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How to Sight In a Rifle Scope Without a Boresighter: 9 Steps

How to Sight In a Rifle Scope Without a Boresighter

For new shooters, it’s perfectly normal to experience this using your rifle scope without a boresighter.

When I was first starting, I thought I was just bad at shooting. We all need to start from somewhere, right?

Now, here’s the good news:

All I need is 7 minutes of your time and you’ll be on your merry-way to sight in your target without a boresighter along with your new rifle scope!

Ready? Let’s sight in!

How to Sight In a Rifle Scope Without a Boresighter in 9 Easy Steps

Step 1: Set Your Gun Down on a Solid Mounting System

Step 1: Set Your Gun Down on a Solid Mounting System

Your mounting system does not have to be a professional, solid rest.

I’ve used a cheap hand adjuster, some sand bags, or some rolled-up fabric on top of a steady table

Anything that does not move or shake easily will be enough.

Since you’re getting a good feel of shot placement, this simple process doesn’t require you to spend extra bucks just so you can have a professional mount system.

If your reticle moves even with a solid mount system, there could be several reasons why it does which I’ll address in the later sections.

Step 2: Set Everything Up

Step 2: Set Everything Up

Time for a quick story. I remember when I first bought and drove my car.

I adjusted everything to create the MOST COMFORTABLE and optimum driving experience for myself.

It’s the same for your rifle scope and bore sight.

You apply the same process here to create the optimum shooting experience. Adjust everything, from the reticle focus down to the eye relief.

I start by thinking about my preferred distance. Will the target range be 25 yards? 50 yards? 100 yards?

Even if your intended mark is farther than that, it’s best to start small and take your first shot to sight in the target at a closer range than intended.

You can just adjust it as needed later.

Make sure to have your scope mounted securely and comfortably for your personal preferences.

If you’re using a single-shot break-open rifle or a bolt-action rifle…

Step 3: Take Your Bolt Out of Your Bolt Action Rifle

Step 3: Take Your Bolt Out of Your Bolt Action Rifle

Yup, as simple as that. Just remove it from your bolt gun (just make sure it’s an UNLOADED gun).

I told you the process was simple, right? You’re now halfway through!

Step 4: Look Through the Rifle’s Bore and Position the Target at the Center (Without the Bolt in Bolt Action Rifles)

Step 4: Look Through the Rifle’s Bore and Position the Target at the Center

Make sure there are EQUAL amounts of distance between the center and all around it, and then…

Look through your rifle’s scope to see where the crosshairs hit.

Adjust the turrets, turn your adjustment knobs, and bring the crosshairs up and down to the center.

After, take your unloaded gun and on your sturdy rest, then look through the barrel and rifle scope.

What should you see?

Both the barrel and scope should be perfectly aligned in a straight line and have the same center of the target.

Once your sighting in a rifle is in a straight line to your target and your crosshairs are centered at the same time…

Step 5: Take the Shot!

Step 5: Take the Shot!

At the shooting range, I start with a round group series of at least 3 shots to see the average center point, which will tell me if my scope has its aim right.

You could probably get your first shot on paper now if you shoot on a 50-yard range at most.

For beginners, I recommend starting your first point on the 25-yard range to save ammo.

If you want a shot on further targets, you can test the shots out on 25 yards first so you’re sure it will make a bullet impact on paper.

There’s nothing wrong with starting small. It’s better to start at a level you’re BOTH comfortable with and confident about.

Once you’ve gotten comfortable with your starting yard range, you can make any fine adjustments on your scope from there for longer-range shots.

Step 6: Evaluate Your Shots

Step 6: Evaluate Your Shots

Take a look at your target paper and check where your bullet went through. Find the center of your group of 3 shots.

Use this as your scope point of impact. This will also tell you what adjustments you need to make for your scope.

Step 7: Additional Adjustments

Step 7: Additional Adjustments

You can now adjust your rifle scope’s windage and elevation dials. Do this one at a time, starting with getting your windage dials on target first.

Fire once, then adjust the windage dial on your rifle scope and sight in on your target.

