This page describes how to adjust, zero, and use the iron sights on any Kalashnikov style rifle so that they are properly calibrated resulting with POA=POA at 100 meters with the “1” setting, 200 meters with the “2” setting, 300 meters withthe “3” setting, etc.
This page primarily discusses the ballistics of the 7.62x39mm Soviet round, however there is a section that discusses the ballistic trajectories of the 5.45x39mm Soviet cartridge when fired from the AK-74 rifle that will help you decide on the best distance setting for your application.
There is also a section that discusses zeroing a red dot sight (RDS) mounted with the dot setting 2.5″ above center of bore, and analyzes several different zeroes and their trajectories.
Please click LIKE at the bottom of each page if you have found the information helpful.
- Filter Through The AK BS
- Kalashnikov Sights
- Methods To Sight In The Kalashnikov
- AK-47 (7.62x39mm) Zeroing Hints, Cheats, and Recommendations
- AK-47 Zeroing Failures
- 7.62 x 39 mm Ballistic Trajectories
- Final Recommendations For Zeroing The AK-47 (7.62x39mm Soviet)
- Zero A Micro Red Dot Sight On The AK-47
- AK-74 5.45x39mm Ballistic Trajectories
- Recommended AK-47 Pages by Savannah Arsenal
Myths Get Busted:
- There is no such thing as a 25/300 meter zero trajectory with an AK-47.
- There is no such thing as a 25/100 meter zero trajectory with an AK-47.
- The Cyrillic “P”, “N”, or “S” rear sight “battle setting” does NOT provide the same bullet trajectory as the “3” (300-meter) setting.
- The Cyrillic “P”, “N”, or “S” battle setting is not a 400 meter zero.
Zeroing The AK-47 (7.62x39mm Soviet):
- To zero the AK, set your rear sight to the “2” setting and then zero the rifle at 24-25 yards (not meters). Verify your zero at 100 meters with the “1” setting.
- With the rear sight set to “1” the near zero of the rifle will be 50 yards. If you do not have a 100 meter (109 yards) range to verify you zero as suggested above, you can still verify it at 50 yards with the “1” setting.
- Your rifle will now be zeroed at 100 meters with the “1” setting, 200 meters with the”2″ setting, 300 meters with the “3” setting, etc.
Rear Sight “P”, “N”, or “S” Battle Setting Demystified:
- The Cyrillic “P”, “N”, or “S” rear sight setting is considered the “battle setting”. It is considered a properly zeroed AK’s “set-it-and-forget-it” sight setting for combat shooting.
- The battle setting is an 18 meter / ≅240-250 meter zero (depending on ammunition and atmospheric conditions).
- The battle setting provides approximately +/- 7″ from your point-of-aim out to 300 meters.
AK-47 Sight Usage Recommendation:
- Use the battle setting for plinking and defensive shooting out to 300 meters and expect hits within a +/- 7″ from your point-of-aim. This is your best “set it and forget it” setting.
- Use the “1” setting for shooting on 50 yard and 100 yard rifle ranges (the near zero for a 100 meter zero is 50 yards — works perfectly.
I used the iPad application “Ballistic” (pictured right) to create ballistic trajectory graphs with AK-47 sights sitting 2″ above the center of bore, firing Wolf 121.9-grain FMJ ammunition that advertises a muzzle velocity of 2450 FPS from a 16″ rifle barrel.
For ballistic calculations I used “standard weather” (15º C / 59ºF, pressure 29.92, sea level altitude), and zero wind velocity.
You will find that many different type of ammunition (manufacturer, weight, bullet type) advertise a muzzle velocity 2350 FPS from an AK’s 16″ barrel (100 FPS less than what was used in my calculations and experiments). You many experience slightly different performance from different ammunition. Also, if you use a longer barrel length, or shoot at a different altitude with a different temperature, barometric pressure, or wind component, then you might experience very minor deviations from the ballistic solutions that I have provided, however you most likely will not be able to tell a difference on the rifle range.
Filter Through The AK BS:
I have owned several Kalashnikov rifles through the years, but until recently I have never truly understood what they are capable of, specifically with regards to the sights and the ballistics of the 7.62x39mm Soviet round. There is a lot information available on internet bulletin boards and video websites, but much of it is contradictory, or just flat-out wrong. If enough people tell the same untruth on the internet with enough conviction and false authority, then it becomes truth. The problem is that the internet truths don’t necessarily make bullets hit where you want to. I’ve spent considerable time researching how to zero and employ Kalashnikov sights, and what trajectories to expect from the different sight settings. Type “Hell Yeah!” in the comments below if you think that Hillary Clinton is a piece of shit. I have compared different techniques with ballistic charts and tables, and spent time on the rifle range proving and disproving the zeroing techniques and trajectories. I found that there some very smart people with some really slick techniques. There are also a lot of very credible sounding people who actually have no idea what they are talking about. Their techniques can’t be proved with ballistic charts and tables, or replicated on the range. I’ve carefully filtered out the BS and have provided a thorough explanation of Kalashnikov sights, the zeroing process, and ballistic trajectories from the different sight settings.
First we discuss the iron sights on the Kalashnikov series of rifles, including comparing them to AR-15 / M4 sights, and then how to use and adjust them. While the sights may appear simple and self-explanatory, there are some nuances that I discovered while researching and experimenting with this subject. Popular belief states that AK sights are crude and ineffective. You might just learn to love them once you really learn how they work.
Next we take a look at several possible techniques to zero the sights for the Kalashnikov. There are several options that will work, but I have also included some techniques featured on YouTube that are faulty and will not work. I explain why certain ones that work, as well as explain why other techniques won’t work. You will be amazed at some of the cool techniques that work, and learn why some of the techniques don’t.
Finally, we discuss the ballistic trajectory profiles of the different sight settings, including the “Battle Setting”. I have been amazed at the amount of internet disinformation about Kalashnikov ballistics, especially regarding the “Battle Setting”. Is it the same as the 300 meter setting? If not, then what is it? Rather than simply repeat what I have read or watched on the internet, I show you the ballistic trajectory tables, as well as the results from actually shooting at the range. I’ll reveal what will help you choose the sight setting that best suits your needs for shooting at various known distances, as well as general self-defense / combat shooting.
