How to Set Your Rifle Optic to Perfect Zero

How to Set Your Rifle Optic to Perfect Zero

The rifle is one of the most intricate weapons a marksman can master. Since the dawn of modern warfare, technological innovations have been the backbone of every military force.

To this day, marksmen of all types rely on rifle optics — from the solitary hunter, to police officers with long guns, to competition shooters.

There are two keys to precision shooting with an optic: having a foundational understanding of rifle optics, and having the technical skill to set your rifle to perfect zero. If you can do these two things, you’re well on your way to mastering long range precision shooting. If you want to begin rifle shooting, read on for a basic overview on how to set your rifle to perfect zero.


This may seem obvious, but we’ve dubbed “human error” step one, for the sake of starting at the ground level and working your way up. In our experience, we’ve found that eliminating the simple mistakes that could throw off the accuracy of the scope right away makes life a lot easier when it comes time to calibrate the rifle optic.

If the rifle doesn’t have an integrated rail system, we would recommend installing some form of base mount, which affixes directly to the weapon and enables you to mount the optic to the gun.

If you have a proprietary rail system on your rifle, excellent — you can disregard the first step and attach the scope to the base mount with a set of quality rifle scope mounting rings.

Once the scope is affixed to the base mount, you’re ready to begin the calibration process for the weapon.


For the next step, head out to your preferred long distance range and load five rounds into the weapon.

Once you ensure the range is clear, train your reticle on the bullseye of the target, making sure your cheek is set firmly on the stock.

The goal of the five shot gauge is to group your shots as closely as possible on the target to get a better understanding of where your reticle is set on the scope.


Now that you have the scope adequately mounted to the rifle and you’ve conducted the five shot gauge, you’ve removed as much human error from the equation as possible, and you know where your rounds are landing on target. The next step is simple; all you must do is make the necessary adjustments to the scope.

If you find the rounds landing too low or too high on the target, the elevation adjustment turret is located on the top of the rifle scope.

If the round lands to either side of the reticle, the windage adjustment turret is located on the side of the optic.

Depending on the type of optic you use, you may have turrets that click, which are excellent for adjusting on the fly, but if not, a simple screwdriver or cartridge rim will do just fine.


Although it’s fairly common knowledge amongst marksmen, here’s a simple reminder: the type of ammunition you choose can be a significant factor in the accuracy of the weapon.

In addition to other factors like barrel length, rifling, etc, choosing the round grain will affect the muzzle velocity. Choosing a round with a lesser grain will lead to lower muzzle velocities, meaning there is a higher probability of environmental factors that can have a significant effect on the trajectory of the bullet’s path of travel.

A higher grain in the ammunition can result in the bullet traveling with higher muzzle velocities, which has a greater effect by reducing the arced bullet drop and causes the trajectory of the bullet to be “slippery” and unpredictable.

Like most skills, sighting in a rifle requires a lot of practice and a good bit of trial and error; but rest assured, with a little patience and persistence, you’ll be nailing bullseyes at 600 yards with ease before you know it.