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How to Adjust a Scope Like a Pro? Everything You Need to Know

how to adjust a scope
Written by Dan Goldsmith
Last Update: January 6, 2023

If you’re a beginner hunter, learning how to adjust a scope may seem like a daunting task.

However, with a little bit of instruction, you’ll be able to confidently take on this basic rifle scope adjustment.

In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of rifle scope adjustment and teach you how to make any necessary adjustments for a perfectly aligned sight picture.

So, whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking for a refresher course, keep reading for all the information you need to know about how to adjust a scope like a PRO!

Let’s get started.

Anatomy of a Rifle Scope

Anatomy of a Rifle Scope

Housing

This is the upper casing of the scope that holds everything together. Most scope housings feature lightweight and durable aluminum or alloy.

The higher the quality of the aluminum, the pricier the scope will get.

Glass

You’ll notice glass in the two opposite sides of your scope, and the rest of the glass is hidden inside the housing. The quality of the glass affects the scope’s price and weight.

The most important quality for the optical system of your scope is the capability to gather as much light as possible to provide a sharp image even in low light conditions.

Tube

This is the connection between the two lenses of the scope. Usually, scopes come in 30mm, 34mm, and 1 inch tube sizes.

It’s important to choose compatible scope rings for your tube. Otherwise, you won’t be able to mount your scope to your gun.

Reticle

This is the aiming point you see when you look through the eyepiece. This can be defined as a series of dots, or lines designed to help you aim.

Although the standard reticle can be just a single dot, there are countless reticle options to choose from.

Some of the more popular reticle designs include Mil-dot, Duplex, and DMC, among others.

Magnification

The magnification of a scope refers to the system for adjusting the optical lens. Most modern-day lenses come with adjustable magnification range, which you can change by turning the magnification knob.

The knob is located near the eyepiece, and allows you to adjust the zoom level. Usually, short-medium range scope features 3-9X magnification whereas long-range scopes feature a wider range (i.e. 4-15X).

Turrets

The outer part of a riflescope is designed with two knobs, which are known as Turrets and elevation.

The turrets create room for adjustment and help focus the reticle upward, sideways, or downwards in the direction of the top archery target.

The upper part of the knob is known as the elevation, which is the upward and downward adjustment knob.

In this article, we will discuss the steps involved when adjusting your rifle scope.

But before we get a head start, let’s explain the meaning of adjusting a scope.

You need to understand the mechanism of scope to be able to adjust it perfectly.

There are three types of scope adjustment. A rifle scope can be regulated for windage, elevation, and parallax.

Now, let’s take a brief look at each adjustment.

(i) Windage Turret

Windage is well defined with Minutes of Angles (MOA) and also stated in inches.

Adjustments are usually made by rotating the scope turret; the more the turret is rotated, creates more windage.

The rifle scope explains the process involved when carrying out an adjustment on the windage, i.e., the effect each direction has.

(ii) Elevation Turret

This turret is designed to work on the same principle, i.e., the Minute of Angle (MOA) policy, and it has a similar mechanism to the elevation turret.

The only difference here is, this time, the adjustment is carried out by adjusting the turret upward or downward.

(iii) Parallax Turret

Most scope manufacturers set up the parallax within the factory to avoid making a mess of it.

Tactical scopes high ends that are common today, the parallel adjustment quality is now a norm in most shooting markets.

So if you are making an adjustment on a Parallax, Elevation, and Windage, what you are doing is regulating the riflescope; however, there’s more to this.

Parallax, Elevation, and Windage come to play once the riflescope is set up.

Although carrying out the setting on this is entirely a different task, since the stage requires some adjustment, we will need to look into that.

At this point, let’s take a brief look at the benefits and needs of adjusting a scope.

Adjustment

At some point in magnification, the image formed will get ahead of the reticle in the scope due to the effect of the lens.

As to this effect, the crosshair will be forced to appear when it’s not needed.

This condition is totally out of focus and is regarded as a disadvantage. The process is known as parallax.

Focusing is essential, and it is attained when you consistently adjust the scope; you will need to try out a couple of combinations and also practice shooting range.

Doing all of this will help you gain more clarity on the situation.

(i) Elevation

Elevations, on the other hand, are also important.

Although you will need to use the rifle to have the same plane as the target or be on a plane, which is easier for you to put directly on your scope, this is done once you gain control of the elevation.

In some cases, you might want to take a straight shot if your target is upward or downward.

