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Sandbags or Ransom Rest for Accuracy Testing

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Post by New2BE on 9/30/2020, 8:36 pm

So which do you prefer and why? I plan on conducting some load development and accuracy test with a variety of bullseye specific pistols: K22, M41, M52-2, Sam's Berretta Brigadier, 1911 9mm, multiple 1911's in 45. In all about 20 different pistols. I plan on shooting at a test target at 50 yards.  I understand many people prefer the Ransom Rest, while others  prefer sandbags. What do you use and in your opinion, is one better than the other?  Is the Ransom windage base recommended or?

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Post by james r chapman on 9/30/2020, 8:59 pm

Sandbags first simplicity of setup for that many guns and loads.
Maybe narrow it down the choose a few for RR testing

Scope mount (not dot) as many as you can
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Post by Toz35m on 9/30/2020, 9:54 pm

I like sand bags and if you only have a 4MOA dot use a 25yd target.  It fills in the back better and helps to center the dot better.

I feel that using sandbags and dot or scope to test loads transfers better to when you actually shoot. I have head some people not getting similar results between ransom rest and sandbags.  A good accurized gun should provide consistent results either way.

the downside of a ransom rest for me has been time to setup, moving between groups on your target.

I know Roddy Toyota tests from a sandbag.  He tells me if you have good trigger control then you should be able to test off of sandbags.  He also recommended the 25yd target when using a dot.  If I remember correctly he uses an 8x scope to test with.
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Post by fc60 on 9/30/2020, 9:59 pm

Greetings,

Years ago, I was testing a Haemmerli SP-20 32 barrel.

First, I mounted the barrel in my test fixture and fired three ten shot groups.

Next, I put the barrel back in the pistol and fired three ten shot groups at 50 yards with a Burris 7X scope mounted on it using sand bags.

I took all six targets and shuffled them like cards laying them out on the bench.

It was VERY DIFFICULT to distinguish which method was used.

I am not a big fan of the Random Rest. I applaud those that have figured out how to get consistent results with one.

Cheers,

Dave
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Post by CR10X on 10/1/2020, 12:20 am

Ransom rest if you can, if you know how to operate it and if it is mounted properly (do not mount steel to steel to concrete, you need a solid oak or hardwood layer in between to dampen vibrations).

I can get just as good groups from a rest most of the time, but lighting, grip consistency and general fatigue will take a toll. If you are dead set on testing that many different guns, Ransom is the way to go in my opinion.

But, also my opinion why so many tests? After you get under 10 to X ring size groups, it's the shooter that's the part that needs to be corrected. And if one thinks a 1/2 inch difference in group size means anything relative to score, then there's a bigger mental issue than equipment issue to overcome. Find the gun with the best feeling trigger and grip with an acceptable group size through testing and then work on the part hanging onto the grip.

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Post by tovaert on 10/1/2020, 3:02 am

I've done a bit of RR testing. It's definitely an interesting method. There have been times when I've loaded the same ammo (from the same lot), tested it, and produced a 1.5" group at 50 yards with a pistol (Sig P210A and RR 1911A1). Then, months later, I use the same lot of ammo and it opens up to 2.5". The RR itself and its pistol mounting method is not even close to being "robust" from a design standpoint. But of course you compare that to hand-held off of sandbags. But I would say that when the stars line up, and the human factor is eliminated, I have a 1.5" pistol at 50 yards if I can produce such a group, even once. If the pistol/ammo was not capable, it would not happen by accident.

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Post by Wobbley on 10/1/2020, 5:07 am

tovaert wrote:I've done a bit of RR testing. It's definitely an interesting method. There have been times when I've loaded the same ammo (from the same lot), tested it, and produced a 1.5" group at 50 yards with a pistol (Sig P210A and RR 1911A1). Then, months later, I use the same lot of ammo and it opens up to 2.5". The RR itself and its pistol mounting method is not even close to being "robust" from a design standpoint. But of course you compare that to hand-held off of sandbags. But I would say that when the stars line up, and the human factor is eliminated, I have a 1.5" pistol at 50 yards if I can produce such a group, even once. If the pistol/ammo was not capable, it would not happen by accident.
Testing and group shooting can produce wierd results.  If you shoot enough 5 shot groups you’ll get a distribution like in the photo attached.  There is a probability that a 2 inch gun will occasionally print a nice 1.5 inch group from happenstance.  That doesn’t make it a 1.5 inch gun.  The only way to tell is to shoot a lot of groups, or shoot more shots per group.  Sandbags or Ransom Rest for Accuracy Testing 05ce6d10
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Post by Outthere on 10/1/2020, 12:13 pm

In his book, "Experiments of a Handgunner", Walter F. Roper discusses "The fallacy of five-shot groups".

