How To Mount A Rifle Scope

When it comes to shooting, you have a lot of options. Shotguns, rifles, long guns, and pistols are just the highest order of choices you need to make. Rifle shooting is one of the most common shooting sports around the world, whether for hunting or competition. No matter why you want to shoot, being accurate is important and the best way to be accurate is with a scope.

But you can’t just slap a scope on a rifle and call it good. Even if Hollywood and video games have taught us that is how it works.

Today we are going to talk about how to properly mount a scope to your rifle. While the process becomes incredibly easy once you have done it a couple of times, the first time is always a bit difficult. Especially if you want to be pinpoint accurate.

If you want to be extremely accurate with your rifle, the scope needs to be mounted with precision and care. Each step needs to be followed to the tee and it doesn’t hurt to try the steps multiple times to develop confidence in your skills at mounting a rifle scope.

How To Mount A Scope

Image by Mitch Barrie | CC BY-SA 2.0

What You Will Need

In order to properly mount a scope you will need just a couple of tools. Not many though. Here is a brief overview of what we recommend.

  • Scope and tools that it came with
  • Locktight (Or similar chemical)
  • Level (Optional)

If you are not going to use the tools that came with your scope to mount your scope, make sure that you have the proper bit for your scope. Using the wrong size torque or Philips head can result in damage to your rifle.

A Couple Of Notes About Your Scope

A scope is a delicate tool. Any kind of knocking about could affect your scope’s mount. Try to keep your scope as protected as possible during shooting trips and when moving it around. If your scope does get jostled, simply ensure that everything is still tight and sight in the rifle again.

When purchasing Locktight for your rifle, keep in mind that there are several different types on the market. Make sure that you pick the one that is right for your application. The strongest Locktight requires heat in order to be removed.

How To Mount Your Rifle Scope

Step One: Mount The Rings

Depending on the type of rifle you have the rings may need to be mounted in a couple of different ways. One way is to have the rings mounted to a rail system (Picatinny). With this, you just lock the rings into place on the rifle where they will match with the scope.

The other type that is commonly seen is the screw on scope. These scopes either attach to a screw point that is already installed on the top of your rifle or needs to be made. Some rifles, like the Ruger 10/22 have the ability for you to screw on a rail for ease of use. Either way, if you are going to be screwing on the mounting bracket, make sure that you use Locktight to hold the screw in place.

While the screw is still loose, make sure that you align the rings of the scope to be straight. It doesn’t hurt to carefully drop the scope in to ensure proper alignment. At this stage you could use a level to ensure its properly sat in the rings.

Before putting the scope on the rifle itself, you should ensure you know where you want to place it. The scope should typically be moved an inch or more further forward than one might think. This is to help with reaquistion and to prevent recoil from forcing the scope back into your eyes.

Step Two: Line The Sight Rings

Your sight rings might be designed specifically for your rifle but there is still the possibility that they can damage the rifle. Some people place electrical tape along the inside of the scope ring to prevent damage. You must be very careful to use the thinnest tape thought to ensure that you don’t hinder the application of the scope.

After you have applied the tape, take a moment to trim down the tape that sticks out with a sharp blade. A razor blade, box cutter, or sharp knife will do.

Other people dust their scope rings with rosin. This is also an option.

Step Three: Align The Reticles

Next you will want to roll the scope in the rings so that the reticles are straight up and down. The left and right ones should also be level. You should pay extra attention to this step so that you can get the sight properly aligned. A failure during this stage will result in your bullets not going in the right direction.

A level can also be used during this step to help ensure the proper alignment of the scope. Rest the level on the top of the elevation knob. Leave the scope in place once the level reads that you are in the right position.

Step Four: Tighten The Top Rings

After reading through your scope’s manual to determine the proper tightening for your scope, you should tighten the top rings down while keeping the scope in place. At this point in time, it might be helpful to have a friend to hold your scope while you tighten it.

Overtightening your scope could cause damage to the rings and the scope both.

Some shooters also choose to use Locktight during this step. This is most common when the shooter doesn’t plan to be switching out the sights ever. This is a personal preference. Just keep in mind that Locktight will make it very difficult to remove the sight after.

Step Five: Adjust The Eye Relief

Now that everything is all mounted on the rifle you want to adjust the eye relief on your rifle. This will help to ensure that everything you see through the scope as clear as possible. Try aiming the rifle in a safe direction and looking at a distance to ensure that targets at a distance are clear too.

Step Six: Sight The Rifle In

Sighting the rifle in is your next step. This process involves shooting three rounds at a target downrange. Then based on how close they are to the bullseye, adjusting the windage and elevation. At 100 yards it takes four clicks of a knob to adjust for one inch.

To sight your rifle in you should be using the same type of ammunition that you plan to be shooting when you go out. In addition to that, you should be sighting your rifle in at the distance that you are most likely to be shooting at. Somewhere around 100 yards is pretty typical.

If you plan to be shooting at varying ranges, you can learn the distance that you need to adjust the crosshairs by going to the range and playing around.

Mounting a scope on a rifle is an important step in shooting. Your first time might be a bit overwhelming as it will be a key part in getting your rifle fully operational. If you have other questions about how to properly operate your sight make sure to check out our other articles. We have a number of articles to help you get what you need out of your rifle.

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