How To Sight In A Laser On A Pistol?

If you just bought a new laser sight it is time to get it calibrated. Unfortunately, this is where most people go wrong. Setting your sights up the wrong way will destroy your accuracy with your handgun. Laser sighting can be a tricky process, but with the right guidance, you can do it in no time. In this article, we will walk you through the process of how to sight in a laser on a pistol.

Step Description
1 Check Pistol Safety: Ensure the pistol is unloaded, and follow basic firearm safety practices.
2 Mount the Laser Sight: Attach the laser sight securely to the pistol’s accessory rail or designated mount.
3 Adjust Windage and Elevation: Use the adjustment screws on the laser sight to align the laser with the pistol’s point of impact. Start at a close range, about 15 feet.
4 Secure Pistol in a Rest: If possible, use a pistol rest or a stable surface to minimize movement during adjustments.
5 Align Laser with Iron Sights: Ensure the laser aligns with the pistol’s iron sights for consistent aiming reference.
6 Adjust for Desired Distance: Fine-tune the laser sight adjustments to match the point of impact at your intended shooting distance.
7 Verify Zero: Fire a few rounds to confirm that the laser aligns with the bullet impact on the target.
8 Make Further Adjustments: If needed, continue making adjustments to achieve the desired accuracy.
9 Test at Various Distances: Validate the laser sight’s accuracy by testing at different distances relevant to your shooting scenarios.

Sight Your Laser On The Range

man learning how to sight in a laser on a pistol while at a shooting range

Here are some basic steps you can take to ensure you sight your new laser the right way.

Step 1: To sight your pistol correctly, start with finding a plain target. Leave the fancy targets with colorful designs for another day. A plain white paper target makes the laser sight more visible.

Step 2: Use a sharpie to mark a large dot or “X” at the center of the paper target. It needs to be clear & visible that way we can quantify the accuracy and precision of the sight.


Step 3: Set your target distances. I personally choose to sight my laser in at about 10 yards. That is all I need for a defensive handgun. I would not recommend going above ~25 yards unless instructed by the equipment’s user manual. If you plan on shooting your pistol from a long range, then set the target at a greater distance.

Step 4: Choose your sighting procedure. There are several ways to sight a laser…these are 3 of the most popular methods.

My Sighting Procedure

Step 1: Before starting the actual sighting process, remember that you are handling a loaded gun. Ensure the safety is on when not in use and all standard safety practices are adhered to.

Step 2: Click the laser on and load at least one round into your weapon.

Step 3: Take aim at your target and fire a single round. Put the gun into a safe condition and analyze your shot. Did you miss high, low, left, or right? If you did, then it’s time to make some adjustments to your elevation & windage settings. Each laser is different, so follow the instruction manual about how to sight in your laser. For most lasers, the windage setting controls the horizontal offset and the elevation setting changes can account for any vertical discrepancy.

Step 4: Repeat steps 2-3 until you are consistently hitting your target mark.

Most Popular Methods

1) Parallel Zero Method

The parallel zero laser sighting process is when the laser beam is adjusted so it parallels the centerline of the bore. This ensures that the firearm is properly sighted in and that the point of impact is consistent with where the weapon is being aimed. This process is most commonly used by more powerful weapons like carbines. The parallel method is not frequently used on handguns. And if you want to shoot accurately, you should also read our post on how to hold a gun A well!

2) Spot-On Sighting Method

The Spot-On Method is a process of laser sighting so that the laser intersects the bullet’s path at a certain distance. This method is common because it allows for greater accuracy when shooting.

To use the Spot-On Method, first identify your target. Then, find a nearby object that you can use as a reference point. Line up the laser so that it points to the object and then to your target. The shooter must then determine how far away the target is in order to adjust the laser sight accordingly. Depending on your laser & gun combination, there may be a significant vertical or horizontal offset. So pay close attention!

3) The Sight-High Zero Method

The Sight-High Zero sighting process is a method for zeroing in your laser sight on your target so that the beam appears to be coming from directly above your front sight, no matter what the distance.

The Sight-High Method sighting process can pretty much be used with any type of laser sighting system. The simplicity of this method makes it a very popular option. Be sure you practice your pistol presentation to make sure you align your sights correctly every time.

Where To Buy

There are a few different places where you can buy gun laser attachments. However, the best place to find a wide selection and great prices are online. In fact, our post on the Best Lasers for M&P Shield 9mm is a great place to start. We spent 24 hours testing laser attachments to make your shopping easy.

Shopping online will give you the most options, so you’re sure to find the attachment that’s right for your gun. Additionally, you’ll be able to take advantage of sales and discounts that may not be available in brick-and-mortar stores. So if you’re looking for the best deals on gun laser attachments, your best bet is to shop online.

Does Color Matter?

The color of your laser dot sight may seem like a trivial decision, but there is actually a science-backed approach to choosing. Red & Green Lasers are the most popular colors. Military, law enforcement, and hunters alike use these two color lasers to improve their accuracy and tactical performance.

However, green lasers are generally considered to be the best option. This is because they perform best in low-light environments. In well-lit environments, both greed and red dot sights have been shown to be effective.

Benefits Of Laser Sights

Yes, laser sights look cool, but the Benefits of Laser Sights are much more than that. For many people, the laser dot can significantly improve performance. And if you want one to look cool…well that’s ok too.

