How to Adjust a Rifle Rear Sight If Shooting High

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Rifle sight work varies considerably between manufacturer models. Many rifle elevation adjustments are made by raising or lowering the front sight, as with the M16A2 service rifle used by the U.S. military. Many other rifle models have fixed, non-adjustable front sights, and elevation adjustments must be made by raising or lowering the rear sight or using a rear ladder sight. If you own a rifle with a rear sight elevation adjustment option, these guidelines can instruct you on how to perform this adjustment if you're shooting too high.

Fire a group of three shots on a target at a distance of 150 to 200 yards. This is a standard practice for sighting in a rifle as used by the U.S. military. This range allows for adjustments based on changes in wind and elevation over a significant distance. Note your round strike point for proper adjustment.

Lower the rear sight down by one click if using a dial adjustment knob, or push the rear sight leaf down one click if using a leaf sight. If using a ladder sight, lower the horizontal bar by one click. When the rear sight is lowered, you will have to put the front sight in line with the rear sight. This action will lower the muzzle, and your shot will land lower on the target.

Fire another group of three shots on the target, and note the strike points. If the shot is still too high, lower the sight by another click and fire another group of shots to check strike placement. Repeat the process until your sight is adjusted properly.


  • Consult your owner's manual for detailed instructions on how to adjust your rear sight.