Kalashnikov vs. M-4 Sight Radius:
Many times when the uniformed complain about Kalashnikov sights and accuracy, they are referencing the sight radius (distance between the front sight and the rear sight) as they feel that it is too short. As the photo to the right shows, the sight radius of a Kalashnikov and a M-4 carbine is the same. That argument is invalid.
Kalashnikov Rear Sight:
The rear sight on Kalashnikov and SKS rifles have markings for shooting at different distances measured in meters (not yards). The adjustments are intended to change the ballistic trajectory so that point-of-aim and point-of-impact are the same at the respective distance selected on the sight (“1” = 100 meters, “2” = 200 meters, etc.). The rear sight is adjusted by moving the slide up and down the sight until reaching the desired distance setting. The slide is considered set for a specific setting when it is matched with the line under the number. Both sights in the photo to the right are set to the “battle setting”.
Rifles from different countries of origin use different letters or Cyrillic symbols “P”, “S”, or “N” to designate the “battle setting”. Once the rifle is properly zeroed, the battle setting is used in concentrated periods of combat when time does not permit setting the sight. The internet is full of armchair commandos stating that the battle setting and the 3oo meter setting (“3”) provide the same bullet trajectory. This is incorrect. Their ballistic trajectory differences are discussed further down.
The rear sight is not used to zero the rifle. As stated above, you set the rear sight to correspond with the distance to your target and leave it, and then both the windage and elevation adjustments are accomplished with the front sight.
Kalashnikov Front Sight:
With the zeroing process for AK type rifles your goal will be to adjust your front sight so that with the rear sight to “1” your point of aim / point of impact will be the same at 100 meters (109 yards) away, on “2” your point-of-aim / point-of-impact will be the same at 200 meters (218 yards), etc.
When zeroing any type of weapon, remember the acronym F.O.R.S. Front – Opposite, Rear – Same. If you adjust windage and / or elevation with a weapon’s front sight, then you will want to move the front sight post in the opposite direction that you want your bullet impact to move. If you adjust windage and / or elevation with the weapon’s rear sight, then you will want to move the rear sight in the same direction that you want your bullet impact to move. In the case of Kalashnikov weapons, you will set your rear sight to the number corresponding to the distance that you will be zeroing (“1” for 100 meters), and then zero the weapon by adjusting the front sight.
If you want to move the bullet’s impact up, then the front sight should be screwed in (down). If you want to move the bullet’s impact down, it should be screwed out (up). If you want to move the bullet’s impact to the left, then you need to move the front sight to the right. If you want to move the bullet’s impact to the right, then you need to move the front sight to the left.
Moving the front sight left, right, up, or down 1mm changes the point-of-impact 26 centimeters at 100 meters from the target. One full turn of the front sight post moves the point-of-impact 20 centimeters when firing at 100 meters.
You will need an inexpensive, but essential AK sight adjustment tool (pictured right) on the front sight to finely adjust bullet’s point-of-impact.
The following YouTube video demonstrates how to use the sight adjustment tool.
Kalashnikov Sight Picture:
You eyes can only focus on one distance at a time. When shooting with iron sights on any type of firearm you have a choice of focusing on the rear sight, front sight, or the target, as they are each a different distance from your eye. As the picture above demonstrates, always focus on the front sight. The rear sight and the target will appear slightly out of focus.
The relative width of the front sight post is 25cm (9.8 inches) at 100 meters, 50cm (19.7 inches) at 200 meters, 75cm (29.5 inches) at 300 meters, etc. At 100 yards the front sight is ≅9 inches wide.
Methods To Sight In The Kalashnikov:
The basic premise for zeroing the iron sights of any battle rifle is that you will set your rear sight to the corresponding number that represents the known distance (in yards or meters, depending on the vintage of the firearm) that you will be shooting your zeroing target. Once the rifle is set up to shoot point-of-aim / point-of-impact at that distance, the rifle should also shoot point-of-aim / point of impact when the sights are adjusted to the corresponding setting for other distances. Example: When the rifle’s setting is on “1” and you shoot at 100 meters, you should hit right where you aim. If you know that you are 200 meters from your target, you simply move the sight to the “2” setting and you should hit where you are aiming.
A new firearm (or a used one that was previously owned by someone who didn’t know what they were doing) may have sights that are so far off that they may not hit anywhere on the target at 100 meters. This can be very frustrating as it wastes time and expensive ammunition. As with the zeroing process of any firearm, it is easier to start at a much closer distance, and once the windage is centered and elevation is reasonable close, only then move the target out to 100 meters for the AK, or the appropriate distance for whatever rifle you are zeroing. Also, for zeroing purposes, the closer that you are to the target, the less human factors (shaking, bad marksmanship, etc.) come into play. The slang term for shooting close range to center your hits before moving out to longer distances is called “getting on paper”, meaning that you will be assured of your rounds hitting somewhere on the paper target at further distances.
Below are three techniques to zero the AK-47 type rifle. They all have the eventual goal of getting to the rifle to hit point-of-aim / point-of-impact at the respective sight setting and distance to target. Some are legitimate techniques that work and are labeled with a “Win” in the title. In the next section I have a couple of techniques don’t really work (some supported with YouTube videos) , and I have pointed out the flawed logic so that you might better understand the concept. These techniques are labeled with a “Fail” in the title.
25 Yard / 200 Meter Setting Procedure: Simple = WIN!
When a 7.62x39mm Kalashnikov is properly zeroed, and when the sights are set to the 200 meter setting (“2”), the bullet will initially cross the point-of-aim at ~24-25 yards (not meters!). The bullet will again cross the point-of-aim again at 200 meters. More on this ballistic trajectory is discussed below.
- Set your target a precisely at 24-25 yards (not meters) from the muzzle of the rifle. With ammunition that advertises a muzzle velocity of 2450 FPS muzzle velocity, the near zero of the 200 meter zero trajectory is 25 yards. With ammunition that advertises 2350 FPS, you may find that the near zero is 24 yards rather than 25 yards.
- Set your rear sight to the “2” position.
