Friday, March 7, 2008

Part Eight: Ammo and Sights

Courtesy of Fred's M14 Stocks (

A few caveats/suggestions:

1) Avoid Indian surplus 7.62 like the plague. Scanning the boards over the past few months, the horror shows (stuck cases, etc.) far outweigh any savings gained by the cheap price.

2) Folks shooting calibers other than 7.62 will find food for their machines as well. The key part is to buy as much as you can now, while ammo is cheap. You’ll need enough for learning, teaching others, maintaining your own skill, and supplying your “Rainy Day/Decade” fund. That’s a lot of ammo – a lot more than you have right now, I’ll bet. See suggestions #4 and #5 below.

3) If you can do it, many dealers will give you a substantial cash discount if you pick up at their location (plus you save shipping costs and (sometimes) sales tax). The money you save can pay for the trip, believe it or not! Contact the dealers and see what they’ll do for you.

4) You need more ammo. Buy at least a case for each rifle today. Plus at least 5 mags for each rifle – buy more if you need ‘em.

5) See suggestion #4. Really.

If you remember one thing about ammo, it is this – you can never have enough ammo, let alone too much. Figure out how much you will need over the next year, and multiply that amount by five, at least. Then take that amount and multiply it by five again. That’s how much ammo every Rifleman should have on hand for each rifle, all of it easily accessible. Anything less, and you are taking a chance that what can be easily purchased today will be so in the future.

Wanna bet on that? How much?

How about your life? How about your country?

Do you really want to take that chance?

Enough about ammo. Now, let’s talk about what you need to get that ammo to go where you want it to go – downrange, on target, in a tight group, at a high rate of fire.

Sight settings and trajectory are keys that will unlock many doors. It’ll take a bit of work to learn what you need to know, but then a Rifleman never shys away from the work need to defend Liberty.

There are two basic sets of facts you need to memorize. The first is the relationship between where you shots are hitting on the target, the measurement unit of ‘minutes of angle’ – also known as ‘MOA’, and your sight settings.

MOA is what your sights are graduated in, whether an M1/M1A or scope. We’ll talk about other rifles later.

As the first step, you need to know that 1 MOA = ¼ inch at 25 meters. That distance is important, ‘cuz that’s where you’ll be doing a lot of practice shooting, until you acquire Rifleman skills.

That same 1 MOA equals 1 inch at 100 yards. How? Ratios – that icky stuff you avoided back in school. ¼ inch is to 25 yards as 1 inch is to 100 yards. Put another way, 100 yards is four times as much as 25 yards, right? And 1 inch is four times greater than ¼ inch, right?

Memorize this ratio so that you have it down cold: 1 MOA = ¼ inch at 25 yards = 1 inch at 100 yards = 2 inches at 200 yards = 3 inches at 300 yards = 4 inches at 400 yards = 5 inches at 500 yards.

Memorize that ratio, and you are ahead of 95% of shooters in America, sad to say. Do it, and you will be on you way to thinking in MOA whenever you adjust your rear sight or scope.

Now, let’s apply that ratio to some shooting situations. We’ll start at 25M (which is actually 27.32 yards, or 82 feet – we’re talking close enough for Government work, as the saying goes), and have you fire three good shots at your 1” black square.

You go downrange, check the target, and find that the center of your group is 1 inch below the aiming point, and ½ inch to the left of the aiming point.

First step is to ask yourself if you fired good shots. If not, your group is of no use to you, so go back and fire 3 good shots. Keep at it, using your sling, the Rifleman’s Guide (, and your training until you do.

Assuming that the first group were all good shots, it’s time to think about how to adjust your rear sight. If you have a Garand or M1A, your job is simple. All you have to do is remember that each click – windage or elevation – is equal to 1 MOA.

Here’s how you do it:

1) Inches: How many inches, for both elevation and windage, is the center of my group away from my aiming point? In this case, you are 1 inch below the aiming point (elevation), and 1/2 inch to the left of the AP for your windage.

2) MOA: The second step is to convert your inch calculations from step #1 above into MOA for that distance. You have memorized the fact that 1 MOA = ¼ inch at 25 meters, so what you need to do is figure out how many ¼ inch units (or MOA units) there are in your 1 inch low elevation, ½ left windage calculations. Anybody know the answer? Anybody? Bueller???

That’s right – 1 inch low elevation equals 4 ¼ inch units, which in turn equals 4 MOA low. ½ inch left windage equals 2 ¼ inch units, which equals 2 MOA left windage.

3) Clicks: Now that you know what your elevation and windage errors are, it’s a simple matter to adjust your M1/M1A sights, on which 1 click for standard sights always equals 1 MOA for both elevation and windage. You know, based on your calculations above, that you are 4 MOA low, so add 4 clicks “up” elevation (that’s the left-side knob) on your rear sight. You should be turning the knob back towards you to add elevation. Same drill for windage, which is the right-side knob on your rear sight. Your windage error is 2 MOA left, so add 2 clicks right windage (checking the markings on the knob so that you know you are turning it the right way.

Now, when you fire your confirmation 3-round group and those 3 shots are each good shots, your rounds should be hitting right at your aiming point.

Bingo! You have established your 25M zero, which also equals your 200 yard zero, because of the trajectory of the standard NATO load. You are also only one step away from setting your Battle Sight Zero (BSZ), which allows you to shoot without worrying about sight settings all the way out to 275 yards.

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