Sharpen Your Hatchet While The World Screams

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Hero Your Zero

Ahhhh, the combat AR carbine. Among AR lovers there exists a sort of balkanized hodge podge of factions and tribes. Some like this, others that. Arguments happen and sometimes friends part ways forever....OK I'm being a little dramatic.




 The beauty of the platform of course is that it can be whatever you desire. Long range paper killer to house clearing cannon, it can meet whatever mission you need inside it's inherent limits. It is modular and adaptable.

One recent discussion I was involved in was about zero. It seems that ideas abound and opinions vary (who knew?) About this topic. The thing is, no matter how you zero your carbine you need to understand its capabilities and limits.

Some like a 100 yard zero because that is how their 30-06 is set up. Some like the old 300 yard military zero. Some like the improved battle zero. Some have no idea.


To some of you, this will be rehashing basics, but I have encountered MANY new to this movement who do not know this stuff. Not knowing basics will get you killed.

The following is my opinion and I am not disparaging yours.

The vast majority of shots with a 5.56 carbine in a combat scenario are under 200 yards. Now I know Afghanistan had plenty beyond this, but it is the exception and not the rule.

For us civilians, the chance we would need to shoot at persons beyond 200 yards in a SHTF situation is pretty slim. The vast majority would probably be well under 100 yards, most likely under 50. Now, I know I'll get a comment from someone in Montana who has a 1000 yard line of sight from his porch. You are the exception brother and should probably be using .308 or Creedmoor.

*Edited to add* I know some consider the 5.56 to be a "poodle shooter". If you are one of the magical people who can shoot your .308 as fast and as accurately as a 5.56 and believe it sucks their souls out I am absolutely good with it. The point of the post here is not to say you're wrong, it is to help the new survivalist zero their carbine in a way that helps them be effective shooters.

The military has adopted the improved battle zero and it goes like this. You zero at 50 yards (your near zero) and your shot is back dead on at around 225 or so (your far zero). This can vary with barrel length and whether 55 or 62 grain but it is close enough for what we are discussing.




The above means simply, your shots are in a 4" circle from spitting distance to about 260 yards. No holding over required, center mass hold gets good hits.

Basically in theory, you are shooting in a 4" tube out to 2.5 football fields distance with no muss or fuss, just hits. Add in the less than MOA performance of most bulk mil-spec ammo and your likely less than solid rest and this zero gets you on a paper plate or so out to 200 or a little better. This is an EXCELLENT combat ready setup. If you can shoot paper plates standing at 250 yards with your heart pounding and bullets coming back your way, you are GTG. See why opening up your circle with a farther far zero is problematic? Your mid trajectory is very high, with other factors added it can cause misses under stress.

Open up the circle to a 6" minimum and you could zero at 44 yards, be back dead on at 260 and be in the circle to 300. To me this is the max.

The problem with the old 300 yard zero that the military used to use is that you end up about 5" high at around 175 yards and to me that ends up being just too much of a varying POI for a carbine that will be used closer, rather than further. A 300 yard zero means your bullets impact in about a 9" circle from close out to 350 yards. Add in the shakes, return fire and bulk ammo and you may now be shooting in a 15" or larger circle and that is simply too big.

In my mind it is simpler to use the 50\200 and know that at 300 yards I need to hold about 1\2 mil high, about 1 mil high at 350 and about 1.5 mils high at 400. Everything inside 250-260 is a dead hold.

You may decide on something else. That's OK. Just know how it works and understand how to utilize what you decide on. The military uses the 50\200 now and it has been proven as a solid concept.

I punched in some numbers to Strelok Ballistic Calculator and got the following. It assumes M193 55 grain in a 16" barrel.


The chart can show you what we're talking about here and what your holds with a mil based reticle will be to 500 yrds.

Of course, open sights and red dot optics work with this zero as well and will allow you to shoot about as far as you can unmagnified. With a magnified optic longer shots are as simple as using your reticle for holdover.

There are a good amount of BDC reticles out there for certain loads. I don't like them myself as you are locked into one load. Again, if you like it, great. Just know how to use it.

Get out there and get this stuff figured out while you can.

Tick Tock.





17 comments:

  1. Good to know. Former Army (1988-1993) - I dont recall what we zeroed to then, but this was a good refresher / update that makes sense to me.

    Thanks 8-)

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    1. Thanks for your service brother, and for the kind word.

