Bolt Action vs. semi-automatic .223 rifles
Gun Tips by Donald K. Burleson
Question: Which is more accurate in a .223
caliber, a bolt action or a semi-automatic rifle? Is it a myth
that bolt action rifles are more accurate than semiautomatic rifles?
Answer: I'm not a AR expert, but in general,
experts say that it is true that bolt actions are more accurate than
semi automatic rifles. Also see my notes on
Range and Trajectory
of .223 AR-15 rifle bullets.
- As a general rule, semi-auto hunting rifles won't group as well
as most bolt-action guns.
- If you are a hunter or a sniper, where you are only going to get
one shot at your prey, then a bolt action may be marginally more
accurate. However, using a supersonic bullet at 8,000 yards,
you have a full 7 seconds between the first trigger squeeze and the
pray hearing it, enough time to get off several shots.
- However, based on the muzzle velocity or the rifle, the bullet
may have left the barrel before the recoil begins, so having a bolt
action will not matter.
- Some note that since the semi-automatic .223 usually has a
gas-operated delayed blowback, it makes no difference whether you
use a bolt action of semi-automatic .223 as far as bullet ballistics
- Some also say that beginners who have trained on a bolt-action
are much more accurate when they advanced to a semi-automatic,
suggesting that a bolt-action .223 is as good training aid for
- In the .223 rifles, expects says that any differences in
ballistics & accuracy would be so small you wouldn't notice.
The general consensus is that Bolt action is more accurate than
semi-automatic AR’s, but modern day ARs are catching up and the
military is starting to switch over to semi-automatic target sniper