How to Adjust a Rifle Scope – A Complete Guide

It is essential to adjust your rifle scope to improve the aiming accuracy and the precision of your shooting. To adjust your rifle scope up and down, you will have to use the external, rotatable adjustment knobs on your rifle scope. These adjustment knobs are also referred to as turrets.

What Are Turrets?

Turrets are vital to getting your rifle scope to work and making your rifle scope work well. Turrets are used to zero your rifle scope. Zeroing your rifle scope lets you adjust your rifle scope’s reticle scope to line up with where your rounds hit a target. 

To adjust your rifle scope up and down, you will have to adjust for elevation, which is the vertical plane of your rifle scope’s reticle. You can do this with the turret on top of your rifle scope. The other adjustment knob on the side of your rifle scope will let you adjust left to right of the cross-hairs.

Depending on how old or new your rifle scope is, the adjustment knobs may vary in design. For example, most newer rifle scopes have adjustment knobs like dials that you can easily adjust by twisting with your fingers. However, some of the older rifle scopes require you to use a small key or penny to turn the adjustment knobs gently.

What Are the Different Kinds of Turrets?

Now, let us discuss the several different kinds of turrets present on rifle scopes in greater detail. Exposed turrets are not protected by a cover or cap and can make slow, exact adjustments for far away targets. 

Exposed turrets are commonly found in competition and tactical grade rifle scopes, and are designed to super fine, fractions of an inch, adjustments. Although exposed turrets are often fingertip adjustable, some may be locked in place to prevent unwanted moving and require you to use an Allen key for further adjustments.

On the other hand, capped turrets are protected by some cap or covering that keeps the turret from unwanted moving. This kind of turret may be fingertip adjustable or may require you to use a tool or key of some sort when you want to make adjustments. 

Riflescopes with adjustable fingertip turrets are designed to let you make adjustments quickly. Fingertip adjustable turrets click in place loud enough for you to feel and hear the adjustments as you make them.

The clicks made by adjusting turrets come from a tiny inner spring and the notches around the adjustment knob or dial’s inner perimeter. These clicks are beneficial when you are trying to adjust your rifle scope up and down. 

However, fingertip adjustable turrets can move out of place if they are bumped or knocked around and are not made with some kind of locking system.

Tool-adjustable turrets are designed to be more simple to use. Tool-adjustable turrets will not move around, even if your rifle scope is bumped or knocked around unless you use some sort of small tool like a coin, screwdriver, or piece of brass to move it around. Since tool-adjustable turrets are more straightforward than other kinds of turrets, they will often lower the optic’s price.

Tips to Remember Before Adjusting a Rifle Scope

It is important to remember that every adjustment you make to a turret changes the angle of light reflected inside your rifle scope. When you adjust your rifle scope up and down, you change the angle of light reflected. The amount of light will help you adjust your rifle scope to the proper point of impact so that you will shoot more accurately. 

You must make sure you thoroughly clean the objective lens of your rifle scope before making any adjustments to it because even a little bit of dust can create a lot of glare and throw off the amount of light being reflected within your rifle scope.

It is also important to remember that you cannot change your rifle scope’s adjustment range and can only tweak the elevation adjustments of it, no matter how many optic accessories, rings, or scope bases you add to your rifle scope.

How to Adjust a Rifle Scope Up and Down?

Now that you understand the types of turrets, let us discuss how to adjust your rifle scope up and down. Once you have located your turrets or adjustment knobs, you will have to move your sight toward the misses. You should adjust your rifle scope in the direction that you missed. 

So you should adjust your rifle scope to the right if you missed right or adjust it lower if you missed low, and so on. It would be best if you continued making adjustments to your rifle scope until it is secure, steady, and regularly hitting the bull’s eye. Then you can start moving around and shooting from farther distances.

You should always check the user manual that comes with your rifle scope to make sure that you are going about making adjustments the right way. However, a good rule of thumb is only to make small adjustments when you are adjusting your rifle scope. 

Most dials on rifle scopes will move the zero a quarter of an inch at a time. So four clicks would equal an inch of zero adjusting. Of course, there are easier ways to make adjustments to your rifle scope. 

For example, you can use a laser bore sighter to make adjustments and use less ammo than you usually would, or you can even visit a sporting goods dealer to have them bore-sight it for you. Remember, though, even if your rifle has been bore-sighted by someone else, you should still test it to see if you need to make any other adjustments.


Now that you better understand the kind of turrets on rifle scopes and how to adjust your rifle scope up and down (for elevation), you will be able to shoot with more accuracy and precision than ever before.

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.