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Thread: is there a "proper" distance for zeroing a red dot.

  1. #11
    Murder Machine, Harmless Fuzzball TCinVA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CSW View Post
    What is the best/practical/general distance for dot zero?
    You will get many answers. I prefer 25 yards. The problem is that a lot of people can't shoot accurately enough and their equipment isn't accurate enough to get a solid zero at 25. 10 yards is a lot more doable for many so that is often given as a practice. A 10 yard zero where you shoot a very tight group and get a good zero is better than an attempt at 25 where you get lost in the turrets chasing marksmanship and/or equipment problems.

    When I'm working with a new optic on a new gun I'll shoot the sights, then move the optic to start out sitting on top of the front sight post at 10. Then I'll refine that at 25. (Dots are smaller than irons and so need to be zeroed with a little more refinement) The end result is that I can hit squirrels in the vitals at 60+ yards with the pistol when I'm done...assuming I do my part. I do have to factor a little bit of offset at very close ranges (5 yards and in) to hit very precise targets, but that's more about the height of the optic itself than anything else. And that will be a little bit different on every setup.

    If you struggle at 25, get it dialed in at 10 and then test it at 25. It will probably be fine.

    Don't forget to consider your bullet weight. If you zero with 115 grain 9mm ball, you may find that 147 grain duty ammo shoots very differently, especially at extended distance. And vice versa. Generally in my guns I've not found that 115 grain 9mm ball shoots to a different point of aim than 124 grain HST +P, or at least not to a point of aim that's different enough where I can notice a problem.

    Is far better than near?
    Generally, yes. A 5 yard zero might really suck if you are trying to hit something at extended distance because there's still some offset to worry about with most slide-mounted optic setups. How often is that a practical consideration? Rarely outside of the range environment or hunting. Handguns aren't shooting the same sorts of ballistic arcs as rifles and so their sights are set up differently. Even so, if you zero where that little bit of mechanical offset is a factor it can bite you pretty bad back at 25 and beyond.

    If you can shoot at extended distances (50 or 100 yards) by all means do so and see what your zero does out at those ranges. You'll probably be able to keep rounds on a typical target silhouette out at those distances with a 10 yard zero. I've seen some gun/optic combos where a 10 yard zero was way the hell off at extended distances, but relatively few and I suspect there was some user error mixed in there as well.

    EDIT - This is true of iron sights as well...different sight setups often have different implications on how you hold the sights that are invisible on typical targets but show up when you are chasing 10 rings at 25 or 1" squares at 5 yards. Etc.

    Does dot size dictate distance?
    I've never seen it do so.
    3/15/2016

  2. #12
    Gucci gear, Walmart skill Darth_Uno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCinVA View Post
    10 yards is a lot more doable for many so that is often given as a practice. A 10 yard zero where you shoot a very tight group and get a good zero is better than an attempt at 25 where you get lost in the turrets chasing marksmanship and/or equipment problems.

    If you struggle at 25, get it dialed in at 10 and then test it at 25. It will probably be fine.
    That's what I do. I'm definitely in the bottom half of PF'ers skill-wise. I dial all mine in at 10 yds, which is also the distance across my living room and kitchen and about the furthest I'm likely to have an SD situation. I'd rather dial it in at a fairly short distance and know it's good, than go for 25 and always suspect it might still be a hair off.

  3. #13
    Disenchanted American CSW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCinVA View Post
    You will get many answers. I prefer 25 yards. The problem is that a lot of people can't shoot accurately enough and their equipment isn't accurate enough to get a solid zero at 25. 10 yards is a lot more doable for many so that is often given as a practice. A 10 yard zero where you shoot a very tight group and get a good zero is better than an attempt at 25 where you get lost in the turrets chasing marksmanship and/or equipment problems.

    When I'm working with a new optic on a new gun I'll shoot the sights, then move the optic to start out sitting on top of the front sight post at 10. Then I'll refine that at 25. (Dots are smaller than irons and so need to be zeroed with a little more refinement) The end result is that I can hit squirrels in the vitals at 60+ yards with the pistol when I'm done...assuming I do my part. I do have to factor a little bit of offset at very close ranges (5 yards and in) to hit very precise targets, but that's more about the height of the optic itself than anything else. And that will be a little bit different on every setup.

    If you struggle at 25, get it dialed in at 10 and then test it at 25. It will probably be fine.

    Don't forget to consider your bullet weight. If you zero with 115 grain 9mm ball, you may find that 147 grain duty ammo shoots very differently, especially at extended distance. And vice versa. Generally in my guns I've not found that 115 grain 9mm ball shoots to a different point of aim than 124 grain HST +P, or at least not to a point of aim that's different enough where I can notice a problem.



