How to Zero a Rifle Scope at 100 Yards: Step-by-Step Guide 2023

scope magnification

Have you ever found yourself lost in the world of angles, degrees, and scopes while attempting to zero in your rifle at 100 yards? If you have, you’re not alone. As a passionate shooter and hunter, I’ve been there too. It can be frustrating, even maddening, especially when you’re sending rounds downrange, hoping for that elusive bullseye.

But fear not because, in this article, I’m about to unravel the mysteries of scope adjustments and measurement units, making the process of zero a rifle scope at 100 yards crystal clear.

Degrees, MOA, and Inches – A Recipe for Precision

We’ll start with degrees and minutes of angle (MOA), breaking down how a circle contains 360 degrees and how each of those degrees can be further divided into 60 MOA. And here’s the kicker – at 100 yards, each MOA represents almost exactly 1 inch. Now, that’s a unit of measurement we can wrap our heads around.

But that’s not all. I’ll also dive into radians and milliradians (MILs), revealing that there are 6.28 radians in a circle, further divided into 1,000 MILs. And at 100 yards, each MIL slice equates to 3.6 inches. It may sound complex, but it’s not as daunting as it seems.

The Art of Adjustment

With these measurement units in your back pocket, you’ll be better equipped to understand the common adjustment values for windage and elevation on your rifle scope, whether they’re expressed in MOA or MIL units. Plus, I’ll break it down for you with their corresponding adjustments at 25 yards, making the process even more accessible.

Demystifying the 100-Yard Zero

So, are you ready to demystify the art of zeroing a scope at 100 yards? Armed with this knowledge of measurement units and scope adjustments, you’re on the path to a bulletproof zeroing method that will take your shooting to the next level. Let’s embark on this journey together.

Required Equipment for Precision Zeroing

zeroing a rifle

Your Path to Precision Starts Here

Embarking on the journey of zeroing a scope is like mastering the fine art of precision, and it’s a skill that every shooter and hunter should have up their sleeve. In my years of experience as a dedicated enthusiast, I’ve come to realize that the process can seem like a daunting maze filled with challenges and adjustments. But worry not, for I’m here to be your guide through this intricate path, offering you a step-by-step approach to ensure your success.

Prepare for the Journey

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty details, let’s make sure you’ve got the right equipment in your arsenal. You’ll need your targets with those all-important 1-inch gridlines, an inch ruler to measure your shots accurately, a staple gun or tape to secure your targets, a spotting scope or high-quality binoculars if available (though not essential), and access to a shooting range with 25-yard and 100-yard stages. Don’t forget to bring along a pocket calculator, a properly fitting screwdriver for your scope turrets, some shooting bags or padded blocks, and a stack of printer paper for jotting down your calculations.

Precision Starts with Patience

Now, let’s set the stage. This guide assumes you have a new firearm or scope that hasn’t been sighted in before and that you have access to a shooting range. If you’re confident in your laser bore sighting abilities and your capability to hit the target at 100 yards, feel free to skip the 25-yard range and head straight for a longer distance.

Here’s the secret to success in zeroing your rifle: patience and precision. Follow the instructions diligently, and you’ll undoubtedly hit the bullseye. Before we get started, it’s vital to check all screws on the rings and mounts for tightness. You’ll need appropriate tools like Allen or Torx wrenches for this task. Remember, moderate finger pressure is your ally; avoid over-tightening and potentially damaging your equipment.

Step 1: The 25-Yard Range

Let’s kick things off at the 25-yard range. Ensure you have proper eye relief, and remember your hearing protection. Then, it’s time to prepare your scope. Reset those turrets by counting the turns and adjust the ocular for a sharp focus on the crosshairs. If your scope has parallax adjustment, make sure it’s set to the minimum distance or as close as possible.

Step 2: Take Your Shot

Now, let’s get down to business. Keep your rifle steady, whether it’s on shooting bags or a rifle rest. Take your first shot at the bullseye using low magnification. The initial shots don’t need to create tight groups; we’re just looking for the point of impact. Measure the horizontal and vertical distance from that first shot to the target’s centre.

The Magic of Math

Here’s where the math comes into play. Calculations are your best friend when making precise adjustments. Let’s say your first shot deviates 1 3/4 inches to the right and 1 1/4 inches low at a 25-yard range. With a 1/4 MOA scope, you’ll need to calculate the number of clicks for both left and up adjustments.

Apply those calculations, turning the scope 28 clicks to the left and 20 clicks up to get closer to your desired point of impact. But we’re not done yet – fire one more shot at the centre target to confirm your correction.

Customizing Your Zero

Keep in mind that many hunting calibres may tend to impact slightly lower at 25 yards when zeroed for a 100-yard distance, so don’t hesitate to make necessary adjustments as needed. Conclusion: Your Path to Precision

Zeroing a scope may sound complex, but with the right equipment and a clear plan, it’s an achievable skill that can significantly enhance your shooting and hunting experiences. So, let’s get started on this journey to pinpoint accuracy and successful shooting.

