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How to Bore Sight a Rifle

How to Bore Sight a Rifle

Bore sighting a rifle is a fundamental process every shooter should be familiar with. It’s the process of aligning the optical sight with the bore of the rifle to ensure the closest possible alignment of the bore (the path the bullet takes) with the rifle scope or sights. This is typically the first step in zeroing your firearm and can save time and ammunition. Let’s dive into both the traditional method and the modern approach using a laser bore sight tool.

Traditional Bore Sighting

  1. Secure Your Rifle: Start by making sure your rifle is unloaded and secure in a stable rest or a vise. Safety is paramount, so double-check that the chamber is empty.
  2. Remove the Bolt: For bolt-action rifles, remove the bolt to look directly through the bore. For other types of rifles, you may need to use a mirror or other tools to see the bore.
  3. Align with a Distant Object: Choose a distant object or target (at least 25 yards away, but the farther, the better). Look through the bore of the rifle and center this object in the bore.
  4. Adjust the Sights: Without moving the rifle, look through your scope or sights. Adjust the crosshairs or sights to align with the object you centered in the bore. This may involve adjusting windage (left-right) and elevation (up-down) dials on your scope.
  5. Re-check and Fine-Tune: After making adjustments, look through the bore again to ensure the rifle didn’t move. Repeat the process until the sight and the bore are aligned on the same point.

Using a Laser Bore Sight

  1. Safety First: Ensure the rifle is unloaded. Always treat the firearm as if it is loaded, even when using a bore sight tool.
  2. Insert or attach the Laser Bore Sight: Place the laser bore sight into the chamber, or if it’s a muzzle-style, insert it into the barrel’s end. Ensure it’s snug and secure.
  3. Turn on the Laser: Activate the laser, which should project a dot onto your target. The laser should be visible on a target or wall that’s a good distance away (25 yards or more). Make sure you are within the distance parameters of your laser bore sighter.
  4. Adjust Your Scope: With the rifle steady, adjust your scope or sights until the crosshairs are centered on the laser dot. Similar to the traditional method, you’ll be adjusting for windage and elevation.
  5. Re-check Alignment: Remove the laser bore sight and look through your scope. If possible, use the traditional method as a double-check to ensure accuracy.
  6. Test Fire and Adjust: After bore sighting, you’ll still need to live-fire the rifle at the range to fine-tune your zero. Bore sighting gets you close, but only live firing can perfectly zero your rifle.

Additional Tips

  • Choose the Right Environment: Indoor or low-light environments work best for laser bore sighting. Brighter environments are typically better for traditional bore sighting.
  • Keep in mind that this is just the start: Bore sighting is a method to get you on paper at the range quicker and with less ammunition expended to achieve your actual zero. Do not be surprised if you still need to shift your sights a few inches or more once you’re actually at the range.
  • Compatibility: Ensure the bore sight tool is compatible with your rifle’s caliber.
  • Patience is Key: Take your time with each step for the best results.


Bore sighting is a crucial step in ensuring your rifle is accurate and ready for the range or field. Whether you choose the traditional method or opt for a laser bore sight tool, the goal is the same: to align your sights with the rifle’s bore for an initial approximation of accuracy. Remember, bore sighting is just the start – the real precision comes with practice and fine-tuning at the range. Happy shooting!