August 21, 2023 5 min read

Bore sighting a rifle helps you get that new scope aligned and shooting straight. Here is how to do it. 

Bore sighting a rifle is important for those of us who shoot for a living, hunt, or just plink for fun. We all want our point of impact to be the bullseye whether our firearm is locked in a gun vise, sandbags, or steady in our hands.  From the first shot to the last, whether we are shooting semi-auto or bolt action, we want to be on target.  Bore sighting is the very beginning of the process.  Even if it is a new firearm, it's not always going to hit the bullseye on its own without some adjustments to the scope or sights.  Let's go over the process. 

Getting Started

There are several methods to bore sight your rifle.  As we go over these methods there are some common rules to follow. Gun Safety is the most important thing when handling firearms. So before we move on, we want to ensure that we follow the FOUR PRIMARY RULES OF FIREARM SAFETY. 

  • Treat ALL guns as if they are always loaded. 

  • Never let the muzzle point at anything that you are not willing to destroy. 

  • Keep your finger off of the trigger until you are ready to shoot and your sights are on the target.

  • Be sure of your target and what is behind it.

We also want to setup with our rifle locked into a gun vice or sled to secure it while making our adjustments.  If you don't have a gun vice or sled, you can use sandbags, a bench rest, or even a pillow to keep the firearm steady. 

You will want to set up a target around 25 yards. We prefer a grid sight in target with one inch squares.  

Bore sighting the Poor Man's Method

 This method is simple and does not require any tools.  Some refer to it as a poor man's bore sighting method, but it is arguably where most of us started and it works quite well. That is if you can keep you gun from moving while making any adjustments. In the case of bolt actioned rifles it is usually simple to remove the bolt from your rifle. You should take the obvious precaution of making sure there is no attached magazine or any live ammunition in an internal magazine, so you can physically see down the bore and out the barrel of the rifle.  

Peer through the barrel from behind the rifle and shift the gun to aim at your target set at 25 yards while looking through the barrel.  You want to line up the bore as best as you can to the center of the target.  Once you have the bore lined up by eye, it is imperative that the gun is held still until you are finished adjusting your sights. Look through the scope and adjust the elevation and windage so that the scope's reticle is lined up with the center of the target.

It should be a fairly simple process to put the scope crosshairs right onto the target, as long as your rifle has held steady while you were working. Now you are ready to move onto live fire adjustments.  Fire three shots and make your adjustments at the preferred range you want to be sighted in at. Remember that different ammunition can make subtle differences in your shooting.  Every rifle and scope combination is different, but a quick tip to follow is about one Inch below the bullseye at 25 yards should be very close to the bullseye at 100 yards.  

Cartridge Laser Bore Sight

Our eyes are great, and the Poor Man's Method has been around for a long time but modern technology and specialized equipment has made the sighting in process even easier.  One of the most basic types of new age bore sighting systems is the cartridge indicating laser. They are manufactured to have the same dimension of a specific cartridge case, and you simply insert them into your gun's chamber and softly close the action. These laser bore sights are caliber specific so make sure you choose one that fits your gun.  This bore sight is battery powered and sends a laser beam through the center of the barrel.  This method requires a solid hold or gun vice to center the scope's crosshairs to the indicating laser at 25 yards. The big advantages here are that you aren't relying on solely your eyes, and it's not nearly as imperative to hold the firearm still throughout the process.  Unfortunately, this process still isn't perfect. You will still need to adjust your shots as soon as you move into live fire.  

Universal Laser Bore Sight

Laser bore sights that insert into the end of the barrel often have multiple sizes of bore adapters.  Choose the right size attachment for your gun and screw it into the end of the bore sight. The adaptor expands larger as you turn it onto the laser bore sighter.  Once you have a snug fit into the barrel you will push the tapered end into the barrel centering it on the axis of the bore.  Make sure it is firmly pressed all the way into the barrel creating a snug fit.  Now it is only a matter of dialing in the scope to center the reticle on the laser dot.  

Line up the beam onto your target, Look through the optic and adjust the windage and elevation to the laser mark.  Again, the advantages here is that you aren't relying solely on your eyes and that it isn't as imperative to hold the rifle still as the Poor Man's method.  

It is very important that once you are done sighting it in, you remove the bore sighter from your gun before moving on to live fire.  


We recommend using one of the above processes when setting up any optics on your firearm. 

All bore sighting methods will NOT give you a precisely zeroed-in rifle on its own.  Bore Sighting is best for getting your firearm shooting as close to zero as possible so that you don't waste ammunition by missing the target.  You must finish the sighting in process with live ammunition. 

Once you sight in your gun with live ammunition, we recommend you use your bore sight laser to see where the laser corresponds with your optics.  With this information you can always check and have confidence with your optics between hunting trips or range days.

There are many people that would like a gunsmith to do the process for them.  Many gun shops offer this service for a small fee.  All you need to do is ask them.  

Safe Shooting and Good Luck Zeroing-In!