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How to Boresight a Scope Properly: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Boresight a Scope Properly A Step-by-Step Guide

Bore sighting is a method used to speed up the zeroing process by using the barrel of your gun as a reference point when sighting in your reticle.

It is a highly underrated method that allows users to calibrate their reticle on the point where the bore laser hits. It works with all manner of sights and scopes and saves users so much time, effort, and ammunition in the long run.

Allow me to offer a step-by-step guide on how to properly boresight your rifle, its benefits, and considerations you need to make when adjusting a new optic with this as your reference point.

What Is Bore Sighting?

Bore sighting is the process of using a laser bore sighter (pointed in a safe direction), a great tool that mimics the path bullets would take to hit a target set a known distance away.

Bore sighting device

The bore sight goes into the breech end of your weapon, projecting a laser out past the gun’s barrel and onto the target. This laser illustrates the point of impact of your shots, giving you a point to focus your reticle adjustments on.

Man bore sighting a scope

This allows you to dial in your rifle scope, aligning your reticle with the center of your rifle’s bore before you even load your first round into the chamber.

Bore sighting is a great way to zero in a new rifle scope without wasting ammunition. It greatly reduces the number of test groups you must fire to calibrate your reticle. It is one of the best ways to ensure accuracy before each hunt or training session.

What Do You Need to Boresight a Scope?

You will need the following equipment when bore sighting your rifle.

  • Gun Vise: solid rest that grips your rifle and allows you to make fine adjustments without the rifle shaking
  • Bore Sighter: laser pointer, acts as a reference point you can align your scope reticle with
  • Target: A paper or cardboard cut-out you will aim at to calibrate your reticle
  • Muzzle break: A recoil compensator that pairs well with laser bore sighters

How to Boresight a Rifle Scope

Knowing how to bore sight a rifle scope will help you center your crosshairs across all manner of rifle scopes and calibers. The bore sighting process can be broken down into the steps below.

Step 1. Set Up Your Target

Place a paper target with a visible bullseye about 25 yards away. Position your rifle in a gun vise and remove the bolt assembly if you are using that type of laser dot sighter.

Step 2. Align the Bore Sighter

Before installing your laser bore sighters, you must align your barrel with the target by staring through the barrel and making manual adjustments until the target is perfectly centered when viewing the bore like a scope.

aligning scope reticle for bore sighting

You can then expose all your scope’s turrets, removing any caps and readying them for adjustment.

Step 3. Adjust Windage and Elevation

Use your windage and elevation turrets to move the center of the reticle in the direction you need it to go.

Use your windage dials to move the reticle left or right, and the elevation dial on top to move your reticle up or down.

Step 4. Attach the Bore Sighter

Now is the time to install your bore sighter. Plenty of these lasers are designed to fit snugly into the rifle’s bore, ensuring accuracy from the moment you slide them in. Others must be mounted at the front of the muzzle.

Take the time to ensure that your laser will not shake and is mounted perfectly so that the laser hits dead center on the target.

This makes adjusting your sights and scope reticle so much more straightforward.

Step 5. Check Point of Impact

After making reticle adjustments using the laser as a reference, take a shot from 25 yards away. Determine how close your shot was to your desired point of impact.

Recalibrate and dial in the scope further until you achieve the desired results.

Step 6. Sight-In at 100 Yards

Once satisfied, zero and sight in your scope at 100 yards. Expect to be on paper or very close to the target, thanks to your bore sighting.

Bore sighting test shots

Differences Between Boresighting AR-15s and Bolt Action Rifles

Let us discuss the differences in the boresighting process between AR-platform rifles and bolt-action ones.

Boresighting AR-15s or other Semi-Automatic Rifles

You will need to consider the following conditions before adding a red dot laser to bore sight your AR-15.

  • Restricted Access: For AR-style rifles and other semi-automatic firearms, the design often obstructs direct access to the bore. You will need to remove your bolt carrier group to insert the laser.
  • Bolt and Bolt Carrier: The presence of a bolt carrier can complicate the boresighting process, as you will need to disassemble the rifle to make room in the bore for the laser to pass straight through.
  • Less Stability: AR-style rifles are less stable during boresighting due to the additional moving components and the increased interaction with the firearm.
  • Additional Considerations: You might need to factor in the presence of front sights, gas blocks, and other parts

How to Boresight an AR-15

You can easily boresight the many rifles that utilize the AR platform using the following steps.

  1. Place a range target 25 yards away from your weapon.
  2. Remove your weapon’s upper receiver and bolt to make space for the bore sight.
  3. Insert the laser bore-sighted cartridge.
  4. Activate the laser (follow operating instructions).
  5. Center the laser on the target.
  6. Adjust your rifle scope to line up with your laser reference.
  7. Remove the laser, reinsert the assembly, and verify your new aim with test shots.

