Sighting in a rifle scope or any other long-range gun with a scope is generally a quick and easy process, but that may not always be the case. It becomes particularly tricky if you try to sight it in without a boresighter. You can end up spending lots of money and time to sight the scope and the process can seem very frustrating.
However, there are ways to get your gun’s scope sighted for a range; you can be on your way to fine-tune the scope without incurring frustration or wasting tons of ammo. The process is called boresighting and you do not need a laser boresight to get it done when you know how to do it with the naked eye.
In this blog post, we go over the basic steps and the process for setting up your sight for accurate, on-target shooting with your rifle scope. We’ll highlight how you set your gun and scope up to make adjustments to align both parts for accurate shots. It’s a process you have to go through in order to maximize and ensure successful shots when hunting or on the range – How To Zero A Rifle Scope In Seven Easy Steps.
What Is Boresighting?
Boresighting is the process of aligning the bore of the gun with the sights at the top of your firearm. It is a fairly easy and necessary skill that all shooters, including new shooters, need to learn when they first start using long-range firearms. When you know how to do it right, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to boresight your rifle correctly – Tips On How To Buy A Rifle Scope.
Proper boresighting will improve accuracy and shot consistency for your gun and rifle scope for hunting or on the range. It’s a good skill to have when you know how to make adjustments to properly sight your rifle scope without a boresighter.
In general, boresighting involves removing the bolt and sighting down the gun’s bore to a fixed target point in the distance. For most shooters, a distance of 100 yards is normal for a start – Choosing the Right Hunting Scope- Fixed or Variable?
You will need to fix the gun in place and then adjust the scope to also aim at the same distant point. The purpose of the practice is to use the bore axis as the initial point of reference and get shots on paper, making it easier to calibrate the sights (How To Use A Scope On A Rifle).
A good mounting system (Guide to Choosing the Best Types of Rifle Scope Mounts) for your rifle scope is essential when you are trying to set up the boresights. Whether you are using a basic scope or one that comes with fancy features (Can You Use a Night Vision Monocular with a Rifle Scope?), it won’t work optimally if it isn’t mounted correctly on the gun. A solid mounting system is important for getting consistent accuracy from your scope when you are adjusting the boresights – How To Mount A Precision Rifle Scope.
Now, the investments you make in your rifle and scope can be significant but don’t let the cost keep you from buying a decent mounting system (Can You Cerakote a Rifle Scope?). A good mounting base will keep your scope secure and help you avoid any trouble from unreliable zeros or inconsistency in hitting your intended mark when you are on the field – Measuring scope ring height!
Steps for Setting up the Bore Sight
To begin the process of setting up your rifle’s boresight, you will need to have an unloaded gun and a solid, sturdy rest. You will need to eliminate movement of the gun while setting up the boresight so you may want to use a vise or a lead sled.
After you have secured the unloaded gun in place, make sure that the center of the bore is aligned in a straight line with the center of the scope that you’ve attached on top. You will need to do this visually to match the position of the gun’s bore with the center of the scope. Here are the steps that you should follow.
- Set up the rifle on a stable platform. You can use heavy bags, vise, or any other manufactured rest that supports the rifle in a stationary position on its own so that you don’t have to hold it in place (Can you Repair or Rebuild a Rifle Scope?).
- Set up a target at a distance that will be used to align the sight. You can go with a target as close as 25 yards or up to 100 yards if you feel comfortable with that. You don’t need to worry if you put the target at 25 yards because once you are boresighted at 25 yards, you will, in actuality, be shooting ammunition at a distance of 100 yards.
- You will need to be able to see down the barrel from the back of the receiver. If you are using a bolt action rifle and the bolt is blocking your view, then simply remove the bolt.
- Look through the rifle’s bore and line up the target that you have placed down the range and calibrate the rifle to bring it to the center of the bore. Once the bore is in line, steady your rifle on the target and secure it so that it does not move.
- With the rifle firmly in place, move your head up and look through your rifle scope to find the target.
- Adjust the scope’s windage (left-to-right knob) and elevation (up-and-down knob) until the reticle gets centered on the target. The crosshairs on the scope must zero in on the center of the target. Make adjustments to windage and elevation until this is achieved.
- Once adjustments are made and you are happy with the gun’s aim, put the bolt back in and fire a shot to see where it goes.
- After shooting a round, take a closer look at your target and make a note about the point where the bullet hit. Once you have the reading, you will need to adjust the scope to compensate for the difference in where the reticle shows the target and the point where the bullet hit. You can do this in a couple of ways.
- The first method of adjusting the scope involves walking up to the target and measuring the difference between the bullet impact and the intended target points. Some people measure both up-and-down and left-to-right differences in inches. These measurements are then translated into a number of “clicks” on their windage and elevation dials. Riflescopes come in different dial adjustment settings and you will need to adjust the scope with the right clicks. For example, suppose that 1 Click = ½ MOA on your scope. If the shot is three inches low and two inches to the right, then you would need to adjust the dials by 6 clicks on the elevation dial and 4 clicks on the windage dial.
- There is another way to recalibrate your boresight. Instead of walking over to your target and measuring the differences repeatedly, you can simply adjust your scope. Aim the reticle back at the target where you initially intended to hit. From that point, adjust your elevation and windage dials until the reticle moves and centers on the point where the bullet actually hit the target. Once the scope is dialed in and centered on that first point of impact, your scope should be pretty accurate.
- After you have made the necessary adjustments, center your rifle’s scope on the target again and fire another shot down the range. In most cases, this will bring you quite close or even right to the center of the target. From this point onwards, you can make fine adjustments to the boresight for varying distances, if required.
Tips for Bore Sight Adjustment
The following tips can be useful for making the process of boresight correction a breeze.
- Keep a paper logbook with you to record the adjustments and shot inaccuracy.
- A pair of binoculars is also useful for locating the points where the bullets are hitting if you don’t want to walk back and forth over and over.
- Once everything is in order, follow a simple process. Fire the shot, put it into the logbook, make adjustments, and then fire again to check how the sights have corrected by the adjustment.
- Some gunners prefer to make three rounds at each scope setting, as it helps get a more accurate reading even when there is a very shot deviation. You don’t need to make three shots if you are setting up the sights for deer hunting. However, it could be useful if you are planning to take part in long-range shooting competitions where small differences matter.
Easy Alternative – Use a Boresight
Boresighting equipment makes it very easy to align your gun’s bore with the scope. There are two popular types of boresighters available in the market: magnetic and laser boresighters.
Magnetic boresights are attached to the barrel of the gun. They fit all calibers and gauges and no additional parts are required, apart from the boresighter. These handy accessories can also be used to check your zero after transporting your guns on a hunt.
Laser boresighters are also quite popular. They project a laser beam from an arbor or spud that comes out the muzzle. Some laser boresighters are as big as a cartridge case and you can simply insert them into the gun’s chamber. In order to work effectively, laser boresighters require a reflective target.
In this blog post, we reviewed the process for setting up your rifle’s sights without the need for an attachable boresighter. The skill can be very useful if you don’t have access to magnetic and laser boresighters. Do you have more questions or something to add? Leave a comment below and we’ll be happy to answer.
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