Hunting Rifle Zero's and practice

Blkram

Handloader
Nov 25, 2013
1,916
381
Was wondering what distances people are generally using to zero their hunting rifles?

And which hunting rifle/cartridge combinations people practice with most at distances beyond 300 yards?

As stated in another thread response, I typically zero my hunting rifles for 200 yards.
The only rifles I have zeroed at 100 yards are my Marlins in 375 Win and 41 Rem Mag, mounted with a Leupold fixed 2.5 power scope with heavy reticle.

The rifles and cartridges that I have practiced with at distances beyond 300 yards are:
(distances dictated by rifle ranges)
Remington 700 Classic in 6.5 x 55 Swede with 140 gr loads at 400 yards,
Custom Sako AV LH in 7MM STW with 160 gr loads at 400 and 500 yards,
Custom Browning X Bolt LH in 6.5 Creedmoor with 123, 129, 140 and 143 gr loads at 400 yards, and the 143 gr load at 500 yards, and
Sako 85 LH Hunter in 6.5x55 Swede with 140 gr loads at 400 and 500 yards.

Have more trigger time with 6.5 x 55 than any other cartridge...such a fun cartridge to shoot!
Enjoying the 6.5 Creedmoor as well...just need to shoot it more!

Have more field time and harvested more game with my 7MM STW than any other, and have harvested 5 of 30 animals with it at 300 yards and beyond with it (7x7 elk @ 475, bighorn ram @ 300, mule deer buck @ 300, mule deer buck @ 354 (previously wounded with archery equipment), and a whiteail buck @ less than 400 - could not get range on him in heavy snow across creek, but distance from shooting position down to creek and then creek up to deer totalled 415, with creek approx. 60' below shooting position elevation)
 

IdahoCTD

Handloader
Nov 4, 2004
2,496
79
I use to sight in for 300yds but overshot a few things like Bill posted about so I dropped to 200yds and dial or use the reticle for over about 350yds.

Just about every rifle I own get's shot at long range if it gets shot much at all. I have steel plates at 650, 790, and 947. I don't shoot the small calibers like Creedmoor and 6.5x47L at 947 much but the rest go long. I have mainly hunted with 300 magnums (300wsm, 300wm, 30-8mm) the last 7 or so years with a few 6.5x47L, 6.5-300wm and 7-300wm kills thrown in for variety.
 

Thebear_78

Handloader
Sep 30, 2004
2,923
270
250 or 300 for my non dialable optics except for some close range rifles in pistol calibers or slower rounds.

My game are generally large and the 300 yard zero works well. Most never get above 5” high and that’s well within the vital zone of moose or caribou.


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noslerpartition

Handloader
May 26, 2018
898
170
On my everyday-rifle, I have a target turret with marks set for 100, 200 and 300 meters. Actually it is not needed, but I wanted it.... in combination with an app, I could go further.
Other rifles are zeroed around 200y.
I don't have much opportunity to shoot more than 300m.

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Guy Miner

Master Loader
Apr 6, 2006
16,615
1,279
Most of my hunting is done with the two Remington 700's, 25-06 & 30-06, each with a 6x scope. I keep them zeroed at 200 yards. Used to use 300 for the 25-06, but adjusted that to 200 yards the past couple of years.

Most of my range time with those rifles is in the couple of months leading up to hunting season, so late summer & September. I'll spend a lot of time practicing at 200 & 300 yards, taking an occasional longer shot.

30-06's longest shot on game was 338 yards, cow elk.
25-06's longest shots were at 400 on a mule deer & 420 on coyote.

The 375's scopes are also sighted-in at 200 yards. I could easily be convinced to shift that to a 100 yard zero for some hunting. Love banging the 300 yard steel gong with those rifles! :)

The iron-sighted 30-30 is sighted-in at 100 yards. Seems to work. Longest shots I've made with that were with the 2.5x scope, at 300 yards.

308 "Green Machine" has spent 20+ years zeroed at 100 yards. I'll either dial or use the reticle for hold-overs for 200, 300 etc. Farthest I've competed with it was 600 meters. Did well.

BTW, I also do some close-range practice, 10 - 50 yards. Those are speed drills, in case I jump a buck at short range, or there's a bear, or... Whatever. :)

Guy
 

Elkman

Handloader
Apr 4, 2010
4,551
1
I am sighted in for 300 yards with my 7mm Mashburn, the 7mm RM, and my 300 WM . That allows me to hold on out to 400 yards without moving the dial. My longest measured elk kill was 540 yards and there have been many between there and 300 over the years. If I would have to say that at least 20 elk and a similar amount of Mule deer have been taken at that distance. There have also been several under 100 yards and there is no compensation necessary at that distance. From my house I can shoot 118, 300 425 and 600. Most of my trigger time is with the above three rifles.
 

