Question of the Day: Short Range or Long Range?


My job here at TTAG is the head honcho of gun testing, and that requires me to test all sorts of crazy gunpowder-fueled contraptions. Some are purely short range toys, like the JP enterprises 9mm rifle (above). Others are long range beasts like the CS5. Personally, I find myself more at home on the deep end of the range slinging lead at distant targets than anywhere else. But there are days when I just want to hose down some targets with a pistol caliber carbine as well. It really comes down to a matter of preference, and my preference is that target distances need to end in two zeroes at least. How about y’all?


  1. avatar pwrserge says:

    Unfortunately, in Northern Illinois, it’s almost impossible to find a range with more than 200 yards worth of space.

    1. avatar JeffR says:

      Yep. That’s precisely why I have never fired a single shot beyond 200 yards.

    2. avatar ToddR says:

      If you really need to scratch the long-range itch, you might consider approaching brokers who represent hunting-leased property owners. In the non-hunting seasons, many plots are unused and are literally hundreds of acres in size. It’s not uncommon for landowners (and lease-holders) to sub-let the land, so long as you don’t shoot any animals. Tip: without an SUV or ATV, 1,000 yards is a really long walk.

      1. avatar pwrserge says:

        Any recommendations? One of the reasons I still don’t own a long range rifle is because I have no place to shoot it.

      2. avatar Steve says:

        Excellent suggestion.

    3. The ISRA (Illinois State Rifle Association) range in Bonfield (west of Kankakee) has a 200/300 yard range. That range has a berm with raisable targets to allow target refreshing and spotting without stopping the range. You definitely want a buddy with a radio – to get to the pits from the firing line is quite a ways since you travel behind and around a number of the other ranges to get there.

      You can go with a member or just join – if you’re not an ISRA member, you probably should be. They’re on the front lines of gun rights in Illinois and don’t take a lot of crap and have a full time person watching what’s going on in Springfield.

    4. avatar KCK says:

      Hate to give flat landers any info on how to infiltrate up to Wis but there is a 300Yd range near Eagle Wi not to far north of the state line. Hwy 12 to 67.
      McMiller Sports Center
      they also have a 22 only plinking range with steel trees and auto resets

    5. avatar JAS says:

      I shoot at a 1,000 yard range. And of course, we have golf carts :).

      Then again, we can shoot anything, including full auto at any range down to 15 yards.

      I mostly shoot my rifles at 100~500 yards. The gongs at 500 are very cool.

  2. avatar SteveInCO says:

    Almost any target distance can end in two zeros (other than muzzle actually touching the target). Four inches = 100 millimeters. Even shorter distance, use mills or microns. Or femtometers.

    All full-frontal-geek based “humor” aside, I think our tastes are similar, Sure it can be a blast to pound away with a pistol caliber carbine or even one of the intermediate rifle rounds (AK/AR) but to me the serious work is the long distance stuff, which calls for .308/.30-06 battle rifle or some sort of bolt action.

    1. avatar Paranoid Android says:

      I have a personal range in my yard, it’s about 250 Ångström.

      And yet I can only get a 1″ group…

  3. avatar Layne says:

    My preference was for long range, but year after year without firing a single shot due to a complete lack of suitable ranges or private land I guess finally beat the desire out of me.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      I was similar, and by the time I finally got a chance at 1000 yards (instructed by Mid Tompkins, no less) I found I was too old and out-of-shape to engage regularly. That was at the National Matches at Camp Perry. I got far enough along to regularly cut paper with an M1A with iron sights, and to discover that (for me, anyhow) 800 yards was the break point between “being a good shot” is good enough, and converting visual images of the wind into clicks left or right being absolutely necessary to even discover where your bullets are going. Wouldn’t have missed the opportunity.

  4. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

    I like shooting up to 25 yards with .40 cal. Pistols. And 50 yards for most rifles (semi, and rimfire). I keep deer rifles at 100 yards, all my stands are in woods (close shots) except 1 in a field and I didn’t have an issue dropping a doe the week of thanksgiving from 200 yards there.

    Long range, haven’t done much 400 yards with a Ruger mini 14. I haven’t had the privilege of a 1000 yards range.

  5. avatar OldBenturningingrave says:

    “My job here at TTAG is the head honcho of gun testing, and that requires me to test all sorts of crazy gunpowder-fueled contraptions.”

    Lucky bastard.