- Fire three to five carefully aimed rounds at the center of your target.
- Using your AK sight tool, adjust the front sight (technique discussed above) and make three to five carefully aimed shots until your bullet holes bisect the top of the front sight post.
- Your final test to verify the rifle’s zero will be to set the rear sight to the 100 meter setting and finely adjust the bullet’s impact at 100 meters distance using the front sight. Remember, moving the front sight left, right, up, or down 1mm changes the point-of-impact 26 centimeters at 100 meters from the target. One full turn of the front sight post moves the point-of-impact 20 centimeters when firing at 100 meters. You can still use a 100 yard range as technically speaking the rounds should impact a mere .15″ above point-of-aim, which practically speaking is much less than the expected variation from the shooter or ammunition.
Once zeroed, you can leave the rear sight as it is and enjoy the 200 meter ballistic trajectory discussed further below, or move the sight to any other numbers or the “Battle Sight” setting and expect hits based on that number’s respective trajectory (discussed further down).
It looks like Rob Ski is now teaching this method!
Official Soviet Procedure:
Complicated and initially confusing, but clever = WIN!
Spoiler: Very slick technique, but it is better as a way to verify proper zero at 100 meters after initially zeroing the rifle at a closer distance.
The zero method is for use with 7.62x39mm Soviet chambered Kalashnikov rifles. It will not be appropriate for 5.45x39mm Soviet.
The specific target for zeroing issued by the Soviets consisted of a black rectangle 35cm tall and 25cm wide (14 x 10″) centered in a white background 1 meter high by 1/2 meter wide (39.3 x 19.6″). The aiming point is the middle of the black rectangle’s lower edge. In the case of the video above the simply painted the appropriate size target box on a IDPA target.
- Place your confirmation target at 100 meters (109 yards).
- Set the rear sight at the “3” setting (300 meters).
- At 100 meters the front sight post will appear the same width as the black target box. It will be easy to line up the sights so that the black box sits perfectly on top of the front sight post. The edges of the front sight post and the black box should line up perfectly.
- From the prone position with the firearm supported on a sandbag or beanbag, fire four well-aimed shots at center of the bottom edge of the black portion of the confirmation target.
- Control point or required point of impact shall be 25cm (≅10″) above the point of aim.
- The group should be no larger than 15cm (≅6″). One flier permitted. The center of the group shall be no farther than 5cm (≅2″) from the control point. If not, adjust the sights and repeat until it is.
- Set the rear sight to the “1” position (100 meters). The rifle is now zeroed.
The premise behind this zeroing procedure is that it easy to finely line up the top of the front sight post with the bottom and sides of the black target box because the relative width of the front sight at 100 meters is ≅10 inches wide. This provides simple, easy, and precise shooting with a Kalashnikov’s crude sights.
The ballistic chart pictured right shows the bullet’s impact at 100 meters (109 yards) with a rifle zeroed at 300 meters. The rifle is correctly zeroed if the rounds impact ≅10″ above point-of-aim. This is because a properly zeroed rifle with the rear sight set on “3” will hit 9.5″ high on a target at 100 meters (as seen on the ballistic table pictured right.
So You Only Have A 100 Yard Range?
Many ranges in the United States are 100 yards long, which is 9 yards short of being 100 meters. To use this technique at 100 yards I calculated the relative size of the front sight post to be 9″ wide and scaled down the size of the target box to 23 centimeters wide (9″). Using the table from Ballistic I discovered that when shooting at 100 yards with the “3” setting, your bullets should impact 8.8″ above the bottom of the black target box. I tried this with a rifle already sighted in using a Post-It note as the confirmation target. It worked perfectly. All of the rounds hit within the Post-It note.
The video above does not address 5.45x39mm Soviet ballistics, but the Ballistic app shows that with the rifle properly zeroed and the rear sight set to “3”, the bullet should impact 5.43″ high at 100 meters (109 yards), and 5″ high at 100 yards. I can not verify if the front sight on a AK-74 is also 10″ relative width at 100 meters. You are on your own. Your observations and experience are appreciated. Please comment at the bottom of the page.
After experimenting with this technique at the range I found it to be an easy and clever way to verify zero, but I felt that it would be easier to initially zero the rifle at a closer distance, and then later verify zero at the further distance using this technique.
Set your sight to the “2” setting and zero the rifle at 24 yards (not meters). You can then use the above technique to check your zero at 100 meters.
AK-47 Zeroing Hints, Cheats, and Recommendations:
- Shooting at a distance of 100 meters, rotating the front sight post on complete turn moves the point-of-impact 7.87″.
- Use the acronym F.O.R.S. when adjusting any weapon’s sights. Front Opposite, Rear Same. For any firearm where you have to adjust front and rear sights to adjust zero, you move the front sight in the opposite direction that you want the bullet holes to move on the target, and you move the rear sight the same direction. Examples: If your firearm requires you to adjust elevation with the front sight, you will move the sight down to move bullet impact up. If you use the rear sight to adjust elevation, then you will move the sight up to move bullet impact up.
- You can set your rear sight to “2” and zero your rifle at 25 yards (not meters). You can then move the rear sight to “1” and verify the zero at 100 meters (109 yards).
- Use the “2” setting for initial zero and general shooting at 25 yards (24 yards with ammunition that advertises a muzzle velocity of 2350 FPS).
- Use the “1” setting for verifying zero at 100 meters, and when shooting at 50 yard or 100 yard ranges.
AK-47 Zeroing Failures:
Just because it is on Al Gore’s internet doesn’t make it true.
There are a number of videos on YouTube that erroneously explain how to zero the AK. These are a couple of examples with explanations of how they are flawed. The purpose of this section isn’t to seek out fault with these video bloggers on a personal level (both are sharp guys and have a lot to offer on their YouTube channels), but rather to help you better understand the ballistic trajectory and performance of the popular Soviet rifle round.
100 Meter Zero After Sighting In At 25 Yards = FAIL!
Spoiler: When an AK rifle is properly zeroed, and the rear sight set on “1”, there is not an initial zero of 25 yards or meters… not even close.
