Flyer fear

Sporting Shooter - - EXPERTS -

QI missed a few rab­bits the other night with my .17 HMR. When I checked zero the fol­low­ing day, I had a cou­ple of real fly­ers. Is this likely to be a prob­lem with the am­mu­ni­tion or the ri­fle?

AANDY CROW replies: Okay, first things first. Rim­fire am­mu­ni­tion is ob­vi­ously mass-pro­duced to be as cheap as pos­si­ble. The .17 HMR cal­i­bre does also have a rep­u­ta­tion for throw­ing in the odd flyer out of nowhere. How­ever, there are a few other things to look at.

If you had a few misses and then a few ‘fly­ers’ while ze­ro­ing, are these in­stances re­ally anom­alies or are they rel­a­tively reg­u­lar? You men­tion the ri­fle and the am­mu­ni­tion as po­ten­tial causes, but what about the shooter? Are you shoot­ing from bag or bench or bon­net or bi­pod? Have you tried shoot­ing large shot strings or just three-shot groups?

Have you re­cently cleaned the ri­fle? Have you re­cently changed op­tic or moder­a­tor? Be sci­en­tific in your ap­proach. As­sess ev­ery pos­si­ble vari­able and try to elim­i­nate them one at a time. If, at the end of it all, you are still hav­ing lots of fly­ers then you need to be hon­est enough to check if you are a con­tribut­ing fac­tor, too.

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