  6. avatar Frank Masotti says:

    In your case I would always choose a long range. My reason is, it is always easier to shoot a pistol at a long range this it is to soot a long gun at a short range. Just my 2 cents worth.

  7. avatar Hobbez says:

    Nothing is better than counting the seconds between the bang and the clang. But, I am a terrible pistol shot so, I work at that a lot more often than sitting at the bench.

    1. avatar Layne says:

      You might need telephones if it’s far enough. 21 seconds, wow!

      1. avatar Fler says:

        Just emailed this to myself to read later; thanks for posting it!

  8. avatar C.S. says:

    You get to hang with KJW…

    1. avatar joe says:

      yeah talk about lucky

    2. avatar J E says:

      An excellent reason to start exercising more to look slim and trim. Nick — that is all the motivation you should need…

  9. avatar Ken kaniff says:

    2 zeros? I think a better term would be 3 digits. Because 350 yards is only 1 zero. Unless you only shoot in increments of 100’s.

    1. avatar JasonM says:

      He said long range. 350 is in the grey area between short and medium.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Nah, 350 is solidly medium, 800-1200 is long, over that is OMG. Saw a test on a .338 Lapua Mag that put 5 into 15″ at 1500 yards, testers were DESPERATE to try farther, couldn’t find a range.

  10. avatar Kevin L says:

    I’d like to broaden my long range horizons this summer. I’ve never fired a shot past 30 or 35 yards so it should be fun.

    1. avatar JR says:

      Shooting a handgun at 100 or even 200+ yards is a TON of fun.

      One day at a public range, we were popping 2L bottles at 100 yards with really slow .38 Spl rounds, and another guy there though we were shooting something really unique and specialized. He was on the line with his scoped rifle and we were over from him plinking with (non-scoped) revolvers…same target line.

      Funny thing is…those slow .38 Spl wadcutters could be SEEN arcing to the target.

      Stretch your barrel when you can…it’s a gas. Improves ‘confidence’ (the good kind) in both your own skill and your equipment. Get a spotter to help you “find the range” for your holdover and have at it.

      1. avatar ShaunL. says:

        We do the same with .22 pistols and 8″ steel plates at 100 yds.

        If the stars align and you manage to ring 10 out of 10 you feel like a ROCKSTAR…lol.

        The same goes for rifles. Iron sights on a .22, bulk ammo, 6 inch plate, 200 yards standing, 10 for 10= a smile that won’t go away!

        “Long range” is subjective to the round, shooter and gun.

        1. avatar JR says:

          ““Long range” is subjective to the round, shooter and gun.”

          Excellent point.

      2. avatar Fler says:

        I would probably have to aim my 1911 like a mortar to do that! (Not that I could hit anything at that distance, admittedly)

        1. avatar JR says:

          Sure you can. Try it. Like I said, have someone spot for your until you know the holdover. Once you get that, it’s not that hard.

          Don’t sweat it if you miss, but as ShaunL said…every hit bring a BIG smile.

          It’s a real trip, and once you do it and some hits, you’ll be able to concentrate on other (important) things at 10 yards and less. It just changes your shooting to push your limits in this way.

  11. avatar joe says:

    usually around 100 for any rifle, I have hit a bowling pin first try at 300 yrds with a 300mag. of course I didn’t take a second shot lol

  12. avatar DisThunder says:

    I love me pistol calibers and short-medium range. Even when chasing coyotes, I don’t think I’ve ever shot at anything over 100 yards. Doesn’t mean I would turn down a nice .308, or maybe even .30-06, if I find that right Garand this year.

    1. avatar Heretical Politik says:

      CMP. $650 for a service grade. They WILL run out eventually. Orest Michaels, COO of the CMP, stated in January 2013 that they had around 2-3 years worth of Garands left.

      1. avatar DisThunder says:

        You are now my new best friend, but my girlfriend and wallet now hate you.

        It’s a thankless job, being Disthunder’s friend. But I thank you anyway.

  13. avatar Joel Bice says:

    I enjoy shooting my pistols at 7 and 15 yards.
    Being from a plains state I have reached out 300 yards to put game on the table.
    So I like to shoot from 7-50 yards when plinking or practicing but 100-500 yard shooting is a necessary skill.

    So really it depends. In the hill country 100 yards is a long shot, out on the plains you don’t often get that close.

    My favorite has to be 100 plus yards with traditional flintlocks. That’s a challenge any day.

