People who want to shoot a distant target with accuracy, wide range of vision, or faster target acquisition will often invest in a reflex sight or holographic sight. But, even if you get the best dot sight reticle sizes, if you don’t know how to sight in a red dot properly, it won’t do you much good.
Whether you’re fitting the reflex sight on a competition pistol, or you just want sights on a rifle so you can shoot thousands of rounds on target, we’ve compiled the most important things you need to know to make your red dot sights perfect!
Keep reading to find out more.
What Exactly Is a Red Dot Sight?
Red dot sights are a simple optic that can help a shooter improve their shot accuracy at closer ranges. This type of optic works best at a 100-yard distance (91.44 distance of meters) or less.
Because of this, these decent optics are commonly used by beginner shooters to enhance their aiming before they move on to the best rangefinder scope.
As the name suggests, red dot optics come with a red reticle dot or line that a shooter can train their eye position on and leverage to take more precise shots.
How Do Red Dot Optics Work?
Red dot sight models feature a red LED that allows the dot reticle to stay in alignment with your gun, irrespective of eye position. It’s able to do this thanks to a spherical mirror that reflects the ray of the LED light.
Due to the position of the curved mirror, only a viewer can see the red dot. This red dot isn’t visible when looking through the other end of the sight. Thanks to this, your reflex sight dot won’t scare the animals away.
With the recent advancements in battery life technology, some dot optics can last thousands of hours.
What Does Minutes of Angle Mean?
Minutes of Angle, or MOA, refers to the size of the dot and the amount of space it’ll cover at certain distances. 1 MOA is roughly equivalent to 1 distance in inches at 100-yards.
Your red dot laser sight can allow for 0.5-MOA Adjustments, 1/4-MOA adjustments, 1-MOA adjustments, 3-MOA adjustments, and more.
What this translates to is, if your C-More Sights has 3-MOA for instance, and you aim at the exact same target from the exact same point, all the couple rounds you shoot will fall in a 3-inch area.
The larger the MOA on your sight, the larger the shot area at closer ranges while smaller MOAs will give you a greater degree of precision, especially across long distances.
What Does it Mean to “Sight in a Red Dot”?
Sighting a red dot means perfectly aligning the trajectories of your round to the point you’re aiming at. Also commonly referred to as “zeroing”, sighting your dot is necessary to eliminate the difference between aim and shot.
As such, failing to perform this action properly may cause your red dot to not be optimally projected on your target. This results in your Point of Aim not matching your Point of Impact.
You want to avoid this, whether you plan to only shoot at a paper target or hunt live game.
Now that we’ve gotten the basics out of the way, let’s look at how to sight in a red dot and fire accurate rounds like advanced shooters!
How to Sight in a Red Dot
Determine your adjustment value, fire consistent 3-5 round groups at the target from your chosen zeroing distance, and tweak your windage and elevation adjustments accordingly. Fire another few rounds until you get the Point of Impact or POI you’re looking for.
You have to be very precise with your zeroing efforts, as they’ll influence how quickly you can improve your aim and the number of boxes of ammo you’ll have to run through before you can consistently compensate for the difference between aim and impact.
Before we proceed, don’t forget that you can’t use an arbitrary range for this effort. It’s important to remember that 1 MOA is approximately 1 distance in inches at 100 yards.
If you’re planning to use a 50-yard range, you just need to adjust your estimates accordingly.
Here’s a reliable three step process you can follow.
Step One – Determine the Adjustment Value of the Sight
Most standard rifle optics come with ½ or 0.5-MOA adjustments. However, you shouldn’t automatically assume this is a given with every sight out there.
Because of this, you need to go through your owner’s manual carefully to determine the exact adjustment value for the red dot size model you have on your hands.
In practice, when your adjustment value is at 0.5, each turn of the adjustment knobs will shift your POI at half an inch per 100-yard distance engagements.
Step Two – Shoot 3 to 5 Rounds at a Paper Target
Turning the windage knobs right 6 clicks while setting elevation adjustments down 6 clicks will, in theory, give you an equal matching Point of Aim and Point of Impact from your zeroing distance.
To ensure this, we suggest you fire consistent 3-5 round groups. That way, you can confirm the operational function of your prism sights.
You can start by just firing 3 rounds first and observing the resulting POI. If it isn’t what you were aiming for, take a moment to adjust the holographic sight before firing again. After making those minor adjustments and shooting again, observe the outcome once more.
You’re to rinse and repeat this process until you can get your grouping in the desired location.
Step Three – Tweak the Elevation and Windage Adjustments
When it comes to zeroing correctly and getting and hitting a proper sight picture, a shooter has to accurately account for the deviation of the windage, the elevation adjustment value as well as ammo combinations at different distances.
Without considering the intricate relationship that these three (3) variables share you won’t be able to improve your POI significantly.
For a beginner shooter, we suggest a red dot position of 50/200 yard zero. To get this, you need access to ranges, specifically a 50-yard range. And, because you’re now firing at half the distance, you’ll have to cut your elevation and windage values by half as well.
This will help you better grasp the correlation between a line of sight and trajectory so that you can more easily enhance your aim.
How to Zero Without Shooting
If you want to sight in a red dot without touching your boxes of ammo or lugging your hunting duffle bag around, you can do that too. All you need for this exercise is a decent laser boresight.
Here’s all you need to know to do that.
What Is a Laser Boresight?
This is a small piece of brass designed to have the exact shape and size of the rounds you’d usually fire from your gun. The bullet-like material is fitted with an electrical housing inside that shoots a laser directly through the bore of your gun.
Keep in mind that where the laser light from the boresight in your gun is pointed is essentially where any round fired from the gun would land.
Using Bore Sight Lasers to Sight in a Red Dot
Slot any decent laser boresight into your gun’s chamber, find a stable shooting platform that’s about ten (10) yards from a paper target (or any available prop), assume a comfortable position, and aim the dots at center mass.
When you look through the holographic sight, you’ll be able to see the difference in inches between where the laser beam of the optic is pointed and where the light from your boresight laser is directed.
Now that you’ve done all that, the only thing left is to tweak the adjustment turrets for elevation and windage on your scope till the red dot from the optic overlaps with that projected from the laser boresight.
You’re now good to go!
Please note that this approach won’t give you the same level of results you’d get when using decent shooting ranges and firing real ammo. However, you will certainly see improvements concerning hitting your POI.
Benefits of Properly Zeroing a Red Dot
A properly zero’d red dot offers you maximum eye relief, is parallax error-free, affords you co-witness sight, and allows you to keep both eyes open while you shoot.
Sighting a red dot properly can significantly raise the standard of pistol or rifle guns. The best part of it all is that you don’t even need to buy any extra tools to help your sighting efforts.
All you need is a regular flat head screwdriver. And, if that’s not handy, a penny or any 5.56 brass coin will do just fine too!
Zeroing your red dot appropriately makes you a more competitive shooter, even if you’re only just starting out. This makes the effort the exercise requires more than worthwhile.
We hope you know how to sight a red dot more easily now! Have a good time at the range or outdoors.
It’ll be cold soon, so be sure to pick up the best shooting and hunting gloves, too.
Bye for now!