Boresighting Bolt Action Rifles

Boresighting bolt action firearms differs from other rifles due to the following factors.

  • Access to Bore: Bolt action rifles typically have a more straightforward access to the bore. You can easily remove the bolt and provide clear access for the laser from the chamber to the target.
  • Stability: These rifles are generally more stable during the process because you have more control over the rifle’s position in a rifle rest or vise.
  • Single Point of Contact: With the bolt removed, there is only one point of contact when aligning the bore with the target at the center
  • Scope Mounting: Mounting a scope on a bolt action rifle might involve fewer considerations due to the simpler mechanical design, leading to a more straightforward boresighting process.

Tips and Troubleshooting on Boresighting a Scope

For you to have a successfully bore-sighted rifle, I recommend keeping these insights in mind.

  • When fine-tuning a rifle, ensure the rifle’s chamber is empty beforehand.
  • Ensure your rifle is securely mounted in a stable gun vise, as any movement during boresighting can lead to inaccurate results.
  • Use your scope’s turrets to guide reticle adjustments. Center the reticle on the target as closely as possible using the laser shooting out from the bore as a reference.
  • After initial boresighting, take a few shots to see where your bullet impacts at a short distance. Then, adjust your reticle based on impact.

Why Do You Need to Boresight a Scope?

When you bore sight a rifle, you gain the following benefits listed below.

Ensures POA and POI are Aligned

Whenever you mount a new scope on a rifle, there is no guarantee that it will be perfectly aligned with the gun barrel.

Boresighting ensures that the point of aim (reticle) and the point of impact (laser dot) are aligned as closely as possible.

Saves Time and Ammo

When you bore sight, you increase the accuracy and precision of your scope’s sights, which saves you time, effort, and money in the long run.

Without boresighting, you will often have to waste your first shot, needing to determine how inaccurate you are before you can properly zero in your reticle.

Bore sighting allows you to save time and ammo by giving you an accurate point of impact with which you can align your reticle, ensuring that the first shot you take after removing the laser is far more accurate than it would be if you did not have it.

Prevents Frustration

Attempting to sight in a rifle without boresighting can be frustrating and time-consuming.

Shots missing the target at initial ranges can lead to confusion and wasted ammunition, which leaves you feeling frustrated at this lack of accuracy.

Boresighting establishes a solid starting point, making the calibration process smoother and more efficient.

Enhances Accuracy

Proper boresighting helps reduce errors in adjustments when dialing in your scope.

It ensures that your scope’s reticle is aligned with the trajectory of your round, giving you the best chance of hitting your target accurately.

Ensures Consistency

If you store your rifle for a while or have to remove and reattach the scope, boresighting helps maintain the initial alignment you had when your rifle was first zeroed.

Consistency is key in shooting, and boresighting ensures your rifle is always ready to perform at its best by keeping your scope in line with it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding bore sighting.

What Is a Laser Bore Sight?

A laser bore sighting tool is a gadget for aligning the firearm barrel and reticle by projecting a laser beam that simulates bullet trajectory and point of impact on a target.

A boresighting laser can either project a laser dot from the chamber of the weapon or the muzzle end.

Can I Boresight Without a Bore Sighter?

You can bore sight without the need for a laser sighter by using the traditional method.

While you will still remove your bolt and set up the target at 15 feet to 50 yards away, this method involves eyeballing adjustments until you can see the center of your target perfectly through your barrel.

This gives you your reference point. You can then adjust your scope to align with this point of impact.

What’s the Difference Between a Laser Bore Sighter and a Traditional Bore Sighter?

A laser bore sighter is an accessory that projects a laser straight out of the barrel, giving you an external point you can align your reticle with.

Meanwhile, traditional bore sighting entails staring through the barrel of your weapon and aligning it with a target. Once it is centered, you will then adjust your reticle accordingly, given this new information.

While both methods reduce the amount of wasted ammo needed to zero, laser sighting is more precise and easier to accomplish than the other kind.

Do I Need to Remove My Muzzle Brake for Boresighting?

You may not have to remove the muzzle break if you are using a laser boresighter that you slide in through the chamber of your weapon. The laser will go straight through without ever touching the barrel.

Final Thoughts on Boresighting a Scope

Bore sighting is an intuitive practice that increases user accuracy and allows them to dial in their reticle calibrations before they even fire their first shot.

Adjusting your windage and elevation to align your point of impact and point of aim will be a breeze with a bore sight laser in your barrel. It also allows you to use less ammo and reuse the same target, as you can now afford to fire fewer three-shot groups.

This makes it a life-saver for hobby shooters who just want to bring their deer rifles out on weekends without worrying about breaking the bank on bullets.

Do not be afraid to implement this into your scope calibration process. It is one of the most underrated practices that me and other shooters swear by to get our reticles on target.

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