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Sighting In A Rifle

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How To Sight In A Rifle With A Scope                        Click Here For The Video

Sighting a rifle should be done well before hunting season begins. You never want to risk your hunting trip by taking your rifle to the range the day before you leave or when on your hunting trip, and find you need some gunsmithing done on your rifle. Every rifle has individual characteristics. This means that even two rifles of the same make may shoot differently regardless of the similarities in appearance and specifications. Rifles are made to be compatible with ammunition of specific calibers. However, the accuracy factor will vary when ammunition of different brands, powders, and bullet types/grains are used in the same rifle. These are crucial factors to take into consideration when you sight in your hunting rifle.


While sighting in your rifle you will need some tools along with the riflescope you wish to mount. You will also need at least two or three types of ammunition from different manufacturers with different loads that are appropriate for the type of game you wish to hunt. Other necessary items would be a gun restbore sighter that is an inexpensive item available at gun shops or sporting goods stores, a pair of good binoculars, paper targets, a felt marker to use for identifying groups of targets, and protective equipment like ear plugs and glasses for eye and ear protection.

Once you locate an appropriate site or rifle range where you can test fire your rifle, set up a target at a distance of 25yards and one at 100 yards from the place you intend to use as your shooting location. It is best to use a comfortable gun rest in order to reduce human error to the minimum.

Bore sighting

Proceed to first bore sight your deer-hunting rifle. Simply stated, this is looking down the bore of your bolt action rifle, with the bolt removed, at the target. Make sure that the rifle is empty, there is no cartridge in the chamber, and the breech is open. Then following instructions that come with your bore sight, install the bore sight in the muzzle of your rifle. With the bore sight installed, looking through your scope you will find two sets of cross hairs. One set will be plain and will be your scope’s cross hairs. The other set would be of the bore sight and will be placed along a grid. Make sure that the bore sight cross hairs are exactly parallel to the grid lines on it, both vertically and horizontally by adjusting the bore sight. Looking through your scope align the cross hairs of the scope with those of the bore sight that they meet at precisely the same location. To ensure this there are two adjustments on any scope. One is for elevation (vertical adjustment) and the other is for windage (side adjustment). Depending on the make/design of your scope, you may need tools like a small screwdriver/allen key etc. to effect this adjustment. Once you have the scope cross hairs precisely meeting the bore sight’s cross hairs, the first part of the operation is complete. Be aware of the fact that bore sighting will not 'sight in' your rifle. This can only be done only by shooting different ammunition at the target and is necessary because different ammunition will affect the accuracy of your rifle in different ways. Bore sighting just aligns the bore of your rifle with your scope. Sighting in is to align your scope (and your rifle) with the target. 

Sight in at 25 yards

Remove the bore sight from the muzzle of your rifle, insert a round in the chamber, and close the breach. Take careful aim at the target and squeeze off 3 shots. Open the breech ejecting the empty shell and making sure that the rifle is empty and racked before proceeding to inspect the target using your binoculars or by walking up to it. If you have been able to hit any where on the paper, you are lucky and just need to adjust your windage and elevation until you are centered at the 25 yard target. For most scopes 1 click equals 1/4 “ adjustment at 100 yards. .Then you can proceed to the 100 yard target.

Select the best performing ammunition.

When you can hit the paper with every shot, it is time to test the ammunition. Remember, each type of ammo will behave differently. Select a particular brand, fire at least three shots one by one, and then inspect the target. Hopefully the bullet holes should present a tight grouping in some particular area of the target. Mark this group with a marker and then proceed to test fire in the same way with another brand of ammunition and mark the group of bullet holes similarly. Complete the test firing by successively using all types of ammunition that you wish to test, marking and identifying each group of hits. Then examine the position of each group in relation to the center of the bulls eye on the target. The ammunition that hits the tightest group closest to the center of the bulls eye is the one that is ideal for the weapon you are testing and will prove to be the best for your rifle shooting.

Dialing in

Next, proceed to set the elevation and windage for compensating differences in accuracy and to shoot well at all distances ranging from 50 to 300 yards, which is the actual average shooting distance during hunts. To this end, make elevation adjustments on your scope so that you hit approx two inches above the bull's eye at 100 yards keeping the windage on dead center. This will compensate for longer shots without any significant affect on the closer shots.

Reference the Bore sight

Finally, install the bore sight once again and make a note of the difference in the relationship of the cross hairs of your scope now with those of the bore sight. This will help you readjust the scope in case the accuracy is thrown off by accidentally jarring the weapon at any time.


Posted December 12, 2013 by Justin Ott

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