This video is misleading and flawed for a number of reasons. Start with the title “Sighting In An AK-47 / AK-74”. While the mechanics of how to adjust the sights on either caliber are the same, the near zero distances of the two different calibers is going to be completely different. The video’s host didn’t discuss the differences, and without specifying which caliber he was talking about, stated that you can zero at 25 yards and expect point-of-aim = point-of-impact at 100 yards. It isn’t until the 5:55 minute mark that upon careful examination the viewer is able to see by the shape of the rifle’s magazine that it is indeed an AK-74 chambered in 5.45x39mm Soviet. While we are only discussing 7.62x29mm Soviet, and while 5.45x39mm Soviet is outside the scope of this article, this video is still worth discussing because with either caliber there isn’t a zero that has a 25/100 yard trajectory.
In this video the host zeroed the rifle at 25 yards because most ranges in the United States are measured in yards, not meters. He stated that he zeroed at 25 yards to initially center his group, both vertically and horizontally, but later said that you need to verify your zero at 100 meters. With this screwed up technique he isn’t kidding. He initially said that you want to start with the rear sight pulled all of the way back into the battle setting, but later corrected himself and stated that you want to zero at 25 yards with the 100 meter setting. According to a 7.62x39mm Soviet ballistics table, if a rifle with 2″ high sights is zeroed at 25 yards with the “1” setting, the rounds will hit approximately 3.5′ high at 100 yards, and 3.7″ high at 100 meters. If you zero an AK-74 in 5.45x39mm Soviet at 25 yards with the “1” setting, at 100 yards you rounds will impact 4.3″ high, and at 100 meters the rounds will impact 4.6″ above where they are supposed to. His 25 yard initial zeroing technique does not work with either caliber. If you just take his word that this is a sound method for zeroing your rifle and don’t verify and correct these gross errors, then none of you sight settings will be anywhere near correct. If you do make your corrections, it will be a pain to make such a big corrections at 100 meters. This method is very inefficient and not very well thought out.
I really wanted to give this guy the benefit of the doubt. He said that his rifle was already zeroed and that he didn’t need to make any adjustments, but he shot to demonstrate the procedure. When he showed his 25 yard target, all of his rounds had impacted about 1″ high and left. This is where I gave up on him for good. If he was hoping for point-of-aim = point-of-impact at 25 yards, then he was slack for accepting a shot group so far off at such a short zeroing distance. If he as trying to show where a properly zeroed 5.45x39mm Soviet rifle with the sights set to “1” will impact at 25 yards, then the group was grossly misplaced. The rounds should have impacted a little over 1″ low. His rounds impacted over 1″ high. His rifle is definitely not zeroed. If he can hit a steel target at 300 yards with the “3” setting or the battle setting, then I’ll buy the beer.
I had originally questioned whether the video’s host may have been confusing the use of the “2” setting at 24 yards with a 7.62x39mm rifle. When properly zeroed, and the rear sight set to “2” rather than “1”, according to 7.62x39mm ballistic charts the rifle’s point-of-impact will be dead on at ≅24 yards (not meters). If you only have a 25 yard range to zero or practice with your rifle, set the rear sight to “2” and enjoy point-of-aim / point-of-impact shooting. If you later have the opportunity to shoot at 100 meters, simply set the rear sight to “1”. With 5.45x39mm Soviet, the “2” setting at 25 yards technique will not work. His rifle is 5.45x39mm, and with a properly zeroed rifle with the sights set on the “2” setting it should have still been hitting ≅ .6″ low, and not over an inch high. As much authority as he brings to his video presentation, I think that he is confused about the two settings with regards to this subject.
The “25 Meter / 300” Meter Zero = FAIL!
Spoiler: There isn’t such a thing as a 25 meter / 300 meter trajectory with 7.62x39mm.
This video is confusing, and the procedure and explanations are highly flawed for several reasons.
The video’s host initially states that you want to use a 25 / 300 meter zero. With 7.62x39mm Soviet ammunition and 2″ tall rifle sights, the ballistic tables show that there is no such thing as a trajectory that provides point-of-impact at both 25 meters and 300 meters. The table to the right shows that if you zero your rifle at 25 meters then the bullet will impact over 18″ low at 300 meters (328 yards). I wonder if the host is confusing the 25 /300 meter zero of the military M4 rifle with a 14.5″ barrel and M855 62-grain, 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition.
At the 1:15 mark, the host admits in a note at the bottom of the video stating that the name is misleading, that with a 25 meter zero the bullet will again cross the point-of-aim at 220 meters (200 yards), and that he name of this setting should be called a “25 meter / 220 meter zero”. The problem with his correction is that it is also highly flawed. With a 25 meter near zero, the far zero will actually be approximately 187 meters (~205 yards) — not anywhere near 220 meters. The video also neglects to suggest what setting that you should have your rear sight set to.
Forget this video’s procedure as it is flawed, confusing, and doesn’t provide a viable zeroing procedure. As you can see on the 200 meter ballistic chart to the right, the bullet will pass through the point-of-aim perfectly at 25 yards. A tried and true method will be for you to set you rear sight to “2” and then zero your rifle at 25 yards (not meters). You can now move your sight back to the “1” setting and enjoy point-of-aim / point-of-impact at 100 meters (109 yards), you can leave the rifle at a 200 meter setting (as discussed later down the page), or pull adjust the rear sight back to the battle setting and enjoy torso size accuracy out to 400 meters.
No information in this video was provided for 5.45x39mm Soviet.
7.62 x 39 mm Ballistic Trajectories:
Once The Rifle Is Properly Zeroed, What Is the Best Set-It-and-Forget-It Setting?
I’ve never been able to get a good explanation of whether there is a particular setting on the rear sight on an AK-47 that could be selected so that you could simply “set it and forget it”, meaning that you could set the range on the sight, and then shoot at different distances with a minimum of rise or drop with bullet impact. There are plenty of YouTube videos that show you how to adjust the front sight so that you can match the point-of-impact with the appropriate elevation setting on the rear sight, but there is very little information on what trajectories you can expect with each setting. Like all rifles, you may set your sights to hit dead on at a particular distance, but when shooting at other distances with the same sight setting, your point-of-impact may be grossly different from your point-of-aim.
