In SureFire Field Notes 72, Alex Hartmann of Ridgeline Defense discusses max point blank theory and how to use it to get faster hits on target with your rifle. You can check out the video below.

“What I like to do—and you guys can follow along at home if you want to pull out your ballistic calculator at home or something like that—is you’ll see a part down there where it will say ‘vital size.’ I like to set it at 12 inches,” Hartmann, a former Marine Corps Scout Sniper, explains. “For humanoid targets, we’re looking from the top of the head to the suprasternal notch or potentially anywhere in the high thoracic cavity—timers and switches.

“What I know is that my bullet is going to drop immediately beyond my 100-yard zero,” Hartmann continues,” so what we’re going to do in order to sort of use this max point blank theory for us in a way that is applicable, practical, and fast, is we’re simply going to either hold or dial on 1 mil. What I know is that inside of, say, 300-ish yards, depending on your bullet weight, uzzle velocity, barrel length, etc., you’re going to see that kind of peter out at 275-300 [yards] in terms of being dead on the money for your elevation. But you still have a whole bunch of target below that in your 12-inch target, so what we’re going to do is be okay with the fact that it’s going to fall toward the bottom of the plate as you get out to 325, 350-ish. Depending on platform, again, a longer barrel with faster muzzle velocity, you could start to creep out toward 365, 370, and still just be holding center and getting hits. Now, if you start to see that you’re trending low, or you know that it’s at that far end of your engagement threshold, you can simply just start to hold high whether you’ve dialed on or you’re holding that [1] mil high.”

But what can you use to help you determine if you are at the end of that engagement zone?

SureFire Field Notes 72“One thing that I like to do—I call it the off-ramp method,” Hartmann says. “Driving down the highway every day, you know about a quarter mile out from almost every off-ramp in the world is that heads-up sign, you know, ‘Exit 32, 1/4 Mile.’ All I know is that a quarter mile is roughly 440-ish yards, so what I’m going to look to do, is that if it’s inside of that I know that I can hold just a little bit high on the target and let it catch it. As it gets closer and I transition back to that Football-field method of range estimation—100, 200, 300—I know that I can simply hold center and go. We are going to have the max ord creep toward the top of the target at those closer ranges…but you’re still getting your hit…What we want to know is the correct tool and method to use and have it in our toolbox for when the situation presents itself.”

Hartmann lays out a lot of information in a short amount of time in Field Notes 72, but as he says, “The easiest way to really. understand this, internalize it, and be able to put it into practical application is to just get out on the range and try it. You can crunch numbers, you can do the whiteboard work, but at the end of the day, just get out, put some steel out at distance, hold center and see exactly how high you creep up and then how far you fall back down. See how far you can get out to simply by clearing crosshairs and pressing shots. Whether you’re a combatant or a competitor, speed wins. We want to get hits as fast as possible. In the urban environment, we want to make sure that as soon as we can see him, we want to prosecute that target, and we’re not spending all that time and all that brain power on determining exact distance to target, etc. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, but when speed is of the essence, this is the way to get those hits.”

Alex Hartmann is a former Marine Corps Scout Sniper with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. After leaving active service in 2016, his mission to serve the tactical population continued as a co-founder of Ridgeline Defense, a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business whose mission is to defend America and her interests both at home and abroad, through the training and equipping of Military, Law Enforcement, and vetted Civilian clients. The Ridgeline Training Center is located in Dalton, NH, in strategic partnership with the Team O’Neil Rally School. Their facility is designed by Special Operators and purpose-built to support world-class training, as well as to provide a discrete location for Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation. For more information, visit

Located in Fountain Valley, California, SureFire, LLC is the leading manufacturer of suppressors, high-performance flashlights, weapon-mounted lights, and other tactical equipment for those who go in harm’s way or anyone who demands the ultimate in quality, innovation, and performance. SureFire illumination tools are used by more SWAT teams and elite special operations forces than any other brand. SureFire is an ISO 9001:2015-certified company. For more information on SureFire’s complete line of tactical illumination tools and equipment, visit SUREFIRE.COM.

To view more episodes of SureFire Field Notes, visit the SUREFIRE CHANNEL on YouTube.

Special thanks to The Ranch TX and Shooter Symposium for making this episode possible. For more information, visit