  14. I zero damn near everything I own at 25 yards.

  15. avatar AlleyF says:

    Pistol at 40-60 yards. Carbine/Rifle at 50-300 yards.

  16. avatar AlleyF says:

    Nice pic, by the way.

  17. avatar Toby in KS says:

    100-500 yards is all I shoot unless I have the kids with me. Then its 25-50 yards with the 10/22, or throwing hedge apples so the boy can practice with the 12 gauge. Its nice to have friends with land.

    The pistol range is where I need my practice. I get none of that…. because I have friends with land! Why shoot at 10 yard targets when you can shoot at 200 yard targets?!?

    1. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

      “Why shoot at 10 yard targets when you can shoot at 200 yard targets?!?”

      Because 10 yards is more realistic distance for a DGU.

      It’s a good idea to practice close.

  18. avatar RT says:

    Long range shooting, and I’m not talking about banging steel (lot’s of skill required there /sarc/).

    1. avatar JasonM says:

      How does hitting steel not involve skill?
      I’ve shot at six inch steel targets at 1km. That takes skill.
      The huge benefit of steel at that range is that the hits are obvious and there’s no need to switch out targets every few shots.

      1. avatar RT says:

        Out to a km, yes, that does take skill. A 6″ steel target at 600 yds is not much of a feat, once the rifle is sighted in. Prairie dogs, and shooting for groups is where I prefer to stretch the legs on my precision rigs. Boom………..Ding, gets repetitive , and boring.

        1. avatar JasonM says:

          When you’re shooting for time, and moving between shooting positions, 6″ at 600y can be a challenge.
          It really just depends on which variation of the sport you’re using the target for.

        2. avatar JR says:

          “Ding, gets repetitive , and boring.”

          Then make the target smaller or increase the range. Or, if you shoot off a rest, try shooting sitting, kneeling or standing. Or, standing without a sling.

          Metallic Silhouette involves steel targets much bigger than 6″ and ranges up to about 600 yd, roughly. And it’s anything but “easy” or “boring.”

        3. avatar JAS says:

          LOL! Try it with a 15mph variable direction crosswind. It is not boring at all :).

  19. avatar Larry Lovingood says:

    I like both 🙂

  20. avatar 0351 says:

    There is an excellent 1000+ yard range in Colorado, complete with marked range points. No cost no staff, cleaned up by a local gun club. It even has overhead cover.
    Long range is my true love, nothing else brings me closer to zen mode than lining up and concentrating on long range shots.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      That is no lie! In fact, no zen=no hits on target!

  21. avatar Jim R says:

    I don’t have access to a range beyond 100 yards. That’s okay though–I can’t hit anything beyond 50 yards.

  22. avatar Don says:

    For a rifle, anything from a supported position (prone, kneeling, sitting, bench) less than 100 yards and I feel like I’m wasting ammo and my practice time.

    Rifle unsupported, 50-200 yards.

    Self-defense pistols, from 0 to 25 yards.

    My revolvers, 25, 50, sometimes out to 100 yards, can’t hit farther than that.


  23. avatar paulWTAMU says:

    no range over 200, and frankly, I’m not very good even at that range. I mostly like handguns with 15 yards and rifles within about 125-150

  24. avatar Maineuh says:

    You get to hang out with Kirsten? Bastard! But I guess that doesn’t contribute anything to the thread…
    I’m a belly gun kind of guy and that’s the way I train. It seems like the most practical for me personally. However, since you never know what sort of bedlam is coming your way, I’m taking pains to work on more long range shooting. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to hang upside down from an apple tree and shoot a penny through its center, but I’ll do okay. Tell Kirsten I says hi. Shyly drag your toe through the dirt as you say it.

  25. avatar Nick D says:

    I’m a recoil junkie. Give me a 25 yard range, a VEPR-12, a slidefire stock, and all the 3″ shells and reactionary targets you have, and you will be able to hear me laughing in between the booms.

  26. avatar PeegeJayEl says:

    Last time I shot long range (500 yards; M16A2) was in 2005 when I was in the Marine Corps. Long range shooting takes a lot of practice, patience and knowledge. It’s soothing once you get the hang of it.

  27. avatar C says:

    East coast. It doesn’t really come up.

      1. avatar over-educated economist says:

        I think he means he’s in one of the more populated parts of the east coast.

        Where I live in MD, it’s basically impossible to find a > 200yd range without driving 2-3 hours. Heck, even finding a 100yd range that’s not a horrid drive can be tricky. Therefore, I spend most of my time at 10-100yds.