69gto

Handloader
Mar 6, 2016
274
0
300 yds. probably don't need to now that I got dial scopes but old habits die hard. Been zeroing at 300 for about 50 years, also it is easier to hold a little low at shorter range than to guess hold over at longer range.
 

SJB358

Ballistician
Dec 24, 2006
31,355
652
I’ve pretty much always zeroed 3” high at 100 yards with everything till recently. Ive gone to a plain old 250 yard zero on any rifle that has repeatable dials (6x SS) and my other scopes are pretty much Leupold’s with LR Dots. Those get zeroed using the second dot around 300 yards for the slow cartridges, 35 Whelen, 30-06, or anything in the 2600-2900 FPS range, with the fast movers like my Mashburn, 264 Win, 270 and 280’s that move out about 3100-3200 they get zeroed with the 2nd dot at 400 yards. In both of those it still typically comes out to about 3” high at 100.. I get easy holds on elk/deer sized animals to 500 with the slow pokes and to 600 with the fast movers.

I practice with all of them out to 500-600 yards as much as I can. I love to shoot long from the ground or off my hunting ruck. Instills a bunch of confidence for the 300 and in shots. I would much rather make shots under 200 but traveling long distances I want to give myself all the advantage I can.
 

Dr. Vette

Handloader
Apr 16, 2012
1,317
33
200 yard zero on all the rifles except for the 450 Bushmaster, 12 gauge slug gun and the muzzleloader. Those are 150 yard zeros.

I've used a 223 to shoot 340 yards, and everything above that (243 and up) to shoot to 500, which is the longest easily-attainable distance at our land. I've probably tried the 223 to 500, but I don't recall how well it did. The 340 yards with a crosswind was quite memorable, so it comes to mind.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
My .300WSM, .270, 7-08 and 6.5CM are zeroed at 200.

My .308, .223 and 30WCF are zeroed at 100.

I've only shot my .300 and 6.5 past 300yds any appreciable amount and the overwhelming amount of LR time has been with the 6.5 out to distances of 800yds.
 

salmonchaser

Handloader
Dec 13, 2013
3,436
765
200 yards with most of them.
.45-70; 450 bushy; 50 yards
.375; 100 yards


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truck driver

Ammo Smith
Mar 11, 2013
6,907
237
For around here my zero for the 30-06 is 2" at 100yds which lets me hold on hair out to 200yds
same for my 257 Roberts which I use for varmints. Heck come to think about it all my rifles (7mmR,300 Win, 338 Win ) are zeroed like that except for when I know I'll have extended ranges and then the are zeroed 3" high at 100yds.
I did almost miss a 5 point buck with the 30-06 at 20yds , hit him high and under the spine ran out of sight and then came back to see what had took a bite out of him which was his mistake because the second shot I held a little lower and he was DRT.
 

6mm Remington

Ammo Smith
Feb 27, 2006
5,085
53
My 30-06 with a 4x Leupold and my 6mm Remington with a 6x Leupold (Both Ruger 1B's) are sighted in for 2 1/2 - 2 3/4" high at 100 yards which puts them about 2 inches low at 300, 12 at 400, and 24 at 500 yards. I have practiced with them out to 500 yards, and shot bullets into gallon water jugs at those distances to see what penetration, expansion, and weight retention I would get with Nosler Accubonds, Partitions, and E-tips. My son's 300 WSM (Model 70 EW) is zeroed the same and his 6mm Remington (Ruger MK II ) has the B&C reticle in his Leupold Scope so it's zeroed at 200 yards. He shot a huge cow elk at 350 yards, one shot with a 90 gr. E-tip with that 6mm!

My 280 AI (Model 70) I had built is zeroed for 200 yards and it has the 4.5-14x40mm Leupold scope with the B&C reticle. It really works great.

I have taken coyotes at 600 yards with my 6mm and the 6x Leupold. A couple deer and antelope at about 400 yards. A spike bull was taken at 30 yards, and many deer and antelope in between.

My 30-06 took a really nice antelope buck (15") at about 500 yards. It's also taken animals at 8' to that 500 yard range. My 30-06 has taken lots of antelope, deer, elk, and black bear. Yes the black bear was the animal that was shot at 8'. It was pretty intense I must say!

280 AI has taken deer at about 250, antelope at just over 300, and a nice cow elk at 450 yards. All were one shot. It's a new build I have made 3 years ago so it's not as "experienced" yet as my other rifles. I really like the Boone & Crockett reticle in the scope on that rifle.
 

Blkram

Handloader
Nov 25, 2013
1,916
381
I have 4 Leupold VX-3's with the B&C reticle, and I like it too! Works great and is easy to use. The VX-3 LR with the Varmint reticle I have mounted on my 6.5 Creedmoor and is great on paper and steel at the range. It didn't really play a part in this rifle's harvest of a bull moose as it occurrred at just 20 yards.

