Mounting a Rifle Scope

Mounting a rifle scope correctly isn’t as simple as you might expect. There are a few steps you have to follow correctly and before you start, you need to gather all the tools you’ll need. Here are the steps you need to follow in order:

  1. Work on a gun vise in a well lit room or place.
  2. Use the correct tool to remove the filler screws from the upper side of your receiver. You don’t need to do so for grooved receivers and Piccatiny/Weaver bases.
  3. Clean the grease out of the screw holes.
  4. Remove the grease from the mount’s various parts.
  5. Coat the receiver and the scope mount bases or rings with a thin film of oil. To find out how to do that properly look at the instruction of the Scope Mounts you have bought. Some products say you should also oil the threads of the screws as well.
  6. Loctite can be used on base screws, but never on ring screws. Place the Loctite on the screws, not inside the threaded holes.
  7. Place the screws in their correct places, since sometimes the bases can have screws of different lengths. Make sure the screws protrude from the underside of the bases. If locked too tightly the riflescope might fall off or break due to the recoil.
  8. Install the bases in place.

Remember that fingernail polish can do the work of Loctite. Only use Loctite instead of oil when the manufacturer suggests doing so.

Installing the scope rings

After placing the bases it is time to install the scope rings. Install the bottom of the rings onto the bases with a screwdriver if you use Picatinny or Weaver system. If you use a Leupold turn-in style you have to install the top ring onto the bottom ring. You then place it in the base. With a wooden dowel or a non-marring screwdriver you should then turn the ring 90 degrees into the correct place. Use the tools for this, since it is impossible to do correctly by hand. It is best to leave the grease on these parts as is. It is best to have a special Leupold ring wrench for this job. These Leupold turn-in style systems get looser every time they are installed, so extra grease might be needed to be applied. You need to repeat this procedure for the rear ring if you have a dual dovetail system. Leupold systems allow you to adjust windage.

Aligning the Scope Rings and Rifle scope

Using a scope ring alignment tool, to prevent damaging your scope’s tube with badly adjusted rings, you need to adjust the scope correctly onto the weapon. These tools actually are two 1” or 30mm rods with pointy ends. Put the alignment tool between the scope ring halves and push the back and front rings together until the pointy ends of the tool are about to touch.

You then remove the upper part of the scope rings and place the rifle scope lightly into the bottom halves. You can then place the top parts back on again.

Sight in the Scope

You need to align the barrel of your weapon with the scope. This is best done using a device called the boresighter. Magnetic boresights can do this without the use of a target or specific arbors. Removing the bolt of your rifle, when possible, allows you to be sure that whatever you see through your barrel you also see through the crosshair. You need to aim at a target at least 25 yards away to do this correctly.

Adjust Windage and Elevation

Unless you already could adjust your scope without needing to change windage and elevation, then you are ready for the next step. If not, then windage and elevation need to be changed now. If you use Leupold type bases and your windage is off by a great deal, then you should first remove the scope before adjusting the windage, as to avoid damage to the scope by the rings. Moving the rear base and realigning the rings should allow your scope to drop to the bottom of the scope rings once place in them again. Reinstall the top parts of your rings and check the boresight once more. You can’t adjust the bases in dual dovetail systems, so in that case you need to replace the base for one with windage screws. With the Weaver or Picattiny systems you will need to add a base with built in elevation, or place a shim under the rear or front bases. Some of these systems have windage adjustable rings.

If you don’t have the proper equipment just do the best you can by eye and use something with the same shape and size to check if this mock scope falls to the bottom of the rings.

Lapping your Rifle Scope Rings

Lapping your scope rings means to make sure their inner side is perfectly polished. This removes any protruding edges or pieces that could damage your precious scope. Getting the right tools for lapping is very important to be able to do this job right, they are usually inexpensive and last for a lifetime.

Make sure you don’t leave any of the abrasive compound used for the lapping itself on the rings. Remove it with a special solution. Now is the time to place the scope back into the bottom of the rings and place the top halves of the rings lightly on. Now aim at a wall that stands a bit away or the sky and adjust the eye relief. Move the scope to the front and back until you find the position in which you can best use your scope as far as possible away from your eye. Lower magnification allows for greater eye relief so remember to set the scope at the highest magnification.

Final Touches

Remember that there will be a gap even when you tighten the ring screws. You need to tighten them securely, but not so much as to eliminate this gap completely. Remember to level your crosshairs, either by yourself or by using the specialized tool. After you have tightened the screws make sure that no screws bother the action or that the ocular bell interferes with the bolt if you rifle is a bolt-action one.

Now it is time to boresight again and shoot a bit at a distant target. Riflescope rings will need to be tightened once in a while. There you go; you have adjusted a scope properly onto your weapon!