Escape from Tarkov

Why 9mm doesn’t shoot where you aim, and why compact sights are the best

TL;DR If you use a 9mm gun with 7n31 or AP6.3 use compact sights with 25m zero (don't mess with the zeroing) or aim (very) low at range

Since they added the STM-9 people seem to have decided to use 9mm at longer ranges than they normal did with most of the SMGs. This apparently lead to a lot of people crashing head-first into some of the quirks of zeroing. I wanted to show, with the help of some math, why zeroing does not work like in most other games (like it should?), and why with a 9mm weapon a compact sight with a 25m zero is the only viable option if you want to use meta ammo.

First, the zero in tarkov on any gun, with any sight is set according to the "baseline" ammo. Each caliber has one such ammo; for 9mm it's PSO gzh. This is important, because each ammo in tarkov comes with it's own velocity, which is then further modified by the weapons modifiers.

With most calibers this doesn't matter much, since the baseline bullets have a similar velocity to most commonly used ones. Mostly the meta ammo (the armor piercing kind) has higher velocity than the baseline and if the baseline has a relatively high velocity it's just a nice bonus that the meta ammo is (only) slightly faster (you need to lead the target less, and the drop is slightly smaller).

You might see how this is a problem if there is a large discrepancy between the velocities – as it is with 9mm.

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EDIT: u/triguy616 notified me that each weapon has it's own default ammo, not each caliber. For the new STM-9 this made the issue extra apparent, since it's likely to be used at longer ranges but has PSO gzh as the default ammo (340 m/s), unlike some other 9mm that have Pst gzh as their default ammo (457 m/s). If the weapon has Pst as it's default ammo 7n31 will still shoot high but not as much.

For some 9mm weapons the base ammo is PSO gzh, which according to the wiki has a velocity of 340 m/s – kinda slow as far as bullets go, but for short range it doesn't matter too much. AP6.3 has a velocity of 396 m/s, already a 16% increase, and 7n31 has a velocity of 560 m/s a whopping 64.7% velocity increase over the baseline.

I plotted out the flightpaths of PSO gzh, AP6.3, and 7n31 with a 25m, 50m, and 100m zero to show you why you should only ever use a scope with a 25m zero with this caliber. I used geogebra because it's easy and I'm a bit lazy. The x axis is in metres, and the y scale is in centimetres.

First the 50m zero, which is default for most regular sights in the game:


7n31 at 50m will shoot 6.7cm high, which is about 1.3 mrad (4.5 moa) at that range. More importantly, while PSO gzh already hit zero and AP6.3 is on it's way down, 7n31 is still on it's way UP the arch, meaning further out for a bit it will hit higher still.

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If you then fuck with the zero and set it to 100m you get the following graph:


7n31 is at 100m, more than a full head height above the point of aim (26cm), which in your scope would look like 2.7 mrad (9.3 moa). That is very likely to actually be outside your reticle at that range. Also, again, 7n31 is still rising on it's trajectory.

Now we finally get to the 25m zero, which is what a lot of players have already figured out is the zero that "works" for 9mm.


Again 7n31 and AP6.3 hit high, but at this range it doesn't really matter. This works well enough for all three bullets, and any other of this caliber you might want to use.

My argument however is that you should use a compact sight with the 25m zero for just about any range you might encounter in game, and if I show you the zoomed out graph you will see why. Here is 7n31 flightpath with a 25m zero, zoomed out:


I've marked some interesting things on the graph, but if you don't like looking at graphs, here's a rundown:

  • without accounting for the guns inherent accuracy, 7n31 will hit within 4cm height-wise up to 82m
  • the bullet reaches the top of it's arch at 34m with a height of ~2cm above point of aim
  • at 100m the point of impact is 5cm below point of aim (0.5 mrad, inside the red dot for most sights)
  • if you aim for the centre of someone's head you would hit his chin at 125m (if you can even see the head at that range)
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So, to conclude: if you use a 9mm gun with meta ammo, use a compact sight with 25m zero, and don't mess with the zero, just aim directly at them (maybe lead a little 560 m/s isn't that fast as far as bullets go).

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.


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