It is hard to stress how important it is to correctly install your rifle scope mounting system. By not placing the scope correctly onto the weapon you might risk ruining both the scope and weapon, as well as having to deal with all the aiming and stability problems such bad installation will bring with it.
The quality of the scope mount system is just as important as is its correct installation. After all a cheap scope mount system will show its faults only in the field or on the hunt. This way your fun target shooting and hunts can turn into a tiring nightmare of failure, or even worse cause you to injure animals.
The ideal scope mount secures your scope as low as possible over the barrel of your weapon and allows for good eye relief. The scope needs to be absolutely stable on your weapon, while also not being squeezed too hard by the scope rings. Steel is the material you are looking for when you want something strong and aluminum can be a very decent choice as well. Translucent rings are very weak and should be avoided.
Below we’ll look into some types of scope mounts in greater detail:
- Weaver style scope mounts. These scope mounts are very popular and use rails with characteristic grooves of the, all .180” wide. The Weaver-style rings have a rail with lugs that fit into these grooves perfectly. This way the mounts fit securely onto the weapon. The bases are 7/8’ wide and may come in two or only one piece. The materials used to make them are either steel or aluminum. Weaver rings can be easily detached with the scope still within them and reattached without any loss of zero.
- Picatinny scope mounts. These are standardized by the US military in 1913 and are very similar to Weaver-style mounting systems. The grooves and lugs in this system are actually larger than those of the Weaver-style, with a width of .206”. Weaver rings can be placed on Picatinny bases, but the opposite is not true. Some manufacturers therefore have started to cut larger grooves in the Weaver bases so that they can accommodate Picatinny rings as well.
- .22 rings, tip-off rings and 3/8’ dovetail rings. These rings are specifically made to clamp onto grooves of weapon receivers or grooves in special bases when there isn’t enough metal on the receiver. These rings have a inner circle diameter of 30mm, 1”, 7/8” or 3/4” and more. Standard one inch .22 rings can be called one inch tip-off or a one inch 3/8” dovetail ring. Some .22 rings are made to be able to attach on Weaver-style bases, this is a very good choice of mounting system since these bases are larger.
- Redfield/Leupold style Scope Mounts. These are the mounts all other mounts except Weaver style are measured by. They are always made from strong steel, have a sleek appearance and they might come in one or two pieces. This is a very reliable mounting system and not too expensive either. The type might differ a bit between different manufacturers. To remove your scope from this system you have to unscrew the top halves of the rings off. The front ring is press fitted into the base, while the rear is fastened with two screws that tie together. By unscrewing on of those two screws you can move the scope laterally, which allows for a tiny bit of windage.
- Dual Dovetails. This is a system almost identical to the Redfield/Leupold style mounting system. The one big difference is that in the dual Dovetail style both rings are press fitted into the base. This takes away the windage adjustment that the standard Redfield/Leupold style offers. This though is a very minor matter and usually the security a double press fit offers makes more than up for it.
- Clamp-On Rifle Scope Mounts. If your weapon is not drilled or in general grooved to accept scope mounts then the clamp-on variety is the perfect choice. This is usually used for older types of guns like some handguns and shotguns. They easily attach and are just as easily removed from the weapon without causing any harm at all.
It is important to remember that different diameters of scope usually demand different ring heights to function properly. Usually the wider the scope the higher it has to be over the barrel. The best fit is as close as possible to the barrel. For instance:
- 50mm scopes need high rings and in some occasions when the barrels are heavy you might even use super high rings.
- 42-45mm scopes utilize low height rings or medium when some weapons demand it.
- 28-36mm scopes use low rings almost always with very few exceptions for weapon with heavy barrels where they utilize medium rings.
- 20mm scopes are almost always using low rings and sometimes super low rings as well.
Tips on how to secure your scope mount properly:
- Leave a gap between the two halves of the scope rings when you tighten them.
- Remember to lap your scope rings properly. One way to easily do this is use jeweler’s rouge or Flitz on a metal bar with the diameter of your scope and with that rub away any edges within the rings. Be certain that you have removed all the abrasive before you place your scope within the rings, or you’ll damage it.
- Add a shim in bases that need to be higher. It is quite easy to cut an aluminum piece that corresponds to the base’s width and size in general and make sure its height is enough for your elevation.
- When you often install the same turn-in rings they become looser and you might need to grease them.
- When placing back the snuggly fitting top parts of the scope rings, place a paper between the rings and the scopes to protecting the latter from damage. This paper is easily removed afterwards.
Usually when there is trouble with a weapon’s aim and systems it will be the scope mount’s fault. This is why it is so crucial to learn how to properly adjust a scope mount onto your weapon. You want no weak parts in your weapon, so make sure you place your scope mount correctly and that this mount is of top quality!