Learn How to Bore Sight a Hunting Rifle: 8 Steps

Are you having trouble slaying wild beasts?! Your scope may be out of alignment with your gun’s barrel! It is a simple fix. Besides, learning how to bore sight a rifle should be one of your first steps to your gun’s maintenance. Best part? next time your buddy misses a lot in the gun range, you can help.

Oh, it’s free too!

Bore sighting is when you take your rifles bore and align or “zero-in” your “sight” or your scope, so you don’t miss any shots. You have to deal with a couple of screws till the problem goes away. It can result in a lot of wasted ammunition. The process can get frustrating.

Today, you will learn the most efficient way to bore-sight so your bullets land on target. Moreover, you won’t lose your enthusiasm or your ammunition when you need to fine-tune. Now, let’s prepare some things first.

Here is what you need to do:

A Budget and A Plan

Some of us are more blessed than others. Investing in a laser bore sighting device is a very good investment if you are serious about your guns. Not only these devices make bore-sighting easier, but they also make the adjustments a lot more accurate while being faster.

It’s important to think about bullets as well. If your gun doesn’t come with appropriate scope mounting mechanism you might be looking at more costs. A professionally calibrated bore-sights is accurate to millimeters and is better if you need it done fast.

You will need some time on the range and some ammo too. There might be other costs too so have some cash on hand.

bore-sight your rifle

Pick a date for the gun range, you can do the normal bore-sighting which requires only a 25-yard space and no bullets at home provided your home is big enough. Plan a shopping trip too if you feel like you do not have the necessary tools mentioned below.

It’s a good idea to buy a vise if you don’t have one yet, it will make your job much easier.

Necessary items:

  • Your gun with your sight and sight mount.
  • Stable base preferable a VISE
  • Two targets preferably of the same size, bright color, and alignment lines.
  • Binoculars

Safety First!

Around 450 people die every year due to accidental firearm discharges in the U.S. alone. Please make sure your gun is empty while setting it up. Have a stable place ready too. In fact, you should cut all vibrations. If you have a vise, be wise and attach it, then set it up so that the rifle doesn’t move.

Some sandbags or something similar can help too. You may have guessed it already. A gun range is your best friend for safety. Most gun ranges have professionals on staff who can help you through the process.

We recommend setup up camp at a 100-yard capable gun range. You don’t need to be accurate with the distance, but it helps you if you are. If you aren’t going to a range, please make sure no one is around when you are firing.

You may need to fine-tune your work in a far target so, binoculars help you save bullets, keep those on hand too.

Now you are all set to bore-sight your rifle!

1. Prepare your rifle and scope

Put your sight or scope on the rifle. If your rifle is modern, it came with its scope mounting hardware. If its older, you may need to run to the store and get scope mounts. You can install them with relative ease or ask the store to do it for you. Almost all newer rifles have screw hole pre-penetrated and tapped for scope mounts. You must ensure they’re tight.

Then, introduce scope rings on the actual scope and leave enough wiggle room to alter their position. You want to have the scope free enough so you can move it forwards or backwards.

Prepare your rifle and scope

If you have a bolt rifle, remove the bolt from your rifle’s back. It is the screw type looking thing on the back of the bore. This is how you need to look through the barrel.

If you have Ars, remove your charging handle, and separate your upper receiver from the lower. Then, remove the bolt. ARs can be trick to bore-sight alone. It helps if you have someone or some device to hold the upper steady when adjusting.

2. Pre-adjust your scope

Make changes depending on the case with the goal that the flat line on the reticle is level. you’ll likewise need to amend the “eye relief”. First, get put your eye on the sight push the scope ring forward or in reverse till there is no dark ring around the objective.

It’s always a good idea to keep enough space so the gun doesn’t hit your face because of recoil force.

3. Stabilize

Take your vise and set it up with the gun while pointing generally towards the target. A vise is essential to learn how to bore sight a rifle. A bench or even a pile of strong dirt or sandbags would work.

Pre-adjust your scope

We recommend starting off with a close target around 25 yards or so away. Then moving further for micro adjustments.

4. Line-up

Take your gun barrel and line up with the target. Align so that your barrel is level, and you can see through your sight well. Your target should be in the middle of your bore and your gun should be rock-solid stable.

