Accurate shooting is a fundamental aspect that every marksman strives to achieve. Whether for hunting, tactical, or sport shooting, an accurate shot can mean the difference between success and failure. The first step is aligning a firearm’s sights to its barrel, zeroing the sights or rifle optics. Before zeroing, there’s a preliminary step called boresighting that some shooters choose to do. This post will dive into boresighting and how it helps achieve an initial zero, its benefits, and discuss the various tools available for boresighting.

What is Boresighting?

Boresighting is a method of adjustment to align the firearm’s sights with the bore (the interior of the barrel) before zeroing. This step ensures that the first shots are reasonably close to the intended target, saving time and ammunition. It’s a process that helps the shooter start on the right foot, making the subsequent fine-tuning of zeroing more efficient, you can learn more by checking out laser boresight essentials.

Boresighting vs Zeroing

Boresighting and zeroing are very different things we don’t want to get confused about. Boresighting is about aligning the sights with the barrel to get the bullet close to the target on initial shots. Zeroing is the process of adjusting the sights to ensure that the bullet hits the target at a specific range by actually shooting. Boresighting is the preliminary step that makes zeroing easier, as it reduces the number of adjustments needed during zeroing.

Types of Boresighting Tools

There are various tools available for boresighting, each designed for specific uses. These range from simple optical devices that align with the barrel to more sophisticated laser boresights that project a laser on the target. Understanding the different types of boresighting tools and their applications will aid in selecting the right one for you.

Laser Boresighter

Laser boresighters facilitate the boresighting process by projecting a laser beam from the firearm’s barrel onto a target. This beam indicates where the bullet would likely impact relative to the sights. Primarily, they are used for quick and efficient preliminary sight alignment, especially in low-light conditions where traditional boresighting methods may fall short.

Laser boresight
Laser Boresight

Pros of Laser Boresights

  • Ease of Use: Simple to use, even for beginners.
  • Versatility: Suitable for a wide range of firearms.
  • Visibility: Effective in various lighting conditions, especially in dimmer environments.

Cons of Laser Boresights

  • Dependency on Batteries: Require batteries.
  • Limited Outdoor Use: Laser may be less visible over long distances outdoors in bright daylight.
  • Cost: Generally more expensive than other boresighting methods.

Magnetic Boresighter

Magnet boresighters attach to a firearm’s muzzle using magnets to help align the sights with the barrel’s axis. These tools are commonly used for firearms where inserting a device into the barrel isn’t feasible or desired.

Pros of Magnetic Boresights

  • Non-Invasive: Does not require insertion into the barrel.
  • Universal Fit: Can be used on a wide range of firearms.
  • No Barrel Adapters Needed: Eliminates the need for additional adapters for different calibers.

Cons of Magnetic Boresights

  • Magnet Strength: Can be less stable, depending on the magnet quality.
  • Potential for Inaccuracy: May not be as precise as other methods due to its external positioning.
  • Susceptible to External Factors: Can be affected by external metal objects or uneven surfaces.

Optical & Collimator Boresighter

Optical and collimator boresighters align a firearm’s sights with a target through a visual method. These devices fit into the firearm’s barrel and have a grid or reticle system for alignment, similar to Tacticon’s Universal Laser Boresight except this is a collimator laser boresight.

Collimator Boresight

Pros of Optical and Collimator Boresights

  • Precision: Offers accurate alignment through visual sighting.
  • Durability: Generally more durable with no electronic parts.
  • No Battery Dependency: Operates without the need for batteries.

Cons of Optical and Collimator Boresights

  • Limited Range Visibility: Best used at shorter ranges.
  • Caliber-Specific Adapters: Often requires specific adapters for different barrel sizes.
  • Time-Consuming: Can be more time-intensive to set up and use compared to laser boresighters.

Comparing Boresighting Tools

When comparing these tools, laser boresighters stand out for their ease of use and effectiveness in various lighting conditions. Magnetic boresighters are great because of their universal fit and non-invasive nature, suitable for those who want a general alignment without barrel insertion. Optical and collimator boresighters, while more traditional, offer precision and durability, which is especially beneficial for those who prefer a more hands-on, mechanical approach.

The choice of tool depends on factors like the firearm type, the environment (indoor vs. outdoor), and the shooter’s preference for speed versus precision. Laser boresighters are often favored for their quick setup and ability to work in dim conditions. Magnetic boresighters are a solid choice for shooters who frequently change firearms or calibers, offering a versatile and non-invasive option. Optical and collimator boresighters, while requiring more time and effort,, provide higher accuracy.

The effectiveness of these tools also varies. Laser and magnetic boresighters allow for a quick and reasonable alignment but lack the fine-tuning accuracy of optical and collimator types. However, setting up the latter can be cumbersome and require more time.

Ease of use is another consideration. Laser boresighters are generally the easiest to use, requiring minimal setup and offering immediate feedback. Magnetic boresighters require more adjustments to improve accuracy. Optical and collimator boresighters demand a more methodical approach, often preferred by experienced shooters who value the traditional aspect of sighting.

The specific needs and circumstances of the shooter influence the choice of a boresighting tool.

How To Boresight a Firearm

Boresighting is a good skill for any shooter to have. The following step-by-step guides will help you effectively boresight your firearm using different boresights.

