Bore sighting is straightforward: get the sight, put it in, look through the scope, find the laser dot, and move the reticle to where on the target the dot is showing up. It’s a great way to start sighting in your new scope and can speed up the zeroing process.
The majority of the time, bore sighting isn’t perfect, so expect some test shots and adjust the reticle to match where each bullet is hitting.
The iron sights that come on most guns, especially rifles, are pretty centered right out of the box, especially if you want to hit a target at close distances like 25 yards. To get a new optic aligned, you’ll have to adjust it to where on the target the rifle is hitting at each range. Even with a red dot.
For a helpful guide on bore sighting your rifles, read on.
Step 1 - Get a Sight That Fits (or adjust it in the muzzle)
Whether you get a bore that fits into the end of the muzzle or barrel of the rifle or one that sits in the chamber of the gun, you need to make sure that it fits. If it doesn’t fit in the rifle’s bore, then the rifle won’t be bore sighted no matter how much time you take.
Your first order of business should be to make sure that the bore sight you buy fits your rifle. If the sight fits in the rifle, then you should be able to see the same target in the scope as the laser is hitting.
In other words, the point of doing this is to get the laser on the target at the same time as the scope is seeing the target.
Step 2 - Prep Scope & Bore Sight
Once you’ve got the right bore sight and your scope mounted correctly, scope rings included, you’ll want to get all set up. Since you won’t be actually firing the rifle, this shouldn’t require an expensive rifle stand, but something like a solid rest or gun vise that works for semi-autos or a bolt action rifle can be nice.
The brightness needs to be fairly powerful in order to be visible on the target in daylight from a distance. If you get a decent boresighter, usually you’ll be able to see it at 25 yards without anything fancy.
So determine if you’ll be shooting at 25 yards and be prepared accordingly. Get your target set up and put the laser bore in. If you have an in-chamber bore sighting laser, it’s especially important to continue to treat the rifle as if it’s loaded.
Step 3 - Adjust Reticle to Match Laser
Now start the zeroing in process. Don’t expect the laser to be perfect, and you’ll probably notice that the position of the laser changes as you rotate the boresighter. In theory, the bore sighting process just speeds things up
The laser should be more accurate than the scope, though, so you’ll want to adjust the scope reticle to center on where the laser is pointed. Then take your first shot. The first shot and more will verify how off the laser was.
If the sight is to the left of the scope, then move the scope left until the cross hairs are on target where the point of impact should be. Sometimes, if you can’t see the sight in the scope, you’ll need to make adjustments to the scope to ensure its accuracy. Get the scope to align properly with the barrel of the gun, check the tightness of each screw, and make sure it’s not at an angle.
If the scope reticle still isn’t able to see the sighting after you’ve made adjustments to the scope rings, move the target even closer. Having the target closer to your rifle or gun isn’t a problem, and you can always increase the range after you’ve got the bore sighting on your gun barrels a bit more dialed in.
Read our article on How To Calibrate a Laser Bore Sighter by Hunting Mark.
Limitations On Bore Sighting
I don’t personally understand why someone can’t make a bore sight that fits perfectly in the chamber for a specific caliber. It seems logical to me that an in-chamber bore sighter should be better than one that sticks out the front of the gun’s barrel, especially a universal one, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
As long as you get a decent boresighter, it should speed up the process of zeroing in. However, a lot of cheap boresighters are only easy to see at about 25 yards, and while I may get some hate for this, I honestly have never seen a properly mounted scope that wasn’t already on paper for a 10” target at 25 yards anyway.
Can the boresighter still save you time if it’s not visible past 25 yards? Sure - rather than taking three shots (which also cost money), trudging out to the target to measure the distance, then mathing it out to figure out how many clicks you need to go to get to zero, you can get closer by just matching the laser - in theory.
You’ll still need to do the test-shots-then-measure song and dance, but probably not as many times.
A good boresighter with reflective tape should be able to get you out at least to 50 yards, and depending on lighting, maybe all the way out to 100. But going out that far is only useful if the laser itself is still “on paper” on the target at that distance.
Getting The Right Bore Sight
Barrel Of The Gun
So let’s talk about the options when it comes to getting a boresighter. You have the type that sticks out of the end of the gun barrel, like this one from LaserLyte:
These are usually universal, so you only have to buy one and they fit everything from .22 to .50. They function well and are reasonably accurate if you can get them in snug and straight. It’s a great tool to take many rifles to the range at the same time and get them all bore sighted.
What’s Not Nice:
It’s all just eyeballing things until they look straight. For most calibers there will be at least a little bit of play in how the sighter sits in the barrel of the gun, so you just have to kind of eyeball it until it looks right. These also tend to be more expensive than in-chamber laser bore sighters that are only designed for a specific caliber.
The in-chamber boresighters look almost like spent casings and are usually even brass colored for some reason, even though it makes them easier to get mixed up with live ammo. They look like this:
Simple operation. You just put it in the chamber and “load” it like a round of ammunition. The light shoots out the end of the guns barrel and shows up nice and pretty on the target. These also tend to be cheaper than the universal barrel gun ones.
What’s Not Nice:
The cheaper it is the less tight of a fit it will be, but every one that I’ve seen tried never seems to fit quite right. Plus, you’ll have to buy a different one for every caliber you own if you want to have a bore sighter for each rifle. The lifetime on these also doesn’t seem to be very long, though that may have just been my luck.
Bore sighting is not the end-all be-all of adjusting your scopes for hunting or any other kind of shooting. It’s a good first step with a new optic, and combined with a solid rest, can be a great way to use the rifle’s bore while using a laser to get bolt-action rifles, a semi-auto, or a deer rifle with a bolt to hit your target while using less ammo.
Bore sighting can be a time-consuming process, and every shooter I know would rather be hunting. It’s helpful to have something to get your windage and elevation centered on before you start using up your ammo. As long as you know you and your gun will need to take a shot or two to do some fine tuning at the range before shooting a bullseye every time, you’ll be in good shape.
If you want your bullet to hit what you’re aiming at, I hope this was helpful. For more help in getting your gun on target, for various rifles no matter how you need to adjust them, you can watch this video where they talk about adjusting the position of the reticle via windage and elevation to get the sights aligned and centered before hunting.