Thursday, December 2, 2010

Zero for Elevation

Reading old Garand manuals.

I had been confused about elevation, once

I didn't get it when i first saw that, but now I think I do. Your '2' setting on the elevation was indeed for 200 yards. You'd hit a hair high at 100, and a hair low at 300 but still hit that katana wielding chargine Japanese officer somewhere on the breast bone, and that was enough. So when you zero at 200 yards you loosen the windage ring on the left side of your sight and without letting the peep sight move you set the 2 to match to the line.

And, in battle, and you have a target 800 yards out you can twist the windage gauge up to 8 and hit the breast bone of Nazi officer you are aiming out WAYYYYYYYY out there. Or at least that's how I think it's suppose to work.


Question is, how many times in history did some GI with his trusty rifle that he knows inside and out sit there on the battlefield and see the enemy was about 800 yards away and then he went ahead and adjusted his elevation?

Ok, well when did that GI do it in a non-ambush situation? In the movie Band of Brothers elements of Easy Company did open up on an unsuspecting German machine gun nest on a canal dyke in Holland, at night, and they went to great length showing some of the Airborne troopers adjusting their elevation. But the Germans were a mere 200 yards away, it seemed, so I don't know why they'd do that. And it was night, they'd have had to go by clicks count because they couldn't actually SEE the settings.

I can see making the adjustment on a flat range in a shooting competition, yes. And the ordnance developers that specced that sight when the rifle was created probably were going with range practicality, vis battlefield use, in mind.

Studies even found, after action in WWII and Korea, that a GI wouldn't shoot at something more than 500 yards away with iron sights because he wasn't sure he'd be able to reliably hit something, so it was less acceptable to give your position away to gain that meager reward. Those studies went a huge way toward the development of carbines shooting minor cartridges and gave us the M16.

Wars change. Relatively close and static trench warfare in Korea becomes jungle in Indochina becomes featureless desert in Iraq becomes sparsely vegetated mountain in Afghanistan, and longer engagement ranges make a comeback. GIs go from drafted citizen soldiers to more motivated and arguably better trained professional volunteers. Iron sights give way to a plethora of hardy optics being mounted on rifles almost universally, and a good number of THEM are able to pierce the darkness of a moonless night.

Make you wonder if that doesn't add more fuel to the warfighters debate (ignore civilian gunnie preferences!) about the wisdom of adopting the 5.56 cartridge almost 50 years ago. A 6.5ish millimeter might come in handy about now. At least the M16 types are mighty accurate at long range. (Actually, since I am ignorant of the ballistic data, I don't know if the .276 type rounds are as good at longer ranges that the .223 and .308 are. I presume they can be, but maybe they take the weaknesses of both other calibers and demonstrate that in flight. I could be way off.)


Hat Trick said...

Among the highpower shooters who taught me, the sight knobs of the Garand are notorious for loosening and slipping the index adjustment. I was taught to find the 200 yd zero and then count the number of clicks to the bottom of travel (counting as you turn the knob) then you know how many clicks to run it up when the knob slips the next time. That's probably how they would have done it at night in combat. They'd memorize how many clicks up from the bottom for a given yardage.

I don't think the idea was to hit the breast bone of a Nazi officer at 800 yards. The 800 yd setting would have been for area fire. Even top highpower competitors would say that you're lucky to hit the vitals zone at that distance. A shooter with 20/20 vision can only resolve 1 MOA and it is the rare Garand that shoots 1 MOA off the line. (Actually tuned NM M1 Garands were spec'd to shoot 1 MOA with military match ammo) So that gives you a combined potential accuracy of 2 MOA so at 800 yds your expected group size when shooting perfectly in all other respects would be greater than 16".

I don't know how many soldiers actually take the time to adjust the elevation in battle. I'll leave that to someone who's actually seen combat.

btw, that should read "loosen the elevation ring"

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

11 clicks.

Huey said...

This has been an area of great confusion to the Appleseed class they will cover part of this...If you look at your elevation knob you will find that from the 200 yard setting the clicks to goo up will correspond with what everyone will tell you to move them (3-4-4-5 I think I remember to go to 300 and then to 400, 500 and 600 yards). Many will tell you that troops would indeed find that 200 yard point (I found out the point of impact is pretty much the same at 25 and 200 yards) and then count the clicks up to it, so that if they had to readjust their zero on their rifle after losing it or in the dark they could. did you ever notice how easily the front sight on an M1 will come off with a tool? What I found in research was that the rifle was originally issued with a tall front sight that the shooter was supposed to file down until they got the 200 meter zero down, and then darken back up. The rear sight was supposed to be zeroed "on the lines" for both elevation and windage, the front sight adjusted and then never touched again. When a rifle was reissued it was supposed to be given a new front sight post for the new shooter, but this rarely if ever happened. So if the guy who had the rifle before you filed it down too much for your particular use you had to adjust with the rear elevation. So counting those clicks was important in that case.

My problem has always been once I found my 25/200 yard zero loosening the knobs to get the elevation knob on "2" without changing the actual ladder elevation on the sight. Not sure if I am trying to do it incorrectly or not.

Hope this helps..

Earl said...

I am sure all rifle fire for military ops beyond 500yds was to be area, and team fired. Having said that, using a sling and your rifle the eight hundred yard shot will hit that target - most military ops don't really have the time for slings and long range shots. All worthy targets at eight hundred yards and beyond need mortars and artillery engagement - share the joy.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

I don't know about team fired at 500. The Marines TODAY qualify at man sized targets at 500 yards, so someone somewhere is expecting hits out that far.

I like it that Marines don't compromise on being bad ass. Even guys that never expect to shoot at people in their actual job.