How to Adjust Iron Sights for Elevation

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Iron sights are one of the most basic styles of rifle sights. They consist of two parts: a simple post on the front and a notch in the rear through which the shooter aligns the front post. Many rifles come standard with iron sights. They are durable, easy to use and less expensive than scopes. Adjusting iron sights for elevation -- vertical alignment -- is easy and takes only minimal tools. Once adjusted, it is difficult to knock the sights out of alignment, which makes them appealing in rugged hunting situations.

Items you will need

  • Screwdriver

  • Allen wrench

  • Target

  • Ammunition

Shoot at a target to learn whether the gun is hitting high or low. Fire three shots to establish a trend.

Loosen the rear sight with a screwdriver or Allen wrench, depending on the type of screw.

Move the rear sight in the direction you want your shot to go. If your gun shoots low, you need to raise the point of impact to hit the bull's-eye, so raise the rear sight. If the gun shoots high, you need to lower the point of impact, so lower the rear sight.

Tighten the rear sight.

Test fire again. Repeat the process until you are on target.


  • Most iron sights only adjust in the rear. Rear sight styles vary. Some are spring loaded and loosening naturally decompresses the spring, raising the sight and vice versa. Some have notched settings, and you simply raise or lower the sight from notch to notch without tools. Most commonly, however, the rear sight is held firmly in place with a screw or set screw. Once the sight is loosened, the shooter slides it along an incline and then re-tightens the sight in the new position. Experimentation is necessary when adjusting the sights because unlike a scope, there is no calibration to tell you how much you need to raise or lower the sights to move the point of impact a given distance.
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