By its very nature, a laser shoots out of a barrel with perfect straightness and pinpoint accuracy. This makes some shooters wonder why even after laser bore sighting their weapons, their bullets are off center. The simple answer is because a bullet isn’t a perfect instrument – two bullets with the same caliber but different powder loads will have different ballistics. As experienced shooters know, a bullet zeroed for 25 yards will not hit the same way at a hundred. However, to get area-accuracy at short ranges, a laser bore sight is a good solution.
Pro: Good for getting on paper
While laser bore sighting is good, it isn’t 100% accurate because you’re sighting a projectile that flies at an arc with an instrument that shoots a laser in a straight line. It is, however, great for getting rounds on paper. Since a laser gets progressively dimmer the further away it goes, laser bore sighting is better for pistols than it is for rifles.
Pro: Good for pistol lasers
Some might raise an eyebrow at the notion of bore sighting a pistol, but this practice is useful for those who run red dots and under-barrel laser sights. With the latter, many times the process is as simple as lining up the laser of the laser sight to the laser of the bore sight. However, this sight alignment is not true at all ranges. Overlapping your lasers at ten yards will result in inaccurate fire at 25. Therefore, it’s a good practice to adjust your weapon’s laser sight based on shot placement rather than relying on aligning it with your laser bore sight.
Generally speaking, a barrel-mounted laser bore sight is slightly more accurate than one that fits into a weapon’s chamber. A laser bore sight can be chambered into a weapon and some tiny imperfection in chambering will split or obstruct the beam. A barrel-mounted laser doesn’t have this problem since it’s not obstructed by rifling or the other internals of the chamber.
Con: Bad for long ranges
For zeroing rifles at ranges of a hundred yards or greater, removing the weapon’s bolt and looking through a weapon’s actual barrel would be more optimal than laser bore sighting. This is the old-school method of bore sighting, and as mentioned before, the tiny dot of a laser would be hardly visible at long range, especially in daylight.
For stability, rest your weapon on sandbags or in a gun vise and tilt the buttstock until your chosen target appears while looking through the bore. From there on, it’s a matter of adjusting your optic’s windage and elevation to match your bore’s “sight picture.”
This style of zeroing is relatively easy, but aligning your reticle to your target is only the beginning. Fire shots in groups of three or more to get an approximate idea of where your shots are landing on target, then make the adjustments to your windage and elevation on your scope turret until you’re truly on target.
Pro: Good for non-bolt-action rifles
Unfortunately bore sighting may not work on rifles like lever actions, M1As, or AKs simply due to the nature of their design. In these scenarios, your objective should be to get your shots on paper at 25 yards, since longer ranges would be unrealistic. Once you have shots on paper, any minute adjustments can be made to your windage and elevation. After all, the ultimate purpose of a laser bore sight is not to replace the fine-tuning adjustments of your riflescope. It is merely meant to save your ammunition from being wasted on the berm.
The laser bore sight’s advantages are chiefly in the realms of short range shooting. That said, they aren’t wasted on rifles. It’s perfectly reasonable to zero rifles at short ranges with a laser bore sight to save ammo, especially if the rifle in question cannot be zeroed by traditional bore sighting.