This is initially a confusing question because technically you don’t calibrate a bore sighter. The whole point of a bore sighter is to be a point of reference for you to calibrate your scope against. That said, there are a couple steps you need to take to get your bore sighter set properly inside your gun, and we’ll explain how to do that in this article.
We’ll also go over how to use different types of bore sighters from start to finish, so no matter what your question about bore sighters is, we should answer it here.
How Do You Calibrate a Laser Bore Sighter?
If you’re using a universal bore sighter, all you should have to do is select the correct adapter and mount it onto the skinny end of the sight. Then you can insert it into the end of the barrel. An in-chamber bore sight should require no calibration at all.
The true calibration of a laser bore sighter happens at the factory, because it requires some sophisticated mounting equipment to ensure that the laser continues on the exact same path as the physical sight does itself from end-to-end. Your sighter may have allen screws that can be adjusted to shift the laser, but I’d avoid doing so unless the laser is so far off that you’re not even on paper when you adjust your scope to it.
Calibrating a Laser Bore Sighter: A Step-By-Step Solution
A laser bore sighter is a helpful way to get a new optic most of the way sighted in. When scopes come from the factory they are rarely a good predictor of where your shot is going to land, so after you mount the scope you need to calibrate it so that it is useful in helping you aim.
Often, scopes has not comes with improved accuracy before they’re sighted in that they’re not even “on-paper.” This means that the shots aren’t landing close enough to the center of the scope to even put a hole on the paper target, making it harder to get the scope sighted in because you’re not sure where the shots land. The the following steps will improves accuracy of your gun.
This is where laser bore sighters come in.
If you’re interested in a visual aid during the process, here’s a great YouTube video that goes through it:
Step 1: Prep to Sight
Once you’ve got the right adapter on your universal bore sighter, you insert it into the end of the barrel and turn on the laser. You should be able to see it out to 20 yards or so, which is plenty to maximize its usefulness anyway. Set a target 10-20 yards out, then get your gun ready at your shooting bench.
Step 2: Compare the Laser and Scope
Your goal is to align the center of the scope reticle with where the laser is hitting. The laser won’t be hitting exactly the same place as the bullets will hit, but it should be reasonably close, so you can get on-paper without ever having to fire a shot. If the scope is already centered on the laser dot, great! You’re done! If not, move on to step 3.
Step 3: Adjust the Scope to Meet the Laser
Your scope should have a knob for windage and a knob for elevation adjustment. You’ll adjust these to move the center of the scope reticle until it sits directly on where the laser is hitting. The knobs should have arrows printed on them to indicate which direction you need to turn them. If not, you can always just try one direction and see if it takes you further or closer.
Step 4: Take out the Boresighter and Shoot Some Rounds
It’s important to remember that you’re not done after boresighting. A laser shoots in a practically perfect straight line. Bullets do not. Your windage should theoretically be very close, but your elevation could still be way off after the boresight calibration process.
So, after your boresight calibration process, take a few shots and on adjustment screws of your scope based on where the bullets are land.
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Calibrating Different Types of Laser Bore Sighters
Universal Bore Sighters
If you have a universal bore sighter, you’ll need to get the right adapter mounted to the stick portion so that it will be nice and snug in the barrel and point straight like it’s supposed to. Every universal bore sighter comes with a kit of adapters, so as long as you bought one with the adapter that fits your gun, you should be good to go. Once the adapter is on the bore sighter it is officially calibrated, and should require no adjustment beyond that.
These are simple to use and straightforward. In-chamber lasers require no calibration beyond simply buying the one that is specific to your firearm. These are the style that are shaped like an empty brass that go directly into the chamber of your firearm and shoot the laser out.
Calibrating training lasers is usually a matter of finding the little holes that take an allen wrench and just turning it back or forth. There should be one hole for elevation and one for windage.
Training lasers are things like the Mantis X and BlackBeard that are set up to shoot out a laser for a moment every time you pull the trigger. These are often designed to work in conjunction with a training app to record where your shots land, which means they are only useful if the laser is hitting close to where actual bullets would hit.
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How Accurate Are Laser Bore Sighters?
Somewhere between “somewhat” and “not very”. Lasers travel in a straight line, while bullets will travel in an arc. The arc is subtle, yes, but over course of the best rifle scope for 100 to 500 yards, etc. it can make a dramatic difference. After you’ve bore sighted, your windage (adjustment left and right) should be pretty spot on, but your elevation will likely still be off.
How Good is Boresighting?
This depends on what you’re comparing it to. If you’re comparing it to no form of sighting in at all, then it’s fantastic. If you’re comparing it to zeroing in by shooting live ammo and seeing where the bullets it, then it’s pretty lackluster. Overall, it’s a great way to save time, trouble, and money during the zeroing process.
Can You Adjust a Laser Bore Sighter?
Usually no, but sometimes you can. If its primary purpose is bore sighting, then I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that’s adjustable, as that would defeat the purpose. If it’s a laser sighter that is designed for training, then it is more likely that you’ll be able to adjust it.
Since a bore sighter doesn’t require what would normally be considered calibration, getting it ready to use with your gun is a simple matter of just selecting the right adapter and sliding it onto the end of the sight. In-chamber bore sighters also do not require any calibration.
Using a bore sighter can save you a lot of time in the zeroing process when you’ve bought a new optic, and if you plan to zero in multiple optics, it’s a smart investment to pick one up. Even if you’re not interested in saving money on ammo, a laser bore sighter will save you a lot of time and frustration.