(ii) Windage

The last stage is windage. Windage, when explained scientifically, is known as a force that is created by an object due to the friction it encounters when an opposing movement occurs between the object and air.

Once you lose windage, your efficiency is gone.

Therefore, if a bullet must fly properly, windage has to be present, and due to this reason, you should adjust your windage.

Now, let’s look at the complete set involved to get all the necessary parts of a rifle scope together and how to set it up.

First, we will need to focus on the part of the installation, and subsequently; the adjustment.  So let’s get started.

How to Adjust a Scope: Step-by-step Guide

Installing the scope

First and foremost, set up your scope directly on the rifle. In this phase, we will look at a step-by-step process of how it’s done.

Mount up the rings and the base to the scope. Ensure the mounting rings used are strong enough. The entire process involves here is simple.

All you need to do this to fasten each screw directly to the mount. Similar to the way it’s done on the scope’s manual.

Now progress in an X pattern. Screw it slightly and make further adjustments accordingly.

The next phase is to mount the scope directly to the rifle.

lay your scope in the bracket together with the eyepiece. Ensure the eyepiece is in the right direction.

Place the eyepiece in the right position.

You can look from one end of the scope to the other part and make the necessary adjustment to the image viewed to ensure it is sharp and clear enough.

Once the picture becomes viewable enough, you are making the right progress.

Now level up the cross-hair. Ensure the rifle is held correctly and mounted directly on a stand to ensure it is squared and leveled to the ground.

Ensure the mounting base is tightened up. Check out to see if your crosshair is still centered.

Once that is in place, try to tighten the scope rings gradually.

Setting Up your Zero

Once the installation process is over, the next phase is to locate the groove; this means that you have to zero your target. And to do this, you will need to:

Look accurately into the riflescope, remember you will shoot from different positions.

A shooting practice provides a better platform for this activity.

On the other hand, practice safety when handling your rifle and be certain that all precautions are in place before launching out on a shooting range.

When zeroing your rifle, it is important to eliminate errors as much as possible. Mounting your gun to rest will help achieve an accurate zero.

While you are on the range, load your gun and take a few shots, do ensure that all safety measures are in place.

Try to hit the target. Repeat the process, but this time turn off the safety and observe the aftermath. Repeat the process to get better.

Making Real Adjustments

Once it’s time for the final adjustment, you can carry that out using the following ways.

Observe the type of knob on your rifle. Most scopes are designed with dual dials, one is located at the top, and the other is located at the side of the scope.

They are used for adjustments and zeroing. A proper adjustment creates a proper appearance and clarifies the position at which the rifle is directed.

While practicing your target with a long-range shooting scope like that of the Remington 700, you will need to gently move the scope in the direction of the misses, and adjust it constantly, to achieve a sight that is visible to hit your target perfectly.

If you still hit the bull’s eye, you can proceed to smaller adjustments.

For greater precision, we recommend the use of a laser sighter.

You can get this on your rifle manually by seeking the assistance of a professional.  And once it is fitted on your rifle, you can use it to grade your precision.

Scope Adjustment Tips and Tricks

Tips for Adjusting a Scope

When you are making an adjustment on the parallax, ensure you observe the following:

  • Let your reticle be kept clean and clear enough as you view across the scope.
  • Make adjustments on the parallax turret while moving your eyes and head.
  • Make the necessary adjustments on the parallax until the reticle stops moving.

While Adjusting the elevation, you should take the following hints:

  • Ensure your rifle is loaded with enough bullets since the process requires shooting to get the right setting.
  • Practice with the same brand of bullets for consistency’s sake.
  • Avoid the adjustment of the windage and the elevation at a time.
  • The process requires patience, so be patient.
  • Give breaks between shots; this will help regulate the temperature of the rifle.
  • Try three shots with a click. In as much as windage is involved, the process is straightforward. So rotate the dial to get the needed settings. The process is easy and self-explanatory.

In summary, it is beneficial to know how to adjust the scope of your rifle.

It will help your shooting skill, and within the shortest frame of time, you will become the best shooter.

Once you know all the processes involved, you get better at your aim.

About the author

Dan Goldsmith

Hi, this is Dan. We all know firearms are dangerous, but only when one doesn’t know how to use and care for them. I have 30+ 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.

Whenever I am able to catch a moment of free time, you will find me enjoying my family or heading to the range on my motorcycle. I have enjoyed shooting sports ever since my dad introduced them to me as a child.

I like to think of myself as an outdoorsman who lives his life to the fullest. I hope you will benefit from my efforts to create valuable resources on this website. Happy reading!

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