Haley Talks About AR Combat Zeroes

Here is an interesting video about the combat effectiveness of different zeroes for a standard AR firing 5.56.

Having watched competitors shoot at FNH USA 3Gun, I am always amazed at the few that shoot in limited divisions. Tac Limited or Heavy Metal divisions only allow the use of iron sights or non-magnified red dots. Shooting at long distance targets from 100-400 yard away always seemed impossible to me without a scope. However, looking at the 300 yard zero target, that Haley shows in the video below, I can see how effective it would be for engaging a 3Gun stage with long distance targets even out to 400 yards. It almost looks possible for me to hit 6-8 inch steel with just a red dot. I used to think a 50/200 yard zero was ideal but seeing the hits on the 300 yard zero is changing my mind. What do you zero your AR at?

The original video I posted was taken down. Here is a link to one on Facebook.

Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at nicholas.c@staff.thefirearmblog.com


  • J

    50/200. But there isn’t a place that isn’t expensive or a long drive that I can shoot past 200yds

    • Nicholas Chen

      My club can do 300. Go look for actual 3Gun matches. They will have 400+ yd targets.

      • KestrelBike

        Like he said, without absurdly long-drives. My “local” monthly match is still a 2hr-oneway drive (with a 3-4hr return drive/crawl due to I-95 weekend traffic) and the longest stage is still only 200yrds and this match is the only time I can shoot there, because anytime else the range is members-only with a closed list. Where I lived before in a different state, there was a range with 1,000yd within an hour, and plenty of almost-as-long ranges within 2-3hrs.

        There are 300-500yd ranges around where I live, but they’re country-club mentality with waiting lists of 3+years and thousands of dollars in dues.

        • Joe

          The zero is done at 36 yards, Confirm at all distances that you are able to. Wind will not play a significant factor until 200-300 yards/Meters

      • Jack

        Like Kestrel said below. I don’t have a reason to zero to 300 because without a lot of extra time, money or both I don’t have a place I can shoot past 200. YMMV.

        By no means am I knocking the longer zero. It just doesn’t offer any greater utility for me with my current conditions.

        • Zebra Dun

          Most areas of hunting around here, Appalachian foothills and Piedmont forested woodlands you simply don’t get a shot at more that 100 yards. Unless you are way down south of us in the Gulf lowland areas.
          It usually is well within 50 yards and is why Buck shot and slugs are used as well as the medium caliber rifles.
          You just cannot and will not see a whitetail beyond this range.

  • Heretical Politik

    I don’t shoot matches but 100 yard zero. Arfcom user Sylvan makes a great argument for it as a superior combat zero. It is dead on at 100 and low at everything else, reason being that a low miss is better than a high miss. It can still bounce or ricochet into the target, gives you feedback to walk your shots in (where a high miss gives you nothing), shooting high is a common mistake under stress and a low zero compensates, and having a bullet hit the ground in front of you is a lot scarier than one flying over your head.

    That being said, I use a 6 o’clock hold too, so maybe that screws it all up.

    • Tassiebush

      That really shows the different priorities between a combat zero and hunting zero.

    • wedelj1231

      For a scope, 100 yd zero is a must for the reasons you mentioned, plus dialing a scope.

      For a combat/red dot/iron sight zero, a 50/200 or 35/300 is just as good or preferable.

  • Will

    250 yards. What I was taught to be the accepted Battle Sight Zero.
    I’m not even close to being good enough to shoot Three Gun matches. I just plink for fun.

    • KestrelBike

      ?? Don’t sell yourself short! Beauty of 3-Gun is everyone can participate, and no-one looks down on anyone but those who don’t tape/reset out of laziness.

      • Nicks87

        Yeah it’s kind of like golf. There is a huge range of skill levels but mostly it’s about challenging yourself and hanging out with like minded people.

    • Zebra Dun

      I agree, shooting for qual score or in sniper and long range hunting makes a 250 yard zero a good call for the AR-15/M-16 rifles.

  • Ramsey

    When I was training marksmanship it was possible to train most Army infantry to 250 yards, many to 300, with iron sights. After we got the M68 (Aimpoint CompM2), almost everyone was easily trainable to 300 yards, and the number of Expert badges went through the roof.