After your adjustments to windage, you can now start adjusting your scope’s elevation dial.

Fire again, and get your elevation on target.

Then go back to the windage dial and take another shot. And back to the elevation dial. Another shot.

Go back and forth between the two dials, shoot, then make the necessary adjustments until you get your sights on point again.

Now that you have made the correct scope adjustments…

Step 8: Fine-Tune the Process

Step 8: Fine-Tune the Process

With your target at the center point, simply remove your hunting rifle and take it to your desired target range (if it is over 50 yards).

  1. Place your ammunition on a good mounting system again
  2. Make sure the bolt is removed
  3. Look through your rifle scope reticle
  4. Make the adjustments to elevation, and get your sighting on target at the new distance and re-center from there.

Step 9: Fire Bigger Round Groups This Time

Step 9: Fire Bigger Round Groups This Time

This will help you to see more accurately if your rifle scope now has a good shot placement on your target.

I usually fire 10 fire rounds to make sure my shot is on point, or 5 to save on ammo.

But you might want to stick with 3 or 5 if you’re using heavy caliber rifles and the recoil is nasty. You could also get yourself a lead sled for convenience.

What Is Bore-Sighting?

What Is Bore-Sighting?

I can’t properly define boresighting whether it’s a laser or collimator bore sight in just one sentence.

Let’s say it’s the first step in sighting for rifles.

It is a necessary step to save TIME, and MONEY when sighting in rifle scopes and when you’re hunting on the range.

Its job is to align your rifle scope to your firearm barrel and sights by adjusting it.

Once rifle scopes are mounted, shooters need to sight the mounted scope before the bullet takes a shot out in the field.

TIP: NEVER shoot without going through the sight-in process of zeroing in on the gunsight first, unless your goal is to waste ammo.

A laser bore-sighting device makes this aligning and zeroing step an EASIER sight-in process.

With this device inserted in the muzzle of the rifle, the crosshairs just have to align with the laser dot.

Make some reticle adjustments up and down the scope, and it’s ready for shooting.

But it’s NOT absolutely necessary!

However, even after doing all of this (and even if you had a laser boresighter), your sights will never be 100 percent aligned to the bullet impact.

Bullets, once released are flying objects and environmental factors like the wind and any sort of gun movement will affect it before it reaches its target point.

Why Should You Learn How to Sight a Rifle Scope Without a Laser Bore Sighter?

Why Should You Learn How to Sight a Rifle Scope Without a Laser Bore Sighter?

Well, aside from the fact that you would look tougher and more badass…

Shooting without a manual bore sight will not be as perfect or as quick a process.

However, learning how to align your sights without one will make things QUICKER and EASIER than just shooting WITHOUT zeroing in.

Aligning and centering your barrel with the sights on your firearm with only your scopes is SIMPLE and EASY.

It’s a sight-in process every shooter should be familiar with.

Even if you start your shooting journey with a laser already in hand, there might come a time when all you have is your scope.

You wouldn’t want to miss a shooting occasion just because you are at a loss on knowing how to manually align.

Lastly, if you don’t invest in a quality bore-sight, there are chances you might get a terrible or defective one.

You don’t want that mishap to stop you and your shooting adventures.

In Conclusion

I’ll end this guide with 2 crucial reminders.

1. Do Not Ever Start Shooting Without Boresighting

You waste so much time, energy, and resources trying to hit your targets to no avail.

Not to mention you will get frustrated. And if you are a new shooter, you might not discover the joys of hunting.

Whether you’re using a manual bore sight or laser one, GET THIS IN YOUR SYSTEM!

2. Do Not Throw Away Your Shot

Even Hamilton would agree.

Learning how to use a bore sight is a cinch, even a beginner like you will find the process fast and uncomplicated.

Manual boresighting is worth it, I promise! If you’re looking for an easy process, just remember not everything is as easy as you expect.

All in all, if you want consistent accuracy, following this guide on sighting in a scope without a boresighter, plus consistent diligence & practice, will get you to where you want to be.

To wrap things up, I put together a list of the best rangefinder scopes for you to try out!

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