When you mount a red dot on your rifle, shotgun, or pistol, you’ll need to line it up correctly to ensure your shots are accurate. Here are the basics of zeroing in and few different techniques on how to sight in your new red dot.
Before you get started in zeroing your red dot, you’ll need to understand the importance of the MOA (minute of angle).
An MOA is 1/60th of a degree and spreads at approximately 1″ per 100 yards. So, imagine that you’re shooting at 100 yards. In this case, your MOA would be 1″. At 200 yards, it’s 2″, 300 yards, the MOA is 3″, and so on.
Based on this measurement, you’ll need to calculate your shots in 1″, 2″, 3″, or higher increments, depending on the distance.
Now that you have this down, it’s time to work with the red dot.
When you open up your sight, you’ll see a symbol, letter, or word that indicates the adjustments you can make.
The elevation control would most likely be represented by the word “up,” with an arrow illustrating the direction to turn the dial. The windage control should have an “R” and feature an arrow for the same purpose.
The number of MOAs per click depends on the type of red dot you have, but most will adjust to only one per click. (Those with finer alignment increments are typically more expensive.)
Now, imagine that you’ve just taken your first shot at 100 yards. Your shot was off to the left, and a little low. Here’s how to sight in a red dot based on an example using a grid:
*Note that if you need to go down or to the left, you’ll need to turn the adjustments opposite of the indicated direction.
You might not have the luxury of using a grid or otherwise knowing the precise number of MOAs your shots were off by.
If this is the case, remember that you need to make corrections based on the increments that correlate to your shooting distance. This will take trial and error, but you’ll still be able to zero.
You won’t always be able to do trial and error firing when sighting in a red dot. In these cases, you’ll need to adjust your technique to attaining high-level accuracy when it is finally time to shoot. Here are some easy visual zeroing methods you can use without firing a single shot:
The ideal distance for sighting in a red dot may change based on the firearm you’re using it with. With any weapon, though, you won’t be able to get your sights 100% precise.
Still, your sight-in distance can reduce the likelihood of missing your point of impact (POI). With this in mind, the best distances for sighting in a red dot for pistols and ARs are:
The process of how to sight in a red dot on an AR-15 slightly differs from what you’ll need to do with other firearms. Here’s a quick look at what it takes to zero in for this gun:
As you’ve learned, different firearm types require small technique changes to ensure you get your red dot sighted correctly. Follow these steps below to zero a pistol-mounted red dot:
To sight in a red dot, you’ll need to be mindful of the target’s distance and MOA per click to ensure you’re making the appropriate corrections to the windage and elevation.
There are ways to zero without ever firing the weapon at all, but this is easier to do with a rifle since you can disassemble it and look down the barrel to verify your red dot is on sight. On the other hand, it’s best to fire a group with a pistol and use a trial and error method to sight in.