Zeroing a Red Dot Magnifier with Sage Dynamics

Red dot sights (RDS) are commonly used on handguns and rifles. They’re lightweight and versatile, helping you get accurate hits out to a certain distance. How far that distance is going to be depends on a lot of factors including skill level and the capabilities of the gun you’re using. So, how do you get a little more range out of your favorite RDS? You use a red dot magnifier.

Here to help you figure out how to zero your magnifier in a video tutorial is Aaron Cowan of Sage Dynamics.

Aaron Cowan Sage Dynamics explains red dot magnifier zeroing
Aaron Cowan of Sage Dynamics explains how to zero your red dot magnifier. (Photo Credit: Sage Dynamics)

Why a Red Dot Magnifier?

RDS magnifiers are useful because they make it possible to get accurate hits on target at longer distances. Different models have varying levels of magnification and, just like any optic, they are not all created equal. Some magnifiers have better clarity than others and some are tougher than others when they get banged against trees and barriers. And, as Aaron points out, using one helps you get good target identification.

When you choose your magnifier, do your homework first. Watch reviews by guys like Aaron who know what they’re talking about and really put gear through its paces. Decide exactly what you need the magnifier to do — hunting, competition, home defense — and choose the magnification level accordingly. Also, save up as long as necessary to be sure you get the right one for you.

What should you look for in a magnifier?

  • Clarity
  • Magnification level
  • Durability
  • Field of View
  • Holds Zero
  • Battery Life

Yes, Magnifiers Need to be Zeroed

Aaron Cowan explains briefly that yes, magnifiers do have to be zeroed: “Just like on an optic you’ve got windage and elevation knobs and they’re not there for decoration. You actually have to zero the magnifier after you’ve zeroed the optic. It’s not the end of the world, it’s not that big of a deal; depending on how specific you want to be, you can literally…”eyeball” it. The reason it has to be zeroed is it may not be perfectly in visual alignment…parallax with the optic itself, the optic body, and the red dot, which is, of course, what you’re looking for.”

close up of zeroing red dot magnifier
Yes, you have to zero the magnifier to make sure it lines up right with your red dot sight. (Photo Credit: Sage Dynamics)

Here’s the video tutorial.


A Word on Red Dot Sights

Your choice of RDS matters, too. The RDS you choose should be well-suited to its use and it needs to be up to whatever abuse you’re going to put it through. Also, make sure the size of the dot itself works for you (adjustable dots are great) and stop to consider the color. Just because we call them red dots doesn’t mean they don’t also come in green, and if you have astigmatism, green may work much better for you. And, of course, the RDS needs to work well with whatever magnifier you choose. They don’t have to be a perfect match, but they aren’t exactly one size fits all.

As with any piece of gear, do your homework and take your time choosing. When it comes time to zero your magnifier or learn other skills, check out Sage Dynamics’ videos. Aaron Cowan is a wealth of information and a legit, skilled shooter.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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