    I never saw an M68 fail from anything other than a dead battery (I was company armorer) and I would be perfectly happy running without backup sights in any circumstance other than an active theater.

    • 11b

      *meters. We train out to 300 meters.

      • Ramsey

        Crap. Can’t believe I messed that up. I even prefer metric (now I am a scientist).

        • wedelj1231

          Booooo! I prefer freedom units of measure! Then again, I need to be proficient in both (since I’m an engineer) so it really doesn’t matter.

          • Zebra Dun

            I understand the Mosin (pbuh) is graduated in Arshins?

        • 11b

          Sorry, wasn’t trying to be an ass lol, just pointing out that it’s metric. Congrats on getting out and being a scientist though!

          • Ramsey

            No worries! When you do get out, use the hell out of your GI bill. I barely graduated high school and now I have a PhD, with under $2,000 in student debt.

      • billyoblivion

        Bah. About 1% difference.

        • All the Raindrops

          More like 9%. It matters

      • anomad101

        300 meters, is approx 328 yards. Makes a lot of difference? Sighted in at 300 meters, bullet hit the ground before it traveled another 28 feet? For combat purposes, it don’t matter what you call it, meter or yard. Precision shooting? Yes. My pistol is sighted for 25 yards. Maybe 1.5/2.0 inches high midway. From 0 to 25 yards, belt buckle shot is a hit. 0 to 25 meters belt buckle shot is a hit. Granted, metric system is more precise, pick a method and stick with it. I personally do not go by distance, if it looks big enough to hit, shoot it.

        • 11b

          Lol I wasn’t trying to be an ass, just pointing out that it’s meters by official doctrine. All combat related distances are calculated in meters, and yes, it does matter if you want to go there. That one inch could be the difference between hitting a target and missing, especially when shooting offhand. And especially with shooters who get next to no time actually shooting, IE most of the Army.

          • anomad101

            Cold typing does not translate well. Most misses are to left and right. If you have center of vertical line, with either method, little low, little high, within range, is still a hit. One inch/ one cm left or right could be a miss. “Within range” is the big variable, the more distance the wider the margin of error. My range is 25 yards/meters to 50 yards/meters, with handgun. In the military it was 300 meters keeping vertical center, with rifle. Most of us are not sniper quality, including me. If everybody uses the same length of stick, it does not matter what we call it. I have a headache.

          • iksnilol

            Well, at long distances it does matter. There’s a significant difference between 1000 meters and 1000 yards.

        • Sam

          I’ve never been very good at math… but it’s interesting that 300 meters equals “approx 328 yards” which is only an additional 28 feet.

      • Zebra Dun

        It was a long time ago circa 1970-1974 yet I recall the range was designated as a 500 yard line was also designated as 450 meters and in some ranges 480 meters when it’s actually 457.2 meters yet was called the 500 yard line, the 500 meter line interchangeably by the marksmanship instructors/coaches and everyone else at the Marine and Army Rifle Ranges I fired at.
        Only in heavy weapons RR/tubes as well as ANGLICO as well as map and compass work was the exact metric designation and not yards used.
        I personally use the yards/feet scale because everyone else around me does and conversion is slow and inaccurate, I prefer Metric because it’s clean and fast.

        • anomad101

          People claim to have problem with metric system, yet they count money with it every day. If the metric system was used here (US) instead of half stepping, I could have fewer tools. As is, my main metric tool is a pair of channel locks. (“cordless” screwdriver. you ever seen a screwdriver with a cord?)

  • Jon

    Remember he is using a 36/300 yard zero.

  • Blake

    I think calling it a 36 yard zero is a better way of stating it. At first I was super confused as to how what is generally accepted (50 yard) could be so far off, then I realized exactly what was going on. I don’t have a local range where I can fire past 100 yards, so the 50/200 is perfect. In the real world, I really can’t see shooting past 300/400 with an AR and expecting good results. But that’s why I love having an Eotech (and specifically the -2 reticle). I’ve got my center dot for 20/200, a lower dot for 500, and the lower part of the circle for 7 yards. In a pinch I’ve got total weapon effective distance range holds.

