The topic of home defense is an important one that every one should consider. You should have plans in place on how you intend to protect your family, with that in mind don’t forget what might seem like small details.
For instance if your primary home defense plan involves a rifle, then you want to make sure that it is properly sighted in.
The topic we are going to discuss today is what is the optimal distance to sight a rifle in. To save you some reading, “For most people, a rifle should be sighted at around 25 yards when being used for home defense and small game hunting.”
When it comes time to sight-in your rifle for home defense, the optimal distance is going to depend on a few factors.
The first thing to consider is the intended use of the rifle. If you are using the rifle for self-defense inside your home, you will want to sight-in at a shorter distance. This is because most self-defense situations that occur inside the home happen at relatively close range.
However, if you are using the rifle for self-defense outside of your home, you may want to sight-in at a longer distance. This is because you may need to engage a target at a longer range in order to protect yourself and others. A good rule of thumb is to sight-in your rifle at the distance you expect to be shooting the majority of the time.
One thing I should point out here, is that for the use of a weapon to be considered self defense, there has to be a need to defend yourself. In most instances taking shots at 100 plus yards as “self defense” probably won’t fly, unless they were shooting at you with a rifle as well.
I saw it mentioned somewhere that for home defense you should sight your rifle at 7 yards. While this would make it useful inside of a residence, it could cause its own set of problems.
When sighting at 7 yards you would need to remember the distance of your sights above your barrel in order to get accurate impacts. Additionally with a rifle you will not be using the sights at a distance that close. Simply look down the side of the barrel and you should be fine.
A more realistic range for sighting your rifle is at about 25 yards. This distance will still be extremely accurate for distances closer than that, but also enable you to use your rifle for other purposes.
Sights or Optics
Another factor to consider when determining the optimal sight-in distance for your rifle is the type of sight or optic you are using. If you are using iron sights these tend to be relatively close to the top of the barrel and do not affect your point of aim as much as say a scope installed on a riser.
Some optics such as this Aimpoint reflex sight have very large lenses that allow you to quickly pick up your sight picture through them. Additionally they feature a “floating” reticle that is very accurate even if you don’t achieve the perfect cheek weld on each shot.
One issue that makes these different from iron sites though, is that they may require you to aim slightly higher to bring your round up. For instance if you were to pin a bottle cap on a board 15 yards away, you would need to aim about 2 inches above that in order to hit it, or your round would hit 2 inches lower. This is due to the sight being mounted on top of the barrel.
When sight-in your rifle, it’s important to take into account the sight height. This is because the sight height will determine how high or low your shots will hit relative to your point of aim. By knowing this distance, you can adjust your point of aim accordingly
Sighting Your Rifle In
To sight-in your rifle at 25 yards, start by setting up a target at that distance. Now using a sharpie or pen, place a small dot at the point you want to be your point of aim. This mark will make it easier to pick up the same sight picture each time.
Then, take up a stable shooting position, this can be either on a bench rest or in the prone position.
Now take a deep breath and get a good sight picture. As you slowly exhale, prepare to squeeze the trigger and right at the bottom of the breath, fire a round.
Repeat the last step two more times to get a group. During this make sure to keep the same sight picture each shot. Don’t try and adjust for where the last round hit.
Now that you have a shot group of three rounds, connect them in a triangle. Compare the center of that triangle to the actual point that you were using as a sight picture. This will tell you which way you need to move your shots.
Adjust the sights on your rifle as necessary. While the adjustments vary depending on sights and manufactures 2 to 3 clicks per centimeter will get you in the vicinity to where you can fine tune it.
Once you have made your adjustments, repeat the process again and refine the adjustments. Make sure to fire three rounds each set to minimize the effect of potential strays.
The ideal distance to sight your ar style rifle is 25 yards. This will enable you to make shots much closer than that and much further than that as well.
Once you have sighted, or zeroed your rifle, make sure to take some additional shots at various ranges. This will help familiarize you with your rifle, and demonstrate to you how to adjust your point of aim based on distances.
Doing so will help you become more familiar with your rifle and improve your overall shooting skills.