How to Adjust a Rifle Scope

Since many rifles recoil and shoot to various places based on the hardness of the solid substrate, it’s a good idea to make your ultimate zero adjustments from that or a comparable hardness surface. Positioning your hand between both the stock and the support is an excellent method to maintain consistency. Even if you get the greatest rifle sight on the market, it will be useless if you don’t know how to use it. You’ll need to learn how to fix your riflescope if you want to fire with efficiency and precision.

How to Adjust a Rifle Scope

Setting Up Your Scope

  1. Mounting Your Scope

To effectively mount your sight on the rifle, you must first investigate three major areas:

  • The extent of your vision
  • Your scope’s forward/rear position
  • The breadth of your expertise

Some hunters choose to have a skilled gunsmith mount a sight, but you can do it yourself if you follow this article properly.

  1. Eye Box

Setting the scope to the right height places your eye in the “eye box” and allows you to fire comfortably. Close your eyes and lay your entire head on your cheek rest. Open your eyes when you’re ready.

Can you see anything through the scope? If you answered no, you must adjust the position of your scope. Replacement mounting rings can be purchased in either higher or shorter lengths. If you often exchange optics, invest in one of the finest fast detach scope mounts.

  1. Relief For The Eyes

Adjusting the scope forward and back gives you the proper “eye relief.” What is the significance of this? Due to rifle recoil, if your sight is too near, you’ll end up slapping yourself on the brow. This is known as a “scope bite” or, in simple terms, a black eye.

To achieve the proper eye relief:

  • Adjust your scope by placing it loosely on the rings.
  • Place your gun on a solid base and in a comfortable stance.
  • Drag your scope back until a black ring appears outside the scope’s vision. Then advance it till the black ring vanishes.
  1. Leveling

Leveling a scope is a simple but important step. Windage and elevation adjustments might be diagonal or dislocated if the scope is not level. Furthermore, whether your reticle has a BDC ladder, hash markings, or a rangefinder, those features will be useless if your sight isn’t level.

It’s strongly advisable to use a bubble leveling or a scope leveler kit. Simply slide it between the flat area between the turret settings and the rail—and you’re done.

  1. Focus On The Eyepiece

Turn the ocular lens all the way to the right. Don’t worry, the reticle will get hazy as a result of this. While still in your position to shoot, carefully spin it the opposite way until you reach the point when it sharpens and begins to blur again. Turn it back and forth with slight adjustments until you locate the “sweet spot.”

Rifle Scope Adjustment

The point of aim (POA) with the scope must be the same as the point of impact (POI) on the target. A new scope must be “zeroed” after being correctly placed on a rifle. This requires the sight to be adjusted such that the center line of the reticle appears exactly where the bullets strike. To zero in your scope, you must make two adjustments: height and windage. Typically, these modifications are quantified in MOA or MIL/MRAD.

  1. Elevation Adjustment

You may modify the vertical effect of the bullet compared to where you’re pointing with your sight by adjusting the elevation turret. You may make up and down adjustments by turning the top turret clockwise or counterclockwise. Depending on the specs of your scope, each “click” of the turret correlates to an angular measurement. For instance, 1/4 MOA adjustments = 1/4′′ every 100 yards.

Raise the reticle to match the point of contact if you’re firing too low. Lower the reticle to reach the point of contact if you’re firing too high.

  1. Windage Adjustment

You may vary the horizontal course of the bullet (left/right) by adjusting your windage turret. Wind can have a significant influence on the bullet trajectory depending on the distance. Turn the side turret forward or backward for left and right windage adjustments, respectively.

To adjust for wind, many shooters choose to use holdover marks on the reticle. However, you may manually add wind speed and direction relevant to the photo using a smartphone app. You should look at windage adjustment options.

  1. Sighting a Bore

You can use a conventional or laser bore-sighter, or you can just eyeball it. Eyeballing may sound crude, but it’s inexpensive and effective. The idea is to secure the gun in a vice or carriage so it does not move. Take the bolt out of the action. Peek down the barrel and fix the rifle so that a little bull’s-eye is visible at around 30 yards. Turn the turrets without moving the gun until the reticle is centered above the bull’s eye. The barrel and scope must now point in the same direction.

When the first hole emerges on the target, reposition your rifle with the crosshairs precisely where they were for your first shot. Keep an eye on the reticle while adjusting the windage and elevation. Once again, keep an eye on the reticle while you change the windage and elevation settings to move the crosshair over the bullet hole.

