How To Zero A Red Dot Without Iron Sights

How to zero a red dot without iron sights?

You can use either an iron sight or a red dot for aiming a gun. If you have both, it is easy to line them both up. But How To Zero A Red Dot Without Iron Sights? There are several different options, and we’ll outline several of them.

Use Another Tool to Align It

One option would be to use a laser bore sighter to align the iron sight. If the weapon has a separate receiver or barrel assembly, you can just look down the barrel at a target mark. Ideally, this is a point of aim point of impact or POAPOI.

For example, you’d try aligning the gun manually while staring at a target 100 yards away, if that’s what you’re normally going to be shooting.

Adjust your RDS, though you may need to subtract the reticle height over the bore to get a good “zero”.

Make Use of the Rear Sight

You can have a front sight and a rear sight on a gun. If you don’t have an iron sight, you can mount sights on the front and rear of the gun manually, if you have them. The rear sight will move the way the impact should go. The front sight moves the opposite direction. If you put a red dot on the front of the gun, treat it as if it were a front sight while you’re aligning the rear sight.

Remove the Bolt

If you can remove the bolt from the gun or otherwise open the action, you can zero the red dot by doing bore sighting. This may not be as accurate as aligning it with a laser sighting aid, but it can be done by almost anyone.

Break Out the Laser Emitter

If you have a pistol, you can use a precision aligned laser emitter to line up the sight if it is attached to the cartridge. You can even put the laser down the bore and use it to line up the red dot instead of trying to align it by looking down the bore yourself. This approach gets points for saving ammo compared to trial and error.

If you’re lining up the bore with a target using a laser, we’d recommend a white target instead of a red one. This method works in low and medium light levels, but it may not be an option if you’re aiming at something at a great distance.

Literal Trial and Error

An old-fashioned approach requires going to the range. Place the red dot on your gun. Place the weapon on a sandbag so that it doesn’t move when fired. Fire one round. Adjust the red dot to align with the bullet hole without moving the weapon. Once it is aligned, test it again. If they line up, the red dot is aligned.

Another option is going to the gun range and choosing a distance to zero your sights to. Shoot three rounds to see where the bullets group. Adjust your red dot. Repeat the process by shooting off three more rounds. Adjust the red dot so it is over the bully’s eye, and keep shooting and adjusting until the bullets group around the target.

This takes time and wastes ammo, but you can do it even if you don’t have a laser alignment tool that fits your gun. On the other hand, you can use this process to make quick adjustments to your gun when the alignment needs to change to compensate for changes in the distance of the target.

What Should You Do If the Red Dot and Iron Sight Are Out of Alignment?

You may have heard that red dots and iron sights should be aligned separately. If you know how to do this, then you already know how to zero a red dot without iron sights if the iron sight is gone. Just use the method you’re used to, since it already works for you.

If you have both an iron sight and red dot, you can use laser emitters or other tools to align them both. But be careful about simply aligning the newly installed red dot with an iron sight or vice versa, since they may just align with each other if you aren’t aligning them with a target, too.


It is hard to hit a target with precision if the sights aren’t aligned with the barrel of the gun. You may use red dot sights or iron sights or both to make sure your aim is accurate. Know several methods for aligning the sights so that you don’t waste time and ammo, or worse, miss your shot at a critical moment.

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