How To Adjust a Red Dot Sight – Step-By-Step-Guide

A rifle with a red dot sight usually allows a shooter to acquire their target more quickly, which is one reason why a red dot sight is considered a top choice for hunting and shooting. Even so, the effectiveness of the red dot sight depends heavily on how it’s adjusted. As such, it’s important to learn how to adjust a red dot sight so your accuracy doesn’t suffer.

Step 1: Determine if Your Sight Needs an Allen Wrench or a Screwdriver

There are various brands of red dot sights on the market, and they either require an Allen wrench or a Phillip’s head screwdriver to adjust the screws. The sights that need a Phillip’s head screwdriver are more common, but it’s frustrating to start a process and not have the right tools to complete it. Many sights come with the tool necessary to adjust it, but if yours doesn’t, be sure you have the right tool before you begin.

Step 2: Choose a Shooting sight

A red dot sight is best adjusted when you can shoot the rifle between adjustments and check the accuracy. You will need to tighten down the sight between shots, which can be annoying, but if you don’t tighten it down and you shoot a live round, the recoil will move your sight and you’ll have to start over. Choose a target that’s about 100 yards away. This will make your distance calculations easier as you make your adjustments.

Step 3: Shoot a Three-shot Cluster

Before you begin the actual process of adjusting your sight, you need to know just how far off center it is. Using your target, shoot a three-shot consistent cluster to get a good idea of where your point of impact is. Whether it’s above or below the target, and to the left or right will tell you how you need to adjust the windage and elevation of your sight.

Step 4: Take Proper Safety Precautions

Now you’re ready to prepare your gun by taking the proper safety precautions to ensure you don’t accidentally discharge a loaded weapon. The rifle should be unloaded, and all cartridges and magazines removed prior to starting the adjustment process. Moreover, you should always engage the rifle’s safety to provide a second assurance that the gun is not going to discharge accidentally while you’re adjusting the sight. Even if you think you’re being safe, it’s good to double-check.

Step 5: Loosen the Sight From the Gun’s Rail

Loosen the screws on your sight using the screwdriver or Allen’s wrench so the sight is moveable. Do not completely remove the screws, as this will make it next to impossible to adjust the sight because you’ll lose whatever adjustments you made when you put the sight back on.

Step 6: Adjust the Sight

Knowing how to adjust the sight at this point is vital because the direction markings on the scope turret can be difficult to understand. On the elevation and windage knobs, you’ll see a U for up and an R for right. The directions reference how the point of impact will shift when you turn the knob that way. For example, if you are shooting below a target, you’ll want to turn the knob up to raise your point of impact.

Shooters often get confused about the direction they need to turn their knobs to adjust their sight. As long as you remember that when you move your sight you’re changing the point of impact, you’ll probably remember how to make these adjustments. If you accidentally go in the opposight direction, though, you’ll know soon enough, when your point of impact is even further off the target. Still, understanding how the knobs affect your aim can prevent a lot of frustration.

Step 6A: Adjust One Direction At a Time

Adjust the windage and elevation separately. This will make it easier to determine which adjustments are working and which ones aren’t. Shoot a three-shot cluster and decide whether you’ll adjust the windage or elevation first. If you don’t know the mathematical calculations involved with each click of a knob, you might be tempted just to turn it three or four times and shoot again. However, this will cause your barrel to heat up and alter the point of impact.

Instead, take the time to measure between your shot cluster and your point of aim. Divide that measurement by the distance each knob click covers. Most red dots cover one Minute of Angle (MOA) or 0.5 MOA per click, and each MOA is 1.047 inches at 100 yards. A one-MOA sight will move the point of impact by about one inch per click and a 0.5-MOA sight will move it about a half of inch per click.

Step 7: Tighten the Sight

Before you’re ready to test your sight adjustments, you need to tighten the screws so the movements you made do not change when you fire the gun. You may have to loosen them again to re-adjust your sight, but if you leave it loosened when you shoot, you won’t have any idea of how your adjustments actually affected the point of impact because the sight will have moved from its position.

Step 8: Load Your Gun and Shoot Another Three-Shot Cluster

Once your sight is tightened on your firearm, you can load your gun and test your adjustments. While you may be closer to the target, you may not have adjusted the sight far enough. It’s also possible that you over-corrected your sight and now you need to dial the knobs back toward their original position. If you do need to make further adjustments, start over on step four to make sure you’re doing it safely.

Sighting in a red dot sight is not complicated despite the fact that it is different than sighting in a scope, but it does take a lot of patience and some mathematical calculations (to do it correctly, anyway). However, once you get your red dot sighted in properly, your accuracy will be much improved, thereby increasing the possibility of a successful hunt.

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox writes on a variety of topics ranging from reloading ammunition to gun cleaning. He has been featured on various publications like thetruthaboutguns, Sofrep & many more. Joseph is also the founder of Gunloading, where he reviews different types of reloading & firearm products available on the market.