Way too much info for me to put in here. 

He was way ahead of his time.
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Post by BE Mike on 10/1/2020, 1:56 pm

Most folks who test with sandbags do so with a scope with magnification. I think sandbags are ok for those of expert class and above. I always used the Ransom Rest when available. It does require a lot of consistency using the RR. Either way, it'll take some time to get good results. In my mind, accuracy tests are just an indication of the capability of the gun/ ammo combination and not a definitive answer, i.e. is it a 2" gun/ ammo combo or 3". It just give a general indication. I think anything less than 10 shots at 50 yards is not going to be helpful. I also think that playing the statistics game and feeling the need to shoot 50 rounds or hundreds of rounds is wasting time. Another thing is that if ammo shoots extremely well, but the gun won't function reliably, the accuracy is irrelevant. I would have a lot of different brands/ types of .22 ammo available for those rimfires. .22's can be picky.
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Post by David R on 10/1/2020, 2:35 pm

I don't have access to a ransom rest,  I use a Hy score pistol rest and a sandbag under the butt.  I have shot a lot of groups.  After a while its easy to pick out a bad gun/ammo setup.

I have on occasion shot 1.5" groups @ 50 yards with one gun from a rest.
I mount a scope if I can, or use the grip mount so It has a scope.  

I found shooting from bags or my rest, 5 shot or 7 shot groups are best because If I shoot 10 shots, I can end up with 2 groups because my grip has changed or  something, so I shoot 2 to 5 (5) shot groups.  This gives me a good idea of the gun. 

I have do go one gun at a time.  After a few groups, I get to understand the gun a little better and may change something in the ammo.   

Just shooting a whole bunch of groups from different guns is not fun at all for me.   I don't' know when I am tired, or the gun/ammo is off.  Usually my first groups are the best groups, so I try to start fresh and call it a day for groups when I even think fatigue is affecting my shooting.   Ransom rest does not have that problem.

Have fun,
David
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Post by sharkdoctor on 10/1/2020, 4:51 pm

The Pistol Shooter's Treasury (2nd Ed.) has one of the most extensive data sets easily available to us, where the SW 52 was machine tested - 4 guns, 3 brands of ammo fired in 10, 10 shot groups at 50yds (pg. 105).  I note it because it is useful to review if one is serious about testing, and even consider statistically using appropriate tests.  Good luck trying that without a machine rest, for reasons several have noted, but we also have to consider the system limitations.

To consider just a bit of the data, gun SN50817 shot the smallest group at 1.03", with largest at 3.00".  Mean was 2.20", using Rem ammo.  All 10 groups are sub 10-ring, and 4 would at least nip the X-ring (group 2" or less).  The gun would easily clean a 900 CF match. I would call it a 3" gun, because that is what I could expect from it using that Rem ammo.

Each of us has different comfort levels with the amount of testing we might need to have confidence in our gun and ammo, and the testing required.  To me, that is part of the fun.  Good luck!

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Post by New2BE on 10/1/2020, 5:12 pm

Thank you all for the informative posts. I’ll start with bags and try to RR too. With the RR is the windage base recommended?

Re: Why so many pistols to test? After 50 years of collecting purpose built competition pistol, rifle and shotguns and a lifetime of work, I finally have the health, time and opportunity to shoot every day. I want to do well, hence all the questions, but my priority is to enjoy the sport and equipment; being able to actually do this has been a dream since I started shooting when I was 10 years old. Wife says go shooting, you deserve it!

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Post by james r chapman on 10/1/2020, 5:20 pm

I prefer the windage base, many smiths do not. It’s just one more thing that can contribute to looseness and inaccuracy.
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Post by Dr.Don on 10/2/2020, 12:05 am

RR now sells a one-piece unit with the windage capability as part of the main casting.
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Post by james r chapman on 10/2/2020, 1:11 am

And a special box now too!

