I am sorry it took me so long to get around to this, I have been promising this information to our readers for some time.
I often hear hunters and shooters lament about trying to sight in their firearms. They fire boxes upon boxes of ammunition, they try different ammo and often they try different guns! I have seen many perfectly good firearms cross the counter on a trade-in just because the person could not get it sighted in or could not get it to shoot accurately. Many times this is simple a case of never understanding how to do it correctly.
First and foremost you must check to see if your scope is attached to the firearm securely, get your gun in a good gun vice or rest, even a set of bags to hold it down firmly. grab the scope and see if there is any movement in the base mount… if there is or there is any doubt then take the scope and rings off and tighten the base mount. If mounting the scope for the first time or if a firearm that has not been fired by you, check to make sure that you have the proper eye relief (THE DISTANCE FROM THE EYEPIECE TO YOUR FACE WHEN THE FIREARM IS MOUNTED!) If not move the scope back or forward until it is correct.. a good rule of thumb is 3.5 inches from your eye minimum! Check the specs for your rifle, scope and or base but a good rule of thumb is 30 inch pounds. Tighten the screws a little at a time altering the screws as you take the torque up. If you do not have a torque screwdriver and you are using a standard Allen or Torques Key just tighten with your thumb on the bend and your index finger on the handle near the end until there is a 1/4 inch of flex in the key itself. Once you base is on then make sure your rings are symmetrical and they conform to the scope, if not have them lapped until they do. IF YOUR RINGS ARE NOT PERFECTLY STRAIGHT AND FIT YOUR SCOPE YOU COULD IRREPARABLY DAMAGE THE SCOPE TUBE WHEN YOU TIGHTEN THEM! Good quality rings are essential steel is strong and aluminum is light… you can get good quality in both, do not cheap out on your mounting system. Leupold, Burris and Talley all make very good quality mounting systems. Tighten your rings to manufacturers specifications usually aluminum rings are 10-15 inch pounds and for steel about 15-20 inch pounds will suffice. Again if you do not have a torque wrench use the flex method and allow your key to flex about 1/8 inch.
Now that you have your scope properly mounted and everything is right and tight you should bore sight your rifle with either a lens type or a laser boresighter. Either of these can get you on the paper at 25 yards quite easily. But they will not and can not sight your rifle in for any practicle purpose….YOU NEED TO SHOOT YOUR FIREARM… to get it properly tuned. If you do not have a bore sighter you can bore sight a bolt action firearm by removing the bolt and firmly seating the scoped firearm firmly in a rest so it does not move. You point the firearm towards a target at a distance that you can see the bulls eye clearly through the bore of the barrel. Get the bulls eye in the center just like you would a peep sight and then adjust your scope until it is centered on the target as well.
A proper shooting bench is preferred but a table like a picnic table or portable table and a chair will suffice. IT IS IMPORTANT TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE GOOD EYE RELIEF WHEN SHOOTING FROM A BENCH! keep your head well back from the eyepiece of the scope. If you are too close the recoil of the firearm could cause the scope to slam into your eye or head and harm you seriously. Some of the other equipment you are going to need is good quality hearing and eye protection, a set of shooting bags or a gun vice like the Caldwell Lead sled. Targets and target frames and a spotting scope is essential if you don’t want to do a lot of walking! Ammo of the type you are going to shoot or hunt with is also a must… different ammunition will shoot differently and not likely hit the same point of aim… EVER… so sight in with the ammo you will be using.
When you arrive at the range observe the safety rules in place for that range or if you are shooting at a private range or on your own property check to make sure the range is clear and set up your firing line as you would anywhere else! Set your targets out and make sure the area around them is clear, I put the first target at 25 and then one at 100 yards for initial sight in.
Before you load this is a good time to focus your reticle, for the uninitiated the reticle is your cross hairs!
You should refer to the manual for your scope before but I will tell you how it is done for most scope. The eyepiece should have a bell and the lens you look through that is threaded onto the scope itself with a locking ring to hold it firmly. Here is a tidbit many hunters and shooters do not know! The eyepiece moves forward and back and it’s function is to focus the crosshairs … not the target you are looking at! Loosen the locking ring then look through the scope at a nuetral back ground.. a plain piece of paper or a target turned ink in will work. Then focus on your CROSSHAIRS ONLY, NOT THE TARGET and turn the eyepiece in until the crosshairs begin to blur! Back the eyepiece out in the other direction until the crosshairs come clear again and the keep turing until they begin to blur once more. No you can turn it back in until you find the sweet spot where you crosshairs are crisp and clear! Well Done! There is also an Adjustable objective lens on some rifle scopes this can either be on the front lens (it will often have yardages marked on the bell) or it can be a side A/O with the adjuster on the left side of the scope opposite the windage adjustment knob and under the elevation knob. This Objectve adjustment is to focus your target not the crosshairs!
ACTS PROVE YOUR FIREARM and put it in the rest, put your ear and eye protection on and make sure everyone else has too. Now you can load your firearm one cartridge at a time “safety on if possible” and then seat it firmly in the rest with the scope turned down to a low enough magnification and pointed at the center of the 25 yard target. Squeeze off a shot, you should be able to see where your bullet impacted through the scope. If you can’t see this at 25 yards you either need glasses or a better scope! Seriously now… you should be able to see the bullet hole and the bullseye you were aiming at. If not use the spotting scope (Burris, leupold, bushnell, swarofski, there are many good ones out there) If you did not strike the paper move the target to 10 yards and start again.
This is where you save all kinds of time and ammo so listen carefully! Do not reload yet! Remove the dust covers on the windage and elevation knobs on your scope. Now if you have help get your helper ready to turn the scope adjustments while you look through the scope, if not you need to do it your self! Use the proper screwdriver to fit the adjusters unless they are finger turn. Make sure your firearm is seated in the rest or bags firmly and cannot move while you are adjusting the scope. Aim your crosshairs back at the center of the bullseye and turn the windage knob (this is the one on the side of the scope) until is bisects the bullet hole! Then without moving the firearm turn the elevation knob (yup on the top of the scope!) up or down until the crosshairs bisect the the bullet hole again. Now, if you did this correctly, without losing your seating you should be right on the bullet hole dead center. You can firm a checking round to make sure at 25 yards or if you are confident you can move right out to 100 yards.
Same procedure at 100 you can turn your magnification all the way up now and focus your Adjustable Objective on the target if you have one on your scope, try to read the writing on the target, then you know you have it right! Fire a shot and them walk your crosshars to the bullet hole… add a little elevation if you wish, I prefer 1 1/2 inches high at 100 yards for most hunting rifles. Now your third shot (IF YOU HAVE DONE EVERYTHING CORRECTLY) should be bang on 1 1/2 inches high at 100 yards. If not make sure you let your barrel cool right down between subsequent shots and just fine tune it until your right in there.
Have fun shoot safe and HAPPY HUNTING!