How To Sight In A Rifle Scope At 25 yards (Step-By-Step)

25-Yard Zero

After you have successfully bore sighted your rifle scope, you need to sight in the scope to make it ready for shooting 50+ yards. This can be a tedious and expensive endeavor and sometimes you are limited to shooting at indoor ranges.

Sighting in a rifle scope at 25 yards (also known as a 25-yard zero) means adjusting the scope so that the bullet’s point of impact aligns with the point of aim at a distance of 25 yards. A 25-yard zero is a very convenient method for hunters and shooters to establish an initial zero, especially in situations where longer ranges are not available for zeroing.

The 25-yard zero method is an easy solution as it saves both time and money. This article is a step-by-step guide on how to sight in your rifle scope at 25 yards.

Step Instructions
1. Set Up Target Place a target at 25 yards on a stable and secure backdrop.
2. Secure Rifle Secure the rifle in a stable rest or gun vise to minimize movement.
3. Bore Sighting Remove the bolt and look through the bore. Align the bore with the target center.
4. Fire Test Shots Fire a group of three shots at the target center. Aim at the same point every time.
5. Adjust Scope Use the scope’s windage and elevation knobs to adjust the point of impact to match the point of aim.
6. Confirm Zero Fire another group of shots to confirm the adjustments are correct and the rifle is zeroed.
7. Fine-Tuning If necessary, make minor adjustments for greater accuracy and fire again to confirm.

Steps For Sighting In Rifle At 25 Yards

picture demonstrating how to sight in a rifle scope

Step #1: Safety Tips

We need to know the safety requirements before we start sighting in our rifle scope. Safety is essential not only for the shooter but for the people around the shooter. It doesn’t matter if you’re sighting in a night vision scope or traditional scope…safety comes first!

Everyone should have personal protective equipment (PPE), meaning having ear plugs, protective eyewear, and brightly colored vests are essential. Also, check the surroundings so that no animal or person is in close vicinity to the target for a bullet to potentially ricochet.


Check your rifle, all the fittings and screws should be tight. The mountings of the scope should also be tight.

Step #2: Research Your Ballistic Data

Knowing your ballistic data before you start sighting in your budget LPVO is crucial. Ballistic data will give you specific details of the cartridge’s performance at different grain loads. These performance details include:

  • Trajectory – the bullet’s flight path
  • Muzzle velocity – speed of the bullet measured in feet per second
  • Energy – energy of the bullet measured in foot per pound

Knowing your cartridge’s performance will help you understand where your bullet will hit its mark at different distances when the scope is completely zeroed. It is also critical that you know how does a scope work before starting this process.

Some cartridges have a flatter trajectory, and hence the bullet drop is less. If you’re a hunter, ideally you would match a flat trajectory round with a coyote hunting scope for optimal performance. You will be able to better predict your bullet’s flight path and effectiveness to deliver a deadly hit at several distances at close range and ensure long-range accuracy.

If you are reloading your ammunition by hand, then you should take care as to follow the ballistic data meticulously when loading your ammo. If the grain load is too light or heavy, you can cause serious damage to the lands of the barrel or sometimes even implode the rifle barrel – which, of course, is very dangerous.

Expert Tip #1: Ensure you are using the same ammo that you will be using when hunting.

Step #3: Use A Shooting Rest

You want to eliminate human error to the best of your abilities, this can be done by using a sturdy shooting rest in the form of a bench rest instead of using your muscles to secure the gun. Sandbags work great, and a rifle rest even better.

Step #4: Set Target At 25 Yards

I like to do a 25-yard zero before moving to hundred yards, this helps save ammunition as the chances of getting bullet on paper is much higher at a 25 yards distance than at long-range shooting. You can make major adjustments at the 25-yard target, followed by minor adjustments at the 100 or 200-yard target. In my experience, this is the perfect distance for an elk hunting riflescope zero.

You will want a target with a distinct focus point like a bull’s eye, which you will be aiming for with every shot. The target should also have a grid outline, making adjustments is much easier with a reference.

Expert Tip #2: Use a range finder or a measuring tape to measure a 25-yard target distance, make sure there is no animals or people in the background, try to put the target in front of a mound or a large tire.

Step #5: Make Windage & Elevation Adjustments

Now, you would want to take your first shot at the target, double-check everything before you proceed. Make sure you are completely still when you take your aim and then fire.

If your shot does not achieve bullet on paper, repeat the shot. If bullet on paper is still not achieved, you might want to check your fittings and bore sight the rifle scope again. If you have achieved impact on the paper, you can continue with the next paragraph.

So after your shot successfully hits the target, you would want to adjust the windage and elevation turrets, so that the next point of impact will be closer or in the bull’s eye. The windage adjustment is normally located on the side or horizontal plane of the scope, and the elevation turret is normally located on the top or vertical plane of the scope. Even cheaper scopes for under $300 have different adjustment turrets.

