50 yards zero

Zeroing Your Gun to 50 Yards: Why It’s the Best Option for Versatility and Practicality For Most

When it comes to zero distance your gun, there are many distances to consider. However, for most folks, 50-yard zero is popular for its versatility and practicality. In this article, we will take a deep dive into the benefits of a 50-yard zero and how a gun zeroed at 50 yards performs at different distances.

What is the 50-Yard Zero?

The 50-yard zero is a method of sighting in a rifle so that its point of aim (POA) and point of impact (POI) is the same at 50 yards. Therefore the zero distance is 50 yards. This means that when aiming at an object or target at that distance, the bullet will hit exactly where you are aiming.

The 50-Yard Zero is Versatile at Several Distances

At its core, the 50-yard zero is all about balance. It provides excellent accuracy in close quarters while still allowing you to hit distant targets with ease. This makes it ideal for hunters, sports shooters, and tactical situations (aka taking care of bad guys) where you need to be ready for anything.

And unlike different zeros, the 50-yard zero is forgiving. Even if you’re slightly off-target at longer ranges ( for example 150 yards for a rifle), you’ll still be in the kill zone thanks to the 50-yard zero.

How Does a 50-Yard Zero Perform at 100 Yards?

Accuracy is an important factor to consider when shooting with a rifle. A 50-yard zero is a popular method used by gun enthusiasts to ensure accuracy at longer distances. This means that the rifle is zeroed in at 50 yards, and then fired at 100 yards without any adjustments. Generally, the bullet will hit slightly lower than the point of aim, but still within the target area.

The target size can have an impact on accuracy when shooting with a zeroed 50-yard rifle. If you are shooting at a small target, such as a bullseye or clay pigeon, then you may need to make slight adjustments to your aim for your shot to be accurate. On the other hand, if you are shooting at a larger target, such as a deer or turkey, then your shot should be accurate without any additional adjustments.

It’s also important to consider how barrel length affects accuracy when shooting with a zeroed 50-yard rifle. Generally speaking, longer barrels tend to be to give you more long-range accuracy than shorter barrels. So this effect is more noticeable at 100 yards rather than 50 yards due to the increased distance between the shooter and the target. For short ranges, this does not have much of an effect.

Understanding how a 50-yard zero works and its performance at 100 yards can help gun enthusiasts improve their accuracy when shooting with rifles. With some practice and patience, one can become proficient in making necessary adjustments for hitting targets of various sizes from different distances.

50 yards is a Practical Self-Defense Distance

The 50-yard zero is a popular and practical choice for self-defense. It allows shooters to quickly and accurately engage targets at close range (perfect for home defense) while still providing enough trajectory to reach out to longer distances.

What About at 25 Yard Zero and 36 Yard Zero?

But what happens when you need to hit a target at 25 yards or even 36 yards? Do you have to have a 25-yard zero or a 36-yard zero?

The 50-yard zero will still work, but making adjustments most likely will be needed to shoot your shooting paper accurately. Many factors play a role here like sight height (e.g. red dots), but we are going to be general and review concepts today and not get into the weeds.

This is not always the case but typically for pistol calibers at distances closer than 50 yards, the bullet will hit slightly higher than your POA. So you would need to be slightly lower than the bullseye.

Generally speaking for rifle calibers, at 25 and 36 yards the bullet would hit the target lower than POA. This means that if you want to hit your target at 25 or 36 yards, you’ll need to aim slightly higher than normal.

To understand ballistic more we recommend reading our article on how to zero a rifle, practicing, and using a ballistic calculator. A ballistic calculator will take load configuration, height sites on your firearm, etc into account and tell you where the bullet would be on its projected path at any given distance. We recommend using this one.

100 Yard Zero (Rifles)

It would be an advantage for a person to zero their rifle at 100 yards over 50 yards when they want to achieve more accuracy and consistency with long shots. A bullet’s trajectory will be more predictable for longer distances with a 100-yard zero.

It also eliminates the need to make significant adjustments to elevation with distance changes and allows for easier windage adjustments. This makes a 100-yard zero ideal for longer-range target shooting or hunting in open areas where accuracy and precision are critical.

