How To Sight In A Rifle Scope
- Samantha Coleman
Shooting should be done in the most stable position possible, i.e. lying or sitting, preferably at a shooting table. One hand is on the trigger, the other on the forend or buttstock. The butt plate is pulled into the shoulder, both arms are resting.
- 1 Gun Holder
- 2 After The Scope Mounting Comes The Firing In
- 3 Interpupillary distance
- 4 Poor Marksmanship Can Literally Hurt You – The Story
- 5 Working With The Colimator
- 6 The optimal target
- 7 Shooting Target For Downloading
- 8 Don’t forget about Parallax
- 9 How Should The Aiming Optics Be Equipped?
- 10 What Should The Riflescope Cost?
- 11 Riflescope reticle types
- 12 Which rifle scope for sport shooters?
The rifle should rest stably on the forend and buttstock and remain freely in position so that the reticle is on target even without the shooter.
It is important for shooting in the hunting area that the target and the barrel are in the same extension, i.e. that the rifle is not shot up or down.
Adjusting A Riflescope – An Art
The use of riflescopes only started with the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. A certain Karl Robert KAHLES founded his company in Vienna in 1898. In 1900, the legendary riflescope “TELORAR” by KAHLES became something like a technical revolution on the optics market (LINK). In Tyrol, the Swarovski Optik company started producing rifle scopes in 1948 (LINK).
If you talk about optics, you cannot avoid the places like Oberkochen, Jena, Wetzlar, Berlin Charlottenburg etc. in Germany. Companies, namely ZEISS (LINK), LEICA (LINK), MINOX (LINK) to name a few, surprised again and again with groundbreaking inventions and products.
Currently, the technical development of all renowned manufacturers has now reached the realm of thermal imaging technology.
Scope Mounting – The Key To Success
But what is common to all riflescopes?
Well, without proper mounting, i.e., rings and dividers, etc., there would be no safe and repeatable shot pattern. The subject of “mounting” will not be discussed in detail here, however, as it is itself an evening and page-filling topic and will be dealt with in a separate report.
But what is still missing to be able to fire a precise shot and achieve a very high hit repeatability?
Adjusting a riflescope
Every shooter is faced at one time or another with the task of mounting a riflescope on his or her weapon. There are a few things to consider. This begins with the correct selection of the scope (optics and reticle) and the mounting (ring, saddle, swivel or single-hook mount). Only a few tips can be given on this, as the aiming aid is highly dependent on the intended use and the weapon used (hunting, sport or recreational shooting).
The easiest way is to mount a scope on an 11 mm Prima or Weaver rail. These are very common and you can get a wide range of mounting rings at a reasonable price. It is best to buy the mount together with the scope. Standard diameters of the mounting rings are 25.4 mm, 26 mm and 30 mm inner diameter.
First, mount the mounting rings on the 11mm prism or Weaver rail. Then mount the scope in the pre-assembled mounting rings (distance between optics and eye at least one hand width). After this, the reticle is aligned, and when this is done, all screws are tightened, always starting at the mounting feet.
Caution: do not use force, otherwise the rifle, the mount or the scope may be damaged.
For rough adjustment of the scope, the rifle is laid on and a target is aimed through the barrel. Then, without changing the position of the weapon, the target is seen through the scope. The difference between the two points is adjusted using the two adjustment devices. The fine adjustment is made on the shooting range.
Attention: In case of larger deviations of the hit position, always carry out first one third of the elevation correction and then one third of the lateral correction. Repeat this procedure 3 times. This procedure is necessary due to the cardanic spring-supported mounting of the reticle.
The eyepiece is the lens into which you look in the riflescope (at the back). As a rule, the diopter value can also be set on the eyepiece.
Objective lens diameter
The manufacturers specify the objective lens diameter in the scope designation – e.g. 5-25 x 56 in this designation the objective lens diameter would be 56 mm.
The specified objective diameter only indicates the diameter of the installed objective lens, but not the total diameter of the objective with the housing around it. Usually, 6-8 mm of wall can be added to the lens diameter to get the total diameter of the lens. This value is important, for example, when looking for the right scope mount to find the right height of the mount. At GGW, however, we have often included the additional value “minimum height of required mount” as additional information for riflescopes.
The sharpness of riflescopes decreases towards the edge due to the lens shape. As a rule, however, the higher the quality of a lens, the sharper the peripheral areas in the image. Lower-priced lenses often have great magnification specifications and fields of view, but this is of little use if the edge is completely blurred.
Field of view
The field of view indicates how much you can see at 100m in terms of terrain length and width in meters. If the field of view of the scope is 30m, then an object with a width or height of 30m fills exactly the entire image at 100m.