3 of my Swarovski scopes have either the BRH (mounted on the 6.5x55 and 280 Rem) or BRX (not mounted as yet) reticle, but I have not harvested game with the rifles since mounting these scopes on them. I find the BRH a little heavy for fine target practice at 100 and 200 yards, but believe that the reticle will be eaasier to see in the field when hunting under lower light conditions.
 

OU812

Handloader
Apr 18, 2006
2,099
0
35 whelen zeroed at 100 yards mainly because of the close range hunting I do with it.
264 win mag 200 yards zero, dial if needed.
300 rum 200 yards zero, dial if needed.

I don't guess when I practice so I won't guess when I'm hunting. Knowing trumps guessing.
 

Math Teacher

Beginner
Jan 31, 2017
38
1
I don't sight in for a specific distance. SJB358 sights in for three inches high at 100 yards which is close to what I do, only I sight in 2 !/2 inches high at that distance. For everything from a 30-30 to a 300 mag, that maximizes the distance you will shoot within three inches above or below the line of sight, the so called dead on hold range. For rifles in the 30-06 velocity range, a 200 yard sight in will accomplish pretty much the same thing.
 

270elk

Beginner
Aug 14, 2017
74
0
I sight my rifles (30-06, 270, and 300 win mag) at 250 yards. Groups off the bench to make sure the loads are shooting well enough for hunting. Then I practice at various ranges using a backpack rest, shooting sticks, kneeling, and prone. I also stress myself (I get my heart rate up),I shoot rapidly and improv rests. All of this is to better my skills for hunting. I also keep my hunting shooting distance to 400 yards ( to much can go wrong). Hitting a pie plate target at 500++ yards after hiking up hills at 8500+ feet, you are a better shot than me. Add in a gust of wind, the movement of the animal you've got a gut shot animal. I try to put more time in getting close or let the animal walk.
 

Polaris

Handloader
Dec 16, 2009
1,223
0
I used to zero my rifle at an aprox. 200 yard zero. An even 2" high at 100 came out to just a tick high or low at 200 with most of the loads I used. Wasn't really concerned about zero past 230 yards as that was my maximum hunting range where I hunt. Rifle is a .280 Rem on a Mauser action, and I routinely practice to 500 yards. I would never shoot past 300 under field conditions, but it's fun to ding the club's steel out there from sitting or prone.

This year I dabbled in some informal local "PRS" type shoots so I zeroed at 100 and used the ballistic plex reticle on my scope. The 139SST I use for practice in this rifle matched the hash marks quite well to 400 yards, and matches the LR trajectory of the nosler 140BT I use for longer ranges, with Kentucky elevation thereafter. Targets were out to the range limit at 730 yards. This did, however, cause me to miss a deer this season. Deer was 200 out at a downhill angle and I held for a heart shot on this small meat doe, but forgot to cheat up a hash on the BDC, being so used to a PBR zero. Likely grazed the tips of the chest hair, as I found the impact in the snow and the track, and my 200 yard POI with the center crosshair matched this trajectory.

Other rifles I've fired at distance more for range practice or fun than any interest in hunting with them...
5.56 NATO NM AR 15 with heavy 75gr match loads: Fired to 600 yards in competition known distance, and to 1000 and unknown distance just for fun. Used the come-up T/E on the scope.
M1-Garand: 168BTHP to 1000 yards on steel. Used the elevation built into the military sight.
Swiss K-31 and G-11 to 1000, also used the military elevation
Swedish M96 to 1000, military elevator.
M1917 30-06 Sporter with 2700fps 150FMJBT. Practiced with 4.5x scope and Kentucky windage and elevation on club steel to 500 yards known and unknown distance from field positions. Fun range toy.
Soviet M91-30 PU sniper: 174Sierra BTHP running warm. Fired this at 300 and 600 in CMP competition, and also to 730 yards on the PRS range when we had "vintage day." A lot of guys with pre-64 Win 70s and scopes set on 6x laughed at it, then quit laughing by the end of the shoot. Rules were rifle had to be Pre 1964 configured (wood stock, calibers that existed then, etc. basically on the honor system), and have no el and windage dials unless they were included as original equipment on a pre-1964 scope, 6x maximum magnification. That was a fun one!
 

jimbires

Handloader
Aug 16, 2011
2,496
459
I have a few Leupold scopes with the Boone and Crockett reticle . I use a 200 yard zero and the extended distance hash marks line up pretty well . on my 7 rem mag with the 160 AccuBond bullets I'm using a 300 yard zero to be able to get the reticle to align at longer distances . my dedicated long range rifles I have sighted in with a 100 yard zero and dial my elevation . before I had the B&C reticles , I used a duplex reticle with a 200 yard zero . at 300 yards I had had it figured to just lay the reticle on a deer back , and the bullet would drop roughly 6 inches, right into the vitals .
 
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