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So, you picked up a firearm or slick new optic. Now is the time to sight that bad boy in so it can do more than look cool and take up room in your gun case. There are many ways to do this, but one of the easiest is to use a bore sight. For what you’d spend on a box of ammunition, you can reduce the amount of time and money you’ll spend walking your shots onto a target at the range. Most rifle shooters will establish zero at either 25, 36, or 50 yards. The Armory Life has a solid breakdown of this information if you aren’t familiar with the reasoning behind each approach.
Once you’ve got your sights dialed in, you can use the same bore sight to work on trigger control. That’s right; snapping in is one of the best ways to improve as a shooter. Dry-firing lets you pile up repetitions without firing a shot or driving out to the range. By adding a bore sight to your routine, you can watch what happens to your point of aim throughout your trigger pull and diagnose poor execution before it becomes a habit. Tiny movements that are hard to spot on your sights become easy to spot when they’re ratted out by a laser beam sweeping across your wall with every trigger pull.
Bore sights that cost between $20 and $50 tend to offer the best balance of features and price, but even budget bore sights can get the job done. Low-cost options tend to be caliber-specific. That’s fine if you only have firearms chambered in one or two calibers, but individual bore sights can get expensive if you own a larger collection.
In a market segment that seems to get more crowded by the day, Laserlyte manages to stand out from the crowd with this premium bore sight. The first thing you’ll notice is that the body is built from aluminum and anodized for longevity, making it far more durable than the plastic you’ll get elsewhere. The rigid probe is compatible with barrels as short as three inches, so it will work for most pistols. Choose from a set of adapters to match your barrel’s inner diameter and slide the device into the muzzle to create a snug fit. This system is compatible with .22 to .50 caliber firearms. Extra accessories are available for even more precision, but this basic kit should be enough to get you a solid starting point for establishing a true zero at the range.
MidTen’s laser bore sight is the most compact option on this list, and we’re pumped to see it available at this price. Not only does it do a great job when it comes time to start sighting in a new optic, but it’s also small enough to keep in your range bag to make quick adjustments. You know that we’re big proponents of dry-firing — and laser bore sights can be useful tools for that kind of practice — but avoid doing so with this one. The flat base of this bore sight isn’t likely to be kind to your firing pin. Another thing to consider is the fact that it looks strikingly similar to a live round. Obviously, that’s a marketing decision, drawing attention to the fact that this bore sight is used inside the chamber itself, but be extra careful and always store this separately from your ammunition. If you aren’t shooting .223 or 5.56, other models are available.
Laser bore sights tend to be pretty versatile tools, but this 9mm option from Feyachi has a few key advantages. Probe-style bore sights that attach to the muzzle are great for sighting in different types of firearms, but they need a certain amount of room to work with. Compact handguns like the ones you’d typically use for concealed carry often don’t have long enough barrels to be compatible. This bore sight gets chambered like a live round, so that isn’t an issue. The class IIIA laser uses two AG3 or LR41 batteries to create a two-MOA red dot. The laser is visible to 100 yards, but you’ll be using it at much shorter distances than that. One thing to note is the flat, metal base. Unlike a snap cap, there is no safe place for your firing pin to land. This isn’t for dry-firing, then. Still, if you added a high-speed red dot to your pistol and need to get it sighted in, this is a fantastic alternative to live rounds. Sighting in a rifle isn’t bad because they’re so easy to stabilize for consistent shots. Pistols are much more difficult, so save yourself a headache by using a laser first.
Forget about batteries and sight in your firearms the old-fashioned way with this XAegis bore sighting kit. Rather than a laser, this system uses a lens marked with its own crosshair reticle as a reference point. By aligning your sights or optic with the reticle, you can be confident that your first shots will land on paper and require little correction when you take your firearm to the range for the first time. Adapters are included for calibers from .177 to .50 and come in a hard case with dedicated spaces for each component in the kit. This option does cost more than most laser alternatives, but it doesn’t require batteries and is built to last. Keep in mind that it will not be compatible with particularly high-mounted optics, like those that attach to the top of a carrying handle.
If you want high-end performance without the associated cost, consider adding this EZ Shoot laser bore sight to your range bag. This option saves money by using plastic rather than metal, but functions similarly to higher-end bore sights. Three small AG13 batteries provide long life and a bright red laser. Nine adapters are provided to fit securely in barrel diameters large and small. This kit also includes the screwdriver and hex key you’ll need to make adjustments. The included barrel adapters fit tightly, so we wouldn’t recommend using them with a dry bore. There’s no need to over lubricate; the fine film you’d apply with a bore snake or patches during regular weapon maintenance should be just right.
This Strong Tools bore sight is a great solution for those of you with modern tactical optics. Trying to zero a red dot sight with a red laser sounds like an exercise in frustration, so we’re glad to see the same technology available with a green laser. Along with the compact bore sight, you’ll get 12 adapters for bores as small as .17 caliber and as large as 12 gauge. This is a significant competitive advantage, since the adapters included with most bore sights top out at .50 caliber, which is too small for most shotguns. This set has four adapters larger than .50 caliber. Strong Tools is also considerate enough to include not one, but two batteries to save you another purchase.
Why should you trust us
I’ve had the privilege of firing everything from an antique bolt-action .22 to the incomprehensibly awesome MK19, and got to use a slew of military and civilian optics (but yes, I did qualify on iron sights so keep the old man jokes to yourself). As any shooter worth their salt will tell you, no weapon system can be employed properly if it isn’t sighted in correctly. That isn’t complicated or hard to do, but it does require a little bit of homework and some discipline. Whether I was shooting for fun, competition, or work, I always took establishing my zero seriously. You should, too.
Different kinds of bore sights
Bore sights use either a laser or physical reticle to show roughly where a round would impact. They are designed to fit inside the muzzle of your weapon or be chambered like a real round. Both types assume a perfectly flat trajectory and will need to be used at a specific distance to achieve your desired results. Use this reference point to get your optic close enough to put your first shots on paper when you do go to the range. At that point, a few three-round groups should be all it takes to perfect your zero.
Many laser bore sights attach directly to the business end of your weapon for easy installation. A short probe will be inserted into the barrel, and a removable adapter will be used to secure it in place. Each kit comes with enough adapters to work with common barrel diameters. At the muzzle, the flared body creates a snug fit. The result is an alignment that projects straight out from your weapon’s barrel.
The main advantage of this style is compatibility with nearly all firearm calibers. If you want to make one purchase and be done with it, this is the way to go.
Caliber-specific bore sights are shaped like an actual round and are chambered to direct the laser all the way through the barrel and out to your target. Power comes from a stack of small batteries that are commonly used in small devices like hearing aids. This style is very affordable and compact, and many shooters swear by it.
The downside of this style is that a given bore sight cannot be used for firearms of different calibers. If you only have one firearm or a small collection, the cost savings are worth it. Collectors will want to spend more to get a universal bore sight.
These bore sights also tend to be brass, for some reason. Dummy rounds are generally brightly colored to differentiate them from live rounds, and it’s strange that the same logic isn’t used here.
Muzzle-mounted optical systems
Optical bore sights ditch the laser and batteries altogether. This style still mounts to the muzzle but uses a glass lens with a reticle to indicate where your optic should be placed. As with high-end laser bore sights, optical bore sight kits include adapters for a vast array of calibers and barrel diameters.
With this style, you’ll get a lens with a crosshair reticle that will align with the reticle on your optic or your sights when a zero is achieved. Kits include rods designed to fit snugly in specific bore sizes for an accurate reading.
These kits cost more than laser alternatives upfront but they’re basically universal, never need batteries, and should last longer than you do if you take care of them.
What to consider when buying a bore sight
As with many products, your budget will largely determine what kind of bore sight you buy. Quality options can be found for less than $20 or more than $50. With a higher price comes a longer list of features, so you’ll need to prioritize your needs to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
One of the things that sets more expensive bore sights apart is versatility. Unlike entry-level lasers that are designed to work with a single caliber, higher-end options are compatible with almost anything you’re likely to encounter. Even if you own a .17-caliber rifle for plinking and a .50-caliber behemoth for making epic YouTube videos, many of the bore sights on this list will be compatible with your whole collection.
Lastly, you’ll need to choose between laser and optical systems. Battery-powered bore sights use a laser to provide a point of reference that can guide you toward a true zero. Optical systems mount a reticle above your barrel and in line with your sights or optic to achieve the same goal.
The advantages of owning a bore sight
Time is money, and so is ammunition. Bore sights save you both by reducing the number of live rounds you’ll need to fire in order to properly zero your sights or optic. With no firing involved, you can even close in on a proper zero at home.
Because the visible laser of most bore sights displays a constant visual reference, they can sometimes be used to practice marksmanship fundamentals when dry-firing (pro tip: If you aren’t sighting in regularly, you aren’t taking your marksmanship seriously). We recommend setting up your phone and recording the laser against a flat surface so you can see how it moves throughout your trigger pull. If you have a flinch or other bad habits, this can help you find them. As always, put safety first and only dry fire after clearing your weapon.
- Spend less time establishing an accurate zero
- Improve your starting point before setting foot on the firing line
- Save ammunition
- Practice trigger control while dry-firing with a compatible model
Pricing ranges for bore sights
- Less than $20: Budget bore sights are certainly capable. Because they tend to be caliber-specific, you might have to buy a few to suit your various firearms.
- Between $20 and $50: Mid-range bore sights tend to be the sweet spot. You get quality construction and compatibility with a wide range of calibers.
- More than $50: Surprisingly, premium bore sights often don’t use lasers. Instead, you’ll get a battery-free system that uses its own reticle.
How we chose our top picks
We’d love to spend a day at the range testing each of these bore sights (and a week confirming the results with gratuitous amounts of live fire, you know, for science), but logistical constraints have a habit of getting in the way. Fortunately, the thousands of consumers who own these products are happy to share their experiences in the form of online reviews. We combed through dozens of products and hundreds of reviews, referenced our past experiences, and decided on a handful of products we’re confident in recommending to you. Fire away.