How To Adjust A Rifle Scope: What You Need To Do

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A rifle scope can appear to be a complicated tool. It can be intimidating. Many hunters opt to have their local gun shop mount their rifle scope professionally. Still, many people make a go at mounting their rifle scope alone. Sometimes hunters or people who enjoy rifles struggle with how to adjust a rifle scope, but with the proper knowhow, the process can prove to be quick and painless.

Always Be Prepared

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If you plan on adjusting or mounting your rifle scope on your own, familiarize yourself with a few helpful techniques. Whether you hunt cape buffalo or whitetail deer, black bear or red stag, prepping your equipment is critical to the success of your hunt.

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Accurately Place Shots


One of the most important preparations hunters are responsible for is verifying that their rifle scope is mounted correctly to place shots at the desired target for a quick and humane kills.

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Applies To All Rifle Scopes


Most hunters enter the wilderness ready to track their game with telescopic sights mounted on their rifles. Need to know how to adjust a rifle scope? You've found the right place. We have compiled useful step-by-step instructions on how to adjust a rifle scope.


Regardless if you're using a high-end rifle scope your granddaddy passed down to you or if you're content with an inexpensive scope you found at your uncle's cousin's yard sale, this article takes you through the process of properly adjusting a rifle scope.

How To Adjust A Rifle Scope

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Not a lot frustrates hunters more than when they fire their rifle and the shot misses the target. Sometimes hunters get so angry that their shot missed the target that they blindly adjust their rifle scope in an attempt to fix the problem; but more often than not, they still struggle to hit their target.

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Never Miss Your Target Again


Again, the rifle scope is adjusted, and again, the hunter misses the mark. Avoiding this scenario is reason enough to need to know how to adjust a rifle scope. Trying to make the correct adjustments to the windage and elevation turrets can be difficult if you are not familiarized with how to adjust a rifle scope.


Properly adjusting the scope can be a simple process for everyone willing to learn, but for many hunters who haven't learned how to adjust their rifle scopes, it can seem like an ivy league education is needed just to get the rifle to shoot straight and hit its target.

Turrets: Up Or Down? Left Or Right?

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A great starting point for learning how to adjust a rifle scope is starting at the very basics and adjusting the rifle scope up or down and left or right. These corrections are made by adjusting the knobs at the top and sides of your scope. These adjustment knobs are referred to as turrets.


Rifle scopes come equipped with two types of turrets. The windage turret adjusts the scope either left or right, and the elevation turret adjusts the rifle scope up or down. Sometimes a rifle scope has a side focus parallax knob for focusing the reticle.

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Elevation And Windage Turrets


Situated on top of your scope sits the elevation turret. The windage turret is located on the scope's right side. Turrets sometimes are designed to be tactical, which means they might be concealed with protective caps. Some turrets don't have the protective cap, which leaves these turrets exposed. To know how to adjust a rifle scope, you've got to familiarize yourself with these turrets.


Exposed turrets are ready to be adjusted with nothing in the way to prevent fingers from fine tuning the rifle scope. The adjustments made on exposed turrets are visible, making it easy to see what your settings are just by looking at them.

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Capped And Exposed Turrets


The turrets with the caps are the more tactical and protected kind. Prior to making adjustments with these, the protective cap must be unscrewed and removed, making this a proper method for how to adjust a rifle scope.


Capped turrets might require a screwdriver or even the side of a penny to make the adjustments; however, some capped turrets come equipped with a little raised dial that you can easily adjust with just your fingers.

You're Not Adjusting The Bullet

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Sometimes when people tinker with a rifle scope, they get it in their head that they're adjusting the bullet's path and not the rifle scope. Always remember, you can't adjust the bullet. Every time you pull your rifle's trigger, the bullet shoots out of the barrel the same way, regardless of how much you've adjusted the scope.

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Where Your Bullet Hits


The aiming point through the rifle scope is the reticle, and it doesn't change the path of bullets. While adjusting a rifle scope, you position the reticle to where your bullets hit. The idea is to aim the reticle at the target, knowing this is where fired rounds will go, and taking out the target.

Adjusting Knob Measurements

The form of measurements used in adjusting a rifle scope are either minutes of angle (MOA) or milliradian (MIL). Take a second while you're learning how to adjust a rifle scope and familiarize yourself with the form of measurement on your scope.

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Measure Up: MOA and MIL


More often than not, hunters prefer MOA, as most people believe it's more user-friendly than MIL. If your scope is capable of measuring 1/4 MOA, each adjustment click positions the reticle1/4-inch per 100 yards. A 1/2-inch adjustment


is used for 200 yards, and a 1-inch measurement equals 400 yards.

MIL adjustments differ from MOA measurements; however, MIL is very close. The MIL measures 1/3-inch per 100 yards. MAO is the more precise form of measurement out of the two. Still, when learning how to adjust a rifle scope, MOA and MIL are each efficient and very accurate.

Elevate Your Aim

The elevation turret is located on top of the scope. Most knobs are appropriately labeled U for up and D for down and have arrows pointing which way to turn the knob when adjusting a rifle scope.


For MOA, if you need to move the reticle up 1/2-inch at 200 yards, all you have to do is turn the knob two clicks in the up direction. Still using the MOA adjustment as the form of measurement, to move the reticle down an inch simply turn the knob 4 clicks in the down direction. You'll discover that learning how to adjust a rifle scope comes down to a basic understanding of math.

The Bolt Trick

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Sometimes turrets are not labeled with the U and D directional. If this is the case with your rifle scope, the ever-handy bolt trick will help you adjust the rifle scope. The bolt trick relies on you being visual. Most of you know the phrase “righty tighty, lefty loosey” for tightening a bolt or screw.

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Exposed and Capped Turrets


This rule of thumb applies to both exposed and capped turrets. The only differences between the two is that the capped turrets must be uncapped and adjusted with a penny or screwdriver. When you click the bolt to the right, it tightens and the bolt screws down. Turning the bolt left loosens the bolt, elevating it. These directions match the directions for adjusting the scope.

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Ups and Downs


If you need to lower your aim, you tighten the bolt by turning it right. If you must make an upwards adjustment, loosen the bolt by turning it left. When the bolt raises, the adjustment moves the reticle up. When the bolt lowers, the reticle also lowers.

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A Penny For Your Thoughts… Or Your Hunt


For those of you who need to know how to adjust a rifle scope with capped turrets, a good trick is to always keep a penny in your pocket. You can keep a screwdriver handy if you want, but a penny is smaller and can easily fit in the pocket of your favorite blue jeans.

Either way, if your scope has capped turrets and you need to make a quick adjustment, but you left your lucky penny next to your wife's old engagement ring on her dresser, then you probably won't be able to make the appropriate adjustments. You never know when you must know how to adjust a rifle scope, even if it's not a part of your plan.

Zero In On Your Target

With any luck, this guide has made it clear to you how to adjust a rifle scope. Eventually, you'll discover that adjusting your scope has become second nature. You won't need to even think about how to adjust a rifle scope because you'll just automatically do it. Once you learn these techniques, it becomes easier with every effort.


If you plan on always adjusting your rifle scope, it's a good idea to practice as much as possible. Knowing every function of your scope comes in handy and makes it so you'll hardly ever be in a situation where you don't hit your target.

If you use your rifle to hunt or just shoot, and you want expert accuracy when taking aim through a rifle scope, you need to learn your rifle and your scope. Never miss your mark again.


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