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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

Can’t seem to sight in your target right? For new shooters, it’s perfectly normal to experience this using your rifle scope without a boresighter.

We all need to start from somewhere, right?

Now, here’s the good news: All we 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 and improving your aim.

Ready? Let’s sight in!

How to Sight In a Riflescope Without a Boresighter in 9 Easy Steps

Step 1: Set Your Gun Down on a Solid Mounting System for a Good Shot Placement for Hunting

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

A cheap hand adjuster, some sand bags, or some rolled-up fabric on top of a steady table or anything that does not move or shake easily will be enough.

Since we’re getting a good feel of shot placement, consider this a simple process that 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 we’ll address in the later sections.

Step 2: Set Everything Up

Remember when you first bought and drove your car? You adjusted everything to create the most comfortable and optimum driving experience for yourself.

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.

Think about your 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 initially intended.

Then 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 Gun

Yup, as simple as that.

We 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)

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

Look through the scope to see where the crosshairs hit:

  • Then 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? Here’s what:

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 lined up to your target and your crosshairs are centered at the same time…

Step 5: Take the Shot!

Start with a round group series of at least 3 shots to see the average center point, which will tell you if your rifle 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.

Pro Tip: It’s best to start your first point on the 25-yard range to save ammo.

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

There’s nothing wrong with starting small. Remember: 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

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

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

7.1 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.

7.2 Fire Again, and Get Your Elevation on Target

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

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).

  • Place your ammunition on a good mounting system again
  • Make sure the bolt is removed
  • Look through your rifle scope reticle
  • 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

This will help you to see more accurately if your rifle scope now has a good shot placement on your target. You could start with 10 fired rounds to make sure your 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. Or you could also get yourself a lead sled for convenience.

What Is Bore-Sighting?

We can’t properly define boresighting by simply using one sentence, so let’s define a boresight, whether it’s a laser or collimator boresight, in an unconventional yet more understandable way:

1. It’s the First Step in Sighting for Rifles

It is a necessary step to save TIME, and MONEY when sighting in riflescopes 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.

2. And Just to Be Honest…

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

3. 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?

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

  • Shooting without a manual boresight will not be as perfect or as quick a process, but learning how to align your sights without one and adjust your scopes 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.
  • And 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

We’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 boresight or laser one, GET THIS IN YOUR SYSTEM!

2. Do Not Throw Away Your Shot

Even Hamilton would agree.

Learning how to do boresighting is a cinch, even a beginner like you will find the process fast and uncomplicated.

And if you are one of the veterans and have been shooting for years and just lost your laser boresighter, or maybe just had the sudden urge to learn, you could probably do this in your sleep.

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

We did say this guide would be simple, but easy is a different thread of fate you’re looking for.

All in all, if you want consistent accuracy, following this guide and consistent diligence & practice will get you to where you want to be.

About the author

Christopher Wade

Christopher Wade is a true outdoorsman. After spending most of his career as a firearms expert and instructor in Nebraska, he retreated to the great outdoors to enjoy retirement.

Christopher’s expertise in handling firearms and hunting gear are what propelled him to create the Shooting Mystery blog. He hopes for all readers to gain useful and practical knowledge for enjoying their time outdoors.