If there is one rifle that has moved its way into the mainstream, becoming both loved and loathed, it is the AR-15. Over the past two decades the AR-15 went from being a rifle that cost over $1000, to being affordable and mass produced. You can now purchase a AR-15 that is made to mil-spec quality for south of $500. It’s no wonder the AR-15 is now called “America’s Rifle”.
If you are one of the over 10 million Americans who have purchased an AR-15, welcome to the club. A quality AR will give you a lifetime of service and enjoyment, while giving you the ability to protect your life, family, and liberty. An AR-15 makes an ideal protective weapon, and the 5.56x45mm cartridge is hard to beat in the home defense role. However, your rifle will need to be properly sighted in before you can stake yours and your family’s life on it.
Before you sight in your rifle, I highly recommend you be sure your rifle has been cleaned and degreased, especially if it is a new rifle. Before taking your rifle to the range, be sure to lubricate the bolt carrier group and add a very light amount of lubricant to the trigger group as well.
Two tools I recommend for sighting in is a laser bore sight, which makes life easier, and a solid shooting rest. Lead Sled makes a terrific rest that is designed for sighting in rifles of all chamberings.
When you get to the range, set up a paper target at 25 yards.
Next insert the laser bore sight into your rifle’s chamber and put the laser on the bullseye. If you are using an optic, remove the turret covers and adjust the reticle crosshairs until they are right on where the laser is pointing. If you are using iron sights, go ahead and do the same.
Once your sights are aligned with the laser, remove the bore sight and load your rifle. Fire a group of 3 rounds and adjust you sight as needed until you have a nicely placed shot grouping in the bulls eye.
Now if you are just keeping your rifle for home defense, 25 yards is a fine battle sighting and you can reliably take shots out to 100 yards with that setting. But if you are planning to shoot your rifle past the 100 yard mark, you’ll want to take the time now to stretch out and dial in at the range you’ve determined.
I strongly encourage no matter what range you’ll be putting holes in paper, to start the sighting in process at 25 yards. It will make sighting in at 100 or beyond a bit easier. You can repeat the process with the laser, if you have one powerful enough to reach the range you are dialing in at. I usually start by shooting a group of 3 rounds at the bullseye and making adjustments as needed to correct your shot placement.
Some things to consider: If you plan on shooting more than one type of ammunition, is to sight in with the round you will be using for defense.
If you have an optic, but also have back up iron sights, it is prudent to sight in your back up iron sights first, and then install your optic on your rifle and sight in after you have done that.
Be careful to replace your scope turret covers as soon as you have sighted in any optic. Keeping them exposed are a recipe for disaster.