Ammo & Gear Reviews

How To Zero A Scope For .308 Winchester

REUTERS/Oleg Popov

Guns and Gear Contributor

By Eric Patton, RangeFinder.com

You have a new .308 Winchester, but now you need to zero it. Don’t worry-it isn’t hard and actually, it can be fun to do. If you are not sure what to do though, this article will walk you through the necessary steps. Before you start using it, head out to the range to zero it. It is important to zero your .308 Winchester so that you can consistently hit your intended targets at the distance you desire. You should always remember that having both accuracy and precision at any distance is key for your hunting success.

Check that your scope is correctly attached

This is often an overlooked first step. Make sure that your scope is properly attached. This step should be reasonably quick. Check that you have used the correct mount with your scope and rifle. Mounts are usually either a single piece or rings. You should use the one that is best for your combination and keeps the scope securely mounted.

If you are not sure which mount you need, it is perfectly ok to ask for help. The experts at your local gun shop are happy to help.

Get plenty of paper targets

You should use paper targets when zeroing in your scope for your 308. If possible, it is beneficial to get paper targets that have grids marked out on them. These grids are very informative. They will show you how far off, or close, your shots are when you are taking the test shots. This is needed info when making any needed adjustments for windage, elevation, and parallax.

Begin to zero at 25 yards

The first step you will take in zeroing your scope, is to begin with a shorter distance. The perfect starting distance is at around 25 yards. Once you have set your targets up, begin shots at the paper target. Once you are hitting shots in and around the bullseye with consistency, you should start to move your targets out to longer distances.

The recommendation is to fire 3-5 bullets in a row. Then you need to check the target. Check how close you are to the bullseye. You should use the info on the target and grid to make any adjustments you might need.

Now, go back out to 25 yards and try again. If you are consistently hitting the bullseye, or close to it, you are ready to increase the distance.

Next step is out to 50 yards

Now that you have your rifle and scope zeroed for 25 yards, you are ready to add distance. You will set your new target to 50 yards. And the process begins all over. You will shoot 3-5 bullets at the target and examine your results.

Make whatever adjustments are needed and begin again. When you start to consistently hit the target at 50 yards, it is time to move once again.

Move out to 100 yards

Zeroing starts to become fun at this point. If you plan on doing any long-range shooting, you should start to zero at longer distances.

Set your paper targets at 100 yards. Even though the distance is longer, the objective is to hit the bullseye consistently. Start by firing 3 to 5 bullets at the target. Check your results and see how close you to the center. Make any adjustments that are needed.  Once you are shooting consistently at 100 yards, you can move the target even further out. It is important to realize that with a .308 rifle, 200-300 yards is a good shooting distance.

Set targets out to 200 yards

Now, move the paper targets to 200 yards and repeat the whole process. Although it may seem like a pointless exercise, having a properly zeroed scope will be advantageous when you are actually hunting.

Make the needed adjustments

Those paper targets you used will give you a wealth of info. Check to see where the shots are in relation to the bullseye. Are they too high? Did they go off to the left? If your shots are off, it is crucial that you make the needed adjustments. When making adjustments it is good to remember that your windage adjustments will be made from right to left and the adjustments for elevation go up and down. A rule of thumb is that most of the windage and elevation adjustments will happen in increments of ¼ MOA.

Know your max distance

Just how far you should zero your scope is dependent on how far you will be shooting. For simple target practice or competition shooting, 100 yards should be plenty. However, if you plan on hunting it will be good to be properly zeroed to 200-300 yards.

Know your scope

It is wrong to assume that all scopes are the same. They aren’t. In fact, not all scopes can reach the same distance. Before you purchase a scope make sure you know what its maximum distance is and know how far you plan on shooting. (Check out the top list scope for .308 from Scopesman.)

Keep extra ammo on hand

Before beginning the process of zeroing your scope, just know that you will be taking a lot of shots. You will need to bring plenty of ammo with you, and have plenty in backup. Zeroing your scope takes time, patience, and a lot of shots to get the accuracy you want. You will need to repeat the process over and over at each new distance.

While you are at it, make sure you have plenty of extra targets too.

Read those shots

It is crucial for you to physically retrieve the paper targets after firing a round. You must look at them to see where you have to make any adjustments. You must continually monitor your targets after every round you take.

As a safety precaution, make sure the area is all clear before retrieving a target.

The zero needs to be perfect

Zeroing your scope is not a process that can be rushed through. Take the time to make sure that your zero is perfect before you move the target to the next distance. A very small error at 100 yards quickly becomes a huge one at 1000 yards. The process is not quick and it is not intended to be.

Points to remember

Even though you may get your scope perfectly zeroed, you should realize that it may not necessarily stay that way. There are several factors to be aware of that can and do affect the zero.

Drastic change in temperature

Maybe you got your scope in the summer and zeroed it in in the heat and humidity now it is winter and you want to deer hunt. With the change in temperature between summer and fall, your scope may not perform the way you think it will. Any change in temperature will have a significant impact on the wood, metal, polymer of both your scope and your rifle. You will need to rezero your scope for the weather conditions you are shooting in.

Different altitude

Along with temperature, barometric pressure also affects bullet trajectory. If you zeroed scope while at sea level, you will need to rezero it when shooting in higher altitudes.

Gun modifications

If you make modifications to your rifle after zeroing your scope, you will need to do it again. The slightest change to your rifle will affect the zero.

Final thoughts

It is essential for .308 Winchester owners to know how to properly zero a scope. The goal is for your scope and rifle to work in tandem. You will zero your scope so that you can easily and accurately reach your target. This process will require you to spend time at the range.

Begin by properly mounting your scope to the rifle. Check to see that the mounting is secure. Grab lots of paper targets and plenty of ammo. It is a good idea to get targets that have a grid on them to help you fine tune your scope easier.

Start the process of zeroing at 25 yards. You can begin to move the target further back once you are consistently hitting the bullseye. Move out to 50 yards next.

The next step is to move the target out to 100 yards. Remember that you probably will have to adjust your windage and elevation as you move further out. Windage adjustments are made from left to right nd elevation adjustments go up and down. Once you are zeroed at 100 yards, you can back up further if you want

Keep in mind your maximum intended shooting distance and zero to that number.

At times the process comes across as a waste of time and a waste of ammo. This is the wrong way to think about it. If you want to be successful when using your scope, it must be properly zeroed.

A properly zeroed scope and rifle will help ensure that your point of impact and point of aim are accurately aligned. The time spent making the adjustments will be well worth it when you are successful shooting in the field or hunting on the range.

Eric Patton has been an avid shooter in many disciplines over the years but took to the long-range shooting and hunting game about 20 years ago. You can find more articles from him on Scopesman.com and Rangefindertoday.com