Sighting Your Rifle In

Sighting Your Rifle In

Sighting In Your Rifle (100 yards)

Zach Dunn

A rifle is a tremendously powerful tool that can dispatch pests, put food on the table, and defend your life and those of your loved ones. The rifle can be an accurate tool, depending on the weapon itself. But a rifle will never reach it’s true potential unless the sights or the optic with which you aim it are tuned and sighted in properly.  Failure to properly sight in will turn a rifle, be it a humble .22, an AR-15 or your competition rifle, into an unreliable hunk of steel.

I don’t mean unreliable as in function.  If you cannot hit what you aim at with a tool that you may well have to bet your life on, then that tool is unreliable. That’s right, it is unreliable even if it feeds dirty ammunition and ejects banged up casings with impunity.

Zeroing a scope

Sighting in does not have to be a complicated process, in fact it can be very simple and be done properly within minutes.

When you sight in, make sure you use a shooting rest, or at least shoot from a very stable platform. Spotting scopes and a laser bore sighter can make short work of it.  If you are on a budget a set of good binoculars will do the trick.

If you are sighting in an optic, a laser bore sighter will make your job much easier as stated above. Start at 25 yards, place the bore laser in your firearm and aim at your choice of a paper target at 25 yards.  Go ahead and remove the metal caps covering your scopes turrets.  Peer through your scope and see where your crosshairs are lined up in relation to the target’s bullseye.  Simply adjust your scope’s crosshairs to align with the bullseye on the target.

Once you are satisfied that your scope is aligned with the bullseye, remove the bore sighter and set up your target at 100 yards distance. Make sure that your target is not over water as water will effect the travel of the bullet and there are no obstacles between your shooting position and where your target is.  

Load three rounds into your rifle’s magazines while keeping your scope’s turrets uncovered for easy adjustment.  When you are ready, fire 3 rounds at the target.  Take your time and aim carefully. Check your rounds for good grouping. Adjust the scope as needed. If done properly, within 10 rounds your scope should be right on.  Don’t let the barrel heat up too much as a hot barrel loses accuracy.  Most scopes have a ¼ MOA, which means for every click of adjustment on your turrets, your scope hairs move a quarter of an inch at 100 yards distance. 

After you have sighted in and are fully satisfied, replace your scope turret covers and you are good to go.

Iron Sights

Irons sights are a bit different per firearm.  However, I prefer to “Battle sight” all rifles with an iron sight and then move out from there.  AR-15s and AK rifles for example should be battle sighted between 25-35 yards depending on the rifle.

Be sure to set your rifle’s sights to “mechanical zero” before sighting in. This is different per rifle, but generally refers to centering your rifle’s sights.

On the range, you will set your target up at either 25 yards for hunting rifles, or the range required for a tactical rifle.  If you are sighting in a AR-15, AK rifle, SKS or other combat/tactical rifle google battle sighting in distances before you go to the range with your rifle. Once at you range sight your target up at the proper distance. A range finder is an ideal tool for this and takes the guess work out of trying to determine range.  

Fire a group of three rounds. With irons sights, you want to adjust your sights to follow the rounds you just fired.  Meaning your first group on paper becomes your bullseye.  When adjusting irons, you must think opposite, to adjust left, move your rear sight to the right.  To adjust down, move you sight up and so forth.  When you have your groups landing on paper where they should you can repeat the process at longer ranges if you desire. 


Take your time. Don’t be that shooter who settles for being sighted in “well enough”.  Make sure your rounds are hitting where you are aiming.

Safe Shooting!

1 Comment

  1. Pete

    I can’t tell you how many idiots I see who never sight in their rifles!

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About The Author

Zach Dunn

Zach Dunn is one of the owners of 1776TV and serves as Senior Editor. He is a passionate Constitutionalist. He enjoys the Outdoors, Firearms, and History. He is a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. Zach is married to Amy and they have a son and three daughters. He currently resides in the Mountains of North Carolina.

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