Sighting In a Rifle

Gene is the Survival Tactics NOW! gunsmith and an avid marksman.

Sighting In Your AR15 Survival Rifle – The Easy WaySighting In

Imagine you have just returned home with a brand new AR15. You’ve been waiting over a year for firearms prices to normalize, and the day has finally arrived. Now all you have to do is get to the range for sighting in and you’ll be ready to rock!

In my experience, the quickest and most effective way to get rounds on paper on the first shot is bore sighting. Laser sighting aids are fast and accurate; however, bore sighting is a quick, effective technique for sighting in your survival rifle. Sighting in using this method is cheap (free) and eliminates the need for a power source and potential hazards.

Tools and Equipment for Sighting In:

  • Ear and eye protection
  • AR15 (or other rifle with a removable bolt that allows a clear, straight-line view down the barrel)
  • Heavy shooting bag
  • Target
  • Ammunition
  • Sight tools

Sighting InBore Sighting an AR15:

  1. On a “Cold Range,” set up one target at 25-m and another target at 100-m
  2. Ensure your rifle is clear and safe
  3. Close the bolt and remove the upper receiver from the lower receiver
  4. Remove the charging handle and bolt carrier group
  5. Place the upper receiver on your shooting bag so that it rests snugly in place as if the rifle was assembled and ready to shoot
  6. Look through the upper receiver and the barrel so that the target’s bull’s-eye is centered in the bore of the barrel
  7. Once you have the bore’s sight-picture (without touching the upper) establish a sight picture with your iron sights using proper sight alignment
  8. Observe the sight picture of your iron sights relative to the bore’s sight-picture. It’s now time to adjust your iron sights.
  9. Use the front sight tool to adjust the elevation and the rear sight dial to adjust the windage. Bring the sight picture of the iron sights into alignment with the bore sight-picture.
  10. Reassemble your weapon and clear the range to go “Hot”
  11. Take your first shot at the target and fine tune until your shot is centered and approximately 1 – 2 in. below the bull’s-eye (at 25-m)
  12. Repeat Step 11 on the 100-m target for sighting in your survival rifle at 100-m (shot placement should be in the center of the bull’s-eye)

This method of sighting in can just as easily be used for mounted optics. You simply adjust the sight-picture of the optics with the elevation and windage dials to put the cross hairs or red dot on the bull’s-eye. With some practice you will soon be sighting in a rifle with hardly any effort at all. It shouldn’t take more than 3 – 5 shots to sight in an AR-15 at 25-m and another 2 – 3 shots for sighting in at 100-m. It rarely takes me more than 5 shots to hit dead center at 100-m with iron sights.

For more in depth information, schedule a consult with Survival Tactics NOW!


  1. Aaron says:

    I have used this process very successfully for AR-15 rifles. I also use it, slightly modified, for bolt action rifles with great success. I recently used it to sight in scopes on a 22LR bolt rifle.

    I like this process much better than putting devices (e.g., lasers) in the barrel and risking my rifle or my safety if they are accidentally left in. Lasers used to bore site can blow your rifle up if you leave them in.

    This easily works to get things dialed in with just a small number of shots. The only time I use a different method is when the receiver of the rifle doesn’t let you see down the barrel, but I still don’t put devices in my barrel.

    • Even with well established safety procedures in place there is risk of human error. Eliminating points of failure is always wise. And besides, it’s like you said, the method works great!
      And thanks for bringing up the point that this can be done on any gun with an “open” receiver that allows a clear view down the barrel and not just with AR15s.

  2. RionP says:

    I hope you still have this up when I finally get another rifle so I’m not “that guy” always asking for someone to help me sight them in!!! Thanks for the great step by step!!!!

    • Thanks for the comment. It’s a very quick, easy and effective way to get rounds on target, especially after putting on aftermarket sights, a red dot, or scope. Just like Gene said, you’ll be dialed in with in 5 – 8 rounds.