IMPORTANT! For binoculars, the field of view is usually specified at 1000m and not 100m as for riflescopes.
There are different types of scope turrets that have different characteristics:
- ST = Single Turn = The turret rotates a maximum of 1x completely around its own axis.
- DT = Double Turn = The turret can be turned 2x around its own axis (Usually with an indicator that shows when you have already turned over 360°).
- MT = Multi Turn = The tower can be turned several times around its own axis.
- ZC = Zero Click = If you reach 0 on this tower, the click is more noticeable and audible.
- ZS = Zero Stop = If you turn back to 0, you can’t turn further into minus. 0 is a stop.
- MTC = More Tactical Clicks = Here every tenth click is more noticeable and audible.
- SZC = Sub Zero Click = If you have zeroed the turret, you can still click a few clicks below 0 here.
- ASV = Reticle Quick Adjustment = A turret where you can turn directly on a grid and do not have to unscrew a cover before.
After The Scope Mounting Comes The Firing In
You’ve already done half of it! Now we just have to make sure that we hit something with the setup.
It is advisable to fire the first shot at a target from a relatively short distance. If the scope is completely misaligned, you won’t shoot somewhere completely off target, but you’ll still hit the target. Then you can correct it in the right direction.
You do this using the elevation turret and side turret on your scope. Unfortunately, the adjustment does not work the same for all scope manufacturers. This means that if you turn the elevation turret clockwise, the hit point will shift downward on some scopes and upward on others. You can read the manual and see if it describes how to do this.
The other alternative is to simply test it out. Just make 10 clicks clockwise and see where the hit point shifts to. Once you’ve figured that out, all you really have to do from now on is turn in the right directions until you hit your target exactly.
Shooting a bouncer
When you shoot an air rifle with a bouncer, it is not so easy. You really have to pay attention to the tendencies. It’s incredibly hard to shoot the same hole every time. If you make 10 shots and the hit pattern on the whole is, for example, right up, then you carefully adjust a little further down to the left and make the next representative shots again.
Here you have no choice but to test this over a longer period of time. Unless you are such a good shooter that you can rely on the result being so representative right from the first shot.
Everyone is built differently, with different proportions. Knowing how to set up your scope for your body is critical to the performance of the scope. One of the first things to consider is eye relief.
Eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece lens and your eye. Each model of riflescope has an optimal eye relief, so when mounting the riflescope, you will need to look up the technical specifications of the riflescope to know where the riflescope needs to be in relation to your eye. Also note that the eye relief changes depending on the magnification of the scope. So it’s best to take these two numbers and split the difference between them; this will give you your ideal eye relief.
Adjusting the eye relief can be a fairly simple process.
- First, place the scope in the rings and put the ring washers on, but do not tighten them. Make sure that the scope is still movable.
- Next, mount the rifle the way you intended to shoot – ideally this is done on a table or stable platform. You want to see a large image that fills the entire eyepiece lens. If you’re too far away, the image will be small; too close, and you’ll get a lot of black around it, which is called a vignette.
- Shoulder the rifle with your eyes closed. Take your most ideal, comfortable position. Once you are comfortable, open your eyes and see where the eye relief of the scope is. The reason you do this with your eyes closed is because when your eyes are open, you tend to adjust your body position to achieve the ideal eye relief when you actually want to adjust the scope and not your body position.
- Repeat this step a few times to make sure the scope is exactly where it needs to be when you are comfortable on the stock. Remember that with good eye relief, the image will completely fill the eyepiece – there will be no black borders around your sight picture.
Poor Marksmanship Can Literally Hurt You – The Story
I’ll share an anecdotal story that taught a friend a lesson and even taught me one. A good buddy bought a new rifle, and a friend of his bought him a scope. Pretty cool, right? He asked for help getting the gun zeroed before hunting season, and he knew my affection for rifles, so he asked for help. The first question I asked when we got to the range was whether or not he had set the target correctly and how I had asked him. He said that he had. My mistake was not visually checking it to my own satisfaction, he was trying a process he knew nothing about.
Long story short, he got in his forehead twice, affectionately known as “scope bite” before I stopped him. It was a 30-06 rifle with no muzzle break and he drew blood from his forehead in the process. I asked him to get on the rifle and do nothing else so I could observe his position. He had his eyeball and was almost kissing the scope. I asked if he was getting a floating bubble of clarity when he looked through the scope and he said he was. I told him we needed to remount his scope. I got out the tools, loosened his ring caps and told him to get on the rifle with his eyes closed. I told him to put his head on the stock and grip the rifle in a way that felt comfortable and correct, all with his eyes closed. He did.