Most rifle scopes have a 1/4 MOA turret system, meaning 1 click will adjust your bullet impact by 1/4 inch at 100 yards. So, to make a 1 inch adjustment at 100 yards, you need to make 4 clicks.

However, at 25 yards, everything is x4, so to make a 1 inch adjustment at 25 yards, you will need to do 16 clicks (4×4). Just like we saw on our post on scope magnifications, even small adjustments makes a difference. So, if your shot is 1 inch below and 2 inches left of the bull’s eye, you would need to make 16 clicks on the top (elevation turret) and 32 clicks on the side (windage turret) to zero your rifle set. Gently tap on the turrets to lock in the new adjustments.

After you have made the necessary adjustments, you will need to shoot again. Check the shot, and if the shot has not moved, then shoot again, sometimes the rifle takes more than one shot before it uses the new windage and elevation adjustments.

Repeat your shots, making the necessary adjustments until your shooting groups are all in or bordering the bull’s eye.

Expert Tip #3: Remember to let your barrel cool down if it becomes too hot, this is usually the case in rifles that shoots high loads of ammo. Place in an upright position in the shade, with the bolt open, to allow for the fastest cooldown.

Step #6: Test Shots at 100 Yards

Great, so your 300 Win Mag riflescope is zeroed at 25 yards, well let’s be honest the chances of finding a nice buck at a 25-yard shooting distance are very slim. This is why you need to test shoot your rifle at a longer range as well.

A standard hunting caliber will have a point of impact 3 inches high at 100 yards. The elevation turret is not so much the problem as the windage turret. You want your rifle to shoot groups 3 inches high at 100 yards and directly in line with the bull’s eye.

If your bullet placements are not all bordering each other directly above the bull’s eye, make the necessary adjustments to the windage turret. Remember, at 100 yards, 4 clicks will result in a 1 inch movement to the following point of impact.

If you want to shoot at ranges exceeding 100 yards, remember that this is where step number two is crucial. Having knowledge of your ballistic data, ballistic coefficient, and bullet weight will help guide you in knowing the maximum distance you can shoot at while still allowing for an ethical kill.

Benefits Of A 25 Yard Zero

I predominantly relied on the 25-yard zero method to sight in my 450 Bushmaster rifle scope. Now I use a combination of the bore sight and 25-yard zero to save even more ammo. The benefits of having a 25-yard zero is:

  • Saves ammunition – As I already stated you make major adjustments at the 25 yard distance and minor adjustments at 100 yards. It is much easier to get bullet on paper at 25 yards than 100 yards.
  • Faster – The amount of times you need to walk to the targets are less as the scope is zeroed faster.
  • Versatility – Having a 25 yard zero for your rifle allows for reasonable accuracy at whichever distance up to 200 yards. Remember to still take test shots at 100 yards to check the bullet impacts. Also, have knowledge of the ballistic data to know the bullet’s behavior at a shorter and longer distance.

Frequently Asked Questions

How far should you zero your scope?

That depends, if you have a short-range rifle like the 30-30, you will want to limit your zero distance to 100 yards. Longer range rifles, like the 6.5 Grendel and 350 Legend can easily be used as a deer rifle at 200 yards, and zeroing your scope for that distance might be beneficial.

What does zeroing a scope do?

Zeroing a scope is the act of aligning the scope with the point of the barrel, ensuring the crosshairs match where the bullet's point of impact will be. Changing the bullet's characteristics e.g. the bullet weight or grain load, will result in a different point of impact.

What is 1 moa at 50 yards?

1 MOA at 50 yards is 1/2 inch, meaning you will need to make eight clicks to make a 1 inch adjustment on a turret.

How many clicks is 1 MOA at 300 yards?

1 MOA at 300 yards is 3 inches, so 1 click will adjust your point of impact by 0.79 inches. Another way to think about it is by using a formula: Divide the number of inches to adjust by the number of inches in 1 MOA at that specific distance. For example, at 300 yards, you want to move the bullet's point of impact by nine inches. 9/ 3 = 3. - So, a 3 MOA adjustment at 300 yards will move the bullet 9″.

What is a good MOA for a sniper rifle?

Accuracy is key for shooting with a sniper rifle, thus you would want a MOA below 1. The less the MOA, the better, as it allows finer adjustments to the scope turrets for pinpoint accuracy. A good MOA for a sniper rifle is 1/2 or 1/4 MOA.

The Bottom Line

Remember to clean your rifle after the hunting season to prevent the accumulation of burnt powder, as a dirty rifle barrel will influence your accuracy. Always be gun-wise and pay close attention to your surroundings when zeroing. There are numerous methods of sighting in your rifle scope, however the 25 yards zero method is one of the easiest to do and can save you a lot of time and money – It is my method of choice and I would highly recommend using it!

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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