The Best Zero for Your Rifle is Maximum Hangtime?

Nathan S
by Nathan S

Conventional wisdom for a modern sporting rifle is to set the zero either at 50/200 or 100 yards. This is especially common with standard military sights, which have built-in clocks for bullet drop at extended distances. However, with the advent of red-dot sights (which cannot move for distance (yet), shooters are stuck with a single POA.

The New Rifleman thus contends that one should set their zero for “maximum hangtime” or commonly, the lowest that the optic will go. This gives the shooter the most distance that the bullet will be above the dot and not requiring any compensation for bullet drop. This is particularly interesting as the bullet can only go so high compared to the red dot while drop happens quickly.

Hit the link to read The New Rifleman’s detailed thinking.

What do you think? Go for a “standard” zero or push to maximum hangtime?

Nathan S
Nathan S

One of TFB's resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR's, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.

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  • Lothaen Lothaen on Aug 01, 2015

    New Rifleman here.

    The point of the zero discussed in my article is to customize the zero based on the rifle, projectile, and target diameter.

    The point is to increase the probability that you will hit the target with less correction required on the shooters part.

    The maximum hangtime reference is to illustrate a concept of zeroing known as maximum point blank range. It's using a zero that keeps the bullet alloft in the target defined space for the longest distance reasonable to for your rifle and projectile combination.

    Is your target a 8 inch diameter circle? In theory plus or minus 4 inches should allow you a dead hold on the target and still get a hit. Reality is that shooter and bullet inaccuracy could cause a miss as any deviation from a dead hold could send the projectile high or low.

    So best practice would be to bring in zero to something say 2-3 inches of rise to allow some wiggle room with shooter error. Furthermore, using a heavy match projectile and capable rifle will further reduce the potential of a miss by fighting both wind and keeping bullet inaccuracy reduced in the equation.

    • FarmerB FarmerB on Aug 04, 2015

      @Lothaen I used a very similar approach - moons ago I was doing (largish) pest extermination out in the wilds - Rem 700 with 12x fixed Leupold in .22/250. I used to sight-in at 300-325 meters (used to practise on half-bricks on fence posts). Basically a low-neck hold in the 100-200 meter range would take their head off, anything a bit further away you'd aim for the chest and beyond that, hold for the head and hit the chest. Beyond 400m - forget it. Once you get used to it, you never think about range or holdover - you just seem to know where to shoot based on how the critter looks through the scope. Close = hold under, further = hold on (a bigger target) and further still = hold over a bit on the bigger target area. Only slightly tricky bit was at very close range, but that situation rarely arose. Going much further than this (say 400m zero) just became self-defeating for that calibre and bullet weight. I used to use 50 gn Ballistic Tips - mainly for speed and flatness of shooting. It's very effective - I used to use about 100 BT reloads a day and normally got 95+ one-shot kills.

  • AE AE on Aug 02, 2015

    I currently use a 50 yard zero, but I really like the 25/200 zero for simplicity. I think the 25/200 zero makes things a lot easier to compensate for at greater distances.

    Trying to zero for the "maximum hang time" will likely make shorter range shots less accurate (POA = POI), and will not greatly enhance long range accuracy either. With that zero the shooter will be required to do some guess work on the short distances, as well as the longer distances.

    What do you typically shoot, and why? Answer that question, and you'll have the answer to what zero you need to use. If you're target shooting for fun, not as important. If you're hunting or competing, go with a zero that is tried and true with less guesswork.