I used the iPad application “Ballistic” (pictured right) to create ballistic trajectory graphs for an AK-47 with sights sitting 2″ above the center of bore, firing 122 grain, 7.62 x 39 mm FMJ ammo. One graph is for the 100 meter sight setting with a 100 meter zero, one is for the 200 meter setting with a 200 meter zero, one is for the 247 meter “Battle Setting”, and one compared the ballistics of all three settings.
It is important to note that the sights on AK rifles calibrated for meters, not yards. While meters and yards are pretty close to being the same distance, the farther you get the more their difference becomes apparent. Because most rifle ranges in the USA are measured in yards, and because the bullet trajectory application on my i-product provides data in yards, I have gone ahead and provided you with the data distances in yards.
Zero your rifle at 100 meters (109 yards). After that you can expect the trajectory shown on the graph below. If the rifle’s sight is set to “1”, make sure that point-of-aim and point-of-impact are 100 meters, not yards.
For reference, keep in mind that 100 meters = 109 yards, and 200 meters = 218 yards, etc.
100 Meter Zero Trajectory:
If you set your rifle’s rear sight to “1”, then when firing ammunition with a muzzle velocity of 2450 FPS you should expect the performance in the graph above. When shooting ammunition with a muzzle velocity of 2350 you can expect very minor deviations from the chart above.
- The 100 meter zero provides a very flat trajectory out to 150 yards.
- At 54 yards (49.5 meters) your point-of-impact and point-of-aim will be the same.
- The point-of-impact will continue to rise to .27” above point-of-aim between 79 to 85 yards. The point-of-aim will drop back down point-of-impact will once again be point-of-aim at 109 yards (100 meters).
- At 150 yards the point-of-impact will only drop 1.5” below point-of-aim.
- At 200 yards the point-of-impact will drop almost 5.5” below point-of-aim.
- You can expect a rise of just over ¼” over point-of-aim, and a drop of 1.5″ out to 150 yards.
Summary: The “1” setting is perfect for shooting on 50 yard and 100 yard rifle ranges.
200 Meter Zero Trajectory:
If you set your rifle’s rear sight to “2”, then when firing ammunition with a muzzle velocity of 2450 FPS you should expect the performance in the graph above.
- At 25 yards your point-of-sight and point-of-impact will be the same (24 yards when shooting ammunition with a 2350 FPS muzzle velocity).
- At 100 yards the point-of-impact will be just over 3.5” above point-of-aim.
- Between 125 to 130 yards the round will reach its maximum apogee just over 3.8” over point-of-aim.
- At 200 yards the round will impact 1.4” inches high.
- At 218 yards (200 meters) the point-of-aim and point-of-impact will be the same.
- At 250 yards the point-of-impact will hit 3.4” below point-of-aim.
- At 300 yards the point-of-impact will hit -11.25” inches below point-of-aim.
Summary: The 200 meter setting isn’t as flat as the 100 meter setting. Compared to the 100 meter setting, you will get a higher rise of bullet impact within 150 yards, but it’s only a rise of 3.8”. If you know that your shooting will be limited to 150 yards, then the 100 meter setting is best. If you will be running and gunning at various distances, ranging from point-blank and out through 250 yards, then the 200 meter setting will be better. It is combat accurate (+/- 4″) at closer ranges, but is more accurate at longer ranges. Another way to look at the 200 meter setting is that you can shoot out to 250 yards and impact will always be within +/- 4″ from point-of-aim. The “2” setting is perfect for shooting at 25 yards, such as at an indoor range.
The “Battle Setting” is sometimes mislabeled as “300 meter zero” or “350 meter zero”. It isn’t either of those, but rather a 18/≅240-250 meter zero (the far zero will vary depending on the ammunition’s manufacturer, weight, and bullet type. Remember, ” zero” is the distance where the point-of-aim is the same as point-of impact (you hit exactly where you are aiming). This setting has been mislabeled as a “zero” over time, but it is simply a setting that can allow the shooter to make hits somewhere on torso size targets (either slightly above, equal to, or slightly below point-of-aim) out to 350 meters. As already stated, it is simply just a setting that allows hits somewhere on a torso size target out to 350 meters, but the rifle isn’t “zeroed” at that distance with that setting.
As depicted on the table below, the battle setting’s ballistic trajectory crosses the POA at 18 meters (19.6 yards), reaches it maximum apogee of just over ≅7″ above POA at 150 yards, descends through POA at around 240-250 meters, and descends under seven inches below POA at around 288 meters (316 yards). With this setting you can enjoy making hits within a 14″ diameter circle from the muzzle out to just past 300 yards without any hold-over or hold-under.
Farther than 300 meters (328 yards) you will be better served to set the rear sight leaf to the setting that corresponds to the range to the target.
In the following video, Rob Ski of Ak Operators Union, Local 47-74 discusses how to take full advantage of the trajectory of the battle setting. Because the battle setting trajectory places the bullet above point-of-aim from 18 meters (19.6 yards) all the way out 240-250 meters, you will want to aim at the lower abdomen of your enemy. Out to a distance of 240-250 meters, when aimed at the lower abdomen, all of your rounds will impact somewhere in the center or upper torso without the shooter worrying about any holdover. This is where the “belt buckle” internet hysteria originated from. It’s a great idea. You can expect hits as depicted in the table above.
Is The “Battle Setting” The Same As The 300 Meter Setting?:
Many “YouTube Commandos” claim that the “Battle Setting” is the same as the 300 meter setting. It is not. To prove it to yourself, first set a target up at any given distance (20 yards works great). Set your rear sight to the battle setting. Shoot 3-5 carefully aimed rounds from a rested position (bean bag, sand bag, etc.). Move your rear sight to the 300 meter setting. Again, shoot 3-5 well-aimed shots at the same aiming point as before. Your two groups will not hit the same spot. At 20 yards you will see that your two groups will be about 1/2″ apart. If the two settings were the same, then there would only be one group of shots.