  28. avatar IdahoPete says:

    Why decide? Do both.

  29. avatar jsallison says:

    So, ya wanna get outta the way and let us see the thumpenboomer you’re leaning up against? Test report would be nice, too. 😉

    1. avatar Ing says:

      You know you’re a gun nut when Kirsten Joy Weiss becomes something that’s just blocking your view. 🙂

  30. avatar danthemann5 says:

    I’d like to try some longer-distance shooting. Repeatedly drilling a bullseye at 50 yards with a Remington 700 .308 got old really fast last weekend. I want to take that gun somewhere to really use it’s potential.

  31. avatar JasonM says:

    My main interests are action pistol (mostly under 20y, occasionally out to 30y) and precision rifle (mostly over 300y, 1000y+ when possible). Unfortunately the longest range I know of around Seattle is only 600y.

  32. avatar Steve says:

    Short range or long range. Yes to both. Bolt action rifle for far shots. Pistol / AR for mid-range and close and then the obligatory shotgun.

  33. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

    I very rarely shoot rifles over 150 yards, shotguns over 50 yards, and pistols over 15 yards- I keep it practical.

    Under 100, 25, and 7, are average.

  34. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Love me some long range. Got a nice place in the coast range where we can stretch out to almost 1,500 yards.
    Going to set a permanent steel plate out there to keep from having to drive to and from the target.
    Hearing the ring of the ding is most satisfying.
    Medium range is with the .308’s at 500 yards on milk jugs.
    Way too much fun!

  35. avatar dwb says:

    short range or long range – YES!

  36. avatar ValleyForge77 says:

    Very attractive rifle. I’d love to own one. Too bad I’m all cashed out these days.

    Very attractive lady too of course 🙂 Boy does that look like a fun afternoon. Shooting JP with KJW. Woo wee.

    Someone should auction off ‘a day at the range with KJW’ for charity some day (hint hint). Bet you wouldn’t have any trouble getting a large bid to donate to a worthy cause. And pretty sure the sponsors would line up in droves.

  37. avatar KCK says:

    Why does the Weekend Caption Contest have the wrong headline?

  38. I prefer 15 yards with a handgun shooting at knock down targets or busting clays. I like to work fast and when I can get 6 to 8 knock downs or breaks in one string in 5 seconds, that is very fun. I don’t have a background in hunting so I don’t do much long range rifle stuff. If I was in the military I would like to train as a sniper. I appreciate the skill involved in that precision activity. I will attach a video of my son on his 18th Birthday shooing a steel plate at 200 yds with a 50bmg. But what I really like is destroying things with a 12ga shotgun from 25yds.

    1. Here he is again killing a pumpkin. Shotguns are the most fun!

  39. avatar Paul53 says:

    Wow. Didn’t know how spoiled I am. I shoot at Fort Bliss Rod and Gun Club, Fort Bliss being the southern end of White Sands Missile Range. At the northern end of WSMR the military drops ICBM’s sans warheads into the range after firing them from Mountain Home Utah. But that’s several hundred MILES from me. The rifle ranges have berms on the sides out to about 100 yards, beyond that there are mountains about 75 miles away.

  40. avatar Great Scot says:

    I like long range-there is nothing like knowing the skill involved with firing at that distance when you ring that 200 yard gong. Short range is in my opinion something that should be nevertheless practised; there are not many self defence situations in which shooting at 200+ yards would be necessary. Hunting, though…
    P.S.- The first thing I saw in the pic was Nick’s ear-to-ear grin- then I looked to his left and realised why.

  41. avatar TT says:

    Two different animals. No reason to prefer one over the other.

  42. avatar Lolinski says:

    I shoot at short range (100 meters) with a .22 LR. Do want to try longer ranges.

  43. avatar Joe R. says:

    ‘nother nice picture that included a cute girl. Thanx TTAG. I will read the article, I promise, please just keep up the good work, without that, the blog sounds like dialogue from The Big Bang Theory (mine included).

    Again, thank you. 🙂

  44. avatar dracon1201 says:

    I would love to shoot long distance. But it’s 2 hrs to get above 100yds. On the short ranges around here I have discovered a love for pistol cal carbines.

  45. avatar Accur81 says:

    Most of the shooting I’ve seen Kirsten do seems to be 50-75 feet.

