Just because it is on Al Gore’s internet doesn’t make it true..
On Savannah Arsenal’s AK-47 page, and on the How To Zero The AK-47 Rifle blog entry we discuss several ways to properly set up and zero the sights on an AK-47 rifle chambered in 7.62x39mm Soviet. 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 blog entry isn’t to seek out fault with these video bloggers, but instead 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. The icon in the lower right corner of his video says “on target”. He definitely isn’t. 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 25 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 25 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 approximately .6″ low, and not over an inch high. However now I do not think that he is confused about the two settings. As much authority as he brings to his video presentation, he doesn’t really know what he is talking about 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.
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.