Advice on Long Range Scope Zero

Josebigsky

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Hi all,

I am having a 28 Nosler built and will be putting a Leupold 4-24 Vx6 on it with an Impact 23 MOA Reticle. This is the first long-range rifle I have owned. I live in Montana. I built this rifle to hunt elk and mule deer. I plan on using the reticle when I need to make a quick shot. I plan on dialing when the game presents this type of opportunity. I would likely limit my shooting to 600-700 yards until I build proficiency with the rifle. Here is what I would like advice on:
  1. For hunting is it best to zero the scope in at 100? OR
  2. Calculate maximum point blank range and zero for that distance? OR
  3. Is there another way I haven't thought about?
Thanks for your help.
 

codyadams

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Here is what I do.

I zero my rifle at 100 yds, in my experience my ballistic calculators tend to be more accurate at long ranges from an exact 100 yard zero, you do not need to add in atmospheric conditions from zero, ect. Then, I do as you said, calculate my maximum point blank to keep within 4 inches up/down of POA for a specific load, and if that is say up 2.75 MOA from my 100 yard zero, I calculate my holdover reticle for 2.75 MOA up from zero, and I carry my rifle dialed up 2.75 MOA, so that it is ready for a quick shot inside 300-350ish, or a little holdover for a pop shot out to 500ish yards. Past 500 (and usually inside 500 if I have time), I will pretty much always dial. Has worked well for me so far!!
 

BallisticsGuy

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100 yards. Shorter isn't helpful & often isn't possible on a long range rig built with bits designed for long range uses. Longer zero distance only allows wind and shooter error to get into your zero and fugg it up and your group size will be big enough by then to make getting a zero more of a PITA than you'd expect. 100 yards is just right. Close enough that it's hard to suck bad enough as a shooter to make it difficult on you. If you want to stretch out your PBR then find your correct 100 yard zero and dial up 1-2.5 inches off of that. That should have you shooting flat enough for adequate precision out to 300-400 yards to aim on hair instead of air.

For hunting, really I could count on a bad shop teacher's hand the number of humans I've encountered who've ever seen a critter they could shoot at from over 500 yards away much less the number that were then able to put metal on meat. Plan your hunt according to your terrain and your ability. If cross canyon shots are likely, then bring a flat shooting rifle and a great range finder. If you're not long range competent, then hunt for closer shots and pass up the long bombs. Fiddling a MPBR zero makes it really easy to make a bad shot that results in a lingering death. We want instant incapacitation and unconsciousness if at all possible. Not 20 miles of blood trail.
 

Weatherby Fan

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if Im using an MOA dial I zero at 100, if your ordering a CDS dial from Leupold for a specific load Im not sure it matters but may be a better question for Leupold. One thing I will mention and don't get me wrong I love Leupold scopes, 30 years of using them and not one failure..........
I recently bought a Zeiss V4 4-16x44 ZMOA scope with the zero stop turret, I mounted it on my new 6.5 PRC custom build and zeroed for 100 yards at the range, another member on here text me and says how many vertical MOA up from your zero do you have on that Zeiss scope ? Ill check......53 MOA !

so I check all my Leupold scopes, Vx3i 4.5-14x40 30mm tube-25 MOA, my VX5 HD 3-15x44-27 MOA, my VX6 HD 3-18x44 27 MOA, just something to think about if your mounting in Talleys which all my rifles have Low Talley rings., easy fix is a 10 or 20 MOA rail of course but just something to consider when buying a scope especially if your wanting to shoot paper out to 1000 yards or more.
 

Josebigsky

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Apr 18, 2013
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191
Here is what I do.

I zero my rifle at 100 yds, in my experience my ballistic calculators tend to be more accurate at long ranges from an exact 100 yard zero, you do not need to add in atmospheric conditions from zero, ect. Then, I do as you said, calculate my maximum point blank to keep within 4 inches up/down of POA for a specific load, and if that is say up 2.75 MOA from my 100 yard zero, I calculate my holdover reticle for 2.75 MOA up from zero, and I carry my rifle dialed up 2.75 MOA, so that it is ready for a quick shot inside 300-350ish, or a little holdover for a pop shot out to 500ish yards. Past 500 (and usually inside 500 if I have time), I will pretty much always dial. Has worked well for me so far!!
Thanks Cody! This was very helpful. I appreciate it.
 

Josebigsky

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100 yards. Shorter isn't helpful & often isn't possible on a long range rig built with bits designed for long range uses. Longer zero distance only allows wind and shooter error to get into your zero and fugg it up and your group size will be big enough by then to make getting a zero more of a PITA than you'd expect. 100 yards is just right. Close enough that it's hard to suck bad enough as a shooter to make it difficult on you. If you want to stretch out your PBR then find your correct 100 yard zero and dial up 1-2.5 inches off of that. That should have you shooting flat enough for adequate precision out to 300-400 yards to aim on hair instead of air.

For hunting, really I could count on a bad shop teacher's hand the number of humans I've encountered who've ever seen a critter they could shoot at from over 500 yards away much less the number that were then able to put metal on meat. Plan your hunt according to your terrain and your ability. If cross canyon shots are likely, then bring a flat shooting rifle and a great range finder. If you're not long range competent, then hunt for closer shots and pass up the long bombs. Fiddling a MPBR zero makes it really easy to make a bad shot that results in a lingering death. We want instant incapacitation and unconsciousness if at all possible. Not 20 miles of blood trail.
Like your style Ballistics Guy, made me chuckle re: bad shop teacher's hand. I laughed out loud on this, my wife asked why I was laughing. I explained, she got a good chuckle too. Longest shot on a bull elk to date is 440 yards. I tend to think in most situations you can always get a little closer.
 

