How to Sight in a Laser Sight for Your Pistol
The information out there on the internet and forums on how to zero in your laser sight is sort of well, all over the place. Some resources say to sight in at 50 feet or further while some other say to try sighting in at 10 feet or the average distance for confronting an attacker (whatever that is!).
In this post, we’ll go over a simple way to zero in your handgun no matter if you have a laser sight on your rail or on your pistol grip.
Want a sure-fire way to sight in your new laser sight? Just use a laser bore sight instead of doing it manually.
First Step: Install Your Laser Sight Correctly
This might seem pretty obvious but you need to make sure that the laser sight on your handgun is installed correctly. To do this, you need a quality laser sight that fits your gun well.
On my Glock 17, I’ve currently got a Crimson Trace laser installed on the rail. It doesn’t budge when I shoot, it has no play in it whatsoever so that I know it’s not moving.
Now I’m not saying that you need to lay down the cash for a Crimson Trace but whatever handgun laser sight you buy, make sure it’s well reviewed and NOT a cheapo laser pointer with a rail mount on it. Also, make sure that the laser sight you do have has windage and elevation (up and down) adjustment screws on it or some way to adjust it.
Follow the manufacturer’s supplied directions and make sure that everything is tight on your handgun’s accessory rail.
Next Step: Shooting a Group at Distance
Go to your local gun range and get a clean target ready. Not a human silhouette, but an actual target, possibly like this.
Now we’re ready to get started. Make sure you’ve got your allen wrenches ready (or whatever method to adjust windage and elevation is on your laser).
Move your target back to about 30 feet. Yes, we’re going the distance!
The reason for starting at 25 or 30 feet is that you will be able to account for the trajectory of your bullet at this distance. We want to make sure your pistol laser is accurate both at distance and close range.
Think about it this way: if you were to hold your pistol point blank at the center of the target (looking down iron sights) and pull the trigger, your bullet hole would be a bit higher than where the laser dot was. That’s because your laser is mounted on the undermount of your pistol or to the side if you’re using a laser grip. We need to account for this in some way and that’s why we’re not starting at point blank range.
So at this point fire a group of 4-6 rounds aiming for the very center of the target. Prior to squeezing the trigger, make note of where the laser dot is in relation to where your iron sights are having you aim.
Take note of your group, but don’t reel in your paper target yet! You might need binoculars or high-visibility paper targets to do this depending on your eyesight.
Now, take aim again at the same spot down your iron sights with the laser turned on. Once you’ve gotten a good sight picture with your iron sights, take note of where your laser sight’s dot is in relation to the center of your group, not the center of the target.
Make some slight adjustments to your laser’s windage and elevation if your laser dot was not in the center of that group.
Keep doing this at 30 feet until your laser dot is in the center of your group. Remember, aim for the center of the target with your iron sights, fire 4-6 rounds then make adjustments as necessary to your laser sight until the dot is consistently in the center of your group. I would keep doing this for about 5 sets of 4-6 rounds until you’re satisfied with the consistency.
Getting Closer: Getting Zero on Your Laser Sight at Close Range
Once you’ve gotten consistent results at 30 feet using the method above. Now get a fresh paper target and move it back to about 10 feet.
Do the same thing again: shoot 4-6 shots aiming down the iron sights and make adjustments until your laser is in the center or very slightly lower than the center of your group, not the center of your target. If the center of your group is the center of your target, then that’s fine.
Have You Figured Out This Method of Sighting In Yet?
Basically, it is a given that everyone on Earth that owns a gun isn’t a sharpshooter by any means. Rather than adjusting your laser sight to zero on the iron sights (where you’re aiming on the target), you’re adjusting for where your shots are actually going.
Hopefully, your shots are very close to where you’re aiming (having a laser sight is NOT a replacement for good marksmanship and practice). We want to get that laser dot as close to the center of our groups as possible at any distance.
This is all done so that in a panic situation, you will raise your pistol up and be able to quickly get on target with your laser every time.
Alternative Laser Sighting Methods for Handguns
You may find that no matter what, you can’t get a good zero following this method. I would recommend using a pistol rest if you are having problems, however, I always like to have people do this just using their own aiming ability.