How to Mount Your Riflescope Properly

A riflescope can greatly improve your aim when shooting at targets from long range. However, if you don’t know how to mount your riflescope properly, even the best sighting equipment won’t be of any help. The truth is that scope-mounting systems are the weakest link in any shooting system. So, in this post, I’ll be sharing with you a few tips on how to mount a scope properly. With these tips, you can rest assured that everything is properly tightened, the reticle is dead level, and the eye relief is correct during your next hunting spree.

mounting a scope properly

First, though, make sure to have the following if you choose to mount a riflescope on your own:

  1. A well-lit and spacious work area
  2. Vise and workbench
  3. Torque wrench
  4. Screwdriver
  5. Thread freezing compound (such as Loctite)
  6. Rust preventative oil
  7. Scope ring alignment tools (like wooden dowels with pointed ends)
  8. Bore sight

Before proceeding, it’s also important to match rings and bases. Most, if not all, modern rifles come with pre-drilled screw holes for attaching scopes. Depending on the brand, some scope bases will only fit specific rifles. Therefore, make sure to check whether the mounting attachments are compatible with your rifle. By checking the bases and rings visually and pre-fitting them, you can tell whether they’re of the right height and diameter for your rifle.

Step 1: Mount the Base

Once you have the proper rings and bases, the first step is to mount the base. Begin by clamping down the barrel in the vise, but make sure to pad the jaws to prevent the vise from scratching the metal.

Next, wipe dry and apply rust preventative oil on the attaching surfaces then place the scope’s bases on the rifle’s mounting positions. The front and rear base may be different on some mounting systems, so make sure to check that you’re not attaching them backward. Now, tighten the screws that hold the base secure to prevent it from wiggling loose.

Most scope manufacturers recommend a maximum torque for tightening base screws so be sure to follow these guidelines when mounting the base if you have a torque wrench. If you don’t have a torque driver, then you’ll have to go by the feel of resistance when tightening the screws. Ideally, the screws should be tight enough so that the base doesn’t move under recoil stress. For maximum stability, you can apply a thread freezing compound like Loctite on the screws.

Step 2: Install the Rings and Scope

After the base is secured, attach lower halves of the front and back rings before screwing them into place. Avoid using your scope to measure ring alignment. Instead, use a ring alignment tool for this purpose. Two wooden dowels or metal rods with pointed ends and of similar diameter to your scope would work just fine. You’ll know that the rings are in alignment when the pointed ends of each dowel or metal rod appear to be leveled when they’re almost touching.

Next, remove the dowels and place the scope in the bottom ring halves. Gently screw on the top ring halves, leaving enough room for the scope to rotate and move back and forth. If you notice any uneven contacts between the scope tube and rings, you can try to rotate one ring. If that still doesn’t result in a perfect alignment, then lap the rings. Lapping, or polishing the inside of scope rings, ensures maximum scope-to-ring contact besides removing any sharp edges that can scratch the tube of your sighting device.

Step 3: Adjust the Reticle and Eye Recoil

With the scope properly mounted between the bottom and top rings, the next step is to align your sights. To do that, unclamp your rifle from the vise and remove its bolt if possible. Bring the rifle to eye level and look through the scope while moving it back and forward until you have proper eye relief and can see the field of view completely.

To prevent bumping your eye on the eyepiece during recoil, move the scope an inch further forward. Now, turn the eyepiece until the reticle appears in the ocular field. Align the crosshairs by turning the windage and elevation turrets while viewing an object such a vertical and horizontal mark on the wall.

You can also insert a bore sight into your rifle’s muzzle to adjust the vertical and horizontal axis to your desired point of aim. Keep in mind that bore sighting only aligns your iron sights on paper at 100 yards. Therefore, you’ll need to fire test groups to sight your rifle properly for longer distances.

Step 4: Tighten Top Ring Screws

Finally, double-check the scope’s position and sights. If you’re satisfied with the reticle’s position as well as the scope’s alignment with the rifle barrel, then tighten the top ring screws. Once the scope has been mounted securely, just bore sight it again to fine-tune the crosshairs and you’re ready to fire. Remember to check the tightness of your ring screws occasionally to ensure a successful hunt.

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