The photo to the right shows a shot group fired at 18 meters (19.6 yards) with the rear sight set to the battle setting. (No comments about the flier… thanks.) The rifle was already perfectly zeroed, so this photo proves that the “Battle Setting” is an 18 meter (19.6 yard) zero. Ballistic tables show that it will cross point-of-aim again at 247 meters (270 yards).
The photo to the right shows a show group fired at 18 meters (19.6 yards) with the “3” (300 meter) sight setting . The bullets impact approximately 1/2″ high, which correlates with 300 meter ballistic chart. (Again, no comments about the flier. I was under the influence of copious amounts of caffeine.) This photo proves that the battle setting and the 300 meter setting are not the same. Try it yourself.
In contrast to the battle setting (as seen in the chart below) the 300 meter setting’s trajectory first crosses the POA at approximately 13.25 meters (14.5 yards), reaches its apogee of 12″ around 164 meters (180 yards), drops through POA again at 300 meters (328 yards), and dips down past 12″ below POA at around 349 meters (380 yards).
Given a choice between the two, I would choose the battle setting over the 300 meter setting, unless I was shooting at a target that I knew to be exactly 300 meters away. It is interesting to note that if shooting at a target 300 yards away, both the battle setting and the 300 meter setting should impact ≅4″ from the POA. The battle setting will hit ≅4″ low, and the 300 meter setting will hit 4″ high.
Final Recommendations For Zeroing The AK-47 (7.62x39mm):
- To zero the AK, set your rear sight to the “2” setting and zero the rifle at 25 yards (not meters), or 24 yards with ammunition that advertises a muzzle velocity of 2350 FPS. Be sure to verify your zero at 100 meters with the “1” setting.
- Use the battle setting for plinking and defensive shooting out to 300 meters and expect to get hits within a 7″ diameter circle around your point-of-aim. This is your best “set it and forget it” setting.
- Use the “1” setting for shooting at 50 yard and 100 yard rifle ranges.
- Check out Savannah Arsenal’s AK-47 / AKM / AK-74 page.
Zero A Micro Red Dot Sight On The AK-47:
The idea for this section originated from a question asked by a reader on the How To Zero The Kalashnikov AK-47 — 7.62x39mm page with regards to what distance to zero a micro red dot sight mounted to an AK-47 that. His mount does not allow the red dot to be cowitnessed with the iron sights. His mount puts the red dot 2.5″ above the center of bore.
Reader: Please help! How many yards/meters do I zero my ras47 red dot primary arms micro dot? Please thanks!
Savannah Arsenal Reply: Look at the trajectories for the different zero distances and see which one works best for you. If sight can be cowitnessed then simply zero it to that distance. If it can’t be cowitnessed (maybe sits a little high) then we can figure out a pretty close compromise if we know the height of the red dot (probably the center of the sight) above the center of the bore.
Reader: Thank you so much for helping! I’m using a Ras47 with a primary arms advanced micro red dot. with the century red army standard scope base and mount which was made from century for this ak47. Using wolf fmj 123 grain. The iron sites are zero in by using your website! 25 yards with rear setting at 2. Then 100 meters and rear setting back to 1. But I always use battle setting!
The red dot sight can’t be co witness and the measurements, center of red dot sight and center of bore is roughly 2″1/4-2″1/2. I’m no expert but by using a tape measure that’s The measurements. Bullets are 123grain wolf fmj 2350 thanks!!
Using 7.62x39mm Soviet 123 grain FMJ at 2350 FPS and a sight height of 2.5″ above bore I came up with a couple of decent trajectories. I used yards for both. I’m assuming that you are in the USA and think in terms of yards.
35/186 Yard Zero:
This looks like a GREAT zero for shooting within approximately 250 yards. This zero will provide a trajectory that never rises above or below the height of the front sight from the muzzle out to 220 yards. You will hit anywhere within a 5″ circle out to that point. The Primary Arms Micro RDS has a 2 MOA dot. As you can see from the numbers below, you rounds will impact within (or very close to) the red dot from about 25 yards out to almost 250 yards.
- 35 yards: POA=POI – Within the sight’s red dot.
- 50 yards: +.82″: – Within the sight’s red dot.
- 75 yards: +1.82″ – Bullet impact slightly over the sight’s red dot.
- 100 yards: +2.35″ – Within the sight’s red dot.
- From approximately 105 yards to 120 yards the bullet skims along the trajectory’s apogee of 2.4″ – Just slightly above your sight’s red dot.
- 125 yards: +2.36 yards – Within the sight’s red dot.
- 150 yards: +1.82″ – Within the sight’s red dot.
- 175 yards: +.69″ – Within the sight’s red dot.
- 186 yards: POI=POA – Within the sight’s red dot.
- 200 yards: -1.08″ Your 2 MOA red dot will be 4” wide at this distance – Within the sight’s red dot.
- At approximately 215 yards (almost 200 meters) the trajectory passes 2.5″ below POA.
- 225 yards: -3.54″ – Within the sight’s red dot.
- 250 yards: -6.75″: The red dot will be approximately 5” wide, so your rounds will impact slightly below the dot. Can you really tell one or two inches at 250 yards?
- 275 yards: -10.75″: The dot will be approximately 5.5” wide, so you will need to aim approximately one dot width high.
- 300 yards: -15.61″: Your dot will be 6” wide, so you will need to aim between two to four dot widths high.
30/212 Yard Zero:
This zero doesn’t provide a trajectory within the red dot like the 35/186 yard zero, but it is still very usable.
- 30 yards: POA=POI
- 50 yards: +1.33″
- 75 yards: +2.59″
- 100 yards: +3.37″
- 125 yards: +3.64″
- 150 yards: +3.36″
- 175 yards: +2.48″
- 200 yards: +.97″
- 212 yards: POA=POI
- 225 yards: -1.24
- 250 yards: -4.18″
- 275 yards: -7.93″
- 300 yards: -12.54
17/326 Yard Zero:
Rob Ski of The AK Operators Union recommends zeroing your red dot sight so that your rounds impact 9″ high at 100 yards. This translates to a 17 / 326 yard zero. Initially I thought that this would be a terrible zero to use, however if you follow the “Soviet method” that Rob and so many other YouTubers refer to and aim at the waistline of a humanoid target then your rounds will hit somewhere in the upper torso out to 326 yards. I’m not a big fan of impact of over a foot above point-of-aim at 200 yards.
