What distance should you zero the sights or optic on your AR-15 style rifle? For the flattest, set-it-and-forget-it trajectory, zero your red dot, holographic, and backup sights at 50 yards. Trust us, or keep reading to find out why.
When adding a red-dot optic and backup sights you will want to:
- Choose the best optic and backup sights for your needs.
- Decide if you want your backup sights cowitnessed or in the lower 1/3 of the optic’s window.
- Install your electronic optic onto your rifle and add backup sights just in case your electronic optic fails. (Don’t forget to use Loctite thread locker on all the screws.)
- Choose the best “battle zero” (BZ) for your rifle, and then zero it at the range.
- Co-witness the backup sights with the reticle of the electronic sight, or if you chose a lower 1/3 witness, then zero your backup sights independently.
- Carry spare batteries with the rifle, such as in the grip or in your support gear.
Red Dot Sights (RDS) and Holographic Weapons Sights (HWS):
Shooting from CQB distances out to 200 meters and beyond can greatly be aided with the use of red-dot or holographic electronic optics. They are much easier to shoot with than traditional iron sights.
Buy quality gear. Cheap sights may not be bright enough to be seen on bright, sunny days. Also, they may not be handle the rough and tumble abuse from run’n and gun’n… mounts may break off, electronics may fail, or glass may easily crack.
As with all firearm accessories, make sure to use Loctite on all screw threads. You optic’s mounts will eventually vibrate loose. You will have to remount and rezero your optic.
Backup “Iron” Sights (BUIS):
If you are going to use backup sights as a redundancy for your red-dot sight (RDS) or holographic sight, zero the optic first (reason discussed below). Then pop up your backup sights and match them to optic’s reticle so that the front sight post bisects the red-dot aiming reticle while looking through the sights.
If you are going to use backup sights as a stand alone aiming system, zero them at 50 yards. Zero as accurately as possible, but do not get frustrated if they are slightly off.
This page does not pertain to A2 style AR-15 sights that are adjustable for different ranges.
Be sure to use Loctite thread locker on the sight’s screws when mounting them to your rifle.
What Distance To Zero Your RDS and BUIS:
- 50/220 Yard Zero
- USMC 36/300 Yard Zero
- USMC 200 Yard Zero
If you don’t have the patience for a detailed explanation, then you will still be well served by the information above. If you want to know more, keep reading.