web analytics

How to 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

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.

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 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 Rifle 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.

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


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. 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. 

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 elevation turret also functions in the same way as the windage, except it measures the bullet’s angle in a vertical direction. 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 per click.


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.

Scope Adjustments

Adjustments to the rifle 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 rifle 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, left and right until it fully aligns with where the bullets to 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.

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. Readjust 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.


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? Please leave a comment below!

Rifle Scopes Center Staff

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments