How To Reset A Scope To Factory Zero

The factory zero of scope refers to the initial alignment set by the manufacturer, ensuring that the reticle is perfectly aligned with the point of impact. This initial calibration allows shooters to achieve accurate shots at specific distances without making further adjustments.

Why Reset Your Scope to Factory Zero

Before diving into the process of resetting a scope to factory zero, let’s explore why this procedure is necessary. Over time, scopes can be affected by external factors, such as recoil, temperature changes, and rough handling. These factors can lead to the scope losing its zero, resulting in inaccurate shots. Additionally, if you’ve previously adjusted your scope for different shooting scenarios, returning it to the factory zero can serve as a baseline for any future adjustments.

Safety First: Unload Your Firearm

Before attempting any scope adjustments, always ensure your firearm is unloaded. Safety should be your top priority when handling firearms.

Step-by-Step Guide to Resetting Your Scope to Factory Zero

Remove the Scope Caps

Begin by removing the caps covering the turrets on your scope. These caps protect the turrets and retain their settings. Once removed, you’ll have access to the windage and elevation turrets.

Adjust the Turrets to Zero

With the caps removed, adjust the windage and elevation turrets to their zero positions. This is usually indicated by a small marking or a line on the turret. Refer to your scope’s manual to locate the exact zero positions.

Bore Sight Your Rifle

Next, bore sight your rifle. Bore sighting helps align your scope’s reticle with the rifle’s bore, ensuring that the bullets’ initial path is relatively close to the point of impact.

Test Your Zero at Different Distances

After bore sighting, head to the shooting range and test your zero at various distances. Make fine adjustments as needed until your shots consistently hit the target center.

Tips for Maintaining Scope Zero

Keep Track of Your Adjustments

Maintain a record of your scope adjustments. This log will help you keep track of changes and quickly return to your factory zero if necessary.

Use Quality Scope Rings and Mounts

Invest in high-quality scope rings and mounts to ensure the scope remains securely attached to the rifle, reducing the chance of zeroing errors due to loose fittings.

Store Your Rifle and Scope Properly

Store your rifle and scope in a suitable case to protect them from rough handling and environmental factors that could disrupt the zero.

Common Scope Zeroing Problems and Solutions

In this section, we’ll discuss some common issues shooters encounter when zeroing a scope and how to address them.

Scope Creep

Scope creep refers to the turrets’ unintentional movement due to recoil or other external factors. To mitigate this, invest in scopes with reliable turret locking mechanisms.

Scope Recoil

Powerful firearms can cause significant recoil, potentially affecting your scope’s zero. Counter this by using a recoil pad and ensuring your scope rings are properly tightened.

Mounting Errors

Incorrectly mounting the scope can lead to zeroing difficulties. Double-check the alignment of the rings and mounts during installation.

Scope Zeroing for Different Types of Firearms

Different firearms require specific zeroing techniques. Let’s explore the process for various types of firearms.

Bolt-Action Rifles

Bolt-action rifles typically have straightforward zeroing procedures. Follow the standard steps outlined earlier.

AR-15 Rifles

Zeroing an AR-15 requires additional considerations due to its unique design and platform. Follow a specialized guide for zeroing your AR-15.

Long-Range Rifles

Long-range rifles demand precise zeroing techniques. Seek professional assistance for optimal results.

Zeroing for Hunting vs. Target Shooting

Hunting Zero

When zeroing for hunting, consider the typical shooting distances and terrain you’ll encounter. A common hunting zero is at 100 yards/meters.

Target Shooting Zero

For target shooting, consider the specific distances used in competitions. Common target shooting zeros are at 200 or 300 yards/meters.

Adjusting for Environmental Factors

Environmental factors can affect your scope’s zero. Understand how to compensate for these factors.

Windage and Elevation

Learn how to adjust for wind and elevation changes, as these factors can significantly impact your shots.

Temperature and Humidity

Temperature and humidity can affect bullet trajectory. Understand their effects and adjust accordingly.

Importance of a Recoil Stop

A recoil stop prevents the scope from moving due to recoil, preserving your zero settings. Ensure your scope has a reliable recoil stop mechanism.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

How often should I reset my scope to factory zero?

Answer: The frequency of resetting your scope to factory zero depends on how often you adjust your scope for different shooting conditions. If you frequently make adjustments, it’s a good idea to reset it periodically, such as before a new shooting season.

Can I reset my scope without bore sighting?

Answer: While bore sighting is not mandatory, it significantly improves the efficiency and accuracy of the zeroing process. It helps align the scope’s reticle with the rifle’s bore, reducing the number of shots required to achieve zero.

Is it necessary to hire a professional for zeroing?

Answer: While many shooters can zero their scopes themselves, seeking professional assistance, especially for long-range rifles, can lead to more precise results and save time and ammunition.

Can I use the same zero for different types of ammunition?

Answer: Different types of ammunition can have varying ballistic characteristics. It’s recommended to re-zero your scope when switching between different types or brands of ammunition.

Will a scope with a higher magnification affect zeroing?

Answer: Scopes with higher magnifications can be more sensitive to small adjustments, making zeroing a bit more challenging. Take your time and make precise adjustments when zeroing such scopes.


In conclusion, resetting your scope to factory zero is crucial for maintaining accurate shots and improving shooting performance. Regularly checking and adjusting your scope ensures that it remains calibrated for different shooting scenarios. By following the step-by-step guide and implementing the tips mentioned in this article, you can confidently reset your scope and enjoy consistent and precise shooting.

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