Then I had his eyes open and I started moving the scope back and forth in the rings until we got his eye relief correct. Eye relief is the distance behind the scope the eyeball needs to be for a clear image through the optics. Once we were set up correctly, we leveled the scope, turned the rings down, and he was able to shoot without further incident. The mistake he had made was compromising his body position and body mechanics to match the position of the scope in the rings. The opposite is what you should do, sit on the gun and then adjust everything else so you have a clear field of view and everything feels right and comfortable. This is how you practice proper marksmanship.
As a rule of thumb, you want to set up the scope so that your eyeball is directly behind it, with clarity from top to bottom and side to side, with the eyepiece as far away from your eyeball as you have not before You will begin to see a floating bubble or shadow appear. If you take the time to properly adjust or mount the scope position in the rings after you get used to the rifle, you won’t have a problem. If you rush, make turns, or skip things in this part of the setup, you’ll have problems with your marksmanship later, guaranteed.
Working With The Colimator
Now the colimator comes into play, a great tool that is inserted and fixed in the front of the barrel by means of various spikes. If you then look through the telescopic sight, you will see a square with many small boxes, similar to a coordinate system. Now you can adjust the telescopic sight as desired and roughly align it without having to fire a shot. When everything is set and adjusted, you can go to the stand and test fire the gun.
If fine adjustments are then made, the colimator should then be put back on and the values noted on the basis of the coordinate system, e.g. on the respective ammunition package. Now you can quickly and inexpensively catalog your ammunition and always know how to align the scope.
Mounting crooked on the gun?
You have problems with a crooked mount and are in the red range with your scope in the lateral adjustment range? If you are lucky and your swivel mount or SEM has a support screw, you can “zero” the lateral adjustment of the scope and use the support screw and colimator to compensate for the crooked mount and center your scope. Now you can again adjust the lateral adjustment of the scope in all directions without being in the red range.
The optimal target
Preparation for shooting also includes the use of a suitable target. Since the shooting targets of the shooting range are often quite shot up, we recommend using your own shooting targets, which can usually be simply stapled or glued to the shooting range targets after consultation with the range supervisor.
Ideally, the target should have a metric scale so that the shooter can immediately read off the hit point deviation in centimeters on the target and then make a correction without having to remeasure. Furthermore, it is recommended that the target has a square in the center rotated by 45°. This has the advantage that the reticle crosshairs can be aligned or aligned well with the corners of the square, making it easier to detect the center of the target.
Shooting Target For Downloading
We provide the from our point of view optimal shooting-in target free of charge for download as PDF document.
Simply download and print: Shooting target.
Don’t forget about Parallax
Parallax is the apparent change in the position of an object when the observer shifts his own position. Hunting definition: Parallax is the aiming error in long or even close range shots when the hunter is not looking centrically through the scope. To visualize this phenomenon, hold your index finger about 10 centimeters in front of your eyes. If you now look alternately only with the left or right eye, the position of the finger seems to change – parallax occurs. In this simple example, the observer does not change his point of view, but the different position of the eyes apparently changes the position of the finger. This principle can be applied to a riflescope.
If a shooter looks through his scope at a distant target with different viewing angles, the reticle will move. Although these deviations are not large and invisible to most, they do occur. Especially on small game, like a fox, this can have a negative effect. Riflescopes are parallax-free at a certain distance. If the target is exactly at that distance in front of the glass, it doesn’t matter “how” the hunter looks throughthe scope – the shot will always be where the reticle is. With current glasses, the parallax-free distance is usually 100 meters. The hunter who always looks through the center of the scope does not need to worry about parallax.
With a riflescope with parallax compensation, the shooter can readjust the focus through the compensation. Precise shots at long range thus become feasible. The scales on the adjustment unit of modern scopes are so precisely adjusted that they can also be used for distance measurement. To do this, the hunter only has to focus with the parallax compensation on his riflescope and can then read off the distance to the target on the adjustment unit – another plus point for parallax compensation. Misses caused by parallax are exceptions. The hunter who shoots at distances common in Germany will never come into contact with it. However, anyone who shoots farther out should consider parallax.
How Should The Aiming Optics Be Equipped?
In order to achieve the desired success with riflescopes, they are designed specifically for the purpose. The design chosen depends on the purpose, since the distance to the target, its shape and size, the lighting conditions, the speed at which the target is moving and the contrast to the background are of enormous importance.
Do you value a fast shot and need parallax compensation to avoid shooter errors, should the adjustment turrets be fixed by tools or with a counter ring and do you want to use an illuminated Mil-Dot reticle with MultiColor mode? Of course, in addition to the technical requirements, you also have personal preferences for brands and manufacturers.