However, a 50-yard zero may be more effective in situations where shorter-range shots are more common.

Maximum Point Blank Range

Maximum point blank range (MPBR) is the maximum distance a bullet can travel without rising above or falling below a predetermined target area. A 50-yard zero allows you to most to cover most common distances you would shoot while hunting.

For example, a 50-yard zero for 30-06 Springfield allows for a maximum point-blank range (MPBR) of 275 yards. Similarly, a 50-yard zero for 308 Winchester allows for an MPBR of 260 yards.

Differences Between Zeroing Iron Sights, Scope, and Red Dot

Let’s look at the differences between zeroing all three

Iron Sights

Are the most basic type of sighting system for firearms. They typically consist of two metal pieces that are mounted on top of the barrel and aligned with each other to form a “V” shape when looking down the barrel.

To adjust them for accuracy, you must use a tool to move either one or both pieces until they are properly aligned with each other and pointing directly at your target. This process is known as “zeroing” and can be done at any distance depending on the type of firearm you’re using.

The pros are that they are simple to use and don’t require any additional equipment such as batteries or optics.

The cons are that they can be difficult to adjust accurately and may not provide enough magnification for long-distance shooting scenarios.

Scopes

Scopes are optical devices that allow you to see your target more clearly by magnifying it several times over what you would see with just your eyes alone. They come in many different shapes and sizes but all work by using lenses to magnify the image of your target so that it appears larger than it is.

To adjust a scope for accuracy, you must use a tool to move either one or both pieces until they are properly aligned with each other and pointing directly at your target. This process is also known as “zeroing” but requires more precision than standard sights due to the magnification factor involved.

The pros of scopes are that they provide greater magnification than other sights like a red dot which makes them ideal for long-distance shooting scenarios.

The cons are that they can be expensive and require additional equipment such as batteries or optics to function properly.

Additionally, some scopes may not be suitable for certain types of firearms due to their size or weight restrictions so it’s important to do research before purchasing one for your specific gun model.

Red Dot

A red dot is similar to scopes but instead of magnifying the image of your target like a scope does, they project a small red dot onto the lens which allows you to quickly acquire targets without having to align two separate pieces like with standard sights or scopes.

To adjust them for accuracy, you must use a tool to move either one or both pieces until they are properly aligned with each other and pointing directly at your target – again this process is known as “zeroing”.

The pros of red dots are that they provide faster target acquisition than standard sights or scopes due to their single-piece design and lack of magnification factor involved in aiming down range with them.

The cons however include shorter battery life compared to traditional optics due to their LED illumination system which requires power from batteries to function properly – making them less reliable in situations where power isn’t available (such as during extended outdoor trips).

Additionally, some red dots may not be suitable for certain types of firearms due to their size or weight restrictions so it’s important to do research before purchasing one for your specific gun model.

Overall, all three sighting systems have their unique advantages and disadvantages depending on what type of shooting application you plan on using them for – whether it’s hunting, target shooting, tactical scenarios, etc. It’s important however no matter which system you choose that you take time out to practice proper zeroing techniques.

USMC 36/300 Yards

The US Marine Corps uses a specific zeroing procedure for their rifles, known as the 36/300 yards zero. This method involves zeroing the rifle at 36 yards, creating a 300-yard zero at the same point.

To do this, the shooter fires a 3-round group at the 36-yard target and then adjusts the sights until the group is centered on the target.

Then, the shooter moves the target to a distance of 300 yards and adjusts the sights again until the point of aim is the same as the point of impact.

This zeroing procedure is designed to provide a more practical and versatile zero for combat and field scenarios, where engagements may occur at different ranges.

By using a 300-yard zero, the shooter has close to the same aim point for targets up to 300 yards away and at 36 yards.

The Army’s 25/300 Meters Zero

The Army has a specific zeroing procedure for their firearms, which is known as the Improved Battle Sight Zero (IBZ) method. This method is used to zero the M16/M4 rifles and involves zeroing the rifle at a range of 25 meters, which creates a 300-meter zero.

