Red Dot Scope Tips: Adjust and Set

A red dot scope is a tool designed to make your shooting more accurate. There is a variety of this type of scope available, but they all work generally in the same way. Each has a laser that bounces off the surface of a specially designed reflective lens at the back of the scope. When you look through the scope, it looks like the laser is floating in the center towards the lens.

Red dot scopes are made for almost every type of weapon: shotguns, rifles and handguns. They're very popular and marksmen of all experience levels like them because they work well in nearly all lighting conditions and are easy to use.

While the choice of scope in generally personal (some prefer red dots for cqb others prefer open sights for cqb), many reviewers say that red dot scopes slightly better than traditional scopes.

To make sure the scope works well for you, it's important to know how to adjust and set it. Here are some tips, suggestions and basic instructions.

Adjust the Scope

Before you begin any test shots, you need to know how adjust the gun rail, windage and elevation. You may need an Allen wrench or Phillips screwdriver to adjust the gun rail

For safety reasons, it's suggested that you activate the safety switch on your firearm and remove any cartridges from the chamber before beginning any adjustments.

The Gun Rail

Use the correct tool to loosen the screws that attach the red dot scope to the gun rail. Slide the scope into the position of your choice on the gun rail. Tighten the screws.

Don't be afraid to make sure the screws are very tight. Gun rails are hard to damage because they're generally very sturdy. If the screws aren't tight enough, the scope will move around. Even if it moves just a little bit, your firearm accuracy could be significantly affected.

Windage and Elevation

Some red dot scopes have knob covers. If this is the case, you'll need to remove them and set them aside.

Windage determines where the bullet will land horizontally. It's the twistable knob on the side of the scope. The distance the click adjustments represent varies between manufacturers. But generally one click will move the impact location ½ at 100 yards.

Elevation determines where the bullet will land vertically. It's the knob on top of the scope and moves the impact location ½ at 100 yards when the knob is moved up or down.

Set the Scope

The average red dot scope will need to be adjusted twice. Once for windage and once for elevation. The adjustment of the windage is on the side and the adjustment for elevation in on the top. It's easy to figure out how far you've adjusted the scope because the adjuster knob measures adjustments in clearly audible clicks. Each click represents a certain distance and this can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Begin by finding or creating a small target with a clearly marked center. You can buy a premade bull's eye or create one yourself.

Make sure the target is 100 yards away from you and position the rifle so it's as steady as possible. Use sandbags or a tripod. Load the rifle and look through the scope making sure the red dot rests on the target's exact center. Fire a shot, reset and fire again. Do this three times.

Examine your target and the position of each shot. If you're off, meaning all three targets are more than one inch off center, you will need to do some adjustments.

Measure how far off the center of the target you were horizontally and vertically. Re-adjust the windage of your scope to correspond with the horizontal distance you just measured. Then re-adjust the elevation knob to match with the vertical distance you measured.

Load and shoot. Repeat as necessary until all shots are within one inch from the center. Replace knob covers when you're finished setting your firearm.