Best Way to Sight a Rifle Scope

Opinions will vary as it relates to the best way to sight a rifle scope. People have different go-to habits, training, or learn by fooling around with it long enough to get a system down. If you ask anyone what the best way is, they’ll tell you their way, or what works best for them.

There’s nothing wrong with that if it works. However, there may be some steps that go missed, making the process of sighting in a rifle scope tougher, or at least more time-consuming.

Below is a list of the different steps that sighting in a scope can entail. Check them out, and see if there are any steps that you might be missing that could help you along the next time you need to make your adjustments.

Attaching your Scope

Make Sure your rifle scope is attached properly and secured. When properly mounted, it should be firmly held in place, with no wiggling around. The slightest amount of play in a scope can create a frustrating time when aligning your scope. Check to ensure the mounts and screws are tight so that every adjustment you make later on will remain true.

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Distance Between your Eye and the Lens

If you mount the scope too close to your eye, you could wind up giving yourself a shiner after the recoil sends the eyepiece into your eye socket. If you set it too far away, you’ll have difficulty focusing in your eyes on the crosshair.

For most scopes out there, 3.5” to 4” is the ideal space you’ll want between the eyepiece and your eye.

Hands-Off Positioning

Find a place to level out your weapon, where it will be stationary. Ranges set up to adjust scopes will be equipped with a station that will allow you to do this. But if you’re out on your property, or somewhere safe for target practice, you may need to get resourceful.

The importance of being able to keep your weapon steady can’t be understated. The whole idea is to remove yourself from being a factor as much as possible. A steady, stationary place to rest your weapon will help you to freely make adjustments as you go.

Know your Distance

If you’re not at a range, or a place specifically designed to true up your scope, take the time to measure out the distance between your shooting position and your target. 25 yards is a good initial distance to get your scope on the same page with your barrel, and 100 yards is a good general distance to make fine-tuned adjustments.

Rifle With Scope

Getting Close

After you’ve attached your scope to the rifle, there’s no telling how far off or out of alignment, the scope will be compared to the barrel. We’ll first need to get the two at least close to pointing at the same thing before worrying about precision.

Empty the weapon of all ammunition, and remove the bolt from the rifle. With the weapon resting in a position that will be easily maneuverable yet stationary, center the target while looking through the bore of the barrel.

Once you’ve eyeballed and centered your target the best you can through the bore, have a look through the scope. You’ll find that the scope may be way off the target. Make the horizontal and vertical adjustments, so that what you see through the scope is the same as what you’ll see through the barrel.

The point behind doing this is to remove a lot of guesswork from the initial set up of your scope. The most popular distance that shooters use to do this is 25 yards. This is by no means a highly precise step, but will aid in getting close to the target, or what is referred to as “hitting the paper.”

Your First Shot

After you’ve made sure that the scope and what you see when looking through the barrel are as close of a match as possible, place the bolt back in the rifle and load your weapon.

Get your crosshairs directly over the point you want to hit, and take one shot. Your first shot will give you an idea of how drastically off the scope is. At this stage, if you’ve hit the paper, then you can at least get an idea of what direction you’ll have to adjust.

Adjusting your Minute of Angle (MOA)

Distance is everything when dialing in your rifle’s scope. The farther out you go, the more of an impact being slightly off will make, and the farther away from your target you’ll be. If you’re an inch off at 100 yards, you’ll be two inches off at 200 yards, so on and so forth. The further out you get, the further you’ll be from your bullseye.

Group Test Shots

After your first shot adjustments have been made to bring you a bit closer to the mark, keep your crosshairs dead on the center of your target, and fire off a group of three shots. For this, some people tend to relocate from 25 yards to a 100-yard target, knowing that the scope is aligned enough to at least hit the paper from 100 yards.

Your three-shot grouping at 100 yards will help you to make more precise and detailed adjustments. The center of your three-shot pattern will be the zero or the impact point, that you’ll want to relocate to the dead center of your target.

A target with a measurable grid pattern will be the most helpful. You can head over to the target to physically measure the pattern, and how far the center of the hole pattern will need to move, but it’s easier to be able to judge from where you’re at, looking through the scope.

A grid pattern on the paper such as ½” or 1” pattern will help you to see how many inches you’re off vertically as well as horizontally, right from your scope. This will lessen the potential of you accidentally moving something that you don’t want to move.

Fine Tune your Turrets

If you see how many inches you’re off on the “x”, and can judge how off you are on the “y”, your windage and elevation turrets are what you’ll want to use to correct the scope.

At 100 yards, most scope turrets crank at ¼ minute per click. ¼ of a minute at that range equals out to about ¼ of an inch. In other words, if the center of your three-shot pattern is off-target by an inch horizontally, you’d give the windage turret 4 clicks in the direction that it needs to go, to be centered horizontally.

The same is true with the elevation turret. If the center of the 3 shot pattern is above or below the bullseye by an inch, 4 clicks in the right direction will bring your 3-shot zero over the target’s bullseye.

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