To do this, the shooter fires a 3-round group at the 25-meter target and then adjusts the sights until the group is centered on the target.

Then, the shooter moves the target to a distance of 300 meters and adjusts the sights again until the point of aim is the same as the point of impact.

This method is designed to provide a more practical zero for combat scenarios, where engagements may occur at long distances.

By using a 300-meter zero, the shooter can aim directly at a target up to 300 meters away without having to make significant adjustments to the sights.

Let’s compare and contrast the USMC 36/300 Yards and the Army’s 25/300 Meters Zero methods based on my experiences:

USMC 36/300 Yards ZeroArmy’s 25/300 Meters Zero
Distance This method is used to zero your rifle at both 36 yards and 300 yards.This method is used to zero your rifle at 25 meters and 300 meters.
TrajectoryI felt that the bullet’s trajectory with this method is a bit flatter between 200-300 yards.With this method, the bullet’s trajectory seemed to peak higher early on, but then drops more after 200 meters.
PrecisionBased on my experience, this method tends to be more precise at greater distances (200-300 yards).In contrast, I found this method to be more accurate at shorter distances (up to 200 meters).
VersatilityFrom what I observed, this method is versatile for different ranges due to its dual zero points.This method, I felt, was more suited for specific combat situations where engagement distances are known.
Source: Chase Parks from OutdoorMethods.com

Wrapping It Up

There are many distances to consider when zeroing your firearm, but the 50-yard zero has its advantages. It is versatile, and practical, and allows you for the most common hunting calibers.

While there are limitations at longer distances, a 50-yard zero is still manageable with proper adjustment. Whether you are using your gun for hunting, self-defense, or range shooting, a 50-yard zero ensures that you can hit your target with accuracy and precision.

50-yard zero

FAQ

What distance do you zero on AR-15?

The most popular zero distance for an AR-15 is 50 yards, as this distance allows for the most accurate shots. At 50 yards, the bullet will have a minimal drop and drift, allowing you to hit your target with precision.

When zeroing your rifle at 50 yards, make sure that you adjust the sights so that the bullet strikes the center of the target. This will ensure that you can hit your intended target with accuracy and consistency.

It’s also important to note that some shooters prefer to zero their rifles at 25 yards instead of 50 yards. This is because it’s easier to adjust the sights at a shorter distance, but it does mean that you may need to make additional adjustments when shooting at longer distances.

What Range Should I Sight in a Red Dot on AR-15?

When it comes to sighting a red dot on an AR-15, the best distance to zero is typically 50 yards. This distance offers versatility at several shooting distances, is practical and realistic for self-defense, and is attainable for most shooters. It’s important to note that the 50-yard zero will not be effective beyond 200 yards.

To properly sight in your AR-15 with a red dot, you’ll need to find a range with at least one 25-yard length. Start by aiming at a target 25 yards away and adjust the sights until the bullet strikes the bullseye. Once you have achieved this, move back to 50 yards and repeat the process until you have achieved your desired accuracy.

It’s important to remember that even when properly sighted in, an AR-15 has an effective range of around 300 yards depending on the ammunition used and other factors such as wind speed and direction. Beyond this distance, accuracy may become unreliable so it’s important to know your limits when using this rifle.

What does zeroing a firearm do?

Zeroing a firearm means adjusting the sights to align with the barrel so that the bullet will hit the point of aim, also known as the target, at a specific distance. Essentially, zeroing is the process of making the trajectory of the bullet match the line of sight through the sighting system.

By zeroing the firearm, the shooter can ensure accuracy and consistency when firing at their intended target. The adjustment of the sights will vary depending on the distance of the target and the flight characteristics of the bullet. Properly zeroed sights will make it easier for the shooter to consistently hit their target at various distances.

Do you have to pull the trigger each time on an AR-15?

An AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle, meaning that it fires one round each time the trigger is pulled. The trigger must be pulled for each shot, so you will need to pull the trigger for every round you fire from an AR-15.

However, some aftermarket triggers offer features such as a binary trigger, which allows you to fire one round when the trigger is pulled and another when the trigger is released. This type of feature can help increase the rate of fire on an AR-15.

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