    Generally, yes. A 5 yard zero might really suck if you are trying to hit something at extended distance because there's still some offset to worry about with most slide-mounted optic setups. How often is that a practical consideration? Rarely outside of the range environment or hunting. Handguns aren't shooting the same sorts of ballistic arcs as rifles and so their sights are set up differently. Even so, if you zero where that little bit of mechanical offset is a factor it can bite you pretty bad back at 25 and beyond.

    If you can shoot at extended distances (50 or 100 yards) by all means do so and see what your zero does out at those ranges. You'll probably be able to keep rounds on a typical target silhouette out at those distances with a 10 yard zero. I've seen some gun/optic combos where a 10 yard zero was way the hell off at extended distances, but relatively few and I suspect there was some user error mixed in there as well.

    EDIT - This is true of iron sights as well...different sight setups often have different implications on how you hold the sights that are invisible on typical targets but show up when you are chasing 10 rings at 25 or 1" squares at 5 yards. Etc.



    I've never seen it do so.
    Thanks for this.
    Barely mediocre with every platform.

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by TCinVA View Post
    You will get many answers...
    Great post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth_Uno View Post
    That's what I do. I'm definitely in the bottom half of PF'ers skill-wise. I dial all mine in at 10 yds, which is also the distance across
    my living room and kitchen and about the furthest I'm likely to have an SD situation. I'd rather dial it in at a fairly short distance and know it's good, than go for 25 and always suspect it might still be a hair off.
    Same here. I start at 10 with three round groups, standing two hand unsupported, then confirm at 25 with 10 rounds on a B-8 for score. I'll also evaluate my group "center" shooting The Test (10 rounds x 10 yards in 10 seconds) which I do fairly frequently as a "where am I today cold" metric. If I start to suck on any given day, it's normally not the gun.

  5. #15
    I prefer 25 yards, using upper A of USPSA target.
    As discussed previously on several occasions, the size of groups and POA/POI relationships at close distances are pretty tight, especially with competition guns. Longer distance zero gives me a feedback that's easier to read.
    I usually shoot three or so rounds a 7, three to five at 12-15 to bring it into the vicinity of a 2 inch circle, and all fine tuning happens at 25.
    ďWell," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.

  6. #16
    Self Diagnosed with PII
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    Quote Originally Posted by rawkguitarist View Post
    Scott Jedlinski advocates a tight 1 inch square zero at 10 yards with a confirmation at 25. Itís got to be offhand to line up your vision through the lens and the target. He says bench resting can skew the results since you canít perfectly line it all up on the same plane.

    Heís the top RDO instructor in the US. Iíve deferred to his instruction on this and Iíve had great results. He also talks about it on my podcast episode 47.

    Welcome to the red dot game. It changed my life (vision issues).
    I've used this method for my last few dot guns and have had good results out to 50 yards, within my skill level.
    Anticipation! It occurred to him that his anticipation was more pleasant to him than his experiencing.

  7. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by rawkguitarist View Post
    Buddy, excellent point. Thatís some hyperbole and absolute on my part. I try to avoid making statements like that. Really I should have stated heís one of the most sought instructors these days.
    Copy. That is a great way to describe him, that reflects his popularity as well as all the focus on red dot shooting and training at a high level by the worldís leading competitive shooters.
    Likes pretty much everything in every caliber.

  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by backtrail540 View Post
    I've used this method for my last few dot guns and have had good results out to 50 yards, within my skill level.
    Yup, the zero i get is well within my shooting ability. I never really shoot past 25 with pistol and my groups arenít real tight. But consistent to tell my zero is fine and the rest is me.
    Aaron D.
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  9. #19
    Member eb07's Avatar
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    I zeroed my optic based upon my carry ammo and my barrel size

    10 yd gave me the best arc from 0-100.

    I suggest you go to one of the online ballistics programs and punch in all of your information and look at what zeros best for you for the distances that you want to shoot.

  10. #20
    I zero at 25 for all handguns.

    Personally I find minimal difference between 115 and 147 at 25 yards.


    Peanut butter and chocolate = Gun 1 on the targets

    Peanut butter (my edc) = Gun 2 on the targets

    All groups shot at 25 yards. With bag and gloves in 30 or so degree weather

    https://imgur.com/a/zzIxlJS

    The black shoot n see was shot with my edc with rounds from the case of 124 grain hst it is zeroed for. You can clearly see there is a poa/poi difference vs the new box of 124 grain hst

    Below as shot offhand @ 25 yards last week (no gloves) . 6 rounds of 124 grain hst from my carry gun. Ammo from the case it is zeroed for

    https://imgur.com/a/kxNiYTm

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