36 Yard Zero Target Explained [+Test Results]

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  • Post category:Red Dot Guide
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36 yard zero laser range finder

The 36 yard zero is considered the best combat zero for fighting rifles. This is because at this distance, all hits will land within the point of aim on a BC zone size target, making it the optimal zero for the 5.56 battlefield.

This means that shooters do not need to memorize holdover and can expect their rounds to hit within a specific size target, as seen in our collected results.

3 Reasons To Use A 36 Yard Zero

  • ~5" shot group for anything between 25 - 300 yard
  • Eliminate mental processing for holdover, Just point and shoot
  • Increased probable combat effective hit every time
36 yard poi 45 degrees leaning right

Shot group as tight as a ~5" circle [CQB & mid range distances] 

The 36-yard zero is a versatile option, providing an optimal balance between close-range and long-range shooting. At 36 yards, the bullet's trajectory will be 4 inches above the point of aim, and at 300 yards it will be about 2 inches below the point of aim, providing a suitable point of impact for distances between 25 and 300 yards.

Download Vigilance Elite 36 yard zero target for a 25 yard range use

36 yard zero target

36 VS 25 Yard Zero Comparison

36 yard zero vs 25 yard zero

Most shooters typically choose the 25-yard zero as their default, however, the 36-yard zero offers a more precise grouping for various engagement distances.

On the other hand, while the 25-yard zero is suitable for shooting at 25, 300 and 400 yards, it requires careful holdover compensation for accurate targeting at 150, 200, 250 and 450 yards.


36 VS 50 Yard Zero Comparison

36 yard zero vs 50 yard zero

The 50-yard zero offers a similar feel to the 36-yard zero, and provides an even more accurate grouping between 25 and 250 yards.

However, at 300 yards, the bullet drops nearly 5 inches below the point of aim. As a result, the overall shot group size is around 9 inches, and holdover compensation is necessary for accurate targeting at that distance.

Zero Comparison - 36 VS 100

36 yard zero vs 100 yard zero

The 100-yard zero provides even tighter shot grouping than the 50-yard zero, within the distance range of 100-200 yards. However, beyond 250 and 300 yards, the bullet's trajectory drops significantly, resulting in a total shot group size of 12 inches.

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36 Yard Zero Test Results

Using 55gr 5.56mm

X95 High Optic Height Over Bore - Test 1

The distance between the optic and barrel do affect the shot group. Check this out: 

X95 with EOTech on Unity Tactical FAST mount ~ 4" optic height over bore total

x95 with eotech
36 yard zero high height over bore result

Increased optic height + X95's height over bore do stretch the overall POI about 2.5 - 4" apart compared to standard 1/3rd co-witness optic height.

Standard 1/3rd Co Witness Optic Height - Test 2

AR15 with Vortex AMG 1/3rd co-witness optic height

ar15 vltor with vortex amg
36 yard zero 1 3 co witness height

Shot groups are packed much tighter with 1/3rd co-witness height than X95

Common FAQ

Who Introduced The 36 Yard Zero

The 36 yard zero idea was initially introduced to the community by Shawn Ryan (Vigilance Elite) Former SEAL.

Watch how he explains it:

Who Can Benefit From 36 Yard Zero?

People who can benefit from a 36 yard zero are:

  • Military
  • Competition shooters
  • CQB Home defense
  • Great for multi purpose rifles

Less thinking nor memorizing holdover is required.

How much drop for a 36 yard zero at 25 yards?

The difference is about 0.5" - 0.7" for a 36 yard zero at 25 yards. Assuming no significant optic height over bore.

Note: You MUST scale the image to 100% for accurate print results

How Does A 36 Yard Zero Perform For CQB Distances?

eotech 68 MOA ring reticle range estimation human size target
36 yard point blank holdover

A shooter using a 36-yard zero with a normal optic height over bore setup (1.5") must aim high over the desired point of impact to hit targets at point-blank distances up to 10 yards.

The bottom hash mark of a 68 MOA ring reticle from the EOTECH helps by providing a holdover of 2.5 inches above the intended point of impact at about 5 yard point blank distance."

View EOTech zeroing procedure here

Use 36 Yard Zero For Offset Optic?


Sure why not. 

For the best result, please make sure the offset optic aligns with the bore when canted - It minimizes offset.

Keep Constant Offset Red dot

Zero it like this if you can:

Check out canted optics zeroing tips here

45 Degree Offset aligns with bore


I thoroughly test every firearm product before recommending it for civilian use. This involves personally purchasing or borrowing each product and rigorously using and testing them for content creation.