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Do Your Own Bore Sighting

July 25, 2012
Bill Waugaman , Ohio Valley Outdoors

If you haven't purchased centerfire or sabot ammo recently, you're in for a shock. Even for reloaders, the price of components has continually increased. Sighting in a new scope or checking a scoped gun that has been dropped can be an expensive exercise. Most firearms manufacturers who offer firearms with scopes installed at the factory will bore sight the combo at the factory. Many dealers will bore sight a firearm for free, or a nominal charge, if you purchase the scope or firearm/scope from them. To do it yourself is not difficult; all you have to do is decide which bore sighter is right for you.

Four different designs of bore sighters are readily available to the general public, two use laser technology and two use a visual grid. With laser bore sighters, you align the crosshair in the scope with the laser dot generated by the device; with the visual grid design, the crosshairs in the scope are aligned with the grid in the bore sighter attached at the end of the barrel. Each one has advantages and disadvantages. There are multiple manufacturers for each design with the following ones readily available.

--- Bushnell Professional Bore Sighter

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Bushnell Professional Bore Sighter

Bushnell Outdoor Products has been making the Professional Bore Sighter (PBS) for many years. Their PBS consists of 3 metal arbors with tightening screws to expand the arbor to fit the bore (.22 to .45 caliber), an arbor with tensioning spring for .17 caliber and the bore sighter's graduated grid reticle. The bore sighting process is straight forwardselect the proper arbor for the caliber of the firearm, attach the bore sighter's reticle to the arbor at the flat spot near the tightening screw, carefully insert the arbor/reticle in the end of the barrel and adjust until the vertical grid lines are parallel to the vertical crosshair in the scope, tighten the arbor locking nut until the arbor holds firmly to the bore, adjust the windage and elevation crosshairs of the scope.

Pros: -- very easy to use -- commonly used by gunsmiths and gun shops -- arbors are all metal construction -- no batteries required

Cons: -- .50 caliber to 12 gauge arbor is optional -- .17 caliber arbor is spring tension -- most expensive of the four types of bore sighters

Included with the Bushnell Professional Bore Sighter: 4 arbors (.17, .22 - .270 cal., 7mm - .35 cal., .350-.450 cal.), instructions and carry case. The Bushnell PBS has an MSRP of $148.95 and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

---- Leupold Zero Point Magnetic Illuminated Bore Sighter

The Zero Point Magnetic Illuminated Bore Sighter attaches to the muzzle with a neodymium magnet allowing it to be moved up or down to compensate for different scope mount heights (no arbors). Using the Zero Point is a four-step process. Step 1: attach the Zero Point to the end of the barrel and adjust until the lens is centered in the scope's line of sight. Step 2: move the Zero Point until the scope crosshairs are parallel to the bore sighter grid; adjust the windage/elevation of the scope to the center of the grid. Step 3: remove the Zero Point and fire a shot; note the point of impact on the target. Step 4: attach the Zero Point so the scope reticle is aligned in the center on the bore sighter grid. Utilizing the Bi-View feature of the Zero Point that allows the alignment grid in the Zero Point and the background to be seen at the same time, align the bore sighter grid with the target grid. Now, adjust the windage/elevation so the crosshairs match the point of impact on the target.

Pros: -- light weight and small size (4" tall, " wide, 1" deep, 1.6 ounces) -- works with any caliber rifle, scoped shotguns, muzzle loaders and handguns. -- an on/off switch for back lighting the grid -- two small watch type batteries give up to 25 hours of back lighting -- a carry pouch to protect it and is also designed to ensure the back lighting can't be left on by mistake.

Cons: -- centering the lens of the Zero Point in the scope's line of sight has a learning curve -- when turning on the back lighting, the illuminated grid obscures the center of the background (Bi-View feature) -- cannot check a scope already zeroed to see if it is still zeroed

Included with the Zero Point Magnetic Illuminated Bore Sighter: carry case, batteries, range card, instructions. The Zero Point has an MSRP of $110

--- Sightmark Laser Bore Sighter

The Sightmark Laser Bore Sighter is a laser built into a brass casing that resembles a cartridge. The laser is powered by two AG5 or three AG3 batteries which are inserted in the back by unscrewing the 'head' which acts as the battery cap and switch. Once the laser activates, the bore sighter is inserted into the chamber and the bolt is closed until it fits snugly (completely closing the bolt is not necessary). Then, adjust the scope windage and elevation to zero on the red dot produced by the laser. The Sightmark instructions recommend using the laser bore sighter at 20 to 30 yards.

Pros: -- small size (the same as a fired cartridge) -- a protective carry case -- multiple caliber usage (for example, the SM39005 can be used with 10 different calibers) -- handgun and shotgun models are available -- each bore sighter is calibrated for accuracy at the factory

Cons: -- no on/off switch (batteries must be removed when not in use) -- battery life is 1 hour or less -- you may need more than one bore sighter depending on the calibers of your firearms

Included with the Sightmark Laser Bore Sighter: two AG5 batteries, battery protective sleeve, carry case, target, and instructions. The Sightmark Laser Bore Sighter has an MSRP of $35.99 and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

--- LaserLyte Mini Laser Bore Sighter

The Mini Laser Bore Sighter (MBS-1) is made from CNC machined 6061 T6 aircraft aluminum, hardened and finished with a durable protective coating. It is powered by three #393 batteries that will last for 1 hours of constant use. At night, the laser has a range of 500 yards. Using the MBS is straight forwardscrew the proper adapter onto the end of the arbor, insert the arbor into the barrel making sure the adapter is adjusted for a snug fit with the on/off switch on top, turn it on and adjust the scope windage and elevation to the red dot produced by the laser. The instructions recommend sighting in at 25 to 30 yards, or at 10 yards (with revised instructions).

Pros: -- Made in USA -- can be used with handguns (3" minimum barrel length) -- on/off switch

Cons: -- shotgun adapters are optional -- .17 to .20 calibers require a different laser bore sighter

Accessory Kit: LaserLyte offers an MBS Six Pak accessory kit for the MBS-1. The kit includes a scope/gun leveler, a daylight reflective target, a shotgun adapter for 12-20 gauge (.51 to .75 caliber), a spare set of four more adapters with screws and allen wrench, a 12 pack of batteries, a carry case and instructions.

Included with the LaserLyte Mini Laser Bore Sighter (MBS-1): batteries, four adapters (.220-.270 cal., .280-.349 cal., .350-.434 cal., .435-.50 cal.) and instructions. The LaserLyte MBS-1 has an MSRP of $64.95 and comes with a one year warranty. The MBS Six Pak accessory kit has an MSRP of $29.95.


All four bore sighters will help you zero in your scope with a minimal amount of ammunition. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages depending on your specific needs. If in doubt, get some advise from a reputable gunsmith or firearms dealer.

First Published October 2011



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