Whats the best zero for your hunting rifle? I have traditionally been a 100-yard-zero guy, but more out of habit than for ballistic reasons. With that said, not all of my rifles have a 100-yard-zero.
What’s mind boggling for me, having a history of long range shooting, is where people say to zero your rile at an inch high or two inches high at 100yds. There’s no way to know what your bullet drop is. If you’re in a farm field in middle America and that’s all you hunt, I guess that works, but where I hunt, sometimes there’s potential for some long range shots.
For faster calibers, like the 243, the 100yd zero works good for me. Shooting out to 300yds, it only drop about 7 inches with a 55gr bullet going 4000fps. There is not much drop there. Compare that to a 6.5 Grendel, where the velocity is just over 2500fps, the 300yd drop would be roughly 16 inches. That equates to a miss if holding right on the animal.
Lets look at the 37 yard zero for the 6.5 Grendel and the 243. The 6.5 Grendel using factory 123gr ammunition, my speeds are 2510fps out of a 20 inch barrel. at 100 yds my impact will be high at 2.4 inches, 200 yds it will be 1 inch high and at 300yds it will be 7 inches low and an extreme distance, lets say 500yds, it has an astounding 50 inch drop.
Now a 243, shooting 55gr factory ammunition with the same 20 inch barrel, muzzle velocity at 4000fps with the 37yd zero. At 100yds it will be 3.5 inches high, 200yds, 6.8 inches high, and 300yds it will be the same 6.8 inches high. Out to 500yds it will be 6.7 inches low.
As you can see, the speed makes a a big difference with your zero. Now lets look at the same rifles with 100yd zero. We’ll start with the 243.
100yd zero, 200yds is only 0.2 inches, 300yds is 3.7 inches and 500yd is 24 inches. Now the Grendel at 100yds, drops considerably more. With the 100yds zero, it will drop 2.3 inches at 200yds, 14.8 inches at 300yds and 62.6″ at 500yds.
There is no best zero, do whats most comfortable to you. I like to minimize my hold overs while coyote hunting, so my zero makes a difference with different rifles.