Welcome to our comprehensive guide on zeroing your rifle scope! This blog post walks you through achieving accurate and precise shots by zeroing your rifle scope.
Whether you’re a seasoned shooter or a beginner, understanding the importance of zeroing in and implementing the right techniques can greatly enhance your shooting experience.

Understanding the Need for Zeroing

Now that you understand the basics of zeroing your rifle scope let’s delve deeper into why zeroing is necessary and how factory-optically zeroed scopes may not perfectly align for your specific rifle.

Explanation of Why a Factory-Optically Zeroed Scope May Not Be Zeroed for Your Rifle

When you purchase a rifle scope, it often comes pre-zeroed from the factory. However, it’s important to note that this factory zero is a general setting and may not align perfectly with your rifle. Several factors contribute to this misalignment:

  1. Individual Rifle Variations: Each rifle possesses unique characteristics, including barrel length, twist rate, ammunition type, and other variables that can influence the bullet’s trajectory. These variations mean a factory zero may not account for your rifle’s ballistics.
  2. Optical Center vs. Bullet’s Trajectory: The optical center of the scope, which represents the point where the reticle intersects with the bullet’s path, may not align with the actual trajectory of the bullet. This misalignment occurs because the scope is mounted on a different plane than the barrel. Consequently, you must zero the scope at a specific distance to ensure proper alignment between the reticle and the bullet’s impact point.

Importance of Zeroing at a Specific Distance

Zeroing your rifle scope at a specific distance is crucial for achieving consistent accuracy. While you can zero your scope at various distances, selecting the appropriate distance is essential to ensure optimal performance. Here’s why:

  1. Bullet’s Trajectory: Different calibers and ammunition have distinct ballistic characteristics. The bullet’s trajectory changes as it travels through the air, experiencing factors like gravity, wind, and air resistance. Zeroing at a specific distance allows you to align the reticle with the trajectory at that particular range, compensating for bullet drop and other variables.
  2. Consistency and Predictability: You establish a reference point for your rifle’s performance by zeroing at a specific distance. This reference point lets you make accurate adjustments and predict the bullet’s impact point at various distances. It promotes consistency in your shooting and enhances overall precision.
  3. Efficient Target Engagement: Zeroing at a specific distance facilitates efficient target engagement. By zeroing your scope to a distance commonly encountered in your shooting scenarios, you can quickly adapt to different shooting situations without significant adjustments.

Remember, zeroing your rifle scope is essential in maximizing accuracy and precision during shooting. By understanding the need for zeroing and ensuring alignment between the optical center and the bullet’s trajectory, you lay the foundation for consistent and accurate shooting performance.

Bore Sighting for Initial Alignment

When zeroing your rifle scope, bore sighting is crucial in achieving initial alignment between your scope and the target. It helps you get on paper and make the necessary adjustments to bring your shots closer to the desired point of impact. Let’s explore bore sightings in more detail:

Explanation of Bore Sighting and its Benefits

Bore sighting is a technique that helps align the bore of your rifle with the reticle of your scope. It allows you to establish a rough initial alignment, ensuring your shots hit the target. By bore sighting, you eliminate the frustration of not knowing where your bullets are impacting, enabling you to make accurate adjustments and save valuable time and ammunition.

Methods of Bore Sighting

There are a couple of methods you can use to bore sight your rifle:

  1. Using a Bore Sighting Tool: Bore sighting tools are widely available and attach to the muzzle of your rifle. These tools project a laser or light beam down the bore, indicating the bullet’s trajectory. You can achieve a basic initial alignment by aligning your reticle with the projected beam.
  2. Removing the Bolt and Aligning the Bore with the Reticle: Another method involves removing the bolt from your rifle and looking down the barrel. With your rifle’s stable position, align the bore with your reticle. This visual alignment allows you to establish a rough starting point for your zeroing process.

Tips for Getting on Paper and Initial Adjustments

To ensure your shots are hitting the target during the bore sighting process, consider the following tips:

  • Stable Shooting Platform: Set up your rifle in a stable position, such as on a bench or using a rifle rest. This minimizes unnecessary movement and provides a consistent shooting platform.
  • Target Distance: Choose a target distance that allows you to see where your shots are impacting clearly. Depending on the type of rifle and ammunition you’re using, a distance of 25 to 50 meters or yards is often suitable for bore sighting.
  • Removing Bolt Safely: Following all necessary safety precautions when removing the bolt from your rifle. Always treat firearms with the utmost care and respect.
  • Aligning the Reticle and the Bore: Whether using a bore sighting tool or aligning the bore with the reticle manually, ensure that the reticle is perfectly centered on the projected beam or the bore itself. This initial alignment will set the stage for more precise adjustments in the following steps.

