literally, objectively, the answer is “no”, just like exchanging heavy combat boots for Olympic running shoes isn’t going to transform you into a “better runner”. If anything, you may find it harder going back from the Gucci stuff to the old clunkers. Conversely, everyone at every skill level will run faster in running shoes.

    The better question is “Do equipment-imposed limitations make performance worse?” and the answer is an unambiguous “Yes”.

    Can training compensate for those limitations? To a certain extent, but for any given individual the same level of training will produce higher levels of performance when not compensating, i.e. with the higher-performance product. The aphorisms are false.

    *Caveats: not every “performance” feature is directly suited to every task, and not every dollar spent on pricy gear is invested in performance.

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