How to Zero Your Rifle With One Shot


Zeroing a rifle scope is an essential part of ensuring that your shots hit your intended target accurately. Traditionally, zeroing a rifle scope requires multiple shots, as the shooter adjusts the scope’s windage and elevation until the point of impact matches the point of aim. However, this method can help you zero your rifle scope with just one shot! 


Before we begin, it’s important to note that this method works best with the right tools to make sure you can stabilize your rifle and get a good bore-sight. Bore-sighting is the process of aligning the rifle’s barrel with the scope, which can save you time and ammunition during the zeroing process. 


Some tools needed to perform this process and make it easier:

  1. Gun Vise
  2. Bore Sight Laser (optional)
  3. Rangefinder (optional)
  4. Paper Targets
  5. Screwdriver
  6. Allen Wrench or Torx set (for scope rings)
Setup: Stabilize the Rifle
Before you start zeroing your rifle scope, it’s essential to ensure that your rifle is stable and secure. Using a gun vise like the Tipton Best Gun Vise can help keep your rifle steady and provide a stable platform for adjustments.

Step 1: Bore-Sight Your Rifle

The first step in zeroing your rifle scope with one shot is to bore-sight your rifle. This is crucial to make sure your first shot hits the paper. A bore sight laser, such as the Bushnell Laser Boresighter, can make this process much more comfortable and more accurate. Bore-sighting tools are typically designed to fit into the rifle’s chamber or barrel and emit a laser beam that aligns with the rifle’s point of aim.


To bore-sight your rifle, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the bolt or open the action to ensure that the bore-sighting tool can be inserted safely. Or, if you are doing it manually you must be able to see from the rear of the gun through the barrel to the target.
  2. Insert the bore-sighting tool into the rifle’s chamber or barrel or look through the barrel.  align gun until you are on the paper target.
  3. Look through the scope and adjust the mounting rings until the reticle aligns with the bore-sighting tool or visual.

Bore-sighting your rifle can save you time and ammunition during the zeroing process, as it can get you on target quickly and accurately.


Step 2: Set Up Your Target

The second step in zeroing your rifle scope with one shot is to set up your target, we recommend using the Caldwell Ultimate Target Stand, which is adjustable and can hold multiple targets. It’s important to use a target that has a clearly defined center point, such as a bullseye or a small target dot. Ensure that your target is set up in a safe and secure location, with a backstop that can stop the bullet. Place the target at a distance that will apply to your real world needs.  

If you want to be extra precise with your zeroing, you can use a rangefinder like the Vortex Optics Ranger Laser Rangefinder to measure your exact distance from the target.


Step 3: Fire One Shot and Adjust the Scope

The third step in zeroing your rifle scope with one shot is to fire a single shot at the target and adjust the scope accordingly. Here’s how to do it:

  1. With the rifle in a completely stable position and aim at the center of the target.
  2. Fire a single shot and observe where the bullet hits the target.
  3. Reposition the reticle back on the original point of aim (bullseye). Now your scope is pointed at the bullseye, but your barrel is still pointed at where the bullet went.  Without moving the gun use the windage and elevation knobs on the scope to move the reticle to the point of impact.  Now your scope should be aimed at where your barrel is aimed.

If you need a good scope mount and tools to adjust it, we recommend using the Wheeler Engineering Scope Mounting Kit, which includes everything you need to mount and adjust your scope.


By following these steps, you should be able to zero your rifle scope with just one shot. However, it’s important to note that this method may not work for all rifles and conditions, and it’s always a good idea to verify your zero with additional shots -like you weren’t going to shoot more now anyways.


Zeroing in a scope is an essential process that every shooter should master. By following these steps, you can quickly ensure that your rifle is accurate and reliable, allowing you to hit your targets with confidence. Remember to take your time, use the right tools, and always prioritize safety when handling firearms.

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