How To Adjust a Rifle Scope

Want to know how to adjust a rifle scope?

Knowing how to adjust a rifle scope helps you shoot with precision and efficiency. Proper rifle scope adjustment enables you to hit your target every time. Not having your scope in the proper position can cause you to miss a mark or even cause serious injury to others.

Did you know that hit rations for long-range shooting have a 23% hit rate? This means that people miss over 77% of their shots.

It might be a good time to take a closer look at your rifle scope if you own a rifle. Do you know the steps needed in adjusting a rifle scope? Continue reading to see our helpful rifle scope adjustment guide.

Make Sure Your Rifle Scope Gets Mounted Right

You can improve your accuracy by learning how to adjust a rifle scope. You need to do three main things to mount your rifle scope the right way. These are checking the height, forward and rear position, and level of your rifle scope.

Checking Your Rifle Scope Height

Adjusting your rifle scope’s height helps bring the scope’s eye box to your eye. This enables you to shoot more comfortably. Make sure the scope gets mounted on your rifle with proper eye relief.

Try this by laying your head on the cheek rest and closing both of your eyes. Once you feel comfortable, you can open both of your eyes. Can you see through the scope without adjusting yourself?

If you answered no, you must change your rifle scope’s height. If you can’t reach the optimal height with your current scope, it might be time to invest in a new one.

The good news is that you can find plenty of detachable scope mounts. You might feel tempted to cheap out and lift your neck head lower or higher. However, this will cause neck strain and fatigue.

This is less than ideal if you’re a hunter and need to spend hours on a single spot to catch game. A scope closer to your barrel is more comfortable and reduces problems with accuracy. Make sure that your scope does not sit too high or too low.

Checking Your Rifle Scope Forward and Rear Position

Set your scope loose on the rings to get the proper forward and rear position, so it is easier to make adjustments. Next, place your rifle on a bench or gun cradle so you can comfortably position yourself. Then, start moving your scope backward until you see a black ring in the scope’s view.

Once you see the black ring, move your scope forward until the black ring disappears. Repeat this until you see a complete field of view free from black rings and dark spots.

Another critical factor is how you position your eye and face relative to the scope. This determines how long you can keep your eye on the scope. The distance between your eye and the center of the reticle determines the image you’ll get.

This can be very important if you need to shoot fast or with precision or accuracy. The farther away your eyes are from the centerline, the better. Scopes give better clarity and better accuracy over large distances due to less error.

Blurry Images

A parallax error is when sighted objects appear blurry. A good example would be comparing two different riflescopes side by side—one with an 8X magnification factor and another with a 10X magnification.

The former might show less detail because its objective lenses aren’t large enough. But, both will still provide clear images despite their differences in magnification.

The right scope forward and rear position gives better eye relief. Eye relief helps you get the correct distance between your eye and the scope’s ocular lens. This allows you to avoid “scope bite.”

It might be too close if your scope is in the wrong forward and rear position. This results in your scope smacking you when the firearm recoils. This is a scope bite, which is also known as a black eye.

If your scope gives your scope bite no matter how many times you adjust it, then your muzzle might be the culprit. If you want to lessen the rifle’s recoil or vibration, replace your muzzle brake.

Checking Your Rifle Scope Level

Making sure your rifle scope is mounted correctly is the first step to adjusting it. If you don’t do this, all the adjustments you make will be for nothing. If you want to level your scope, put your rifle on a shooting bench or gun cradle.

Point the rifle barrel straight up. If your rifle scope is aligned correctly, it should be level when pointed straight up.

That means that you’ll have a horizontal crosshair when it’s pointed straight up. This indicates that your rings are holding the scope at a 90-degree angle. You might still want to double-check to make sure that the rings are holding it at a 90-degree angle.

You can accomplish this by using a simple carpenter’s leveler. You can get a carpenter’s leveler for about $10 at any hardware store. Set the tool on top of the rifle and figure out whether the rings are holding it at a 90-degree angle.

How to Adjust Rifle Scope

One of the most important steps in adjusting a rifle scope is getting zero distance. After you make each adjustment, always return the turret to its original position.

Knowing your zero distance helps your scope’s POA, or point of aim. This is the same as the POI, or point of impact, on your target.

If you need to recover from a miss and need to make another shot, reset the turret back to its original position. This helps you can start again once things settle down.

Adjusting the Turret

A scope is only considered “zeroed” if you have correctly mounted it on your rifle. Ensure that both sights are in line with each other and that there are no gaps between them.

If they’re not aligned, you can miss your target significantly. The scope should always adjust so the center line appears where the rifle bullets hit. Check if you are in the proper elevation.

Adjusting your turret helps you adjust your elevation. Make sure that the vertical impact is the same as where you are aiming at using your scope. Use clockwise for up and counterclockwise for turret adjustments.

Adjusting Your Windage

After this, you have to adjust your windage. You can use the adjustment knobs to make changes to your elevation and windage. You can find these adjustment knobs at the rear of your scope.

Clockwise increases while counterclockwise decreases the size of your target. Fire a test shot to see if the changes worked.

Center it to where you’re aiming. If there’s an elevation or windage error, try reversing this process.

Parallax Adjustment

There are other scope corrections you can also keep in mind. This includes the parallax. Parallax adjustment is the knob on the side of your scope.

It’s usually marked with an + or – sign. You can adjust this to suit your eye’s distance from the front of the gun or the zero mark.

If you’re shooting a rifle at 100 feet away, parallax adjustment is non-negotiable. The goal is so that others can see your target without moving their heads.

Testing Your Improved Scope Position

Once you’re satisfied with your scope, it’s time to take it out for a test drive. Before heading out, ensure all the settings on your rifle are correct. If there are any problems with accuracy or range of movement, fix them before leaving the house.

When shooting from a bench rest at 100 yards, shoot three groups at each target size (i.e., 3″ at 50 yards). Check if one group doesn’t meet expectations or has too high of an error margin compared to other groups. This indicates that you need to adjust something for better accuracy.

Do this without sacrificing long-range performance by adjusting only one variable at a time. When dealing with these kinds of issues, we recommend using Cabela’s Field Tested approach.

Get Better Shots: How to Adjust a Rifle Scope

Now you know how to adjust a rifle scope. When you’re in the field, your gun should be an extension of yourself. Your scope could be the difference between catching that deer or waiting a few more hours for the next target.

Follow these tips and tricks, and you are sure to improve your shooting accuracy! If you’re looking for more tips on upgrading your rifle, we’ve got you covered. Check out our other blog posts to learn more about rifle upgrades and better hunting.


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