  1. Better Accuracy: When you are shooting a handgun, the laser sight gives you a much better chance of hitting your target. The dot from the laser sight is visible in low light conditions and remains fixed on the target, even if your hand is shaking.
  2. Better Low Light Performance: Laser sights emit a bright beam of light that is visible even in dim conditions, making it much easier to line up a shot. And because the beam is projected directly onto the target, there is no need to focus on aligning iron sights with your eye. Gun laser sights provide a significant advantage in low-light conditions.
  3. Boost Confidence: Not only are laser gun sights fun, but they also improve your confidence. When you can better acquire your target, you feel more comfortable and capable. This is especially true when trying to shoot under pressure. Now I’m not going to say that laser sights will turn you into John Wick…but getting a little more self-confidence never hurt anyone!

Learn to Install a Laser Sight on a Pistol

After you have found a laser attachment that works for you, it is time to install it on your handgun. Before getting to work, you need to take some basic general safety steps.

  1. Declutter your workspace
  2. Remove the magazine and clear the chamber
  3. Keep batteries out of the laser during prep work

Installing your brand-new laser is not complicated…but you want to do it correctly. Start by reading the manufacturer’s instructions (crazy right!).

Start by cleaning out the rail of your pistol. You want a clean and level surface for installation. If you use your gun as much as I do, it will take some cleaning.

Now add the batteries back into your sight & screw the unit onto your handgun. Ensure your laser’s activation paddles are easily accessible by the trigger finger. Use your thumb to hold the laser in place as you tighten the screws. Be sure to double-check your instructions to see how much to tighten the screws. The screws on most lasers should be torqued to 12-16 ft-lbs.

Downside of Laser Dot Sights

There are a few potential downsides to using laser dot sights.

  • They can take a bit of time to turn on and get calibrated. This can be an issue if you’re in a hurry or don’t have time to fiddle with your sights before taking a shot.
  • Not all laser dot sights perform well in low-light or other poor visibility conditions. I recommend testing out a green laser sight of you have issues with low light performance.

Best Distance To Zero A Pistol Laser

The best distance to zero a pistol laser will depend on several factors:

  • Type of pistol
  • Ammunition
  • Intended use of the pistol

Most people choose to zero their pistol laser at 10 yards based on the practical shooting distances encountered in self-defense scenarios. Most self-defense engagements occur at shorter ranges. By zeroing at a closer distance, the laser will align with the point of impact of the bullet at that distance, making it more accurate for close-range shooting. Very few of use need to zero their laser from more than 10 or 15 yards away.

However, it’s important to understand that zeroing at 10 yards may result in slightly different point of impact and point of aim at longer distances. The bullet’s trajectory will start to drop earlier, and the laser may not be as precisely aligned with the bullet’s impact point beyond the zeroed distance. Remember to always consider the specific characteristics of your pistol, ammunition, and intended use when choosing the best zeroing distance for your pistol laser!

FAQs – Laser Sight

What distance should you sight in a pistol laser?

Laser sights are typically zeroed in at 25 yards. However, they can be adjusted to fit the user's preference. For example, if you are more comfortable sighting your pistol in at a distance of 10 yards, then the laser can be adjusted to do so.

Can you zero a laser on your gun?

Yes, you can zero a laser on your gun. There are a few different ways to do this, but the most common method is to use a relatively inexpensive laser bore sight. This involves using the laser to project onto the target, and then adjusting for the wind and elevation screws on the Laser sights itself until the dot is exactly where you want it to be in relation to the point of impact. If you only use your laser sight as only a secondary sight, then you probably don't need to spend hours and hours zeroing your laser beam. If you prefer to use an AR-15, then check out our list of the top AR-15 laser bore sights. At this point, it feels like we've tested just about every sight on the market.

Are pistol laser sights worth it?

Yes, laser sights are definitely worth it. They provide a level of accuracy and precision that is difficult to achieve with iron sights. Laser sights also work well in low-light conditions, which can be a major advantage in tactical situations. With a laser, there is less need to have perfect alignment and sight picture. They make a great addition to a tactical weapon or defensive pistol.

What is better red or green laser for pistol?

Green is considered more visible to most people, as it stands out better against green vegetation and other backgrounds. However, the wavelength of the two lasers is so close that they can both be seen by someone with good vision in daylight conditions. Green lasers are better for low-light situations and allow you to quickly identify your point of aim.

How does a laser sight on a pistol work?

Laser sights are normally attached in front of the trigger guard on the accessory rail. They act as a great tool for target shooting and self-defense, as they allow you to aim more accurately. They work by projecting a straight beam of light onto the target. The laser projects the bullet's path and simplifies shooting. A laser-equipped handgun allows you to see where your bullet will hit even in low light conditions.

Can you adjust a laser sight?

When it comes to laser dot sights, a little adjustment goes a long way. Most people don't realize how simple it is to adjust their own sights. Adjust your rail-mounted laser sight to be effective at your desired range.

The Bottom Line

Sighting your pistol can be difficult…but it doesn’t need to be. These steps can be used to sight your laser the right way the first time. So get out to the range and get your new laser calibrated. Remember to take your time and be patient; it may take a few tries to get it just right. Once you do, you’ll be able to hit your target with ease – whether it’s at the range or in self-defense situation.

About the author

Patrick Howard

I have been working as a gunsmith for 20 years. Rain, fog, moisture, high temperature, or even snow are all the things a product must withstand in order to be recommended by me.

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