5. Adjust

If what you see when you look through the barrel is different from what you see when you look through the scope. This means your sight is out of alignment with your barrel. There can be two type of adjustment.

A left-right or horizontal error needs a windage knob adjustment. Whereas an up down or vertical error needs an elevation ring adjustment.

Use your reticle-crosshairs to do it through the following steps:

IMPORTANT: Make sure the target is in the center of the bore and DO NOT move the gun at all. Keep a note of how many quarters of a turn you needed to change a distance of one inch, this will come in handy when micro adjusting for the far target.

  • If scope appears on the left compared to how it looks through the barrel, loosen your windage or turn it anti-clockwise and vice versa. This will force the sight to the right, balancing the problem out.
  • If scope crosshairs seem above the target compared to how it looks through the barrel, loosen your elevation or turn it anti-clockwise. It will move the scope downwards and realign it properly.
adjust your scope

You don’t need to remember which way to adjust as the crosshairs will react to your adjustments. A good rule is to adjust towards the direction of the reticle. Always do it in increments of a quarter of a turn or so. This will ensure the longevity of your scope while decreasing error.

If you cannot see your target on the scope when you can see it through the bore, check your mounting mechanism.

6. Micro-adjusting Preparation

Once you get done with the adjustments on the 25-yard target, you should move your target backwards and adjust accordingly. We recommend that you adjust to 100 yards, so you have a good and safe hunting distance when you are in the wild. Specially bird hunting requires greater accuracy through a larger distance.

You should not start off with the target at 100 yards at first as it may be too far to adjust with the naked eye. If you don’t have a binocular and load up your gun.

Point to note

Your rifle bullet will probably “gain some amount of elevation” when shot 100 yards compared to only 25 yards. This is actually an optical illusion created as the sight and the bore create a triangle with your target not a rectangle.

Check your gun manufacturers website or documentation for even more accurate measurements. 1 inch gain for a 75-yard ride is a standard for a bore to scope distance of 2 inch or lower. For AR-15s, the bore to scope distance is higher than 2.5 inch so a gain of over 1.5 inch is normal.

This means, to hit the 100-yard target there should be an one-inch/one-half inch gap between your crosshair view and your bullet hole on the 25 yard target.

7. Micro-adjustments

Firstly, use a good pair of binoculars to set up your gun in line with the target through the barrel as we did before. It should seem like the bore is still centered. It is better to alter the target instead of the gun if possible. If you do not have binoculars, shoot some bullets as accurately as possible to see if they tend to flock to a region.

scope micro adjustment

It’s hard to shoot bullets with pinpoint accuracy but try to gauge if they seem to be around a certain distance and direction away from the center.

Now all you need is to accurately adjust your sight as you did before. The problem is we need to be very subtle. Let me explain.

8. Do the math

Did you remember to note how many quarters of a turn of the elevation and windage resulted in 1 inch of movement? Let’s assume your scope needs half of a turn on the alignment turrets to move the reticle-crosshairs about 1 inch when looking at target 25 yards away.

Then, to move the reticle about one inch when the target is about 100 yards away, we need to rotate the knob (1/2)/(25/100) turn or 1/8th turn. So, be gentle and patient with the adjustment knobs.

If you were diligent for the 25-yard target, the 100-yard target alignment should need minimal adjustments. Measure your first shots distance from the center of the target and adjust accordingly. Now fire another shot and see if your math was alright. Remember this stage is “micro” adjusting. Wasting one bullet is always preferable to wasting an important game shot.

Once you are happy with your adjustments, take another shot. If you have touched the inner circle of the target 100 yards away, you can declare the mission to be successful.

How to Bore Sight a Rifle in Two Minutes

Concluding Remarks

Congratulations! Now you have learned how to bore sight a hunting rifle! Bore-sighting is an important tool in a shooter’s arsenal. Feel free to write comments about your bore-sighting story.

Even if you are taking your first shot, you should be able be accurate with this simple yet effective technique. It’s important to practice shooting guns to adjust and perfect. Remember that bore-sighting is easy to learn but difficult to master.

With practice, you can make bore sighting your preferred art form.

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