What Should The Riflescope Cost?
The next important factor in the purchase is the planned budget. The question generally arises as to whether optimized riflescopes should be purchased for the various requirements, or whether a multi-purpose riflescope also meets the requirements and is also cheaper on balance.
Especially for sport shooters and young hunters, an all-rounder is very interesting. Many professional users like to use it because it covers distances from raised hide to driven hunt and is compactly built. To specialize with his glasses to get the maximum performance out can also be very enjoyable. Here, however, own experiences with different models, visibility conditions and distances should already be available to avoid a wrong purchase.
The acquisition costs are also determined by the choice of brand and the corresponding model series and one should consider which requirements the glass must actually meet and how high the prestige bonus is that a premium model brings to the shooting range or hunting. Even riflescopes in the mid-price segment often have parallax compensation and side and height adjustment turrets, as well as like the UTG riflescope 3-12×44 Compact with reasonable values.
Depending on one’s interest and craftsmanship, there may be incidental costs for mounting the optic and having it shot in by a gunsmith. However, there are good bulletproof scope mounts that do not require a gunsmith or special tools to assemble, and many tutorials on the web.
Riflescope reticle types
Thanks to this device, nowadays a hunter can easily aim and make good shots. Each reticle has its own design, purpose and production method. Determining the first criteria such as accuracy, strength, hunting conditions and overall performance will help you find the ideal target, because at least you will know what you want and what aspects to consider.
First of all, this would be a perfect scope for a hunter. Most hunters have been using this scope for a hundred years, it is the oldest reticle ever. Because of the structure of a reticle, the eye stays focused on the aiming point. The center dots are thicker and denser towards the rim of the scope, while the center dots of the reticle are thin. Normally, the duplex reticle comes in the second focal plane, which means that when you zoom into the magnification, the reticle stays the same, it does not get bigger.
Also known as Mil Hash, it is a distance estimation reticle, a great reticle that we recommend to anyone who doesn’t know the distance to the target and has no way to determine the distance to their target with a laser rangefinder or a predetermined distance at a range. This reticle will help you find a distance! Also, this is basically a mid-range reticle.
Leupold is a brand that stands for innovative and top-notch products. This type of reticle is also called a heavy duty reticle. The outer columns are larger and denser than normal duplex reticles. Best suited for poorly lit and bushy areas.
BDC steht für Bullet Drop Compensator (Kugelfall Kompensator). Dieser gilt als das beliebteste und am weitesten verbreitete Absehen. BDC ist grundsätzlich darauf ausgerichtet, was das Militär verwenden würde. Der Grund dafür ist, dass das Militär große Verträge mit Immun- und Munitionsherstellern hat, sie haben Verträge mit Herstellern von Zielfernrohren. Das BDC-Kompensationsabsehen setzt voraus, dass man die Reichweite kennt, und wurde für bestimmte Gewehre vorgesehen.
Christmas tree reticle
This type of reticle has a similar shape to a Christmas tree. The hash marks get longer with each additional mark on the 6 o’clock reticle. This was made to give you grip and compensate for wind drift, as your bullet strike and velocity are greatly affected at long ranges. It’s perfect for steel or competition. As you zoom in, the reticle gets larger, making the aperture in the center of the reticle larger, and if you are shooting at fine aiming points, it will not be ideal for you. There are some new models where the center is filled with crosshairs.
Which rifle scope for sport shooters?
There are very different rifle scopes for different sporting disciplines.
At short range, e.g. drop-plate shooting or various IPSC disciplines, reflex sights that have only one dot or a circle dot as a reticle are suitable. With such a sight, the field of view is very large and you can quickly acquire the target.
In this category, similar to the driven hunt scopes, magnifications of 1-5, 1-6, and 1-8 compartments have also become established. So you are very flexible and can use the sight in different ways.
At medium distances of 50m-100m, one should choose magnifications of 3-12 or 4-16. Thus, one is very variable and the image section at high magnification is still not too small.
Manufacturers like Falke and Vortex have established themselves in the range around 500 and 100 €. Rifle scopes like the Falke 4-16×44 or the Vortex Strike Eagle 3-18×44 have just established themselves on AR15 rifles. The scopes with 44mm objective lens fit very well on the thin body of AR15 weapons. Sig Sauer also offers a wide range of scopes and red dot sights in the AR15 and AR10 rifle range.
Kahles offers a specialist for these semi-automatic weapons with the K16i. This is available with several reticles, especially the SI1 offers a reticle that can be used for drop plates at short range as well as for long range via the markers in the reticle.