  1. The Bullet’s Ascension

Bullets do not ascend above the bore’s axis. Gravity begins to drag them down the moment they emerge. It’s only because we can’t gently raise the barrel that the bullet appears to ascend, impacting high at 100 and 200 yards.

When you’re dead on at 30 yards, move to 100 yards to improve your aim. Naturally, you’ll utilize continuous rest to eliminate all human mistakes. Bean bags, tripods, bipods, and maybe a cradle. This isn’t a shooting competition, but rather a series of mechanical modifications to make your rifle fire where you want it to. 

  1. Click the Adjustment 

At 100 yards, determine if your scope travels 1/2-, 1/4-, or 1/8 inch with every click. The majority are 1/4-inch clicks. In that scenario, four clicks will alter the point of impact by one inch at 100 yards. Set the elevation turret 16 notches down if your initial shot was 4 inches high. 

Dial 8 clicks ahead if it also struck 2 inches left. And so forth. At 100 yards, four clicks are required for each inch of movement. And be prepared for a possible surprise, which we’ll cover next.

Make your second shot now. Did it travel 1 inch to the left and 2 inches up? If not, don’t freak out, and don’t turn those dials! Often erector tubes do not shift when the dials are turned but do shift thereafter.

  1. Inappropriate Click Movement

What if your scope settings only move half the length they should – or perhaps double? You either miscounted click, misinterpreted the click adjustment frequency, but own a scope that isn’t as precise as the manufacturer promises. The latter occurs nearly as frequently as the former, yet it is hardly the end of the story. 

Once sighted in, a scope that doesn’t adjust exactly 1/4-inch per click can still be a reliable, functional hunting scope. Just don’t try to dial in additional range adjustments while out on the range and expect them to be precise.

Another common mistake committed while sighting-in scopes perplex individuals who do it. The entire breadth appears to be psychotic. Check to check whether it’s installed “backward.” When you turn the R for the right dial, you shift the reticle up or down. 

When you spin the Up dial, the reticle moves left or right. Yeah, it’s difficult to connect such maneuvers. Some shooters mount scopes this way on purpose to better update the ejection port, aware that the windage and elevation knobs will be inverted. 

  1. Cold Barrel vs. Hot

Another issue to consider is barrel heat. When heated, many guns fire to somewhat different points than when cool. Don’t zero a hot barrel and afterward wonder why the first shot from a cool barrel fire low or high. When you believe you’re almost there, let the barrel cool completely before shooting your final zero shot.

 If something isn’t quite right, keep your calm and try again. Every time, you want a consistent point-of-impact from a cold barrel. In any case, it normally takes two or three additional shots to heat a sporter barrel. You’ll either be pulling out your skinning knives or pledging to become a better hitter by that point.

  1. Magnum Overheating and Thin Barrels

Tapered barrels and high-volume cartridges might be a challenge. The faster it warms, the narrower the barrel. The greater the volume of powder used, the hotter the shot. When combined, the two may cause havoc. For the first shot, cold barrel consistency, the combination can be precise and lethal, but after two or three rounds ignite, the barrel warms up so much that it “wanders,” meaning its molecular structure expands and alters stresses enough to modify shoots. 

With this configuration, chasing holes will quickly deplete your annual ammo budget, so take your time and make magnum barrels to fully cool between shots while zeroing and checking for group size.

What is the procedure for adjusting a rifle scope?

The trajectory of a bullet is not a direct line. Based on where the bullet strikes, it may look lower or higher, to the left or right of where you expect. Modern rifle scopes compensate for POI by altering windage and elevation turrets within the sight image.

What exactly is parallax adjustment in scope?

The goal of parallax adjustment is to ensure that your rifle sight reticle and target picture are on the same focal plane. When you turn your head and eyes in a different position, you’ll notice undesired movement or crosshair motion. For unskilled shooters, this causes eye strain, imprecise shots, and even target disorientation.

What are the top and side adjustment knobs on the scope called?

Turrets are the adjustment knobs of a rifle sight. The top turret is used to modify elevation, while the sides turret is used to regulate windage.


To get the most out of a riflescope, you should know how to correctly adjust it. Even if you’ve used a scoped rifle before, there are several changes you may not be aware of that will help you be more productive with your riflescope.

In reality, many of the sniper students had erroneously altered some of these settings. Whatever level of rifle gunman you are, you will learn all there is to know about riflescope adjustments and how to utilize them to become a more effective rifle user.

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