Laser Boresighting a Firearm

  1. Safety: Ensure the firearm is unloaded and pointed in a safe direction.
  2. Insert the Laser Boresighter: Place the laser boresighter into the firearm barrel. For models designed to fit the chamber, ensure it is seated correctly.
  3. Alignment: Adjust the firearm so the dot is projected on a target at a specific distance (usually 25 yards for rifles).
  4. Adjust Sights: Align the firearm’s sights (or scope) with the laser. This involves adjusting the windage (left-right) and elevation (up-down) settings on the sights.
  5. Test and Repeat: Once aligned, remove the boresighter and fire live ammunition. From there, adjust the rifle scope.

Magnetic Boresighting

  1. Safety: Ensure the firearm is unloaded and safe.
  2. Attach the Boresighter: Place the magnetic boresighter on the firearm’s muzzle. Make sure it’s secure and level.
  3. Sight Alignment: Look through the sights or scope and align them with the grid or reference points on the boresighter.
  4. Adjust as Needed: Adjust the windage and elevation until the sights align with the center of the boresighter’s grid.
  5. Remove and Test: After alignment, carefully remove the boresighter for a live fire test.

Collimator Boresighting

  1. Safety: Confirm that the firearm is unloaded.
  2. Insert Collimator: Insert the collimator into the firearm’s muzzle using the appropriate caliber-specific adapter.
  3. Alignment with Collimator Grid: Look through your sights or scope. You should see a grid pattern or reticle from the collimator.
  4. Adjust Sights: Adjust the firearm’s sights so that its reticle or sights align with the collimator’s grid center.
  5. Remove Collimator for Testing: Take out the collimator to prepare for live fire.

Common Mistakes When Boresighting

Neglecting safety procedures is a concern when boresighting. It’s imperative always to ensure that the firearm is unloaded and handled with safety. Another common issue is incorrect alignment. Failing to precisely align the sights with the boresighter’s reference point can result in significant inaccuracies. Moreover, shooters need to remember the live adjustments piece. Relying solely on boresighting and not fine-tuning the alignment through live firing can lead to suboptimal accuracy.

Confirming & Adjusting to Zero Live Firing

Fire a few test shots at a target to see where the bullets hit. After the process of boresighting you must confirm and adjust the zero with live ammunition. This involves firing a few test shots at a target to observe where the bullets hit. Based on this, you should adjust your sights or scope to correspond with where the shots land. This process of fine-tuning should be repeated, making more precise adjustments and considering different shooting conditions like distance and wind. Once you have achieved the desired zero, it is beneficial to record the settings for future reference.

Benefits of Boresighting

The boresighting process contributes to ammunition savings by reducing the number of rounds needed to achieve zero. Additionally, knowing that your firearm is sighted correctly can boost your confidence in your shooting abilities. Boresighting is also time-efficient, as it speeds up the zeroing process, allowing you to get on target quicker.

For collimator and universal laser boresights, versatility is another advantage, as it allows for the initial sighting of various firearms with minimal adjustments needed.

Furthermore, boresighting is helpful for the initial setup after changing scopes/sights, or following extensive travel.

Whether you’re using a laser, magnetic, or collimator boresighter, following these guidelines will help you achieve an efficient initial zero. Avoid common mistakes, and remember to confirm and adjust your zero with live fire.

Frequently Asked Boresight Questions

How does a boresight laser work?

A boresight laser projects a laser beam from the firearm’s barrel. This beam indicates where the bullet will likely impact relative to the sights, allowing the shooter to align the sights or scope with the projected point.

How far should you laser boresight?

Laser boresighting is typically done at shorter ranges, like 15-25 yards depending on the firearm. This distance is sufficient to ensure the first shot is on paper, allowing for finer adjustments during zeroing.

What is the difference between laser boresights and boresights?

‘Boresight’ refers to aligning a firearm’s sights with the barrel. A ‘laser boresight’ is a specific tool that uses a laser to facilitate this process, providing a visual point of reference on a target.

How accurate is laser boresighting?

Laser boresighting is relatively accurate for initial sight alignment but should not be relied upon for accuracy. It’s a starting point; fine-tuning with live firing is necessary for precise zeroing.

Can you trust a boresight?

You can trust a boresight to do what it is supposed to do: Help you hit paper. You cannot rely on them as a final zero.

Can you adjust a laser boresight?

Some laser boresights allow minor adjustments to align the laser with the bore’s center. However, the primary adjustments are made to the firearm’s sights or scope, not the boresight itself.

Can you zero a red dot with laser boresight?

Yes, you can use a laser boresight to align a red dot sight. It provides a preliminary point of reference, making it easier to adjust the red dot closer to the desired point of impact before fine-tuning with live fire.

Final Notes

Boresighting plays an optional but beneficial role in firearm zeroing. It provides a solid starting point for zeroing your firearm, saving time and ammunition. Using a laser, magnetic, or collimator boresight, it’s important to understand that this is the first step in the zeroing process. Proper training and practice with live firing are necessary to achieve precise and consistent accuracy. Choosing the proper boresighting equipment is also essential, and exploring various boresight products can help select the tool that best fits your firearm and shooting needs. Remember, boresighting is a helpful step in ensuring every shot counts.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Tacticon Armament.