Boresight Basics

by Brad Fenson

Whether I use a new firearm or an old favourite, I like to use a boresight to reference where my rifle is shooting. When you sight in your rifle for the first time or change scopes, a boresight helps reduce the time and number of cartridges required to finetune your point of impact.

The ease of laser

Arbor-specific, magnet, or laser boresights all work, but the latter is multifunctional—use it in many ways when getting ready for hunting season and checking your equipment. I use the Bushnell Laser Boresight because it’s small, lightweight and the arbor fits .22 to .50 caliber firearms and has special arbors for 20 and 12 gauge shotguns.

The way it works

A laser boresight fits into the muzzle of your firearm and emits light from a laser diode, which is a direct line of sight from your barrel that shows as a red light on your target. Remember, a bullet from your muzzle does not travel in a straight and direct line. A bullet’s trajectory will rise and fall due to the rifling in your barrel and the effects of gravity. Your crosshairs are unlikely to line up exactly with a laser dot emitted onto your target, but it will be close.

Why I favour the laser

A boresight will get your barrel and scope close to the same point of impact and makes sighting in quick and easy. The best part about a laser is that it can also be used once your rifle is sighted in to reference the point of impact of your bullet.

Check your zero: insert the laser and see where it lines up compared to your crosshairs. The crosshairs are often an inch or two above the laser. Take note of the exact location of the laser dot emitted on your target at a specified distance, and you can use it as a reference at anytime to ensure your point of impact is still true.

Hunters who travel by airplane or bounce into camp on a quad or Argo usually check their rifles to make sure they’re still on target. With a laser verified at 25, 50 or even 100 meters, all you have to do is set up a target and see where your crosshairs line up in relation to the laser.

Quickly and easily check your point of impact whenever you’d like by carrying a range finder and target:

  1. While your gun is in a vise with the crosshairs locked on target, use a marker to draw a circle around the laser dot on your target.
  2. For your reference target, set up at a known distance, turn on the laser, place your crosshairs on the bull’s eye and making sure the laser dot falls into the circle you’ve drawn with your marker.
  3. Keeping the target in your gun case will ensure it is always there to check the point of impact for your rifle and scope.

Check your gun anytime

A boresight is lightweight, compact and easy to carry with you to camp or when traveling. Knowing your point of impact while having the confidence and shooting ability to make the perfect shot every time makes for a more successful season.

Never forget

Always ensure your firearm is unloaded when using a boresight and that it is removed from the muzzle before loading the firearm. Check and check again, as the boresight will be a muzzle obstruction. Your barrel will rupture or explode if a cartridge is fired while the muzzle is blocked.