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Shooting More Accurately – How to Mount and Sight-In Scopes

How to Sight-In Your Scope

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: The secrets to shooting accurately include choosing the best rifle for your hunt, the correct ammunition and the right bases and rings, mounting your scope properly and then sighting-in your scope correctly. To gather the best information on how to make rifles shoot more accurately, I talked with Russ Sockwell of Mark’s Outdoors in Birmingham, Alabama, a gunsmith with 10 years of experience who mounts scopes and sights-in thousands of rifles each year.

Russ Sockwell charges $25 to sight-in a rifle, and the customer provides the ammunition. Since the hunter picks the ammo, he can select the style of bullet he wants and the grain weight of powder and the manufacturer he prefers. According to Sockwell, “Always remember to shoot the same brand of ammunition, style of bullet and grain weight of powder for accuracy once you’ve Click to enlarge sighted-in the gun. I have shot a 150-grain bullet from one manufacturer and shot a 4-inch group. Then using that same bullet and grain weight from a different manufacturer, I’ve put all four bullets in the same hole at 100 yards. There’s a tremendous amount of difference in accuracy between manufacturers with the same type bullet and the same grain weight.”
After the hunter selects the ammunition that he wants Sockwell to shoot, Sockwell
bore-sights the rifle in his shop. “Bore-sighting ensures that the bullet will be somewhere on the target at 50 yards,” Sockwell explains. “If you don’t bore-sight your rifle, your bullet may not even hit on the paper target at 50 yards.”
Three Shot Sight-In:
Next Sockwell takes the rifle to the range. Once you make your first shot at 50 yards, set your gun back up in the sand bag or vise you’re shooting off of so that it’s sitting at the original point of aim. Using a gun vise makes sure you maintain your point of aim after the first shot. Then adjust the crosshairs in your scope so that the crosshairs meet in the center of the hole the bullet has made on the target. Set your target out at 100 yards, aim dead center, and Click to enlargefire.
“Your bullet should hit within 1 or 2 inches of the target’s dead center,” Sockwell emphasizes. “If it doesn’t, adjust your crosshairs.”
Sockwell recommends you fire another shot to make sure you’re accurate. Various scopes move the reticles different distances with each click. American-made scopes will adjust the reticle 1/4-inch at 100 yards. European scopes move the reticle 1/3-inch at 100 yards with every click.
Sockwell says, “If you’re shooting large-caliber rifles, don’t shoot more than three rounds through the gun before you open the action, and let the gun cool for 10 to 15 minutes before firing again to adjust your scope. Most guns and scopes are far more accurate than the hunters who shoot them.”
Most hunters will consider a 1-1/2- to 2-inch group acceptable at 100 yards. If you set your gun up to shoot 1- to 1-1/2-inches high at 100 yards, you’ll be dead-on at 200 yards with almost any caliber, the best average setup for most deer hunters. If you plan to shoot no more than 100 yards, set your scope dead-on at 100Click to enlarge yards. Also, if you’re hunting in the West, making long shots at elk or mule deer, consider sighting-in your rifle at 3-inches high at 100 yards, since you may have a 300- to 400-yard shot, depending on the caliber of rifle you shoot.
Calibers and Bullets:
The bullets Sockwell likes for certain calibers of rifles are:
.243 – Hornady 100-grain Boattail Spire Point
7mm08 – 140-grain Remington Core Lokt bullets
.270 – Hornady 140-grain, either Boattail Spire Point or SST
.30-06 – 165-grain either Remington Core Lokt or the Hornady Boattail Spire Point
.30-30 – Federal Classic 150-grain
.300 Weatherby – 165-grain Weatherby Spire Point or the Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet
7mm magnum – 139-grain Hornady bullet
The two most-popular calibers that I see in our store in Alabama are the .270 and the

To learn more, go to, email Sockwell at or call (205) 822-2010.

Tomorrow: How to Pick a Riflescope

Check back each day this week for more about " Shooting More Accurately – How to Mount and Sight-In Scopes"

Day 1: How to Mount Your Riflescope
Day 2: How to Sight-In Your Scope
Day 3: How to Pick a Riflescope
Day 4: What’s the Best Reticle
Day 5: What Price to Pay for a Scope


Entry 373, Day 2