How to Align a Rifle Scope – Easy Guide with FAQs, Tips & More

how to align a rifle scope

Aligning your rifle scope can involve a lot of trial-and-error but it can be a waste of time if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

Not only do you need to know the steps involved in aligning a scope, but you must also know how to identify when it has been correctly aligned. 

Quick Summary

In this post, we will expand upon how you can correctly align your rifle scope. 

We will also explain how you can test your alignment to ensure your rifle scope is indeed correctly calibrated. 

Let’s get into it.

Step 1: Ensure Your Scope is Correctly Mounted 

Before you can start aligning and calibrating your rifle scope, you need to ensure that it has indeed been correctly mounted on top of your rifle stock. 

We’ve got a full guide on how to mount your scope onto your rifle if you’d like to check that out. 

To ensure the scope is correctly mounted, you’ll have to do a few things: 

Checking Height

Firstly, place the rifle down in a comfortable rest position and rest your cheek against the rifle stock to look into the scope. 

Make sure that you use a position that is comfortable to you and repeatable. 

When you look through the scope, it should be level with your eye. You should not have to strain too much up or down to bring your eye to the same level of the scope. 

If this is not the case, then you may need to adjust the height of the scope on your rifle. You can do this by using a different-sized mounting ring. 

Alternatively, you can also use a cheek rest or a taped washcloth to raise your eye’s level. 

Checking Eye Distance 

Next, you need to check whether or not the eye relief of the scope is correctly positioned or not. 

The eye relief of a scope can be defined as the farthest distance from the eye to the scope that allows the shooter to get a full, unobscured view inside the scope. 

To check this, follow these steps: 

Step 1: Close your eyes and place your head on the rifle stock at a comfortable, repeatable position that you would normally use while shooting. 

Step 2: Open your eyes and look into the scope. 

Step 3: If you see a wide outer dark ring with the entirety of the reticle, then you’re too close to the scope. You’ll need to move the rifle scope farther away from you using the mounting ring. 

If you see a dark ring on the outside with only a portion of the reticle, that means you’re too far away from it. In this case, you would need to bring the scope closer to yourself using the mounting ring. 

Step 4: When you can see the entirety of the reticle with a narrow dark ring around it, that means that the scope is at the correct distance. 

Checking Level 

Lastly, you need to check if your rifle scope is correctly leveled or not. 

You can do this by using any level and making adjustments to the rifle scope as needed. 

Once you’ve leveled it, you can be sure that the scope is properly mounted onto the rifle. 

Step 2: Alignment

alignment of a rifle scope

When it comes to the alignment of the riflescope and the reticle inside it, there are two adjustments you need to take into account: elevation and windage. 

The elevation is vertical while windage is horizontal. 

Bullets don’t fire in a straight line. In fact, they travel in an arc. The elevation and windage adjustments are present to account for this. 

Elevation 

As mentioned earlier, elevation adjustment is related to the vertical path of the bullet. 

You can use the elevation turret (knob) that is typically located on the top of the scope to adjust the vertical position of your reticle. 

If you feel that your bullet is going higher than the reticle, then move the reticle up. If you feel that it’s going lower than where the reticle is pointing at, then move it down. 

Windage 

Windage is related to the horizontal movement of the bullet and it’s present to account for the bullet swaying due to the wind. 

It’s not as relevant at shorter distances but at longer distances, you may find that you have to adjust your windage for every shot. 

The turret (knob) for windage is usually located on the right side of the scope. 

If you feel your bullets are going too much to the right, then move your reticle to the right. If you feel they’re going too much to the left, then move it to the left. 

You can check out our in-depth guide on elevation and windage adjustments for a more detailed look into these two crucial aspects of rifle scopes. 

Step 3: Test Your Adjustments and Keep Tweaking 

It’s important to test your adjustments in order to ensure they won’t fail you once you actually go hunting. 

To test elevation and windage adjustments, the best distances to shoot from are typically 100 to 200 yards. 

Naturally, if you’re going to be using your gun to shoot at longer (or shorter) distances than that, then you should test it out at those distances. 

Start by firing in three-shot groups. 

Observe where your shots land. They should be relatively close to each other. If you’ve been aiming at the same point on a target but the shots are all over the place, then that means your scope is not aligned properly. 

In that case, you’ll have to do some more tinkering. 

On the other hand, if you are able to consistently hit shots close to each other at varying distances. That means you’ve correctly aligned your scope. 

Don’t be discouraged if it takes you a long time to get a scope properly aligned. 

It’s a part of the process and eventually, you will be able to develop a feel for what will work and what won’t. 

Wrapping Things Up… 

This brings us to the conclusion of our post on how to align a rifle scope. 

We hope this post has given you some confidence when it comes to scope alignment and that you now have a better idea of how to do it effectively. 

If you have any more questions, let us know in the comments below.

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