Bore sighting my rifle seems complicated. Do I need special tools?

By Damon Cali

Posted on March 23, 2011 at 10:57 AM

Yes and no.

First, a little about what bore sighting means. Bore sighting is a way to make sure the first shots you fire out of your new or re-scoped rifle hit the target at all. We're not looking for an accurate zeroing, just to make sure we're not wasting time and ammunition trying to figure out which way the bullets are going.

Safety first: Never attempt to bore sight a rifle without first verifying that it is unloaded, and that the range is clear. Always follow basic firearms safety rules. Carefully read and understand the instructions of your bore sighting kit if you use one.

One way to bore sight your rifle is to use one of the many bore sighting devices available on the market. If you are shooting a semi-automatic, this may be your only option. A good laser bore sighter will shine a laser beam down your bore all the way to the target.

Bore sighting works best at the range - go ahead and set up a target at 25 yards or so. Back at the bench, set your rifle up on a rest, turn the laser on, line it up with the target, and then adjust your scope so that the cross hairs fall on the laser dot. Easy as can be, except that a decent laser bore sighter can cost upwards of $200. Unless you're doing this a lot, you might not want to make that sort of investment.

For bolt gunners (and AR-15 shooters), there is another way that costs nothing. Again, set your target up at the range, put your rifle on a rest, remove the bolt, and while looking down the barrel from behind the rifle, adjust its position so that you can see the bullseye of your target through the center of the bore. Then, carefully, without moving the rifle, adjust your scope to center on the bullseye. Congratulations, you've just bore sighted your bolt gun. If all went well, your first rounds should at least hit the paper.

Damon Cali is the creator of the Bison Ballistics website and a high power rifle shooter currently living in Nebraska.