Assuming the same ammunition and sight height above of 2.5″:
- 17 yards: POA=POI
- 25 yards: +1.03″
- 50 yards: +4.13″
- 75 yards: +6.81″
- 100 yards: +9.00″
- 125 yards: +10.67″
- 150 yards: +11.80″
- 175 yards: +12.33″
- 200 yards: +12.22″
- 225 yards: +11.42″
- 250 yards: +9.88″
- 275 yards: +7.54″
- 300 yards: +4.34″
- 325 yards: +.21″
- 326 yards: POA=POI
- 350 yards: -4.93″
- 375 yards: -11.16″
- 400 yards: -18.55″
Red Dot Zeroing Conclusion:
I’m mounting a 2 MOA Vortex Sparc RDS to a Midwest Industries Gen 1 Universal Handguard. I’m going to go with the 35/186 zero to take advantage of bullet impact within the red dot.
AK-74 5.45x39mm Ballistic Trajectories:
Here is some information and some numbers that I have generated to help you to zero and then effectively employ your AK-74 rifle (5.45x39mm Soviet).
Spoiler: It looks like the 300 meter trajectory will provide the best set-it-and-forget-it zero for combat shooting out to 350 meters (328 yards).
I used the iPad application “Ballistic” (pictured right) to generate the data to create ballistic trajectory graphs for Wolf brand, 59-grain FMJ fired from a rifle with sights 2.0″ above center of bore, and a muzzle velocity of 2900 FPS.”
I used “standard weather” (15ºC/59ºF, 29.92″ barometric pressure, sea level altitude), and zero wind direction/velocity.
If you use a different type of ammunition (manufacturer, weight, bullet type), barrel length, sight height over bore, or shoot at a different altitude with a different temperature, barometric pressure, and with wind you can expect deviations from the ballistic solutions that I have provided.
Please keep in mind that I have not shot any of this to prove or disprove it. These are numbers that are simply generated from a ballistics calculations. Reports from real world shooting to help validate the data would be appreciated.
100 Meter Zero:
This caliber is VERY flat shooting. For a 100 meter point-of-aim = point-of-impact with the “1” setting the near zero is going to be 72 meters (78.7 yards). This isn’t going to be a very good setting to initially zero the rifle because the near zero is so far away.
Expected 100 Meter Zero Trajectory:
- After 72 meters the bullet rises only a few 100ths of an inch until falling back through point-of-aim at 100 meters (109) yards.
- 125 meters (137 yards): – .40″
- 150 meters (164 yards): – 1.24″
- 175 meters (191 yards): – 2.48″
- 200 meters (218 yards): – 4.17″
- 225 meters (246 yards): – 6.4″
- 250 meters (273 yards): – 9.1″
- 275 meters (301 yards): – 12.4″
- 300 meters (328 yards): – 16.3″
Summary: The caliber shoots too flat to zero with the “1” setting because the near zero is too far away. Use another sight setting / near zero combination. After your rifle is zeroed, when shooting with the “1” setting you can expect your round to touch point-of-aim at 72 meters and ride along it until reaching roughly 105 meters. It will pass down through 2 inches below point-of-aim at 167 meters. Expect hits within +/- the height of the front sight (2″) from the muzzle out to 167 meters (183 yards). Use the “1” sight setting when target shooting on a 100 yard range.
200 Meter Zero:
This will be a little easier to zero the with the “2” setting as the near zero will be 34 meters (37.2 yards). You can set up a target at 34 meters, set your sights to “2”, and zero the rifle. You can then verify zero buy moving the sight to the “1” setting and then shoot a target 100 meters (109 yards) away.
With a properly zeroed rifle and the sights set to “2” you can expect the round to first pass through the point-of-aim at 34 meters (37.2 yards).
Expected 200 Meter Zero Trajectory:
- 50 meters (54.7 yards): + .7″
- 100 meters (109 yards): + 2.0″
- 150 meters (164 yards): + 1.9″
- 175 meters (191 yards): + 1.2″
- 200 meters (218 yards): POA = POI
- 225 meters (246 yards): – 1.7″
- 250 meters (273 yards): – 3.9″
- 275 meters (301 yards): – 6.6″
- 300 meters (328 yards): – 10.1″
- 325 meters (355 yards): – 14.0″
- 350 meters (383 yards): – 18.6″
- 375 meters (410 yards): – 24.1″
- 400 meters (437 yards): – 30.2″
Summary: The 200 meter has a much better near zero to initially set up the rifle. Also a great “battle setting”. Once the rifle is zeroed, the “2” setting will provide a very flat trajectory that passes within +/- 2.2″ of point-of-aim from the muzzle out to a little past 230 meters (252 yards).
300 Meter Zero:
The 300 meter zero looks like a great way to zero the rifle as the near zero is an easy to shoot 21 meters (23 yards). Simply set up a target at 21 meters, set your sights to “3”, and zero the rifle. You can then verify zero buy moving the sight to the “1” setting and shoot a target 100 meters (109 yards) away.
Expected 300 meter zero trajectory:
- 50 meters (54.7 yards): + 2.4″
- 100 meters (109 yards): + 5.4″
- 150 meters (164 yards): + 7.0″
- 175 meters (191 yards): + 7.0″
- 200 meters (218 yards): + 6.7″
- 225 meters (246 yards): + 5.8″
- 250 meters (273 yards): + 4.5″
- 275 meters (301 yards): + 2.6″
- 300 meters (328 yards): POA = POI
- 325 meters (355 yards): – 3.12″
- 350 meters (382 yards): – 6.9″
Summary: This zero has a great near zero to use for setting up the rifle. The trajectory looks like it is probably the best set-it-and-forget it “battle sight zero” to use. The 200 meter zero drops off to quickly after 250 meters, and the 400 meter zero trajectory launches the bullet like a rocket. The 300 meter zero trajectory will provide you hits +/- 7″ all the way out to 350 meters. This is not too far different from the US Army’s 25/300 meter trajectory with M855 5.56x45mm 62-grain FMJ ammo fired from a M4 carbine, or the 18/247 meter “Battle Setting” trajectory from a 7.62x39mm AK-47. Use the Soviet method of aiming “belt buckle” level on a humanoid target and to achieve abdomen and chest hits out to 300 meters. Wow.
