Bore Sighting vs Sighting In - by Josh
Optics are one of the most commonly purchased accessories here at RedNex and we have a big selection to meet every need for the hunting and shooting sports. Because of this, we spend a lot of time mounting scopes, which we do for free if the gun or scope was purchased from us. A question I get often as I am about to mount a scope for someone is “are you going to sight it in?” This week I want to talk about the difference between sighting in and bore sighting a rifle.
Bore sighting is simply aligning an optic or iron sights with a barrel prior to shooting so that zeroing the rifle is much easier. As we’ve talked about in previous weeks, bullets will perform differently in every firearm. Some guns will shoot “x” bullet better than they will shoot “y” bullet. So to actually zero a rifle for a particular bullet it has to be fired with that bullet on paper- at this point you will be sighting in your rifle. We can sight in your rifle, it’s a service we provide, but short of that, we can only get you close (~25 yards) by bore sighting.
There are several ways to bore sight a gun, and while some may be better than others, they all work well if the shooter takes the necessary steps at the range when he/she is ready to zero the rifle (sight in). In bolt action firearms with scopes, bore sighting can be performed by removing the bolt so that you can look down the barrel. Find a particular object or spot while looking down the bore. Without moving the rifle simply move the crosshairs with the adjustment turrets on the scope until the crosshairs are on the same spot.
For a firearm that does not have an accessible breech there are many devices that can assist in bore sighting. The two most common are magnetic and laser bore sighters. Magnetic bore sighters are good for optics with magnification. Laser bore sighters can be used for magnified optics as well, but are particularly helpful with red dot optics.
When we bore sight a rifle for someone at the store, we always make it a point to tell them “You should be on paper at 25 yards.” This is very important because when beginning to sight in the rifle for longer distances, the shooter must start at 25 yards to get the first round on paper and adjust and back up from there.
I cannot tell you how many times I have been approached by someone for whom I’ve bore sighted a rifle and been told that the scope was way off, or that when I mounted a scope that I must have forgotten to bore sight it. When I ask how far away they were the answer is almost always “about a hundred yards”, at which time I politely remind them again to start at 25 yards and back off from there. I’ve even had people shoot box after box of ammo from a hundred yards and never get on paper. If you fire from a hundred yards and your first round is nowhere on the paper don’t waste ammo, MOVE CLOSER! If done properly a rifle can be sighted in with five or six rounds with the last two rounds just as confirmation that the gun is in fact sighted in.
Last but not least, if you’re about to go hunting and your gun/scope has only been bore sighted, you are not ready to hunt. The gun must be properly sighted in with the rounds you intend to hunt with or else you will not have a successful hunt and more importantly you are likely to senselessly cripple an animal. Respect the game. Hunt ethically. Zero your gun before hunting. Your hunt will be much more enjoyable.