Sandbags or Ransom Rest for Accuracy Testing 6a329310
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Post by Sa-tevp on 10/2/2020, 1:46 am

When I had the opportunities to use a friend's Ransom Rest I liked to have a target that showed 30 shot performance as I was looking for the worst I could expect in a match. I figured there would be some tight groups and some loose groups.  If my worst RR performance was 10 ring for centerfire and X ring for 22 I was happy at my level and had to work on shooting process. After that I just looked to see if something was as called. It was fun to shoot a 22 after it was crowned on a lathe and see the difference in performance as called.

I miss Gil Hebard's candor in testing. I have an old Gun Digest where he suggests Colt sent him a picked Gold Cup for testing when he thought it performed out of the norm. Who would slight an advertiser now in the current media environment?
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Post by Allgoodhits on 10/2/2020, 5:43 pm

I will merely add, the most accurate load from your gun, may not be the load which you shoot the best.

Bench testing, RR testing, test equipment and ammo perhaps best. However, actual shooting, tests it all. Case in point, there are many .357 Magnums and .44 magnums which will shoot near 1" groups at 50 yds, but few can actually shoot them anywhere near that well. Noise, recoil, concussion, flash, flinching do not effect the RR, but they can surely have an effect on a shooter.
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Post by Schaumannk on 10/3/2020, 9:16 pm

My preferred method.    Get a bullseye gunsmith to make you a decent gun.  If you can’t call your shots with it, sandbag and find out why not.   
Once you know you have a decent gun, replace barrel as needed.  

Not denigrating those that want to play with a Ransom rest, but it is one heck of an expensive technical set up to solve a pretty low tech issue.
Probably more useful for a gunsmith or bullet maker who wants to test loads in various barrels.

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Post by S148 on 10/7/2020, 1:02 am

tovaert wrote:I've done a bit of RR testing. It's definitely an interesting method. There have been times when I've loaded the same ammo (from the same lot), tested it, and produced a 1.5" group at 50 yards with a pistol (Sig P210A and RR 1911A1). Then, months later, I use the same lot of ammo and it opens up to 2.5". The RR itself and its pistol mounting method is not even close to being "robust" from a design standpoint. But of course you compare that to hand-held off of sandbags. But I would say that when the stars line up, and the human factor is eliminated, I have a 1.5" pistol at 50 yards if I can produce such a group, even once. If the pistol/ammo was not capable, it would not happen by accident.

There will be normal variation in size from one group to another even using the same ammo. It's unrealistic to expect every group we fire with the same ammo to be the same size (within a limited standard error). 

Members might find the article below of interest. It explains why group sizes differ, and why small groups do happen by chance. 

https://www.ssusa.org/articles/2019/9/25/accuracy-testing-shortcomings-of-the-five-shot-group/

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Post by willnewton on 10/7/2020, 1:22 pm

My experience with both is that the comment about being able to shoot off of bags when you are an experienced BE shooter is spot on.

As a noob, you are just going to make too many triggering mistakes.

As a noob with a Ransom Rest, you will not fare much better.  The machine is not the end all in accuracy by any means.

Here is my recommendation, shoot them all off a bag.  Then shoot them all using Bullseye technique.  

Then face the reality that you can’t outshoot the sandbags and that a 1/4” tighter group doesn’t make a single bit of difference in your 12” offhand group.

  Observe how the pistol with the “best” RR shot group may not be the one you shoot best with because of grip or trigger feel.

Narrow your pistols down to the .22 and .45 that are getting the job done off hand and bags.  Spend a few weeks shooting them to narrow it down to your favorites.  THEN Ransom Rest those “best” pistols to further impress upon yourself how useless accuracy testing is unless you are already shooting at a very high level.

Bags, a scope or dot, and excellent technique are truly good enough to give you a solid idea of how a pistol is doing and diagnose most any issue.

The sad fact is most folks will never admit that THEY are the reason the pistol is not accurate.
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Post by Wes Lorenz on 10/8/2020, 7:54 am

I think the following is worth watching for those who like to test.

In the Youtube videos below this gentleman explains things very well; his explanation about "nodes" applies to both rifle & pistol.
Part 2 is better. 

Part 1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRXlCG9YZbQ
Part 2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FKq8Jj8YEI

I think most Ransom Rest problems are pedestals lacking in mass and depth in the ground.

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