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How to Mount a Scope – 8 Easy Steps with 5 Essential Tips

How to Mount a Scope
Written by Erik Himmel

When you’re using a rifle, precision is everything. If your rifle isn’t well calibrated, your chances of missing shots are quite high. Even if you’re a seasoned hunter, if you don’t mount and adjust your hunting rifle scope correctly, you’ll continue to fail time after time.

The precision of your rifle highly depends on the proper mounting and calibration of the scope. This is the reason many hunters prefer hiring a professional to do this job. However, something as simple as mounting a rifle scope can be more expensive than you think.

If you don’t have too much money to spend on maintaining your rifle, we’re here to teach you how to mount your scope the simplest way possible. As a result, you’ll save some extra bucks to spend on other things.

How to Mount a Scope | Step-By-Step

1. Check the fit of the mounting system

Check the fit of the mounting system

Scopes usually include their own mounting set that includes bases and rings. Not all scopes are suitable for all types of rifles. So, before you get a new scope, it’s a good idea to check if the mounting system fits the rifle. Verify that the diameter and height of the rings is correct and that the base isn’t too wide or too narrow for your rifle.

2. Put the bases in place

Put the bases in place

Place the bases over the mounting holes of the rifle. Then check the distance between the rings isn’t greater than the tube length of the scope. Also verify that the mounting kit includes enough screws to install the bases. Usually two screws per base are necessary to get the job done.

3. Tighten the base screws

Before installing the screws, apply a drop of thread locker liquid in each thread. This way, you’ll avoid slight movements in the base that could miscalibrate the scope. Thread locker can act as a lubricant, letting you applying more pressure than necessary when tightening the screw.

So, be careful to not overtighten the screw to prevent thread deforming. To ensure uniform pressure on each base, put the four screws in place and alternately tighten each one.

4. Install the rings

Install the rings

Screw the bottom half of the rings onto each base. Then, rotate both rings so you can insert a hardwood dowel or other cylindrical object between them. This way, you’ll guarantee a perfect alignment. It isn’t recommended to use your new scope to align the rings because its surface tends to scratch easily.

5. Adjust the reticle

Adjust the reticle

After aligning the rings, put the scope in place. Then, install the upper halves of the rings to fix the scope, but don’t tighten the screws completely. After that, use two bubble levels to align the crosshair. To do this, place a level on the action of the rifle and the other level on the reticle.

Slightly move the rifle and the scope until the bubble on both levels stops in the middle of the tube. Then, tighten the screws on each ring a little more, allowing the scope to move back and forth.

6. Move the scope

Put your rifle on your shoulder and keep an eye wide open looking through the scope. Slide the scope between the rings to a position that gives you a crystal clear view of the target. Once the scope is on the right position, move it one inch forward. By doing this, you’ll avoid hurting your eye in case of recoil.

7. Tighten the ring screws

Tighten the ring screws

Once the reticle is aligned and the scope is in the right place, tighten firmly the screws. Apply enough pressure on the screws to guarantee the scope doesn’t move. Alternate in an X-pattern to apply the same pressure on each screw. Use a small torque wrench for maximum precision.

8. Bore sight adjustment

Bore sight adjustment

Adjusting your bore sight is an essential part  here. If you own a bolt action rifle, remove the bolt. Then, move 25 yards away from a target and point to its center. Keep the rifle in position and put your eye on front of the scope. Align the horizontal and vertical crosshairs to the center of the target using the adjustment controls. Finally, pull the trigger to shoot.

If the first shot hits near the target, the calibration is fine. If not, make any necessary adjustments. After that, move 100 yards away from the target and repeat the same process. In this case you’ll have to be much more precise when manipulating the adjustment controls to hit the target.

If manual bore sighting is too complex for you, you can also install a magnetic laser on the scope for higher precision. That way, you just have to align the crosshairs to the reflected laser point.

Useful tips

  • Before applying thread locker on each screw, make sure to carefully read the user manual. Some rifle manufacturers recommend not applying adhesives to the threads because they become very difficult to remove.
  • Before installing the bases and rings, it’s recommended to clean them with isopropyl alcohol to remove any debris accumulated on the surface.
  • Use a click torque wench to better control the applied torque on each screw. Adjust your tool following the recommendations suggested in the user manual.
  • Use a gun vise to keep your rifle in a safe position while mounting the scope. Metal gun vises are the best because they’re resistant and rigid than plastic models.
  • When using the best laser bore sighter, keep your eyes away from direct exposure to laser light. Before shooting, also make sure to remove the laser from the scope.

Conclusion

As you can see, no matter whether you’re using a thermal scope or a sniper scope, mounting the optical device isn’t as difficult as you might’ve thought before. You just need the right tools and apply the tips in this guide to get the job done. Before you go hunting, make sure to properly calibrate your rifle to avoid wasting bullets and time. Also check the stability of rings and bases and tighten the screws if necessary.

You don’t need fancy calibration tools to get good results. With a pair of bubble levels and a small torque wrench you can do miracles.

About the author

Erik Himmel

A Part-Time Firearm Instructor

Hi, this is Erik. We all know firearms are dangerous, but only when one doesn’t know how to use and care for them. I have 15+ years of experience with different types of guns and for the last 10 years, I have taught numerous people how to hold and shoot a gun while staying safe and keeping the surroundings unharmed. My neighbors are some of my biggest admirers who enjoy talking to me about their guns, firearms safety and maintenance.

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