    Anyways, I’m usually at 2-25 yards with a handgun and shooting a rifle at 100-200 yards. I’d love to get out further, but long range ranges (like Pala) are also a long ways away. Most of my deer hunting shots have been less than 100 yards, but the occasional 300 plus yard shot is a possibility.

    Handgun targets like soda cans, watermelons, and jugs are the most fun at 10-25 yards. I’d very much enjoy taking the Gunwerks long range class, but it just isn’t in the budget. Which brings me to an objection regarding long and ultra-long range – it tends to be expensive.

    1. avatar SteveInCO says:

      “Most of the shooting I’ve seen Kirsten do seems to be 50-75 feet.”

      Yeah well she’s probably afraid if she aired it out and shot at a 1000 yard range she’d miss by almost an entire inch. 🙂

  46. avatar styrgwillidar says:

    As TT says: Why not both?

  47. avatar ValleyForge77 says:

    I like both as well

  48. avatar Daniel Silverman says:

    Nick that look on your face is priceless hahahaha

  49. avatar Southern Cross says:

    This is why I like service rifle shooting. A different distance and course of fire every week.

    Standard matches are at 100 metres (standing), 200 (sitting or kneeling), 300 (prone), and 400 (prone, and once per year). Telescopic sight matches are at 200, 300, and 400 metres. In the standard matches a sling is allowed to help steady the rifle. In the telescopic matches you can use a bipod as they are all shot from the prone position.

  50. avatar JAS says:

    Ever seen a .50 miss a gong at 700 yards? Awesome! The dust from the bullet hitting the berm is about two stories high and 20 feet wide. Very explosively cool!

  51. avatar mike says:

    Depends on my mood.

  52. avatar DV says:

    Speaking of deep targets: did you hit it?

  53. avatar lolinski says:

    Probably late but here goes:

    If you don’t have a long range to shoot at, try shooting at 200-300 yards/meters with a .22 LR.

  54. avatar jimmyjames says:

    The range I go to every other day is 100yds. Been shooting for 25years. Just started shooting at Camp Butner 1000yd range at mid range, long range and full bore practice matches. If I had access to 1000yds every other day, that is what I would shoot. Half inch groups at 100yds is challenging but 5 inch groups at 1000yds is where the rubber starts to hit the road. Too much fun.

  55. avatar ShadowLands says:

    Wrong. Distance targets need to have four digits.

  56. avatar John says:

    The gun club/range I belong to has a 600 yard range. With a bit of imagination one can extend that to about 700 yards (something you would need to see, I suppose but nonetheless…). There is something therapeutic about shooting at this range and further on a regular basis. When every I get range time, even if it’s specifically to practice with a pistol I always pack a rifle and a couple boxes of ammo ; rarely return with more than the empties. I get so mellow after a few hours folks need to check my pulse to insure I’m still alive. As for 1000 yard, I’m only a couple hours drive from NRA Whittington Center where it’s well marked and well groomed and there is plenty of BLM land in NM for just about any distance one fancies. I’m so thankful my dad moved the family here from the mid-west (Ohio) when I was just a wee thing.

  57. avatar Lorraine says:

    Well, that was illuminating… Particularly on what people think is long (distance-wise smart guy) or big (as in cal.) and like most things it’s relative.
    Would recommend vacations for many of you to Texas or some western states (not including California) to hunt or shoot at some nice longer (for you) distances.
    As to relativity: Personally a 200 is bare minimum to check one of my “deer” rifles (like a .270). Although unless you are after things in west Texas, or after mule deer, etc. having a gun be on beyond 100 is considered unnessisary for most WT hunts. But, I’ve shot a borrowed M1 at 200 with iron site and was happy with a bull. Shot a number of full autos (9mm, NATO) and the manufacturers really want you to try them at like 30-50. Who am I to quibble if they are providing rounds?
    For longer distance, travel; small antelope (moving targets too) at 500+ or so are fun with a “smaller” caliber. Bigger antelope that need knock down (30-06 at small end up to like .338) also nicely challenging and within grasp of most people.
    As for most of my big guns, much beyond 30 yards is a bit of a waste… Yes you can shoot dangerous game at 30+, but why? And anyway these are things that will close that gap for you fast… So I only practice like .375 H&H, .470 NE, etc. at 30 and less. Things like being solid without a real rest (sticks or off-hand), working a bolt (fast) or second trigger are more important when 13,000 lbs of angry is coming at you, or something that’s thinking you are lunch can cover 30 yards in about 2 or 3 seconds.
    See? Relative. No need to practice with those over 30.

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