In this article, we are going to cover how to zero a red dot optic. The first thing you’ll need to do is mount your optic. Check out our other article on Where to properly mount your Red Dot.

What Does MOA mean on a Red Dot Sight?

Before you start the zeroing process, it is important to understand Minute of Angle or MOA.

MOA is the unit of measure that is used to zero most optics. 1 Minute of Angle equals 1 inch of adjustment at 100 yards. Most red dot optics have 1 MOA adjustments which mean that each click will move the point of impact 1 inch at 100 yards. If you are shooting at 50 yards, each click will move the point of impact 1/2 inch.

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If you are shooting at 25 yards, each click will move the point of impact 1/4 inch. Be sure to check your optic to confirm the click value of the MOA adjustment before you start this process.  For a deeper look at MOA, check out the NSSF’s article on the topic here.

For the purposes of this article, we are zeroing an AT3 Tactical RD-50 Red Dot which has 1 MOA adjustment.

It is important to understand what the “click value” is of your red dot.  Most 1x red dots have 1 MOA adjustments.

Zeroing a Red Dot at 25 yards

Start by firing a 3 shot group 25 yards to ensure you are “on paper” (If you aren’t on paper at 25 yards, you should use a laser bore sighter to get you on paper).

This NcStar Laser Boresighter is perfect for getting you on paper when sighting in a new optic.

Examine where your shots hit. Assuming all of the shots are fairly close to each other, you can now use a small screwdriver or the back rim of a cartridge to start making adjustments.

Make small adjustments and take your time when zeroing your red dot.

First, begin adjusting the elevation. If your shots hit low, you need to raise the dot up. If they hit high, then you need to lower the dot. To zero the windage, it is the same process. Move the point of impact right or left as needed.

Now fire another 3 shot group to ensure you are zeroed at 25 yards. Keep firing 3-shot groups and make slight adjustments until you are sufficiently zeroed at 25 yards.

Zero a Red Dot at 100 yards

Now that you are zeroed at 25 yards, you can move out to 100 yards to set your zero. After sighting in at 25 yards, you should be on paper at 100 yards so just follow the same process as before but keep in mind that each click will move your red dot 1 inch at 100 yards.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is to work slowly and make small adjustments. Do not make adjustments after every shot and give yourself plenty of time to get the optic sighted in.

One Last Tip

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3 thoughts on “How to Zero a Red Dot

  1. What is the relationship, if any, between the optic MOA and the value of the click for the adjustment screws ? If most red dots value per click are set at 1MOA/click at 100 yds, then what determines how you choose the MOA for your reticle.

    1. Hi Yvon!

      The short answer is that the MOA of the dot is the size of the dot and the MOA of adjustments is your 1 inch at 100 yards and so on. If you move a 3 MOA dot one click then you will likely see some overlap since the dot at 100 yards would be covering roughly a 3-inch circle.

      Typically the deciding factor when it comes to the MOA of your dot (the size of your dot) is the intended use or at least the intended distance it will be used. If I have a handgun for example, then most people lean toward a larger dot ( 6 MOA for example) since the average target distance with a handgun is short enough that the dot will not cover up most of the target and the dot will be easier to acquire. The flip side of that coin is that a smaller dot size (2 or 3 MOA) will be much more precise at shorter and longer ranges solely because it covers less of the target but may be harder for your eye to pick up on the fly. The MOA as far as dot size is concerned translates similarly to adjustment clicks. A 3 MOA dot as is will cover roughly a 3-inch circle at 100 yards. Most red dot optics are offered around that 3 MOA size since it is a quicker way of shooting partnered with reasonable accuracy at a distance that a red dot optic is to be used at. Most red dots are recommended to be utilized at 25 or 50 yards. For those of us using them at longer ranges a smaller MOA would be smart but there is a point where it becomes hard to see the dot so the whole inaccuracy portion of say a 3 MOA red dot balances out.

      Hopefully, this all helps. Happy and safe shooting!

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