Fine-Tuning the Zero

With the initial alignment achieved through bore sighting, it’s time to fine-tune your zero for maximum accuracy. Here’s a step-by-step approach to help you achieve a precise zero:

  1. Getting Comfortable Behind the Rifle: Settle into a comfortable shooting position behind your rifle. This ensures stability and consistency throughout the zeroing process.
  2. Selecting the Appropriate Distance for Zeroing: Choose a distance that aligns with your shooting needs. Factors such as the caliber of your rifle, the intended shooting range, and the ammunition used will influence the optimal zeroing distance. Consider these variables and select the distance accordingly.
  3. Taking the First Shot and Observing the Point of Impact: Fire a carefully aimed shot at the target. Pay close attention to where the shot lands on the paper. This will serve as the starting point for your adjustments.
  4. Using the Reticle for Measurement: Utilize the reticle to measure the difference between your point of aim and the actual point of impact. Some rifle scopes incorporate MOA (Minutes of Angle) or MIL (Milliradian) scales in the reticle, allowing for precise measurement of adjustments. Each division on the scale corresponds to a specific adjustment value.
  5. Incorporation of MOA or MIL Scales for Precise Adjustments: If your reticle has an MOA or MIL scale, use it to calculate the necessary adjustments. Each click of the turret corresponds to a specific value on the scale, enabling you to make precise adjustments to bring your shots closer to the desired point of impact.

Remember, achieving a precise zero requires patience, attention to detail, and making accurate adjustments based on the observed point of impact.

By following these steps and understanding the importance of fine-tuning your zero, you’ll be well on your way to improving your shooting accuracy and overall shooting experience.

Factors to Consider for Precise Zeroing

To achieve a precise zero for your rifle scope, there are several factors you need to consider. Let’s explore these factors in detail:

Magnification Considerations for Second Focal Plane Scopes

If you’re using a second focal plane scope, it’s important to understand the impact of magnification on your zeroing process. The reticle in a second focal plane scope remains the same size regardless of the magnification level. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure you use the correct magnification setting when making adjustments and measuring your point of impact. Refer to the scope’s user manual to determine the appropriate magnification for zeroing.

Minimizing Human Error and Ensuring Consistent Results

When zeroing your rifle scope, minimizing human error is essential to achieve consistent and accurate results. Here are a few tips to help you accomplish this:

  • Stable Shooting Platform: Find a stable shooting platform, such as a bench or sandbags, to reduce the effects of body movement and ensure a steady aim.
  • Consistent Shooting Technique: Maintain a consistent shooting technique, including your body position, grip, and trigger pull, for each shot. This consistency helps eliminate variables that can affect your point of impact.
  • Record Keeping: Record your adjustments and the corresponding point of impact. This allows you to track your progress and make fine-tuning adjustments if needed.

Making Adjustments for Windage and Elevation

When zeroing your rifle scope, you must adjust windage (horizontal alignment) and elevation (vertical alignment). These adjustments are typically made using your scope’s windage and elevation turrets. Here’s a general guide for making these adjustments:

  • Windage Adjustment: If your shots are consistently impacting left or right of the target, you need to adjust the windage. Turn the windage turret in the appropriate direction (clockwise or counterclockwise) to move the reticle horizontally until your point of impact aligns with the point of aim.
  • Elevation Adjustment: If your shots consistently impact above or below the target, you must adjust the elevation. Turn the elevation turret in the appropriate direction to move the reticle vertically until your point of impact matches the point of aim.

Remember, small adjustments are usually sufficient, and it’s important to take your time and make incremental changes to achieve the desired zero.

Finalizing the Zero and Fixing the Turrets

After achieving the desired zero, finalizing the zero and securing the turrets is crucial to prevent unintentional adjustments. Here’s what you need to do:

Realigning the Turrets with Zero

Once you have zeroed your rifle scope, the adjustments you made may have shifted the turrets away from the zero mark. To realign the turrets with zero:

  1. Loosen the lock rings on the windage and elevation turrets.
  2. Carefully rotate the turrets until the zero mark aligns with the reference line or indicator on the scope body.
  3. Tighten the lock rings to secure the turrets in their zeroed positions.

By aligning the turrets with zero, you establish a reference point for future adjustments and ensure consistent tracking of your point of aim.

Locking Down the Turrets

To prevent unintentional adjustments, it’s important to lock down the turrets once you have finalized the zero. This ensures that the windage and elevation settings remain stable during transportation and handling. Consult your scope’s user manual to learn the specific locking mechanism for your scope, as different models may have different mechanisms.

Ensuring the Zero is Maintained by Fixing the Zero Stop Mechanism

If your scope features a zero-stop mechanism, fixing it after achieving the desired zero is essential. The zero stop prevents you from accidentally dialing the turrets beyond your zeroed settings. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to set and fix the zero-stop mechanism properly.


In conclusion, zeroing your rifle scope is critical in ensuring accuracy and precision in your shooting. You can achieve a reliable and consistent zero by understanding the factors involved in precise zeroing, such as magnification considerations, minimizing human error, and adjusting windage and elevation. Remember to finalize the zero by realigning the turrets with zero and fixing them to maintain your settings. You can confidently shoot and achieve accurate field results by following these steps.

By Editor

Editor is a passionate enthusiast and the brains behind EatFrostd.com, your ultimate destination for hunting and outdoor gear reviews. With the tagline "Elevate Your Outdoor Experience," this website is committed to providing you with the latest and most comprehensive analysis of rifle scopes, hunting gears, and outdoor equipment. Our dedicated team of experts scours the market to bring you unbiased recommendations and valuable insights. Whether you're a seasoned hunter or a beginner, our detailed reviews and expert tips will help you make informed decisions and choose gear that matches your skill level, budget, and hunting preferences. Join our community and unlock the full potential of your outdoor pursuits with EatFrostd.com.