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How to Mount a Scope...

In the past year I have seen several folks at the range that were more than a little disappointed with the way their scopes were mounted at the place where they bought the their guns.

Some of the things I have seen include loose scope ring screws and scopes that were mounted off center.

When scopes are not mounted properly, there is no way you are going to be able to shoot straight. I hope this information helps you in your pursuit to hit the dot in the “i.”

Let’s start by going over some of the tools needed to make installing a scope properly an easy, no-fuss job.

You will need a gun vise. Battenfeld Technologies makes several of them, ranging from the Gun Butler (priced at about $30) to the Beast Gun Vice (around $130).

I have the Gun Butler, and it has worked just fine for years. One day, I might be able to afford the Best Gun Vise, but for now I am pleased with the one I have.

Next you will need a leveling device. I have two of these. Wheeler makes both of them, including the Level-Level-Level, which was my first one.

I also recently purchased a Wheeler PRLS (Professional Reticle Leveling System). This is a fancy model of the first one mentioned, and this one is a bunch more versatile, especially if you have, or are going to have, any rifle with an aluminum upper (AR platform) or if you use aluminum scope bases.

Then you’ll need a scope ring alignment bars set. This is used to be sure your scope rings are properly aligned.

You will need a F.A.T. wrench to torque the fasteners to the proper INCH pounds. I emphasized INCH, as most of us that work on our cars relate to foot pounds. See the chart on the following page for the proper INCH pounds.

Don’t forget Loctite. I have been using the original red Loctite for years, but there is a blue Loctite designed for guns.

And last, a screwdriver bit set. I have a few of these, all made by Wheeler, and to date, I have not been able to tear them up, so they must be “Jim-proof.”

Let’s start by placing the rifle in the gun vise. If you will be installing scope mounting bases to the rifle, now is the time for that. Dab a little Loctite on the threads of the fasteners, place the bases in the proper location and screw them down, using the torque settings on the next page.

Then go ahead and install your leveling device to the barrel and be sure it is level with the receiver, using both parts of this leveler. You do this by attaching the barrel level to the barrel. Then lay the rear or small level on the receiver or bases being sure it is on a flat surface.

Position the rifle so the rear level bubble is in the center of the two lines on this level. Now you can adjust the level on the barrel to make it level with the rear level.

Now place the lower half of the scope rings on the mounts and secure them to the bases. I then lay my rear (small magnetized level) on top of the rings and check them to be sure they are level. If they are, which they will be almost all of the time, put a dab of Loctite on the threads and tighten, using the torque settings shown on the next page.

If they are not level, unscrew them, press down and jiggle them around with your finger, and this will usually correct the problem. Re-check them for level and tighten them.

Now you are going to check the rings to be sure they are properly aligned, using the scope ring alignment bars.

They come in two sizes: 1 inch and 30 mm. Be sure you have the correct size for your application. Lay these in the scope rings with the pointed ends facing each other, then place the top of the rings on them and lightly tighten down one screw on each side of the rings. If the scope rings are properly aligned, the points will be touching, and if the rings are not aligned you will see that the points are misaligned. If the points are aligned skip the next step.

If the rings are off center (points of the scope ring alignment bars do not touch) and the bases and lower rings are properly mounted, you are going to have to lap the rings or try another set.

If you purchase good quality rings and have followed the steps above, you will almost NEVER run in to this problem. I have installed hundreds of scopes and only had this problem one time.

I put these rings away and installed another set. BUT, sometimes you will end up with a set of rings that slipped though the quality control.

Not to worry, this is fixable. If you have purchased the Wheeler Professional Scope Mounting Kit, you will have a lapping tool and the lapping compound.

Put the lapping tool in the rings and start lapping. Lapping is a fancy name for sanding or removing some of the metal on the rings to make them align. By doing this, you will have a more uniform surface between the scope and rings.

Once your rings are aligned, place the scope in the lower half of the rings. Place the top half of the rings in place, dab a small amount of Loctite on the threads and lightly tighten the screws.

You want to be able to move the scope but it shouldn’t be so loose that it can move without you moving it. Now bring the rifle to shoulder and check to see it the scope is lined up with your eye and is the correct distance from your eye.

If you can see the entire picture through the scope without any of the black in the picture, your are ready for the next step. If you do see black on the edges, slide the scope forward or back until the black goes away.

Now place the rifle back in the rest, being careful not to bump the scope. Place the rear or small magnetized level on the top of the scope adjustment cap.

Be sure the rifle is secure and the front barrel level has the bubble directly between the two lines, then slowly rotate the scope until the level on the scope has its bubble directly in the center. Now check the barrel level and be sure it has not moved and that both of the bubbles are dead center, and you are ready to start tightening the screws.

If your rings have one screw on each side, go ahead and lightly tighten one side then the other. Tighten each side a little at a time until both sides and front and rear rings screws are tight to the torque chart settings at right.

When you have the rings tight, there will be a space between the two halves of the rings. You want this space to be as close as possible.

If the rings have more than one screw on each side, you want to alternate form one side to the other in your tightening process. Only tighten the screws a little at the time, then do the same alternating from left to right and forward to rear until all of the screws are tight.

Now put your level back on top of the scope and check to be sure you are still level.

Congratulations, you have now mounted your scope! And it’s done right because YOU DID IT.

Video Links: I have also included some links to videos that will allow you to watch this being done. I know if I can see something being done it makes doing it easier for me.

F.A.T. Wrench: (Click Here)

Screwdriver Set: (Click Here)

Professional Scope Mounting Kits: (Click Here)

Professional reticle leveling system: (Click Here)

Shoot Straight, Shoot Safe and Remember: If all guns were treated as if they were loaded, there would be NO MORE accidental shootings.


Jim Hammond has had some sort of gun in his hand since he was 5 years old. He started with a Daisy BB gun as a small boy, and with careful instruction from his very safety-minded father, has become a skilled and knowledgeable shooter now willing to share his knowledge and experience as he has FUN SHOOTING. “Safety first and everything else will follow.”