We’ve moved beyond your grandfathers’ line of thinking where they would zero their rifles at all sort of odd ranges. From 25 yards to 350 yards, etc., you hear a lot of reasons “why” they zeroed there, and most revolve around their hunting rifles’ point blank zero range. Where they figure they can zero and still hit everything without any adjustment.
Let's discuss why we want a 100 yard zero with our Precision Rifle. The question always comes up, where do I zero my precision rifle, and the answer is simple, @ 100 yards.
Not all rifles and scopes are set up to use a 100 yard zero. But with modern optics, We believe the 100 yard zero is the best method to employ. Doesn’t matter if you are shooting inside 1000 yards, or at ELR distances out to 2000m, with a 100 yard zero you are always dialing up, and combined with the right base, you get the maximum effectiveness out of your optic.
We’ve moved beyond your grandfathers’ line of thinking where they would zero their rifles at all sort of odd ranges. From 25 yards to 350 yards, etc., you hear a lot of reasons “why” they zeroed there, and most revolve around their hunting rifles’ point blank zero range. Where they figure they can zero and still hit everything without any adjustment. The real reasoning behind it was lack of understanding and the fact that most rifles were not set up to take advantage of the scopes’ internal adjustment. Back in the day we weren’t using bases with a built in cant to work with the scope. So these methods were just passed on down.
This is an important take away, “understanding your system”, and using the right mounts for the job. In the video I show how using a 20MOA based with a S&B 4–16x does not give me the maximum effectiveness with this scope, how it is designed to use a 28MOA base in order to get 100% of your elevation travel. My ELR rifle, an Accuracy International AWSM 338LM using a S&B 5–25x uses a 100 yard zero and gives me maximum travel from 100 to over 2000m. So, not only do have a rock solid zero, free of environmental errors, but I have enough elevation to take me to the maximum effective range of the cartridge. Pairing the right optic, with the right base, ensures success.
There are times when you cannot get a 100 yard zero, but those are usually very limited. If the optical system you are using requires you to use a different zero, then by all means, use the recommended zero range as there is usually a good reason. The Nightforce Velocity reticle is one such example. This reticle is designed for the user to zero it at 200 yards. However I recommend taking this concept one step further. The Velocity Reticle is a Bullet Drop Compensating Type, or BDC. They are designed around one set of variables. Specifically a single bullet drop. So once the rifle is zeroed you then go by the distance line to hold over. With this type of reticle it’s faster and requires little to no thinking. When employing a BDC Reticle, adjust your fine tune zero in the middle of the adjustment range. So for a reticle that takes you to 1000 yards, fine tune your zero at 500 yards on that hold over line. This will help take up any errors in drop.
We have moved so far beyond 1978, it’s important to pair the right tools to the mission. Don’t just wing it, as you maybe shortchanging yourself. Look at the maximize advertised elevation for your particular scope, and have a base that gives you approximately 1/2 the distance. Let’s look at the S&B 5–25x scope. It has over 90MOA of advertised travel. So 1/2 of that is 45MOA which is why they specifically sell a 45MOA Base for this scope. It gives you 100% of the elevation needed and still allows you to zero at 100 yards. Usually the advertised elevation adjustment is giving you a value in both directions, up and down. We don’t need to dial our elevation down, we always want to go up or out for longer ranges.
With a 100 yard zero on your precision rifle you are always dialing up. Doesn’t matter if you are shooting inside 100 yards, the adjustment is always positive. At 25 yards the distance is the same as the scope’s height over bore, so you might need to dial your 700 yard dope to hit a target, Point of Aim, Point of Impact. There are exceptions to every rule and we don’t recommend this line of thinking for your AR15 being used in a Close Quarter Battle (CQB) context, but for your bolt rifle, a 100 yard zero is best.