How to Sight in a Red Dot Scope without Shooting?

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How to Sight in a Red Dot Scope without Shooting

For a good shooting experience, you don’t need only a good gun but also an accurate optic to be used with it. Many options are available for sights and scopes that help the hunters acquire their desired accuracy and precision. One such option is a red dot sight.

Once you have chosen the proper rifle scope, the next step is to sight in the two. Sighting in is a process of aligning the barrel of the gun with the scope that sits on it. It is vital to take quick and accurate shots.

Usually, we know that sighting in a red dot sight with the rifle requires shooting it multiple times. But this article will explain how to sight in a red dot scope without shooting.

How to sight in a red dot scope without shooting

Do you want to take an accurate shot without sighting in? Well, there is a quick way of getting that accuracy. This way is called bore sighting.

What is boresighting?

Bore sighting is the process of aligning the bore of a gun, which is the inside of the rifle barrel, to the gun’s scope. It is a quicker and easier method of getting accuracy without actually sighting in. It is easier than the actual sighting process and hence used by beginners.

Remember that bore sighting does not give accuracy similar to an actual sighting process.

How to boresight a red dot?

You will need a red dot scope mounted on a rifle for boresighting. The next important thing you need is a target. Your target needs to be set at 25 to 50 yards. It is preferable to have a bull’s eye as your target.

Another important tool you need is a boresighter. For visual boresighting, you do not use a boresighter, but you need one for both laser and optical boresighting. 

There are three different ways to bore sight your rifle: visual, optical, and laser. We will discuss each one by one.

1. Visual boresighting

Visual boresighting is the classic method of bore sighting without the use of any equipment. It’s quick, easy, and effective.

Stabilize your rifle:

The first step is to stabilize your rifle. It is a crucial step as you cannot boresight with a moving gun. You can stabilize your rifle by using a led sled, a vice, or even a sandbag.

Line up the bore with the target’s center:

In the next step, you will align the center of the bore to the center point of the target. For that, place a target at a distance of 25 yards from the point where you have stabilized your rifle.

Then look through the barrel to see if you can properly see the center of the target. Adjust your rifle so that the center of the bore is aligned with the center of the target.

Looking through the barrel can be different for different styles of guns. To see through the barrel of a bolt action rifle, you need to remove the bolt. For an AR-style rifle, you will have to remove the upper receiver, remove the bolt and the charging handle, and put the upper receiver back in place.

Line up the scope with the target:

Aligning the scope with the target means placing the scope’s reticle on the center of the target. You will need to adjust the turrets of the scope to place the reticle in the center. You have to make sure that you don’t move the gun during the process.

Go back and forth between the barrel and the scope:

After aligning the scope with the target, go back to the barrel to see if the barrel’s bore is still aligned with the target. If not, then realign it. After that, recheck the scope’s alignment and re-center it if necessary. Go back and forth between the barrel and the scope until both are aligned with the target simultaneously. 

2. Laser bore sighting

The other, more modern bore sighting method is by using the laser bore sighter. It offers two significant advantages over visual boresighting. The first advantage is that they give more precision. Secondly, you don’t need to look through the barrel while using a laser boresighter, so you can use it to boresight guns that don’t have removable bolts. The process of laser bore sighting involves the following steps:

Unload and stabilize your gun:

Laser boresighting requires you to unload your ammunition for safety purposes and have a stable platform. The objective is not to move the gun while bore sighting it.

Fix the laser device into the barrel:

Turn on the laser light by turning on the knob on the laser device and then fix the device on the gun’s barrel.

Align the laser beam with the center of the target:

Adjust your gun in a way that the laser beam is at the center of the target. An important tip here is to laser bore your red dot during early morning or evening when the ambient light is low because the laser light can get lost in bright sunlight.

Line up the red dot with the laser light:

Aligning the red dot with laser light is the main part of the laser boresighting process. You have to align the red dot mark of the scope to the laser on the center of the target. 

Adjust the turrets on the scope till it overlaps with the laser on the target’s center. Make sure to remove the laser device from your rifle before you start shooting. 

3. Optical bore sighting

In optical boresighting, the gun’s bore is aligned with the center of the target by using an optical boresighter. An optical boresighter has a square grid inside of it. This grid represents a one-inch squares adjustment to your scope.

Stabilize your gun:

Stabilize your gun with the scope mounted with the help of a platform.

Fix the optical device to the end of the barrel:

Unlike the laser sight, this device is fixed at the end of the barrel. In this way, the device will come before the scope, and both will be easy to align.

Align the scope with the lens:

Look through your scope to check if the red dot and the grid are squared to each other. If not, make them aligned by adjusting the windage and elevation dials to make the red dot coincide with the middle of the grid.

Points to remember

There are specific essential points to remember while bore sighting your red dot. No matter what method out of the three you use, these will remain important considerations.

1. Keep your rifle stable

Keep your rifle stable no matter which method you choose to boresight your red dot. You can use a vise, a wood stand, or a sandbag to ensure that stability.

2. Unload your gun

It’s important to unload your weapon before starting the process. Otherwise, it could lead to dangerous consequences.

3. Remove the boresighter before you start shooting:

It is important to remove the boresighter once you are done boresighting the red dot and are about to start shooting. It is a crucial step as not removing the boresighter can cause severe damage.

4. Know your lenses

A shooter should know which lens does what. The objective lens plays a more significant part than the ocular lens as its size determines how much light a scope will capture and, in turn, determines the extent of the scope’s magnification and the target’s visibility.

5. Magnification of the scope

You choose how much magnification you need for your scope, but remember that your scope will be accurate only at the magnification you sight your scope in. So, sight in your scope at a magnification that you plan to use for shooting. 

6. Boresighting is not similar to proper zeroing

Boresighting is a quick and temporary method of getting accuracy, but it does not give you precision similar to what you get from the actual sighting process. Hence, it is not the replacement of the actual sighting process.


You can use a red dot scope in long-range as well as in short-range. If you follow the guidelines and steps mentioned in the article, you can sight in a red dot sight without shooting. If you are a beginner, then start with a short distance to get complete expertise in it.


What is a red dot scope?

Red dot scopes are optics used by shooters for short to moderate ranges. As the name suggests, red dot sights use a red dot as its reticle. However, sometimes they can use a green dot instead of red, but they are called red dots for the sake of simplicity.

Why do you need to sight in your rifle scope?

Sighting in your rifle scope ensures that the point of aim aligns accurately with the point of impact, maximizing your shooting accuracy and precision.

Why sight in scope without shooting?

The reason is that sighting without shooting ensures safety when the shooter is not in the proper range. Secondly, some shooters don’t want to waste ammunition in the sighting process.

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I quit my job as a high-powered lawyer to pursue the outdoors. I spend most of my time fishing and hunting but am also an avid shooter with two years experience writing about firearms related topics.

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