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  2. Well written, easy to understand.had read an excellent article in the past about the 50y battle rifle zero.
    Would appreciate your thoughts on this one, the ballistics are very close. 50y zero will be dead on about 240y. Practice makes perfect.
    https://robarguns.com/blog/2013/11/24/battle-sight-zero-bzo-who-has-it-right/

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    1. Good article. He states he prefers the 50/200 zero that I am referring to above. Depending on barrel length and load, the far zero can end up being closer or farther.

      All of this is just numbers on a chart until you confirm it in your rifle with your ammo, but the number are very close and generally accepted.

      The whole point is simplicity and versatility without a lot of fuss. When it's for real and close, thinking about it goes out the window.

      Thanks for reading and for the comments.

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  3. I have chronographed a dozen or so Mil-Surp and commercial loads out of a couple of 16 inch rifles. I have never been able to achieve 3150 fps. About 2850 is what I have seen. 3200 or a little more out of the 20 inch though with the same ammo. Just an observation. It probably doesn't change the 50/200 appreciably?

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    1. So M193 spec only achieved 2850? Federal M193 should easily be over 3100. Interesting...thanks for reading and the comment.

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  4. First. M193 only reaches 3100FPS from a 20 inch barrel. You loose Approx. 200FPS for every inch you castrate your weapon. When I was in the US Army we carried the M16A1. Our instructor's had us zero at the maximum effective range for the weapon. 300 meters for grazing fire. FM 7-8 (my copy is dated 1976) states that the maximum effective range on a stationary target with M193 ball is 250 meters, and 200 meters for a moving target. With a 350 meter range for grazing fire. We were taught not to engage at ranges above 250 meters because. "The round won't kill shit above that". Out cadre were ALL Vietnam combat vets. IMO if I ever have to pull a trigger on a combat weapon it won't be an AR if I have a choice, and certainly not one of Don Rumsfeld's castrated M-4's. I'll haul my M-1 Garand or an AK or damn near anything else NOT designed by Gene Stoner, that fires .30 Cal. .--Ray

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    1. Thanks for your service Ray. Federal M193 from a 16" barrel easily exceeds 3100 and Wolf Gold gets to just 3100. This isn't just opinion, look around the web for chrono results. 200fps loss per inch is not accurate.I am sure a lot of 55g .223 doesn't get this velocity and Winchester Q3131 seems to be a little lower pressure too.

      As someone who hunts with 5.56 in an AR platform I am fine with its terminal effects.

      I am fine with whatever platform you like, not that you need my permission.

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  5. I am one that refers to the 223 as a poodle shooter. I'm all for thirty cal. That said, you don't always get to continue fighting an insurgency with the weapon you prefer. Rather, you use the weapon that shoots the ammo that is available. Afghans using the AK is a nice fantasy that the semi crowd loves, but they had to go with that weapon, far less accurate, because that was what was available. In time, if I survive ( highly unlikely, but you plan for Murphy ), I'm sure I'll be using the M4/16/AR, simply because that will be the ammunition/working weapon left ( again, in theory. I actually think most ammo will be gone in weeks come a collapse, given the love of wasting ammunition as if the Oil Age will last forever ). So, giving all that, I have to pay attention to the Mattel Toy used for killing poodles and other dangerous purse dogs. So this information is welcome and appreciated.

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    1. I have said a time or two, if we approach this thing with no expectation of surviving, we'd be a lot more effective. Thanks for your comments brother.

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  6. I use a 36yd zero for 14.5-16".I can carry a lot more 5.56/.300w than I can .308.

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    1. I can too. I have owned several AR308 rifles, I discovered after a while that the negatives outweigh the positives for me. Thanks for reading here and the comment.

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  7. Heads and hips, boys and girls. Heads and hips.

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  8. I'm playing with my zero here and experimenting. A3 16 inch build,bottomed out zeroed at 100yards.+2 clicks 1click right.that puts me on the status setting.dead on at 300. Now on the z setting.i'm pounding a 5inch plate with my 56 grain (approximate) swaged reloads at 44 yards. I need to bring out my chronograph and recheck the velocity. I was aiming for 3000fps,but may be a bit under.windage/trigger pull is what I need to recheck still. PRetty sure this works.

    I had a mag pull verticals grip on the forearm,that I had to chop about 1/2 office it. With the carbine gas tube,firing off of a backpack. It was a bit poppy. The chop of the vertical grip. Keeps the rounds settled a bit better.but your article in the 7oz rest. May work also. Adding some front end weight. But that will have to wait till the new rail comes.

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    1. I tell everyone, if you want a vertical grip or a handstop, the Grip Pod is worth the 7oz.

      They work like magic when you are winded, excited or hurt and need a steady rest.

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