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How to Properly Bore Sight a Rifle – A Step by Step Guide

how to bore sight a rifle
Written by Erik Himmel

Scopes are great when you want to shoot down targets from a long distance. These can accurately point out the location where the bullets will land so that you can shoot the target without missing a shot. But do you know how these scopes align perfectly with the target area of your rifle? That’s when bore sighting comes in.

If you’re to knock down targets at a long range with high accuracy, you’d need to bore sight your rifle properly. It lets you know where the bullets will hit exactly so that you can adjust your scope accordingly. Skilled marksmen and hunters emphasize the process to bore sighting because it can affect their accuracy.

How to Bore Sight a Rifle – The Basics Explained

What is Bore Sighting?

Bore sighting is aligning the barrel with the crosshairs of the spotting scope whether the long range or the hunting or the rimfire or the thermal scope. Simply put, it is when you align barrel of the gun with the gun’s sighting system. Bore sighters can easily determine the path of the bullet which helps you to align the scope without wasting time and effort at the target.

Skilled shooters often rely on the best bore sight kits to get their scope and barrels aligned. These perform excellently well outdoors and can determine the path of the bullets with high precision. Bore sighting in a rifle is not that hard, and anyone can do it with a little bit of practice. Let’s now discuss how you can properly bore sight a rifle and increase the accuracy of your firing.

What is bore sighting

Step 1 : Unloading the gun

Check if your gun is loaded. If you already loaded it is, carefully unload the gun.

Step 2 : Mounting the scope

The next step is to mount the scope onto the scope mount. Some rifles have pre-drilled screw holes in which you can place your scope mount.  Place the scope mount and secure it with screws. Afterward, install the scope rings and then the scope itself. Make sure that you don’t tighten it too much so that you can later fix if it is not aligned correctly. Make sure that you can move the scope back and forth and rotate it whenever necessary. Keep a certain distance between your eye and the scope so that the recoil doesn’t hit you at your face.

Mounting the scope

Step 3 : Removing the bolt

When you’ve securely placed the scope, you must remove the bolt from the gun. To remove it, you must hold the trigger back and pull the bolt towards the back of the gun.

Step 4 : Placing the gun

Make sure the gun stays steady while you’re adjusting the scope, you must place the gun on a solid rest. In this case, you can use anything as long as it securely holds the gun in a fixed place.

Placing the gun

Step 5 : Looking into the barrel

When you’ve placed your gun on a stand or rest, you can look through the barrel of the gun towards a distant object. Carefully align the barrel of your rifle towards the object till you notice that the object is right at the center of the barrel. If you’re using a bore sighter, this step will be a lot easier. You can just turn on the bore sighter and then align it with the object until the laser points at the center of the object.

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Step 6 : Aligning the scope

Once you have your object centered, you must look at the object through your scope. Note down how far the crosshairs are from the center of your object. It’s often recommended that you draw the exact position on a piece of paper to get a clearer idea when you’re aligning the scope. Next, you must align the scope using the crosshair adjustment screws.

Aligning the scope

Step 7 : Repeat until you get an accurate result

After aligning the scope, you must look through the barrel once again. Making sure that the gun is not moving, you must then look through the scope onto your object. Repeat step 6 if the object doesn’t appear to be centered in the crosshairs.

Step 8 : Practical Testing

When you’ve ensured that the crosshairs are perfectly aligned with the barrel, you must test the rifle out to know if you have properly done the previous steps or not. Choose a target that is far away and looks into your scope. Shoot when the crosshairs are on target. Afterward, take a look at the target and check if the bullet passed through the point that you aimed for. If yes, then you can congratulate yourself for the effort. If not, you’ll have to perform the steps once again.

Safety Precautions

There are certain safety precautions that you’ll need to keep in mind when you’re bore sighting in a rifle. These are

  • Always check if the gun is loaded
  • Handle the gun with care and don’t point it towards anyone
  • Always be aware of the US gun laws


Bore sighting a rifle is a very important skill that you need to master. If you can properly bore sight, you’ll be able to precisely know where you are putting the target and can adjust the angle of your shots accordingly. Bore sighting in a rifle isn’t a hard thing to do, and anyone can presumably do it. You’ll need a high-quality scope or a rangefinder and proper knowledge about how to align the barrel and the sighting equipment which each other.

If you fail to align them in your first try, you can repeat the process until the bullets hit the target as shown in the crosshairs of the scope or rangefinder. Be sure that you know the safety precautions before you try the gun outdoors. Once you’ve ensured that you followed all the above, you’ll be able to get accurate shots when you’re looking through the scope.

About the author

Erik Himmel

A Part-Time Firearm Instructor

Hi, this is Erik. We all know firearms are dangerous, but only when one doesn’t know how to use and care for them. I have 15+ years of experience with different types of guns and for the last 10 years, I have taught numerous people how to hold and shoot a gun while staying safe and keeping the surroundings unharmed. My neighbors are some of my biggest admirers who enjoy talking to me about their guns, firearms safety and maintenance.

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