How to Adjust Iron Sights

Rifle scopes and optics in general are popular among hunters, law enforcement, and target shooters because they aid the naked eye in aiming and eventually hitting the target. But still, many prefer the dependability and straightforward operation of iron sights, which also serve as backup. In this guide, I’ll share with you the basics on how to adjust iron sights so that you can align your placement and improve your precision with them.

The best of iron sights will help you shoot your target. However, they must be aligned in order that your line of sight and impact point will meet with precision. Some people claim that it’s possible to adjust the iron sight with just fastening the firearm into a gun vise, firing, and then you can start adjusting the sights to point at the target’s center.

But then, this may not be the case in the real world wherein you might have to perform a couple of attempts to establish your group. Then, your iron sights should be adjusted in that they’ll move your line of sight to be nearer to the group.

This process takes several attempts until a shooter will reach the right alignment.

How to make vertical adjustments

To do a vertical (up and down) iron sight adjustment, here’s what you need to do.

If your shot should be above the target and it needs to be lowered, use both your sights to aim straight at your target. Your rear sight must be adjusted downwards or your front sight upwards.

But if your shot is right below your target and it should be higher, use both sights to face towards your target. This is either that your rear sight must be moved higher or your front sight lowered.

Note: Make adjustments to the rear sight in a similar direction to be aligned with the impact point to move, while the front iron sight being adjusted oppositely.

How to make horizontal adjustments

To make a left and right adjustment, here’s what you need to do.

Is your shot towards the left side from your target with both sights facing straight towards it? In this case, you must move the rear sight to the right or the front iron sight to the left.

Is your shot right from your target using both the sights which are facing straight towards it? In this scenario, you must move the rear sight to the left, or the front iron sight to the right.

FORS (Front Sight Opposite, Rear Sight Same)

As a general rule of thumb, always remember this acronym when adjusting your iron sights because we do recognize that it can be really confusing to adjust them in the field or at the range. This can lead to wasted time, effort, and AMMOs.

So, again, the FORS when trying to change where your shot will strike: Move the front iron sight to the opposite direction, with the REAR sight moved in the same direction as the point-of-impact (POI).

Trying to move your POI on the target? FORS

The Basics of Adjusting and Zeroing In Iron Sights with Example

Iron sights are some of the most traditional and basic rifle sight styles composed of two primary components. On the front is a simple post and in the rear a notch.

The rear is where you are going to align the front component. Most rifles come with built-in iron sights, which are cost-effective, easy to use, and durable. Iron sights, when adjusted properly, can stay aligned. That’s why they’re used especially in hunting.

Different users have varying preferences on how they want to zero. Some want it 50 yards, while others at 25 yards. But depending on the application, still others would zero at 100 yards. In this example, we’re going to discuss zeroing at a 50-yard distance.

Position your target out at 25 yards.

Fire a 3-round group. Check if you have to adjust either windage or elevation depending on where your shots landed.

Should you adjust for the elevation? Move your post up and down if you have to adjust the front iron sight. Note: Move the front of the sight towards the other direction where you prefer to move the group if you are adjusting it.

Like are you shooting low? You must start lowering the front component of the sight. But if it’s not adjustable, adjust the rear sight. (You might need a special tool for this.)

Should you adjust for the windage? Find the windage knob of the rear sight and move it. However, you might also have to adjust the elevation dial/knob (up/down) if you have to adjust for elevation.

The manner to move the rear sight is moving it towards where your group should move. You might have to move the rear component of the sight downwards and towards the left if you’re shooting high and towards the right.

You must take note of the general rule “Front sight opposite, rear sight same” for help.

Next, you can start shooting 3-round groups and then you can adjust your iron sights’’ point-of-aim (POA) accordingly to achieve the point-of-impact (POI).

If you have achieved the zero at a 25-yard distance, move the target to a 50-yard distance again, and then repeat the process. But this time, it’s the elevation for adjustment.

NOTE: Before performing these steps, ensure that your rifle is resting on sandbags, a bench rest, or any stable surface to avoid any unnecessary movement. Otherwise, your point-of-impact will be affected because your shots will be thrown off.

Important Tips

Ensure that you have a stable bench rest and you’re using the right one if you cannot shoot a tight group.

Pull your target closer if the sights are off in that you can’t hit the paper. First, you can zero at 10 yards, and then at 25 yards. Finally, position your target out to 50 yards and then you can adjust and zero your sights at that distance.

You might also consider hiring a professional gunsmith if you’re a beginner and cannot achieve a tight group. Once the iron sights are well-adjusted, practice and practice until you can tighten the group.

Adjust the windage and elevation separately if you’re struggling to achieve zero. To do it, adjust elevation once you’ve shot a 3-round group, and then you can adjust the windage once done shooting another 3-round group.

Once you’re done, you’re good to go!


There you have the steps you need to complete on how to adjust iron sights and achieve a zero. It can be tricky in the beginning, but practice can help. If you have questions, let us know in the comments. Hopefully, this guide has helped solve your problem. And if you think your friends need the same information, share this post on social media today!

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