how to zero iron sights

Discovering How to Zero Iron Sights in AR 15 Rifle?

You don’t just bring your new AR 15 rifle in the field to do some hunting without zeroing its iron sights. Zeroing also called sighting in, is the process of adjusting the iron sights until you calibrated its point-of-aim (POA) to the bullets’ point-of-impact (POI). Some think that the steps on how to zero iron sights in AR 15 rifle are complicated. If you don’t familiarize yourself with the different parts of your AR 15, you might have a hard time. So, it is best to learn the vital parts first and understand the basics.

The process of zeroing requires some patience, as you need to complete five steps. It may take several minutes to an hour to complete each step. Sometimes you need to repeat specific steps to proceed to the next one. We have made the steps as simple as possible, so even new AR 15 rifle users can follow. So, let’s start.

What is zeroing?

A simple meaning of this is alignment. You adjust different sights to have the best results to enjoy your shooting experience to the maximum. You get them perfect enough to hit your targets.

There are different adjusters on your weapons that help you in keeping them aligned. You have to learn to place them at exact levels and positions. The target distance is vital in achieving this zeroing goal. Therefore, you need to be careful throughout the process to reach your target.


It is not a task requiring high skills or qualifications and simple practice for keeping your iron sights in good working condition. It is a maintenance exercise. It provides the required trajectory between the axis of sight and cartridge or ammunition at a given distance and level.

Once you can zero the iron sight of your weapon, you will be able to shoot right at your target from anywhere. The shooting will become a perfect activity, and you will shoot like a pro.

” You may love to read also the uses of AR15 iron Sight.

What You Need

You need the following tools and materials to complete the process of zeroing:

  • AR 15 rifle with iron sights
  • Target (you can either buy one or create your own)
  • Staple gun
  • Eye protection
  • Tape measure
  • Screwdriver
  • Gun rest
  • Ear protection
  • Sandbags
  • Sharpie
  • Shooting bench or table

Steps on Sighting In AR 15 Iron Sights

Step #1 Bore Sighting

This step involves looking through the rifle’s empty barrel or bore. It will give you an idea of where the bullet will land after firing it. You need to rest the barrel unit firmly and get rid of any obstruction that will keep you from looking at the bore from the chamber end to the muzzle.

After using your bare eye in centering an object in the bore, you need to align the sights on the same thing to be bore-sighted. Adjust the sights if you think the sights and bore do not coincide since you can’t adjust the barrel.

Set your target at 25 yards from your shooting position. Your objective is to hit your target on the first try, so you will know what changes you need to make. So it means the bigger the target, the better.

On a space provided for you on a steady table, start working on your AR 15. First, disconnect the upper receiver from the lower receiver. In the upper receiver, remove the bolt and the bolt carrier. This will allow you to peek at the barrel. Then, cradle the upper receiver in a gun vise or place it between sandbags to remain upright and steady. As you peek into the barrel from the chamber end, position it and make sure the bullseye is at the bore’s center.

Move the barrel, move your eye up into the sights, and take note of where you aim. If you think the sights are aligned on the bore’s bullseye, continue to step 3. Make some adjustments if you feel they are not until you finally centered it on the bullseye.

Step #2 Windage and Elevation Adjustment

The two vital turret adjustments you need to make when zeroing in iron sights are windage and elevation. The windage is assigned to adjust right and left while the elevation is up and down. Scopes are adjustable in audible clicks. However, for rough adjustments, no need to worry about the number of clicks. Instead, you need to hold the boresight on the bullseye as you look through the scope. Turn the windage turret to align the crosshair to the bullseye.

Do the same with the elevation turret. It may take some practice and concentration, but you have to hold the rifle steadily as much as possible, moving your head and eye between the two views. If both the boresight and the crosshair are centered on the same distant bullseye, you can proceed to the next step. With the adjustments, you can hit your target at 25 yards.

Step # 3 – Test Fire

After bore sighting and adjustments, you need to test fire to check if your changes are good enough to hit your target. Reassemble the rifle, keep it on a steady gun rest, and load – Aim and test fire. You can ask someone to check your shots.

If most of your shots landed inside your target, continue with step #4. If you miss the mark and are unsure where the bullets landed, you can either repeat steps 1 and 2 or move the target a bit closer. Your main goal is to hit the target and determine the adjustments you need to make. Once your test tire hits any part of the target, you can continue with step no. 4.

Step #4 AR 15 Sight Adjustment for Zeroing

You need to make some sight adjustments if you hit only the paper but not the bullseye during the test fire. In zeroing the iron sights of your AR15, you need to understand what the front and rear sights do. For elevation or the high or low of the POI, the front sight is responsible for it. For left and right adjustments or the windage, the rear sight is the one being moved. 

AR15 Front Sight Adjustment

If you notice your shots are above the target, you should move your front sight higher. However, if your shots are below your target, you need to lower your front sight. Keep in mind, if you move the front sight in the opposite direction, your point of impact will be moved.  

If your shots are left from your target, move the front sight to the left. If the shots are right from your target, move the front sight to the right. Keep in mind, in adjusting the front sight horizontally, move the front sight in the same direction.

AR15 Rear Sight Adjustment

If your shots are above your target, lower your rear sight. Move the rear sight higher if the shots are below the target. Remember that you will get the POI in the center if you move the rear sight in the opposite direction when adjusting the AR15 iron sights vertically.

When adjusting the rear sight horizontally, check the shots. If the shot is left from your target, move the rear sight to the right and vice versa. Always remember that when adjusting the rear sight horizontally, it is in the opposite direction.

Step #5 Again Test Fire

After making the needed adjustments, it is time for you to make another group shot and test fire again. If that group finally hits the bullseye, you are now zeroed at 25 yards. If not, do another round of adjustments to your sights and repeat fire testing until you have a good 25 yard zero.

Using the same techniques mentioned above, slowly increase the range you prefer. Since you started at 25 yards, you can increase the distance up to 100 yards. You must remember the number of clicks needed to move the bullet impact at 50 or 100 yards as it is much different at 25 yards.


Hunters and shooters may not agree about the best range to zero your AR15. It depends on the type of rifle and ammunition you will use and the usual distances you intend to shoot your gun at. The majority of shooters would zeroed at 50 or 100.

It does not matter how far you zeroed in your gun since the process of how to zero iron sights in an AR 15 rifle is the same. They only differ on the distance. After making your adjustments, make sure you test fire to confirm your zero. If you hit the right spot of your target, then you are done. If you want to share your thoughts about the topic, you can comment on them below.

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