How to Zero a Scope without Firing

Do you want to align the aiming point with the impact point correctly? And do you want to improve your shooting precision by zeroing your scope but without firing? You’ve made the right move because a zeroed scope saves ammo and improves shooting accuracy. In this post, I’m going to show you the different ways on how to zero a scope without firing. Let’s get started.

Zeroing a Rifle Scope: The Preparation

Is your rifle scope mounted correctly? This is one of the first things to check before going ahead with your effort to zero in your scope. It’s an important step to do before doing anything else to the rifle. As remember, no effort will be worth your time if your scope is not mounted correctly.
Is the scope secure? If you answered yes, look for the target you want to use the scope for and position it at the correct distance. I recommend zeroing your scope at 100 yards, one the most common distances for short distance shooting or hunting.

Is this 100-yard distance a bit far? Move your target closer, perhaps 25 yards, which is the closest recommended distance limit.  However, if you have zeroed in at 25 yards, you should multiply the adjustments by four times so that you can zero in for a short distance of 100 yards.
Some suggestions for a target that most beginners use are bullseye targets or alternatively a poster or a newspaper. You can also avoid any delay or accident by securing your target in position first.

How to Zero a Scope without Firing

You’re not limited to one option of zeroing your scope without firing, so you can select what you’re comfortable to use. Look into these methods and be ready to try one or all of them.

Optical Boresighting

You can mount an optical boresighter on the rifle barrel’s end/rear. Check that its lens is aligned with your scope. Take a look into your sighting device once you’re done installing the boresighter.

Can you see a grid of the unit’s lens? If you did, it indicates that you’ve mounted it properly. Begin adjusting the crosshairs and keep doing it until they are aligned with the grid’s middle portion.

Without firing, you can zero your scope using an optical boresighter. You’ll be sure of it once you’ve confirmed that the scope is on the grid’s middle part.

Laser Boresighting

A laser boresighter is inserted into the muzzle of the rifle or mounted in the chamber, which is like a dummy round.
This is an excellent tool to zero your scope without firing, allowing you to bore sight handguns, lever-actions, and shotguns without having to view down the barrel from the rear.

Laser boresighting is quite easier and more convenient than other methods like visual boresighting. It also allows zeroing in quicker than conventional methods but without straining your eyes in the process.

Using this method frees more of your time; thus, you’ll have more of it for using your rifle in hunting, etc.
Laser boresighters can emit a laser that must be aimed at your target, which is about 25 yards down range.
All you have to do is to look through your optic, and then turn the turrets of your scope to align its reticle with the laser coming from the boresighter.

But if you need to adjust at least six inches, you may have to step back and again see if your optic is mounted correctly.

Collimator Boresighting Method

Another method to zero your scope is by using a collimator, a device that you need to insert into the muzzle end of your rifle’s barrel. This device uses lenses and a reflective surface that replicate your target.

Look through your optic and find a target-like grid.

To use this device for boresighting, turn your scope’s windage and elevation turrets to ensure that the reticle of the optics is aligned with the center of the collimator.

That’s it! And again, you might have to make adjustments until the scope’s crosshairs are aligned on the grid’s center portion.

But should you have to adjust more than six inches before you can align the scope’s reticle with the center of your collimator, you might have to check if your optic is mounted correctly.

So if this happens, go back to preparing your scope for zeroing in. Recheck and correct the mounting as necessary.

Magnetic Boresighting

This isn’t a conventional method on how to zero a scope without firing, but it still gives you another option that you can use. I recommend this method if you’re uncomfortable mounting anything inside your rifle’s barrel. This method is compatible with gauge and caliber, aside from being pocket-friendly.

Visual Boresighting

You can zero your scope without firing it using this most conventional and most budget-friendly method that doesn’t require buying sophisticated or expensive tools.

All you have to do is to align your sight with your rifle barrel’s middle portion.  However, this method is quite tricky and challenging at the same time for newbie shooters and it requires patience, discipline, and some practice.

Get a rifle stand. If you don’t have one, you can always use sandbags. Get two sandbags and put your rifle between them. Check that the rifle is locked in place.

Look down the bore and see where on your paper or bullseye target your rifle’s barrel is aimed at.

On the scope, adjust your windage and elevation knobs.  This will ensure that your crosshair will be pointing at the exact same point that your barrel is also pointing at.

Once done zeroing the scope to your chosen target, your rifle is already sighted, increasing your chances for a shot.

Alternative methods: Zeroing your scope without firing  and a boresighter

There are other traditional ways of zeroing a scope that you can also alternatively select if you don’t have a boresighting device.

Look through your bore

Check your rifle’s manual and follow instructions on how to remove the bolt from your rifle.

Look through your bore and then start aligning it with your target’s center.

Now, look through your optic, and then start adjusting the turrets in order to align with your target’s center, which you saw through your bore.

Look for the mechanical center

It involves looking for the center of your rifle scope’s mechanical adjustment range, ensuring your scope can travel full range in all directions.

First, turn the scope’s windage turret to one direction, and then start counting every revolution as you’re turning it to the opposite direction.

Then, start dialing back the turret halfway in order to reach the center.

Do the same steps on the elevation turret.

By now, your scope should be near to the middle of its mechanical adjustment range.

There are some shooters that want to center their reticle lower, allowing for more upward travel in their scope especially for long range shooting applications, but this will of course depend on the shooting type you’ll be doing.

Why Zero Your Scope?

Learning how to zero your scope without firing offers plenty of benefits. For one, any of the methods shared above can save ammos, which is more expensive, especially in the case of rifle bullets.

Zeroing without firing eliminates bullet wastage, which can be really expensive and frustrating at the same time, too.

For beginners and seasoned shooters alike, each shot must count, and that’s what zeroing your scope without firing can offer you.

Eventually, you’ll reduce your spending on rounds for zeroing your scope before shooting.

You’ll also improve your shooting accuracy, no matter your skill level, if you zero your scope prior to shooting and of course without firing. Following any of the methods I’ve shared, you can increase your chances of making an accurate shot, by zeroing your optics before shooting.

Finally, learning how to zero your rifle scope can help you check for any issues in your rifle, allowing you to address them, while helping you improve your shooting precision.


By now, you probably know the different ways on how to zero a scope without firing. Hopefully, you can try each of them and find out which technique you’re most comfortable with.  At the end of the day, it is important to ensure zeroing your scope to improve your shooting accuracy and save ammo.  That’s every shooter’s goal. Do you agree?

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