Friday, February 5, 2016

Zeroing A Battle Rifle

Hunting season is coming to an end in some places. A few months ago many hunters took to the ranges of this country to sight in their hunting rifles. I saw it happen as I spend a lot of time at the range. For hunting, it’s pretty important. For defense, it’s just as important. Every hunter will have their favorite “zero” distance. If you hunt big game like Elk, you will probably want to zero at a greater distance than say, Texas deer or hogs. Everyone has their own ideas and you should find what suits you, your rifle, your caliber, and your bullet load. I haven’t hunted in several years and the older I get, the less I want to. I have nothing at all against hunting, I think it’s great sport and useful for wildlife management and just putting meat on the table. Many years ago I hunted with a 30-06. I took deer every year, would field dress it, haul it out, dress it, ¼ it, blah, blah, blah. I hate the processing part but I’m too cheap to pay someone to do it. We used to hunt dove every year, and Javalina too. Now days I think I’d like a .308 for hunting. Anyway, zero for hunting is different than zero for defense. Many people go by the old military standby of zeroing for 100 yards. But I learned that zero for 50 is the best defense because of several things. I’ll go through what I was taught by an Air Force special forces operator who I’ve known for years. I like the way he explained it to me.
This method is for open sights or red dot only, not scopes. And this something I would use with a 5.56/.223 chambered weapon.
As I said above, 50 yards is the ideal zero for defense and here’s why. Shooting a deer is not the same as a man.
When you first sight in a rifle or new sights, set up your target at 25 yards. Sight for dead center bullseye. This way you will know if the rifle is at least on your target before you try it at a greater distance. If the rifle is way off, you’ll catch it here. Fire more than one shot to make sure there is a group on paper. As usual for any sight in, use a stand. Then when you’ve got it sighted at 25 yards bullseye, adjust the sights to 1 inch under the bullseye. Because the bullet has yet to cross the line of sight at a close 25, so 50 will be a little lower.
Then move the target out to 50 yards. You want this to be adjusted to dead center. Once you’ve done this you will be ready to engage a man size target at 250 yards. How can that be? Because of bullet drop (this is a 0.224 caliber, 55 grain .223 bullet). A .223 bullet will hit dead center at 50 yards, 1.4” high at 100 yards, 1.5” at 200 yards, and 7.2” low at 250 yards. So if you aim for center of mass, you will hit a man’s body from close quarters out to 250 yards.
Why not just zero at 100 yards? The bullet drop is similar at 100 yards but you get a significant drop at 250 or 300 yards. It would be in the dirt. The 50 yard dial in for that bullet clearly is the one to use at all those ranges as a defensive round ballistically speaking.
7.62x39 can use this method but past 200 yards the .30 caliber Russian round does not do very well because of bullet drop. The 5.45x39 is similar to the 5.56 so you can use this method with that round.
Zeroing a rifle is important and essential. Anyone who owns a rifle needs to know how to zero it. Experiment and find out if the above will work for you.
You can also experiment with your gun and a stand. This is also assuming your bullet of choice is the .223/5.56. Most battle rifles are chambered for this caliber but I know there are some 7.62x39 and .308 lovers out there. Lots of AK people out there. The different bullet will, of course, give you different ballistics. 100 yards may be in order for other calibers.
Semper Paratus
Check 6