Many rifles are suitable for hunting because most game animals are killed from distances of 200 yards or less. Competition shooters participate in matches where they can be shooting out to distances of 1,000 yards, and military snipers may also be required to take accurate shots over long distances. Shooters who require extreme accuracy often use HBAR or match grade barrels.
Measuring Shooting Accuracy
Shooting accuracy is measured in units known as minute of angle, or MOA. This is a geometrical measurement, but in practical terms if a good marksman can put a group of five shots into a one-inch square at 100 yards, the rifle is considered accurate to 1 MOA. If the group of shots covers two inches square, then the gun is accurate to 2 MOA. The greater the distance, the larger the target grouping can be. At 200 yards 1 MOA is two inches square, and at 300 yards 1 MOA is a three-inch grouping.
HBAR stands for heavy barrel, or heavy barrel automatic rifle. This type of barrel has a consistent heavier barrel wall thickness than standard issue, and is a common upgrade for AR15 type rifles. The heavy barrel dampens harmonic vibrations as a bullet moves through the barrel, so bullet groupings at a distance are tighter, and the MOA is smaller. The friction of a bullet moving through the barrel generates heat which causes some warping to the barrel. Heavy barrels warp less, which also makes them more accurate.
Match grade barrels have very high standards for accuracy so the shooter can get a tight pattern of shots. They are built to exacting tolerances and tend to have a tighter specifications than non-match barrels. They are quite expensive and not needed unless you are a competitive shooter or military sniper. The rifling, or groves, in a match barrel are designed to increase the accuracy of the shot, and there may be porting holes in the barrel to reduce recoil.
Differences Between HBAR and Match Barrels
Match barrels are built specifically for accuracy, and are built for an accuracy of 1 MOA or less. The two terms are not mutually exclusive, and it is possible to have a match grade HBAR rifle, but not all HBARs are match grade. HBAR rifles rely on the properties of a heavier barrel to make them more accurate than a lighter barrel. A match grade barrel is custom designed to have better accuracy through barrel diameter, rifling and whatever else the gunsmith feels will make each particular weapon perform best.