    • Core

      I use the bottom of the 68 moa circle for close in 0-50 meters and the center dot for 50 meters to 300 meters. According to Eotech it’s good to 300 meters. So you’re saying that the lower 68 moa is good to 500 meters? As far as metric goes, the irons on a M4A3 are calibrated in meyers.

      • Blake

        No, I have the -2 reticle which has two dots. It has a center dot then another dot that’s 10.5 mil lower. With 5.56mm and a 50/200m zero, the center dot is point of impact at 50/200 and the lower dot is point of impact at 500.

        Another nifty thing is that there is no difference between the -2 reticle and the .300 reticle (which they market for 300 BLK), besides the case having the super/sub sonic ranges marked on the top on the 300 BLK sight. So I can slap my sight on my 300 BLK pistol and have the center dot 100 yard zeroed and use the bottom dot for 300 yards (with supersonic ammo, which is all I shoot since I live in Commiefornistan and can’t own a suppressor).

        • Core

          Cool beans. I’m digging my center dot and 68 moa ring for 62g .556. It’s balls on.

  • nadnerbus

    I’m in suburban California, but I have the luxury of a friend that has ranch land in the boonies where we can shoot out to 500 meters and beyond.

    He set me up with the 25/300 zero (25 is close enough to dial it in initially, then you make the final adjustments out a the 300 meter mark). Using an Aimpoint Comp red dot, I can score hits anywhere from chest height to forehead without using any holdover anywhere in that range. You really surprise yourself with just how effective the rifle can be at range (not taking terminal ballistics into account).

    Out at 300 meters, shooting from the prone, I’m probably only connecting with two or three out of five. I’m only an average shot. But it’s still useful accuracy for that distance, and again, requires no thought on my part. Just dot on target.

  • Zebra Dun

    I zero my AR at 1000 inches/28 yards/25 meter range.
    This gives a battle sight setting 250 to 500 yards and a zeroed rifle, tweaking the sights after this at a range is needed for fine tuning.
    I don’t have access to a 500 yard range at best I can get 100 yards and the average range is 50 yards in the back 10 acres.
    Normally I figure in the trajectory given in the bullet cartridge tables and sight in at 100 yards adjusted so the bullet strikes high or low according to the listed scale for the round/rifle to give a zero at the distances I plan on shooting.
    My go to rifle is a Winchester M-94.
    For the Winchester M-94 30/30 load I use, 170 gr Flat jacket soft point of ____ brand ammo this comes too a 45 meters/50 yards range, place bullet strike 1 inch above aim, hits dead on at 100 yards by raising or lowering the bullet strike will adjust range dead on zero out to 200 yards if need be which would mean placing the bullet strike at 10.5 inches low on the target at 50 yards.
    I never use this distance shots around here are rarely done outside 75 to 100 yards due to foliage and trees.
    I tested the set up and got good results.

    • anomad101

      We used the 1,000 inch range to zero as well. I don’t know if it is still the standard. On the transition range, (silhouettes) 300 meters was the long shot with M-14/M-16 at the time. As it turned out, in reality, we engaged from as little as 20 feet, bush to bush, out to the nearest tree line.

      • Zebra Dun

        We always visited the 1000 inch range prior to any field exercise or deployment. Just to obtain a Battle sight setting.
        Zeroing in the M-40 it’s sight and it’s M-8 .50 cal Spotting rifle required four lengths of string and duct tape.
        Place string in notches on the end of the rifles barrels, sight the crossed strings in on a distant target out to 50 to 100 yards by looking down the bore and then adjust the sight to match the point of aim.
        Fine tuning was then required to obtain more accurate hits out to 1480 yards.
        I understand during Hue City Marines used these weapons as close as they could get and get the rounds to arm.
        Glad I never had to do that!

  • Zebra Dun

    People want to know. Information gets updated, rehashing old is informative.

    • anomad101

      Learn from others, it’s less painful.

  • Harold

    Really? 240p? Good gosh. Can’t see what he’s talking about.

  • jcitizen

    I’m lucky in living in the desert, where I got over 1000 meters to play in. I used to do a lot of long range shooting with a bolt action .50 BMG. But I’m seriously out of practice these days. This was a great video – I think I’d pick the one that made me hold over, so low bullet strike would give a visual feedback on a miss. Others have commented that way here, and I agree with them.