Josebigsky

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if Im using an MOA dial I zero at 100, if your ordering a CDS dial from Leupold for a specific load Im not sure it matters but may be a better question for Leupold. One thing I will mention and don't get me wrong I love Leupold scopes, 30 years of using them and not one failure..........
I recently bought a Zeiss V4 4-16x44 ZMOA scope with the zero stop turret, I mounted it on my new 6.5 PRC custom build and zeroed for 100 yards at the range, another member on here text me and says how many vertical MOA up from your zero do you have on that Zeiss scope ? Ill check......53 MOA !

so I check all my Leupold scopes, Vx3i 4.5-14x40 30mm tube-25 MOA, my VX5 HD 3-15x44-27 MOA, my VX6 HD 3-18x44 27 MOA, just something to think about if your mounting in Talleys which all my rifles have Low Talley rings., easy fix is a 10 or 20 MOA rail of course but just something to consider when buying a scope especially if your wanting to shoot paper out to 1000 yards or more.
Thanks, Weatherby Fan. I have 38 MOA of adjustment up. So if I am 3.5 inches high at 100 that means I am dead on at 300 and only need 19.7 of MOA to get to 1000. So plenty of scope adjustment for me. I plan on shooting this at elk and mule deer, not paper or steel. Likely will not take a shot at elk that far anyway. I will look into the Talley Rings.

Thanks,
 

Greyfox

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I personally prefer a 200 yard zero on my LRH and PRS/competition rifles. I have not seen variations in precision from my calculators or atmospheric variations between 100 and 200 yard zeros with my centerfire calibers used for these purposes. IMO, 200 Yards is a sweet spot for having sufficient resolution to QC the rifle/load, more precise parallax adjustment, inconsistencies in rifle support, etc. A 100 yard zero error will factor 10x at 1000 yards, a 200 yard zero, only 5x. Once my rifle/load is precisely zeroed at 200 Yards, it is expected to remain there, unless I change a variable in the rifle/load. My 6.5x284 primary hunter has not had a zero adjustment,......going on it’s fifth hunting season, with game/varmints taken to 1000+ yards. I will give it a check periodically at 100 or 200 yards. While hunting, I’m generally at 10x, with an 8” point blank setting to 275 yards. Everything beyond gets either a reticle or turret adjustment for POI.
 

Josebigsky

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Thank you Greyfox, good information to consider on a 200 yard zero. This kind of comparison and info was exactly what I was looking to get. Provides me with data to make the best decision for my needs.
 

RockyMtnMT

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I am in the same modeof thinking as grey fox except I prefer 300y for zero work. Sometimes I wind up having to do my zero work at 200y and then adjust the zero setting to 300y. I never trust it s much when done this way even though technically it should make no diff. Running my hunting rifles with a 300y set zero gets me 400y give or take depending on the cartridge bullet combo, without holding aim point off center. Out to 450 our so I can still hold hair and make a solid hit. Beyond this yardage usually the animalis not aware of my presence and I have plenty of time to make the calcs needed for a good shot.

Steve
 

lancetkenyon

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Most of my hunting rifles have a 200 yard zero. But my two true LR rifles have a 250 (6.5SS) & 300 (300RUM) yard zero. To be honest, I never see the .300RUM being shot at much closer than that. Except if a stupid coyote pops out.

Even if you cannot get dead on at 200 yards, like 1/4" high @ 200 and you have a .1 MIL (.72" @ 200) or .25MOA (.509" @ 200) turrets, you can easily allow for that. You are actually like a 204 yard zero. Know that, and input it correctly into your ballistics program, and you are golden.
 

el matador

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I use a 200 yard zero. This puts me within 2" for everything out to 240 yards or so. If you step up to a 300 yard zero you'll be shooting 4" high at some point before the bullet falls back to zero. For me that is too much error, especially on a deer with a 10" kill zone. Most of the local shooting ranges here have a 200 yard range so its easy to zero at that distance.

I'll be ranging anything past 200 yards and consulting my drop chart or BDC turret anyway. Out to 350 yards you have 10" or less of bullet drop and its easy to just hold over. Beyond that I'm dialing and figuring out a good rest.

Once my gun is zeroed I like to chronograph my loads and verify my drops down range. You can then adjust the parameters in your calculator until it matches your actual drop.
 

slickyboyboo

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Apr 23, 2009
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Clinton, MS
if Im using an MOA dial I zero at 100, if your ordering a CDS dial from Leupold for a specific load Im not sure it matters but may be a better question for Leupold. One thing I will mention and don't get me wrong I love Leupold scopes, 30 years of using them and not one failure..........
I recently bought a Zeiss V4 4-16x44 ZMOA scope with the zero stop turret, I mounted it on my new 6.5 PRC custom build and zeroed for 100 yards at the range, another member on here text me and says how many vertical MOA up from your zero do you have on that Zeiss scope ? Ill check......53 MOA !

so I check all my Leupold scopes, Vx3i 4.5-14x40 30mm tube-25 MOA, my VX5 HD 3-15x44-27 MOA, my VX6 HD 3-18x44 27 MOA, just something to think about if your mounting in Talleys which all my rifles have Low Talley rings., easy fix is a 10 or 20 MOA rail of course but just something to consider when buying a scope especially if your wanting to shoot paper out to 1000 yards or more.
Everything I have heard about the new Zeiss scopes, is that they won't reliably track for squat!
 

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