Mounting a scope isn’t that complicated, but does require some attention to detail. The author looks at the techniques he’s found to be most successful and hopes they may be of assistance to others. Here, the level shows the scope is perfectly aligned vertically; crooked or tilted crosshairs being very common on firearms.

I’m very hard on hunting and fishing equipment, unfortunately dropping or breaking things with disturbing regularity.

In addition, whenever something new comes along it has to be looked into. Thank goodness money is a little tight or I’d be building a new addition just to house every innovative gadget to come along or store the old models I’ve retired. Sportsmen of every class and pursuit are always looking for something new to give them the “edge”.

Sadly, not a year goes by that I don’t purchase a new scope despite the fact I attempt to acquire solid and proven models made by dependable manufacturers. A new model may have a lighted reticle, finer or heavier crosshairs, improved hold over points, weigh a little less or have a parallax adjustment. Perhaps I need a model with higher magnification. The list seems to go on and on and varies according to my experiences during the previous season. Do I really have to have something new? Probably not, but where’s the fun and experimentation in that?

Because of this I’m pretty proficient at mounting and replacing optics and thought I might pass along how I perform this task. However, times being what they are, neither the paper nor myself assume any responsibility of any type should you attempt the same.

The optic mounting process usually falls into two categories. You’re putting a scope on a firearm that currently has neither bases, rings and optics, or a shooter is replacing his or her optics, usually a scope, currently in place.

We will start with a firearm without optics. If your rifle, pistol, shotgun, muzzle loader is drilled and tapped, as most are today, that’s good news. If it isn’t, take it to a reputable gunsmith, and as long as he’s at it have him install your optics. Saves a lot of hassle. But, if you wish to mount your optics yourself, why not?

Each firearm has different dimensions, receiver diameter, circumference, action length, etc. Bases and rings for almost every model of firearm are available and the correct pair can be determined by looking up the make and model of the firearm. It’s critical to have the correct mounts; the rings and mount package usually lists the firearms they are matched to.

Place your firearm in a cradle of some type to hold it firmly in place. I use a vise, but I have two pieces of plywood shaped to fit the vise and each is padded in thick carpet so the jaws cannot hurt the stock. Don’t over-tighten whatever you’re using, just firm pressure, use your head, don’t crush things.

Place your bases on the receiver and look closely to determine their bottom contours match your firearm. Then make sure the screws fit the threads. I apply a little grease under each base to protect it from rust. The front base will usually be longer than the back. Check your directions and how well they fit the space available. When you’re sure everything is correct apply some Loctite Blue or varnish to your screws and fasten the bases. Make sure your screw (Allen wrench, star head or screwdriver) tightener fits the screw head perfectly. Tighten each screw gradually keeping your tool at right angles to the screw. The screws need to be very tight, but don’t overdo it and strip your screw heads.

Next, place the bottom half of the rings on the base and very firmly tighten the large side screw to lock them in place. Again, some Loctite to make sure they don’t shoot or vibrate loose over the years.

Now you can set your new optics onto the bases and place the top half of the base above the corresponding bottom. Put the screws in place and just barely tighten them enough to hold the optic in place but loose enough to rotate the optic to level and move it back and forth for proper eye relief.

Let’s say we’re mounting a scope on a rifle. I remove the rifle from its support, shoulder it and move the scope back and forth until I can comfortably see through it. Remember, you may be wearing heavy clothing when in the field so it’s better to have the scope a little further back than too far forward. Most scopes have 2-3 inches of eye relief so this isn’t a big problem. But, make sure the scope isn’t too far back or it may hit your eye when you fire, especially in a magnum caliber. If your eye isn’t at least two inches back from the rear bell of the scope you may get hit. Be sure to avoid that.

With your head positioned naturally on the stock, the scope two or more inches in front of your eye, move your head back a little from its normal position on the stock to simulate heavy clothing. If you can see the full field of view, replace your rifle in the cradle parallel to the floor.

Now, mark the scope’s position and remove it and the tops rings from the rifle. Grab a small level or balance a large one carefully across the flat top of one of the bottom bases already screwed solidly on the rifle. Carefully rotate the firearm in its holder until the bubble shows the base and therefore the rifle is perfectly level left and right, horizontally. Now, make sure it’s solidly in place in this level position. Being careful not to move the rifle, gently set the scope in place forward and backward, replace the top rings and delicately replace the screws just tight enough to be able to rotate the scope. Set the level on the top scope cap, don’t remove it and rotate the scope until the level bubble is centered. Tighten the screws very firmly. If the rifle moves at any time during this process remove the scope, level the rifle again and repeat. Now, your crosshair will be perfectly vertical and you’re finished.

Good luck and happy shooting.

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