How to Sight In a Red Dot Sight

You probably bought a new red dot sight to improve your accuracy and speed of target acquisition. Opening the package with the excitement of a child on Christmas morning, you quickly moved on to installation. That was the easy part, right? Now, with the red dot optics installed, you face the challenge: How do you sight in a red dot sight? Today, we will answer that question.

Grand Power Q1S MK23 equipped with Sight Mark Mini Shot M-Spec FMS
Grand Power Q1S MK23 equipped with Sight Mark Mini Shot M-Spec FMS

Controls of the Red Dot Sight

The adjustment controls on the optics that we will be working with during this tutorial are:

  • Elevation Adjustment (movement up & down)
  • Windage Adjustment (movement left & right)
Red Dot Sight Adjustment Controls
Red Dot Sight Adjustment Controls

These controls are usually in the form of screws that click, so you know how much you have adjusted the dot in any chosen direction. This system is commonly used throughout nearly all optics brands and models. These controls are sometimes hidden under covers, so make sure you check your red dot properly and find them.

Sightmark Mini Shot M-Spec FMS on a pistol
Sightmark Mini Shot M-Spec FMS on a pistol

For the purpose of this article, I will use the Sightmark Mini Shot M-Spec FMS in black along with Grand Power Q1S MK23. Mini Shot M-Spec has an elevation adjustment positioned at the top of the RDS and windage on its right side. It is perfect for this guide because it is compatible with pistol slides. Let's see why I chose this specific red dot sight.

Sightmark Mini Shot M-Spec FMS

Beginners in concealed carry and new shooters usually reach for a pistol as their first gun. I went through this a few years back, so I can relate. You've got yourself a nice new pistol compatible with optics, so you naturally looked for a new red dot holster and RDS too. If you don't already have one at home. You should definitely check out options from Sightmark. They not only have an awesome price-to-quality ratio but also provide durability, reliability, and user-friendliness. I can recommend it to anyone looking for a crisp and clear red dot that makes target acquisition swift and accurate. Want to hear more about its specs?

Top view of RDS
Top view of RDS

The Sightmark Mini Shot M-Spec FMS is a compact, durable red dot sight designed for rapid target acquisition and versatility. Its robust construction, featuring a 6061-T6 aluminum body and a protective hood, ensures reliability under harsh conditions. The 3 MOA red dot reticle provides precise aiming, while the 12 brightness settings accommodate various lighting environments. With a battery life of up to 30,000 hours on low settings and an easy-to-use top-loading battery compartment, it offers convenience and longevity. Additionally, its IP67 waterproof rating and shockproof design make it a solid choice for tactical and recreational shooters alike.

Sightmark Mini Shot M-Spec FMS battery slot
Sightmark Mini Shot M-Spec FMS battery slot

Now let's get back to sighting in your new RDS.

Sighting In (Zeroing) Your Red Dot

The first thing you need to know is the distance at which you want to hit bullseyes. This is extremely important as the bullet trajectory is not perfectly straight during its flight. If you plan to shoot in certain competition disciplines, you probably already know the distances you will be shooting at. If not, most defensive situations occur at a distance of 3-7 yards, which is too close to really use any form of optics rapidly. If you need advice, simply zero it at a distance you train with the most. For me, it is 27 yards.

Pistol ballistic in comparison with sight view
Pistol ballistic in comparison with sight view

Minute of Angle (MOA)

Before you get to the shooting range, make sure to check your manual for the so-called MOA. It is an adjustment value that will tell you how much you should rotate your controls during zeroing. My Mini Shot M-Spec FMS has 1 MOA and a range of both elevation and windage of 110 MOA. This means that at 100 yards, each click represents 1 inch on the target. Translated into the metric system, it is approximately 2.9 cm at 100 meters. So, if you shoot at a shorter distance like me, each click will represent a proportionally smaller value. Knowing this value gives you an idea of how much you should rotate the controls without shooting into the roof of your local shooting range.

Manual that includes MOA value
Manual that includes MOA value

Process Of Zeroing

Once you get to the shooting range, align yourself with the desired firing distance, aware of your MOA value, and you should be ready to start zeroing.

It is usual to zero your RDS by shooting in a traditional way ( using a two-handed technique or one-handed technique ). However, if you don't feel to be an experienced sharpshooter, you can help yourself by resting the grip of the handgun on a table or anything else that will help stabilize movements and prevent shooter's errors.

Two-handed shooting technique
Two-handed shooting technique

Fire 5 rounds precisely at the center of your target using your red dot. You should now see how close to the center your bullets hit. Check the target to see exactly where the group is located and adjust elevation and windage accordingly, using the number of clicks. Controls are usually marked with directional arrows that indicate which way to rotate them to move the impact of the bullets up or right.

Side view of Mini Shot M-Spec FMS
Side view of Mini Shot M-Spec FMS

Just to prevent mistakes, here's how it works:

You shouldn't think of it as you are moving the red dot into the group but rather bringing the group into the red dot. If you remember this setting will be much easier.

Target group
Target group

So in case you made a group on the right side and up you should move elevation - down and windage - left.

Elevation setting on a red dot
Elevation setting on a red dot

Your first adjustment should be done. Now repeat the process: fire 5 rounds at the target. Are they all exactly where you were aiming? If they are in the right location, you're all set. If not, repeat the zeroing process until you are satisfied.

Windage setting on a red dot
Windage setting on a red dot

Final Tips

From my experience, if you do this for too long and start getting frustrated, double-check how the optic is mounted. Sometimes, screws loosen during shooting, causing the optics to slightly change the position. To prevent this from happening again, check our guide on how to properly install an RDS.

Look through the properly set red dot optic
Look through the properly set red dot optic

Also, you might have calculated MOA values wrong, so make sure you do not spin controls too much, but rather a bit every time.

If you fail and feel unable to sight in your red dot yourself there is always the option to give it to the hands of professionals at your local shooting range or gun shop. Alternatively, it is possible to sight in your optics using a bore laser too, but this option will cost you extra.

Pistol with a zeroed RDS in a holster
Pistol with a zeroed RDS in a holster
Martin Lukačko

Martin Lukačko

sales & marketing

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