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How do you Adjust a Rifle Scope Up, Down, Left, and Right?

Adjust your rifle in different directions

The scope that is fitted on your rifle can be adjusted up, down, left, and right to improve your aiming accuracy. These adjustments are carried out through two separate sets of dials or turrets on the scope that are called adjustments for elevation and windage.

Adjust your rifle in different directions

Adjusting Windage and Elevation

The turret that adjusts the height of the scope view is called the elevation adjustment and placed at the top of the scope. The dial that impacts the horizontal direction of the bullet is called the windage and located on the right side of the scope.

By adjusting the two turrets, you can sight your scope to the target. Sighting the rifle means that when the crosshairs of the scope are placed at the center of your intended target, your shot will hit the center of the target.

Sighting a Scope

Riflescopes are sighted for specific distances. Turret setting for a distance of 50 yards will be slightly off by a few inches for a distance of 100 yards or 200 yards. A few inches make a difference between a successful hunt and a failed shot, so make sure that you adjust the turrets accurately for a given distance.

How Do You Adjust A Scope?

There are basically three types of rifle scope adjustments that you will need to make for accurate shooting. When combined together, these adjustments allow you to bring the reticle to focus up, down, left, right, forward, and backward.

In addition to those adjustments you also have to focus your eyepiece and dial in the magnification of your scope. The magnification only comes into play if you have a scope with variable magnification, like a 1-4x, 3-9x, etc.

Each scope adjustment is controlled by a separate adjustment turret or dial. Let’s look at each adjustment individually.

Windage Adjustment

The Windage is usually adjusted by turning the scope turret at the top. The more you turn the dial left or right, the more windage you get for either direction and move your point of impact accordingly. Each unit, known as a click, measures the bullet’s trajectory in MOA (Minute of Angles) and expressed in inches. Generally, 1 MOA is equal to 1.047 inches at 100 yards. So, if your scope adjusts by 1/2 MOA per click then you adjust by (around) 1/2 inch left and right at 100 yards.

Another unit to measure the clicks is MRAD. You will have the best experience if you scopes reticle and adjustments are all in the same unit of measure.

The scope on your rifle will have a reading that will tell you the process for adjusting windage i.e., which turn of the turret does what. The windage adjustments are specified in MRAD or MOA at 100 yards.

Elevation Adjustment

The elevation turret also functions in the same way as the windage, except it measures the bullet’s angle in a vertical direction and moves the point of impact up or down. The mechanism for adjusting elevation is the same as the windage turret. The more you adjust it in either direction, the greater the angle of the bullet.

If the elevation turret is located at the top of the scope, it will have markings ‘U’ and ‘D’, for up and down. Depending on the type of scope, each unit of MOA adjustment will change the angle of your scope by ¼, ½, or 1 inch at 100 yards per click. The range for elevation adjustments is usually specified in MOA or MRAD at 100 yards.

Parallax Adjustment

The parallax adjustment was not very common a few years ago but a lot of scope manufacturers are starting to set the parallax into their scope these days. It is particularly common with high-end tactical scopes that are used for long-range shooting. A lot of buyers ask for these parallax adjustment turrets and they are becoming a common sight in the shooting market.

The parallax adjustment corrects errors with the focal plane in cases where the target image and reticle are on different focal planes. It becomes apparent when one places their eye close to the scope and moves it around. The crosshair on the reticle will also appear to move in directions.

How to Focus the Eyepiece

Not having the eyepiece focused is one of the most common mistakes that shooters and hunters make. You might not even know that this adjustment on your scope exists.

How do you know that you have an incorrectly focused eyepiece? It’s actually pretty simple to detect and you’ve probably experienced it often enough yourself.

It’s time to adjust the focus of the eyepiece of the scope when you have a clear target and blurry reticle or a clear reticle and a blurry target. If that’s the case then doing some adjustments to focus the eyepiece might just do the trick.

In any case, if you can’t get a clearly focused reticle and target set up then focus on the reticle. Your shooting will typically improve if your reticle is focused and clear. You want your scope to be aligned and adjusted so you can see the reticle clearly without eye strain.

Focusing the eyepiece of your scope is pretty straightforward. Position a sheet of paper (white) a couple of feet in front of your scope. Look through the scope for a second or two. Adjust the focus on the scope in either direction. Close your eyes and let them rest and then repeat the procedure. Make these repeated adjustments until you see the reticle clear and sharp within a second or two of looking through the scope. That way you avoid your eye straining and trying to adjust.

