How to Bore Sight a Rifle: 3 Easy Methods

Bore sighting your rifle can be a quick, easy process to check your rifle’s aim that doesn’t require you to waste time and money shooting several rounds of ammunition to get it dialed in. 

The most accurate way to get your gun on target is by using a bore sighter such as a laser or a collimator. If you don’t have access to any of these devices, your eyesight is the next best thing to use and can be done without special training. 

This guide will teach you how to use a laser, a collimator, and your eyes to align your rifle with its scope.

Read on to find out how to bore sight a rifle.

Table of Contents

What is Bore Sighting?

Bore sighting, also known as “zeroing,” is the process of aligning the bore of a gun to the reticle of its scope. 

If you’re not sure what the bore is, it is simply the inside of the barrel of the gun. The reticle of the scope, also called “crosshairs,” is the set of lines that you see when you look through the scope. In some scopes, the reticle has a colored dot instead of lines.

You can use the bore sighting process if you don’t want to waste ammunition firing at a target and adjusting the reticle until you get your rifle sighted. It is a much quicker, easier, and more accurate way to align your rifle’s sights.

When Should You Bore Sight a Rifle?

You should bore sight your rifle if it’s new and you’ve never used it before, or if you haven’t used it for a long time.

You can also bore sight your rifle at anytime if you find that the alignment is off.

Bore Sighting Methods

When using, cleaning, or calibrating a gun, always remember to practice good gun safety. So, before you begin to sight your rifle, check and ensure that there are no bullets in the gun and that the safety is engaged. Failure to do so could be dangerous.

Next, you should center the rifle’s scope in its adjustment range. In other words, set the elevation and windage at their midway points and numbers.

Now it’s time to bore sight your firearm. You can do this with the help of a laser bore sighter, a collimator, or just using your eyesight.

Let’s look at how to bore a sight rifle using these methods.

how to bore sight a rifle

Using a Laser

The first thing you will need to do before attempting to sight your rifle using any method is to set up a target about 25 yards away in a safe location. The best place to do this is at a shooting range. 

Remember, safety first. Next, you’ll need to set up a shooting rest on something sturdy and level, like a table. When you’re done doing this, follow these steps:

Step 1

Place the laser bore sighter into the barrel or chamber of the gun, depending on the type of laser you have. Make sure it fits snugly and securly.

If your rifle has a muzzle brake, it’s a good idea to remove it before you turn on the laser.

Step 2

If any turret caps are on your rifle scope, remove them, then turn the laser on.

Step 3

Shift and adjust the gun so that the laser points to the center of the target.

Step 4

Turn the “elevation” turret to move the reticle up or down, and turn the “windage” turret to move it left or right.

Note that turning the elevation dial “up” moves the reticle downward and vice versa. Similarly, turning the windage to the left will move the reticle to the right and vice versa.

Step 5

After positioning the reticle in the center of the laser dot, remove the laser from the gun’s barrel or chamber.

Step 6

Now that you’ve finished bore sighting your rifle, you can test its accuracy by shooting a few live rounds at a target 100 yards away.

Advantages of Using a Laser

  • This method is much more accurate than using your eyesight alone.
  • They are pretty affordable.
  • This is ideal for sighting guns with bolts that cannot be removed.

Disadvantages of Using a Laser

It would be difficult to see the laser dot on the target if you’re using this device outdoors in bright sunshine. You may want to use it at a time of day when it’s dark enough outside or at a safe location indoors that isn’t particularly bright.

Using a Collimator

An optical collimator is a very effective bore sighting device. It uses lenses to magnify an image of a grid inside the device. This grid contains numbers that represent one inch so that the shooter can align the scope and rifle by a measurable number of inches.

These handy little devices are also used to collimate telescopes and binoculars.

Because you’re looking at an image on the device and not at an actual target, it is important to make sure that the collimator fits your device perfectly to avoid alignment errors.

Step 1

Insert the collimator into the bore and screw it in so that it fits securely.

Step 2

Look into the scope of the rifle to see if the grid and reticle line up properly. Most likely, you will need to align them.

Step 3

Align the center of the grid to the center of the reticle using the elevation and windage turrets. See step 4 of the laser tutorial to find out how to do this.

Step 4

If you have to adjust the reticle more than 8 inches, check your surface to make sure that it is level, and check the shooting rest to make sure your gun is mounted properly.

Step 5

Like in the above method, you can test if you’ve properly aligned your rifle by shooting a few live rounds at targets 25 and 100 yards away.

Advantages Using a Collimator

  • A bore sighting collimator is relatively cheap.
  • Parallax error is much less likely when using an optical collimator.
  • This method is more accurate than using your eyesight alone.

Disadvantages Using a Collimator

Errors during manufacture may result in errors in the alignment of your weapon.

Using Your Eyesight Alone

For this method, you will need to have a clearly visible marker in the center of your target. Leave the target at 25 yards away, then follow these steps:

Step 1

Take the bolt out of the rifle.

Step 2

Look down the bore of the gun and keep your eye at the center of the bore.

Step 3

Line up the center of the bore with the center of the target as best as you can.

Step 4

Next, look through the rifle’s scope and follow step 4 from the laser method to line up the reticle.

Step 5

At this point, your rifle is bore-sighted. To test the accuracy of your gun, you can shoot a couple of live rounds at your target then move it 100 yards away and take a few more shots.

Advantages Using Your Eyesight

  • It costs nothing.
  • It is ideal for instances when you are out in the wild and don’t have a working bore sighting tool.

Disadvantages Using Your Eyesight

  • It is not as accurate as the other methods.
  • This method takes longer.

how to bore sight a rifle

Common Mistakes During Bore Sighting

Not understanding what each click on your dials mean.

On most rifle scopes, one turn of the turret (one click) moves the reticle a quarter of an inch.

Using the wrong size bore sighters.

Make sure that the arbor of your laser or collimator fits the barrel or scope properly to avoid errors. Some of these devices come with several arbors of different sizes to match different calibers.

Not reading the instruction manual.

If you’re new to shooting or not familiar with handling rifles, you should read the instruction manual that comes with the rifle.

Brief Recap of How to Bore Sight a Rifle

Now that you know how to bore sight a rifle the proper way, let’s quickly recap the key steps:

  1. Safety first. Before you sight your rifle, the first thing you should do is remove all the ammunition from the gun, then double-check to make sure it is completely empty.
  2. At a safe location, set up a target 25 yards away. A shooting range is the best place to do this.
  3. If you’re using a laser bore sighting device, attach it securely to your rifle. Next, find the laser dot on your target and adjust the rifle scope’s settings to align the center of the reticle with the dot.
  4. If you’re using a collimator, attach it to the bore of your gun. Next, look through the rifle scope and use the turrets to adjust the reticle until you have it centered.
  5. Without using tools, you can still sight your rifle using your eyesight. To do this, you remove the bolt, look down the gun barrel, then through the rifle scope, and align the center of the bore with the center of the target.

Each method has its pros and cons. It is a good idea to try all three and decide which one works best for you.

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