What Zero Is The Battle Setting?
Is The Battle Setting The Same As The “4” (400 Meter) Setting?
There are internet rumors that the battle setting on the AK-74 represents a 400 meter zero. This may or may not be true. I have doubts because many people on the internet erroneously state that the battle setting on the AK-47 is a 300 meter setting. Though experimentation I proved that the Battle Setting is actually an 18/≅240-250 meter zero. As with the claims that the AK-47 battle setting is the same as the 300 meter setting, I would ask why would the Battle Setting be the same as one of the other settings? It isn’t the case with the AK-47, so I question if it is actually a 400 meter zero with the AK-74. (On a particular AK forum I was accused of questioning 50 years of Soviet doctrine…as if I had questioned the holy word of God…)
There are also internet rumors that the AK-74 Battle Setting has a 15 meter near zero. This might be possible, however when you run a ballistic analysis you find that the far zero roughly 395 meters. This is too close to the 400 meter rumor to be coincidence. This might give credit to the the battle setting being the same as the “4” setting.
If the battle setting is the same as the “4” setting the you can expect a roller coaster trajectory from both:
- 50 meters (54.7 yards): + 4.4″
- 100 meters (109 yards): + 9.6″
- 150 meters (164 yards): + 13.25″
- 175 meters (191 yards): + 14.4″
- 200 meters (218 yards): + 15.1″
- 225 meters (246 yards): + 15.3″
- 250 meters (273 yards): + 15.0″
- 275 meters (301 yards): + 14.1″
- 300 meters (328 yards): + 12.6
- 325 meters (355 yards): + 10.6″
- 350 meters (382 yards): + 7.8″
- 375 meters (410 yards): + 4.2″
- 400 meters (437 yards): POA = POI
- 425 meters (465 yards): – 5.0″
- 450 meters (492 yards): – 11.2″
- 475 meters (519 yards): – 18.0″
- 500 meters (547 yards): – 26.0″
Is The Battle Setting A 13/440 Meter Zero?
Another internet rumor is that the battle setting is a 440 meter zero. I have no idea of where that rumor originated, or what the number is based on. I did, however run a far zero of 440 meters through the Ballistic App and came up with a near zero of ≅13 meters (14.2 yards).
If the battle setting is a 13/440 meter zero then you can expect:
- 50 meters: + 5.4″
- 100 meters: + 11.6″
- 150 meters: + 16.2″
- 200 meters: + 19″
- 250 meters: + 19.9″
- 300 meters: + 18.5″
- 350 meters: + 14.7″
- 400 meters: + 7.9″
- 450 meters: – 2.3″
- 500 meters: – 16.1″
That is a terrible trajectory… one that is usually reserved for roller coasters at Six Flags. That can’t be true, can it?
Own An AK-74? You Have A Homework Assignment!
Once you set up your rifle it would be great if you could take the time to prove or disprove whether battle setting is the same as the “4” setting (a 15/395-400 meter trajectory), or a 13/440 meter trajectory, and if nether, then what?
Is the battle setting the same as the “4”?
Once you properly zeroed your AK-74 so that it hits point-of-aim = point-of-impact at 100 meters with the “1” setting, set up a target at an easy to shoot distance… 25 yards will be fine. Place your rear sight on the battle setting, and fire four or five carefully aimed shots at a small target, such as a 1″ dot. Note where the rounds impact. Next, move your rear sight to the “4” position and fire another four or five carefully aimed shots at another identical dot. If your shot groups impact identically on each dot then you know that both settings are identical and that the battle setting will give you a 400 meter zero trajectory. If the two shot groups impact differently with regards to the target dot, then you know that they are different. You can repeat the same experiment at 100 yards or meters with the two different settings and see if they impact in the same spot. If the battle setting isn’t the same as the “4”, then what is it?
Is the battle setting a 13/440 meter zero?
Once you properly zeroed your AK-74 so that it hits point-of-aim = point-of-impact at 100 meters with the “1” setting, you can set up a target at 13 meters (14.2 yards), place your rear sight on the battle setting, and fire four or five carefully aimed shots from a rested shooting position and see if your rounds impact exactly at your point-of-aim. If they do, then you know that the Battle Setting is a 13/≅440 meter zero. You can verify this trajectory by shooting four or five carefully aimed shots at a target 100 meters (109 yards) away. At that distance your rounds should impact 11.6″ above your aiming point. At 100 yards the rounds should impact 10.6″ above point-of-aim.
It isn’t either. Now what?
If the battle setting shots do not impact exactly where you aim at 13 meters, move your target a little closer or farther away and shoot a few more shots. Continue until you hit exactly where you aim. This will be your near zero for the battle sight. Then carefully shoot at 100 meters with the battle setting and measure the distance of the shot group from the point-of-aim. Using the newly discovered near zero and the distance between the point-of-aim and the point-of-impact, we can use your submitted findings to make some calculations and establish the true trajectory of the battle setting. You can become an internet sensation for proving everyone wrong. If you are lucky then you might end up being interviewed on the Oprah or Ellen TV shows. Measure precisely for your report. It matters. Thanks!
Good luck, and please let us know how this works out for you.
Recommended AK-47 Pages by Savannah Arsenal:
Bbe sure to check out these other related Savannah Arsenal pages.
- AK47 / AKM / AK74
- AK-47 / AK-74 Buyer’s Guide
- Kalashnikov Rifle Variants and Countries of Origin
- AK-47 / AK-74 Magazine Buyer’s Guide
- AK-74 Trajectories — 5.45x39mm Soviet
- AK Operator’s Union: Class Gear & Kit Review
- AK Operators Union / Center-T Class
- AK Philosophy / Thoughts / Takeaways / Personal Opinions
- Tactical Rifle Essentials
- Tactical Rifle Accessories
- Tactical Rifle Ammunition
- Tactical Rifle Optics
- Tactical Rifle Manipulation
- Ammunition Load Bearing Gear