Red dots are essential tools for hunting and shooting. While they are incredibly versatile, intuitive to use, and easy to mount, zeroing them could be a bit tricky for some shooters. Here’s a simplified article that you may want to read on how to sight in a red dot scope.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is "Sighting In Or Zeroing A Red Dot?"
- 2 Unsupported or Supported?
- 3 5 General Steps to Sight In A Red Dot
- 4 Factors to Consider
- 5 How to Sight in Red Dot Optics - Our Final Thoughts
What is "Sighting In Or Zeroing A Red Dot?"
To “sight in or zero an optic” involves a process that ensures the predictability and desirability of your point of impact. Zeroing in red dots is easier and faster than in iron sights.
The point of impact is where your rounds are going to hit. A predictable and desirable impact point means that the bullet will exactly hit the center of the target.
The distance that you want to zero your sight comes down to personal preference. Many gun enthusiasts recommend zeroing at 25 yards because this saves you bullets and time in making adjustments. 
Unsupported or Supported?
There are two mechanical processes when you zero a red dot sight – supported and unsupported.
In a supported process, the essential goal is to reduce human errors when determining the impact point. This involves minimizing gun movements and other extraneous variables that can negatively influence your point of aim.
A solid platform or a bench rest is used to place your arm and weapon while aiming and shooting. You can be sure that your shots will land in the same place on your steel or paper target. This method is highly recommended, particularly for a neophyte shooter.
In an unsupported process, you simply aim your red dot at your target as you normally would without a benchrest. Most advanced shooters like to zero their red dot sights unsupported, especially if they are using them for competition or defense purposes.
With this method, they will easily know what their hits look like and how many clicks they need to move the adjustment screws.
5 General Steps to Sight In A Red Dot
There are essential steps to take into account when using a red dot. These steps will also guide you to prevent any untoward accident and damage to your optic.
1. Learn about firearms safety.
The first step is to learn about firearms safety measures. Always remember that guns are dangerous and potentially lethal. Treat them as if they are loaded at all times. Keep them unloaded until you are ready to shoot, and always use the right kind of bullet.
Make sure to clear the barrel with any obstruction. Always point it in a safe direction. Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
When aiming, be sure of your target and know what’s beyond it. You may unintentionally or unknowingly hit a non-target. Moreover, you need to put on eye and ear protection when shooting. Even if you’re an expert gunslinger, this first step is always indispensable.
2. Hang a target and set a range.
The second step involves setting a target and then determining the range. For smaller handguns, you can set the red dot scope at a distance of 25 yards. But most rifles like an AR15 can be set at 50 yards.
3. Check and fire.
If you’ve established a clear firing line and the shooting distance, you can now look down the barrel to the target, and you’re ready to let some ammo down range. Aim at the center of your target and fire off 2 to 3 rounds.
If the impact spread is satisfying, proceed to the next step. However, if the bullets are scattered or totally off the mark, you need to take a few more shots before continuing
4. Make adjustments if needed.
Before making windage and elevation adjustments, count the number of squares your shot is above or below the centerline and jot it down.
Take off the elevation adjustment cap and turn the adjustment screw in the proper direction. If you’re using a 1-inch paper at 25 yards (1 MOA), the clicks should be 2.5 times the number counted and round it down. But if it’s at 50 yards (1 MOA), the clicks should be 2 times the number you counted. If you shoot 4 below the centerline, you need to turn the elevation adjustment in the “up” direction up to 8 clicks.
Repeat the same process for the distance from the vertical centerline on the target using the windage adjustment screw.
5. Fire and finish it off.
After making the adjustments, you are now ready to fire and see if your red dot scope is at zero. If not, you need to repeat the prior steps until you’re near the center.
You may want to check out the manual for more adjustment tips and guidelines on how to sight in a red dot scope. You may also get the assistance of an expert shooter.
Factors to Consider
There are several tools that you can use when you adjust and aim using a red dot scope. These include a paper or steel target, flat head screwdriver, marker, eye, and ear protective gears.
If you like to hasten the process, you can sight in a red dot using a bore sighting device. This would greatly benefit a novice shooter. A boresighter uses a laser beam to point directly to the target. But if your rifle has an iron sight co-witnessing, you may not need to use a boresighter.
A red dot scope is quite versatile. A Truglo red dot sight, for instance, works perfectly well at moderately close-range on handguns, pistols, shotguns, AR15, and other rifle platforms. You can also use this at long distances with the help of a magnifier.
Windage & Elevation
The windage will move the point of impact left and right of the centerline, while the elevation will move the point of impact up and down. Adjust windage and elevation independently. One click of the windage or elevation may equal one MOA of bullet impact adjustment. Make sure to read your manual for accurate technical calculations.
How to Sight in Red Dot Optics - Our Final Thoughts
Red dots can help you aim accurately at your target to acquire it successfully in the shortest possible time. They make shooting a breeze and more convenient.
Sighting in a red dot optic is pretty straightforward if you get the hang of it. It’s easy to adjust without needing a lot of tools or any arduous step. If you carefully follow the steps in this article, you can zero your scope correctly and get the desired point of impact accurately.
Beginners may find the steps a bit confusing or difficult at first. But to improve on anything, constant practice is always the key.
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