There are various ways to zero an LPVO for different applications, reticle design and it's also based on the ballistic performance of a particular load. In this guide, we are focusing on what is the best range to zero an LPVO for the standard 5.56 ammo and standard 16" barrel length.
We will discuss zeroing philosophy based on personal experience and professional suggestions.
Everyone's zero preference is different base on shooting style, ammo type and distance, but the fundamental zeroing procedure is the same.
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Zero LPVO Based on Reticle Designs
There are many reticle designs out there for LPVOs, Typically they are designed with BDC, which means the reticle is calibrated for a particular ammunition type.
Other LPVOs such as the Vortex Razor HD Gen 3 1-10X feature a EBR-9 reticle which is hashmarked for shooters who can work the math in their head using the MOA units instead of relying on a fixed reticle system.
MOA or MRAD reticle systems can be fine tuned for any caliber or distance, which is highly recommended for long distance shooting.
BDC reticles usually have a table suggesting the best zero distances for common bullets and speeds. This table gives a good guess, but using a tool like Strelok Pro will give the best results.
Zeroing LPVO at 100 Yards
Zeroing at 100 yard for a 5.56 rifle is very much the standard. A 100 yard zero with the point of aim is the point of impact.
Low power variable optics with ballistic drop compensator calibrated for the 100 yard zero can benefit from this particular zero. This means the reticle holdover subtension mark will adjust for the target distance change. The nice thing about a 100 yard zero is that as distance increases, point of impacts are dropping down instead of rising up relative to the 100 yard zero.
The shooter can easily remember the holdover for longer distance shots. However, that's only if the shooter is using a BDC reticle, which the hashmark may not as accurate or offer tuning flexibility as a LPVO with MRAD or MOA reticle system.
Zeroing LPVO at 36 Yards
The 36 yards zero is typically recommended for a red dot sight. However, it can be a great zeroing distance for a LPVO at 1X magnification, and treat it like a red dot sight.
Since 36 yard that everyone is talking about is a hybrid zero for the best combat effective hit. Not many scope makers make BDC reticle that feature a 36 yard zero hashmark.
When you set your scope to 36 yards, your BDC reticle won't work right. If you set your MRAD or MOA optic to 36 yards, remember to check how the shot group changes as you zoom in. Especially when using a second focal plane scope.
Expert shooters say you should gather data on how your ammo and rifle work together. Being consistent is important. Once you know how they work, keep practicing the same way.
Many new shooters change their settings too often. They use different rifles and scopes and don't shoot the same way every time. This can make them forget their settings.
Zeroing LPVO at 50 Yards
LPVO that is zeroed for 50 yards has wider bullet drop when compared with the 100 yard zero. The spread for a 100 yard zero is about ~2" - 3". A 50 yard zero has about a 4" spread as target distance increases to 350 yards. That stretches almost half size of an full size IPSC target.
For a LPVO with second focal plane or first focal plane reticles, A 50 yard zero is good at 1X magnification based on personal preference.