What are Bore Sights and How to Use Them

Have you ever gone to the range to sight in that new optic and couldn’t get it to hit the broad side of a barn? Some optics are fairly close from the start, which makes it easy and faster to sight them in. Others are so far off; it makes you wonder how the gun isn’t loaded with blanks. There are a few different ways to sight in an optic and using a bore sight is one of them. It has become a method I use with every optic before I start blasting expensive ammo down range with it.

Bore sight with rod
Bore sights can make the process of sighting in a weapon faster and cheaper. I use one for every optic or scope before I start shooting ammo on paper.

You don’t really know how helpful a bore sight is until you have used one a few times. I went years without ever using one and thought my way was the best way. Then one day on the range, I found myself getting frustrated with an optic because I couldn’t figure out where the thing was hitting. I kept moving it closer and closer to the target because it needs to be on paper before you know which way to adjust it. I decided to go ahead and try a bore site and have used one ever since.

What is a bore sight?

Most bore sights today use a laser to assist with the sighting process. There are a few different types, but they all work in the same fashion. The process works by lining the laser up with the center of the bore (the inside of the rifle barrel) which then shoots the laser from the barrel and onto a target or surface where you can see the laser and begin adjusting the optic to align with it.

Bore sigts
There are several different types of laser bore sights. The picture above is of a chamber bore sight (bottom), magnetic bore sight (left), and a rod bore sight (right).

While bore sights allow you to see where the bullet would hit, they don’t take the place of sighting in the optic. What they help with is getting the optic close without using up real ammo. Most bore sights recommend using their product at a minimum of 20-25 yards. Think of this as pre-sighting in your optic before you hit the range. I use bore sights at home in my backyard, so they are close before I head out to finish sighting in the optic. Of course, you want to practice good gun safety and make sure the weapon is safe before you do this at home. Make sure it is empty, on safe, and the chamber is clear. Once that’s done, check it again. You also want to make sure there are no people or homes in the direction the barrel is facing.

Types of Bore Sights

The old fashioned way of bore sighting a gun is to look through the bore when lining it up with a target and then adjust the optic so that it is on the same target. Laser bore sights make this process much easier, so we will focus on those nifty gadgets and not the old-fashioned way. For the most part, there are three types of laser bore sights out there. The first sight is shaped like a bullet and goes into the chamber of your gun. It projects the laser from the chamber, down the barrel, and onto a target.

Magnetic Bore Sight
Magnetic bore sights work by attaching the laser to the end of the muzzle device. The strong magnet on the back holds it securely to the end of the barrel.

The second type goes on the end of the barrel instead of inside the chamber. There is a rod that is either the same size as the caliber you purchased it for or adjustable for multiple calibers. You insert the rod on the end of the laser into the barrel which aligns the laser up with the center of the bore. The second type also goes on the end of the barrel. But instead of a rod, it has a magnet that snaps onto the muzzle device and holds the laser securely on the end of the barrel.

How To Use a Bore Sight

Once you have selected what type of bore sight to use, the process of sighting in the optic is pretty simple. It can be while holding the gun, but a stand or gun brace to hold your weapon while sighting it in works best. When you’re ready to start, simply attach the bore sight in the chamber or at the end of the barrel (whichever style you purchased) and turn it on. It is best to have some type of mark to set the laser on. This can be a bullseye target or something else. I use a paper plate with a dot from a magic marker because it’s cheap.

Chamber Bore Sight
A chamber bore sight works by inserting the laser into the chamber like you would a bullet. Because of this design, the bore sight will have to be specific to the chamber of the gun. Pictured above, a 9mm bore sight inserted into the chamber.

Once the target is up and the laser is on, move the gun around until the laser dot is on the bullseye you set up. I do this at 25 yards, but it can be done further out if you can still see the laser on the target. Once you have done this, simply look through the scope or optic. If you are sighting in an optic, you should see two dots—one from the bore sight and one from your optic. Start adjusting the optic until the dot from the optic is on top of the dot from the bore sight. For scopes, do the same thing with the cross hairs. It’s that simple.

Final Thoughts

When I sight in my optics with a bore sight, I still make a few adjustments on the range at 75 or 100 yards depending on the type of gun I’m sighting in. They are not usually perfect after using the bore sight, but they are on target and near the bullseye.

The biggest benefit of using a bore sight is the ammo you save for the first step. Without one I would have to start at 25 yards, or however close I need to be for the bullet to at least hit the target. Once I can see the target, the process of shooting and adjusting starts. A bore optic removes this step and allows you to save the ammo for the range. If you plan to sight in a new optic or scope, I recommend the use of a bore sight.

Sheriff Jason Mosher is a law enforcement generalist instructor as well as a firearms and tactical weapons trainer. Jason graduated from the FBI-LEEDA (Law Enforcement Executive Development Association) and serves as a Sheriff for his day job. When he’s not working, he’s on the range, eating steak, or watching Yellowstone.

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