Using a Laser Boresighter

Ever waste a box of ammo trying to get your rifle hitting paper? It happens to the best of us. Whether your scope screws weren’t tightened down, you dropped your rifle out on a hunt, or want to zero your setup for the first time, a laser boresighter can save you time and money.

An often overlooked but very handy piece of equipment, boresighters do not break the bank and save you time and ammo dollars each time you need to re-calibrate or double-check the alignment of your scope.


What is a Laser Boresighter?

A laser boresighter is a laser designed to project a beam from the barrel of your firearm which you then use to reference against your scope or sights. They are designed to get you 90% of the way to precision, with the remaining minor tweaks to be made by live-firing adjustment.

Laser boresighters come in different styles and offer the ability to sight in almost any firearm; from rifles to shotguns to handguns to muzzleloaders. These handy devices help not only with calibrating rifle scopes, but can also be used to set up other firearm sight options such as red dot sights and iron sights.

There are a few key times when these devices really show their worth. The first being the time when you first purchase your firearm, or upon mounting your scope. A considerable amount of adjustment is generally required on these occasions just to get shots on paper; so boresighting at this stage can significantly reduce the work required.

Another circumstance where the laser boresighter becomes especially helpful is whilst out on a hunt. When it comes to hunting scenarios, a misaligned firearm can result in real-life consequences, such as a wounded animal. Given the nature of hiking and hunting, being able to occasionally check that your firearm is still shooting straight is important; however, most hunters would prefer not to be blasting live rounds in their primo hunting areas. A quick check with a laser boresighter is an easy answer to ensuring everything is still in order.


How to Use a Laser Boresighter

The function and use of a laser boresighter is pretty simple. Let’s take a look at how to get your firearm and sights aligned using one of these devices.

  1. Ensure your firearm is unloaded. Safe firearm handling practices should be adhered to at all times, including during boresighting.
  2. Place a target anywhere from 20-100 yards, depending on available space and laser visibility. Visibility can depend on the quality of the boresighter, the light conditions at that time of day, and the style and material of the target (reflectiveness and clarity).
  3. Insert batteries into your boresighting device, if you haven’t already. Some boresighters will turn on automatically once the batteries are in, whilst others may have an on-off switch on the boresighter itself.
  4. Attach the boresighter to your firearm as per the product instructions. The attachment method will differ depending on the type of laser boresighter; whether through the chamber or attached to the muzzle.
  5. Point your firearm towards the centre of your target. Having a solid rest and a steady firearm will make this process easier.
  6. Adjust your reticle using your scope turrets or sight adjustments until they are lined up with the boresighter’s laser dot.
  7. If possible, extend out the distance between yourself and the target to make sure it is still closely aligned. Further distances will show any misalignment as more pronounced.
  8. Once your firearm has been adequately boresighted, finish the sighting process by making real shots and adjustment at the range to properly zero your firearm at your preferred distance, with your preferred ammunition.

Important note: Be sure to remove your boresighter from your firearm prior to putting in any ammo or firing any rounds. Failure to remove these can be very dangerous and can result in damage to yourself, your firearm and/or others around you.


Types of Laser Boresighter

Laser boresighters are very similar in the way in which they perform. There are three main types of laser boresighter, with the differences primarily based on where or how they are mounted to the firearm.Types of Laser Boresighters

Cartridge Style Boresighter

Shaped like real ammunition, these boresighters are usually caliber specific. They’re designed to fit in the chamber of the firearm, allowing the laser to point through the barrel and onto your target.

There are a few specific boresighter cartridge sizes that fit more than one caliber of firearm; those which have a near identical bullet shell design, such as the 30-06, .270 and 25-06 calibers. The cartridge style boresighters tend to be made of brass in order to handle the physical stresses and movements of being chambered in the rifle.

Pros: Cheaper and more precise than other boresighter options.

Cons: Less universal as they tend to be caliber-specific.


Muzzle-Inserted Boresighter

These boresighters are placed directly into the muzzle of the firearm. Small attachments called “arbors” are used to fit the boresighter to the caliber of your firearm or rifle, making this option more universal than the cartridge type.

Pros: Able to fit more sizes and styles of firearm.

Cons: More expensive and less precise than cartridge style.


Magnetic Boresighter 

The magnetic boresighters are also attached to the muzzle, however instead of being lodged within the barrel they are magnetically connected to it. These tend to be the most convenient and universal mode of boresighting given the externally mounted nature of the unit.

Pros: Able to fit almost all firearm types and sizes.

Cons: Most expensive boresighter option.


Final Thoughts

Every hunter or shooter should have a laser boresighter compatible with each firearm they own. Not only will they save you time, but they can also save money in the long run by reducing the amount of ammo required to sight in your firearm.

Whether you’re new to firearm ownership, a seasoned shooter or experienced backcountry hunter, having a laser boresighter in your back pocket will offer you peace of mind knowing that you can conveniently check the calibration of your firearm at any given time.

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