How To Bore Sight A Rifle Scope

Rifles are one of the most popular weapons for both competition shooting and hunting. Most rifles are capable of hitting targets hundreds of yards out. With expert rifles being able to go out over 1,000 yards. Shooting a rifle is also pretty easy. Once you have it set up that is.

Most accessories are easy to setup, such as putting a sling on or mounting a bipod. Those typically clip on, slide on, or otherwise simply attach. The most important part of getting an accurate shot with a rifle is the scope though, and it isn’t as simple as other attachments.

A rifle scope needs to be properly mounted to a rifle. Then it needs to be leveled and sighted in. The complexity of these steps depends on the tools that you have available.

Just because the steps are harder than other parts of setting up your rifle, doesn’t mean it is that hard. It just takes time and experience. To help you get your rifle sighted in, we have created a quick how to article. Today we are specifically talking about bore sighting your rifle.

Bore sighting is an optional step when mounting a scope that can save you a lot of time during the process of zeroing your scope. The simple description of bore sighting is using your bore to do a quick alignment of your scope so that the process of zeroing is easier. It is a method of pre-aligning your scope. You can do this with or without specialized tools.

How To Bore Sight Your Rifle Scope

Image by Kguirnela | CC BY-SA 3.0

A Note On Safety

Safety is always important when working with firearms. The process of bore sighting does not require you to fire your weapon. With that in mind, before beginning the process of bore sighting it is important to clear your rifle. Ensure that there is no ammunition in the chamber and none in the magazine. Keep all ammunition away from your workspace. The best practice is to remove your ammunition or your rifle from the room so that the two are completely separate.

How To Boresight Your Rifle Scope

Step One: Mount and Prepare Your Scope

Before you can bore sight your rifle you need to mount your scope onto the body. This starts by attaching the mounting rings to the body. Mounting rings are attached in one of two ways, either via a rail or screws. Loosely attach the base of the scope rings and rest the scope in said rings. Straighten the rings out and apply the top ones. You want to be able to move the scope inside the rings for now.

Level the cross hairs inside the scope both vertically and horizontally. You also want to ensure that the scope is pointing straight forward. This step in the process is known as leveling a scope and we have written a more detailed guide on the process that you can read. Leveling is important to guarantee precision as it makes sure your aim point is properly aligned.

Do not tighten the scope rings at this point.

Step Two: Creating A Target For Bore Sighting

Now you need to create a target to bore sight with. For most shooters, they choose to bore sight at the range of 100 yards if they have enough space. You do not need a paper target, but these often work the best. What you are looking for is a point that you can use to focus on. A point that stands out.

The best type of target to use is one with a bright circle at the point. The circle needs to be visible both through the scope and the barrel of the rifle.

Step Three: Remove Your Bolt

To bore sight you will need to be able to see down the barrel. In order to be able to do so you need to remove the bolt. For your average bolt action rifle this is relatively simple. For AR style rifles and similar platforms you will need to take the upper off, remove the charging handle and the bolt carrier group so that you can see down the barrel.

Before beginning the process make sure that the rifle is clean. You want to be able to easily see down the rifle without obstruction.

For those who want to skip taking out the bolt, you can purchase a bore sighting laser. The laser takes the shape of a round that can be used in your rifle. Once inserted the laser shoots out the barrel with he same trajectory as a bullet would leave the barrel.

Step Four: Stabilize The Rifle

In order to properly sight the rifle it needs to be held in position the whole time. A vise grip or similar tool that keeps the rifle in a completely stable position is essential. But if you are unable to do that, the alternative is to use a bipod, sandbags, or another stable position.

Step Five: Sight Down The Barrel Then Scope

Align the rifle with the target by using the barrel to ensure that it is on the center point you are using. If you are using a laser, ensure the laser is as close to dead center as you can get. Once it is perfectly aligned, you want to do your best to lock the rifle into place. You don’t want it moving.

Then look down the scope and move it until the scope is perfectly aligned with the same target as the barrel. This is why you left the scope loose, so that you could move it into proper alignment. Careful not to bump your rifle, check down the barrel a couple of times to ensure that it hasn’t changed position. This will help to ensure that you are perfectly aligned.

Step Six: Tighten The Scope

Once you have the scope aligned on target it is time to tighten the scope rings down. While holding the scope with one hand, tighten the rings with the other. Be very careful not to move the scope or you will undo what you just spent your time working on. You should only tighten the scope down to the manufacturer recommended level so as not to damage the rings or the scope itself.

During this step in the process it can be helpful to have a friend with you. Your friend can hold the scope in place while you use both hands to tighten the rings.

Step Seven: Sight In The Rifle

Now that you have bore sighted the scope you won’t be able to hit a bullseye every time, but you should be getting on the paper with every round that you fire. In most cases, this ensures that you don’t have to spend time trying to get your shots on paper in the first place. It also helps to triage scope problems when you have a new scope that won’t allow you to get on the paper.

To get into the bullseye you will need to sight in the scope. This is done by firing sets of three rounds and then adjusting your windage and elevation based on those three rounds. The process of sighting in can take some time at first and is about as length as bore sighting. We recommend that you read our article on sighting in a rifle so that you will be able to achieve the perfect sight picture with your rifle.

While bore sighting your rifle isn’t always 100% necessary it is a process that all shooters should learn to do. It saves time when setting up a new rifle or scope and can help you to triage problems with your aim. Not to mention, it is simply a basic skill that you should know whether you use it regularly or not. It never hurts to learn new skills and that is how you progress in the art of shooting.

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