Zero at 100 Yards: Precision Unleashed

zero a rifle

The Ultimate Test: Zeroing at 100 Yards

Now, we’ve reached the pivotal moment in our quest for precision – zeroing at 100 yards. It’s the distance that genuinely separates the novice from the expert, and I’m here to walk you through the crucial steps to make it happen flawlessly.

Safety First

Before we get started, set up your target – not just any target, but one that’s surrounded by sheets of ordinary printer paper on all sides. This paper surround acts as an extra-large backdrop, ensuring that stray shots won’t wreak havoc on your target stand. Safety comes first, always.

Focus for Success

If your scope is equipped with a parallax adjustment, now’s the time to make use of it. Get that target into sharp focus; this is where the magic begins.

Take Your Shot

Steady your firearm on those trusty shooting bags, take a deep breath and fire a single round right at the centre of the target. But here’s the kicker – if you feel that your shot was good, there’s no need to create a group with more rounds. We’re looking for that precise point of impact.

Measure and Adjust

Once you’ve taken your shot, it’s time to get up close and personal with your target. Head down and measure the horizontal and vertical distance from the centre of the target to assess your point of impact. With this information in hand, you’re on the path to that sought-after bullseye. It’s all about those little adjustments that make a world of difference. So, let’s make every shot count and continue our journey to pinpoint accuracy at 100 yards.

The Power of Precision

As we approach the final stretch of our journey to zeroing our scope, we’re about to tackle a critical phase. This mathematical adjustment separates the precise shots from the near misses. So, gather your wits and gear; we’re about to dive into the heart of precision shooting.

Group Shooting

First, consider shooting a 3 or 5-round group at 100 yards. Measure the distance from the centre of the group to the centre of the target – this is your starting point for adjustment. It’s those small but essential clicks that will fine-tune your zero and bring you closer to that elusive bullseye.

The Quest Continues

A 100-yard zero is a great starting point for many shooters, but remember, the world of precision shooting extends far beyond this range. Don’t hesitate to explore online ballistics programs for zeroing at longer distances; they can be your best friend in the quest for accuracy.

The Right Technique

Now, there’s something to be said about the “one shot zero” method, where you take a test shot and make adjustments while holding the rifle motionless. It’s a technique favoured by some, but I lean towards the “shoot and measure” approach. It allows for more precise adjustments and a greater degree of control.

Choose the Right Scope

How to Zero a Scope

Your Scope: The Heart of Precision

When it comes to choosing the proper scope for your hunting rifle, there’s a universe of options out there. But let me share a little secret that might save you some headache: a good 3-9 x 40mm scope is the sweetheart of many hunters and for a darn good reason.

Quality Over Quantity

This trusty companion will serve you admirably well, extending your reach well beyond 300 yards when paired with the right cartridge. It’s a sweet spot for most deer hunting rifle needs. But here’s the thing: you need to get a specific, unique requirement so that those larger, heavier, and more powerful scopes will magically turn you into a sharpshooter. Quality trumps quantity any day.

Scope Mastery

So, my recommendation is straightforward: opt for a high-quality scope within your budget. Additionally, it’s invaluable to thoroughly acquaint yourself with your scope, comprehend its adjustments, and, by all means, peruse the manual (yes, that booklet that often remains neglected at the bottom of the packaging).

Scope Recommendations

If you’re in the market for an excellent basic rifle scope, here are a few quick picks to consider:

Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9X40mm Rifle Scope

Leupold is a name synonymous with quality, and this scope lives up to its reputation.

Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40
Sig Sauer Whiskey3 Scope, 3-9X40mm

Sig Sauer brings its precision engineering to the world of optics, and the Whiskey3 is a testament to its expertise.

Sig Sauer Whiskey3 Scope
Burris Fullfield E1 3-9×40 Ballistic Plex E1

Burris scopes are known for their ruggedness, and the Fullfield E1 is an excellent choice for those who want a dependable partner in the field.

Burris Fullfield E1 3-9x40 Ballistic Plex E1


Let’s sum it up. Patience, precision, and unwavering attention to detail are your allies in this journey. Use rulers for measurement, and don’t hesitate to consult a gunsmith if you’re faced with any challenges. Set realistic expectations; perfection may be an ideal, but improvement is a reality.

For those of you with vintage firearms that may have their limitations in accuracy, remember that they can still be highly effective when zeroed within their capabilities. It’s about understanding your equipment and making the most of it.

So, with the right gear, newfound knowledge, and the determination to make every shot count, you’re ready to embark on your quest for the perfect zero. Step up to the challenge, and may your shots always find their mark. Happy shooting!

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