If your eyepiece is focused correctly for your eye and sight then your aiming speed and accuracy will improve. You also know that you can be confident that other adjustments to your scope, like to remove parallax error, will have the desired outcome.

Scope Adjustments

Adjustments to the scope involve adjustments to the windage, elevation, and parallax.  These adjustments are made after you have set up the scope’s magnification for a specific range.

Adjusting windage on a scope

How Do Turrets Work?

Turrets are not standard on every scope. Different types of turrets serve different functions and their functionality is affected by the manufacturer, price, type of rifle and even the country of origin.

The primary purpose of turrets is to set up the zero for your rifle’s scope. The process of zeroing involves adjusting your scope’s reticle up, down, forward, backward, right, and left until it fully aligns with where the bullets hit the target. If your shots are hitting lower than where your crosshairs show you will have to adjust the scope to move the reticle higher.

In order to fully understand how turrets work, it is useful to familiarize yourself with key terms used for setting the turrets.

Target Turrets

These are the most precise kind of turrets available on the market. Target turrets have been in use for a very long time and gained their name from the gunners who love to practice target shooting. These turrets allow shooters to make very precise and small adjustments to the scope so that bullets hit dead center on the target.

Adjustments for target turrets are measured in MOA. One of their defining features is their size and the very small adjustment scale that runs into a fraction of an inch.

Scopes that come with target turrets are not the best for use in the field for hunting. Even a small bump and rub can set them off.

They work best in long-range target practice and for competition shooting.

Ballistic Turrets

Ballistic turrets are quite different from target turrets because they make larger adjustments per click. These are the preferred choice for hunters and field shooters who need to aim and shoot targets quickly without making small, precise changes for many minutes.

Ballistic turrets are usually capped to prevent any accidental adjustments while on the move. These are raised turrets with markings that are generally made in 100-yard increments. This makes them simpler and quicker to work with.

Elevated Turrets for WIndage, Elevation and Parallax adjustments

Fingertip Adjustable

Fingertip turrets are much lower compared to regular turret dials. They are meant to make aiming and shooting easier and you can adjust them with a single finger or thumb, without the need for any other tools.

This style of turret may be available in both ballistic and target turret.

Coin Style

The coin style turrets are very narrow and cannot be operated by fingers alone. They come with small indentations built into the dial where you can fit a small tool to turn them around. This style is more common in target turrets

Capped Turrets

These are larger sized turrets that can be operated by fingertips or a tool. After the adjustments have been made the turrets are fitted with a cap, which prevents any chance of accidental adjustment.

Capped turrets are popular for both targeted and ballistic turrets. Don’t forget to replace the caps once the scope adjustments are done!

How Do You Use Zero-Reset?

Every new scope comes with a zero setting where all the turrets and dials are set at zero without any adjustments to windage and elevation. You can change the settings after attaching the scope to the rifle’s mount.

If you want to use the scope for a different rifle later, you will need to reset it to factory zero. You can do it on your own with a simple screwdriver or Allen wrench.

There are two main ways to reset your scope turrets. The first method is to put the scope next to a mirror and look through the eyepiece. If the scope is optically centered, you will just see the reticle. If it is adjusted, you will also see a shadow of the reticle in the mirror. Re-adjust the scope until the shadow disappears and aligns with the scope.

The second method is to wind up the turret completely in one direction and then turn it completely into the other, counting the number of clicks. Simply divide the number of total clicks into half and spin it back for half the clicks, bringing the turret to the center.

Capped turrets to set Windage and Elevation

How Do You Adjust Elevation With Turrets?

Before you start making adjustments to the windage or elevation turrets, check to see the type of dials you have. Turrets can be either adjusted by hand or with the help of a tool. If your turret requires a tool you will notice small indentations then they can be turned by fitting in the tool or even a coin into the groove.

The elevation turret is located at the top. When you turn it in the down direction, it turns the lens and shifts your reticle lower. When you turn it in the up direction, it loosens the lens, focusing the lens up.

How Do You Adjust Windage With Turrets?

The windage turret is located on the right side of the scope. It runs in the right or left direction. When you spin the dial in the right direction it tilts the lens inside slightly to the right, making the reticle appear to shift right. When you turn it in the left direction, it tilts the lens towards the left.

Both the windage and elevation can be adjusted by either the hand or a tool, depending on the type of scope turrets you have.

Summary – Adjust Your Scope

In this blog post, we reviewed how to make adjustments to the riflescope to make its view shift left, right, up, or down. Do you have more questions or something to add? Contact us!

Adjusting your optics in different directions
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Rifle Scopes Center Staff