How to Mount and Sight a Rifle Scope

Do you know how to mount and sight a rifle scope? Learn how to mount and sight properly, so you can start enjoying the benefits you expect from your new scope.

Getting a new rifle scope can be exciting whether it is your first scope, or you have several scopes you’ve used on your rifles over the years. A new scope makes you think about all of the possibilities that the future holds whether you are a hunter or a target shooter. You’ve taken your time to find the ideal scope, but that’s just the start. You also need to know how to mount and sight a rifle scope properly if you want to get the best results.

A great scope that is poorly mounted will not do you any good. For many new to hunting and shooting, this can seem intimidating. However, it is not as daunting as you might think. As long as you have the willingness to learn and the ability to follow some simple instructions, you can do it on your own without much trouble.

In addition to tips on how to mount and sight a rifle scope, we’ve also included some information on various products that might help make the process even easier.

What Will You Need?

For mounting the rifle scope, you will want to have a few simple tools that will help to make things easier. This includes firearms torque screwdrivers, such as the option from Wheeler that’s discussed below. You will also want to have a gun cradle system like the option from Tipton that’s below. You may also need some scope rings if your scope did not come with any. Some will come with the basics of what’s needed for their mounting system.

Other items to have on hand include:

  • Loctite
  • Small bubble level
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cleaning patches
  • Dial caliper

Of course, whenever you are working on a firearm, you also need to have a clean, well-lit area, and that only has the tools and items you will need in place. You don’t want a lot of clutter when you are trying to mount your scope.

Always look at the instructions for mounting that come with the scope and make sure that you have all of the tools needed to mount it properly. Don’t substitute incorrect tools thinking that they will work the same. You don’t want to make a mistake when you are dealing with an expensive firearm and scope.

Some firearms owners choose to have a professional gunsmith take care of mounting their rifle scope, which is perfectly fine. However, once you see how to do it, you might want to try on your own. Once you learn the techniques, it will serve you well not just for this scope, but all of your scopes in the future.

Mounting the Scope

The following are steps you will need to take to mount a scope to a firearm, such as a bolt-action rifle. Keep in mind that there are different types of mounting systems, as well. Always check to see the type of mounting system the scope you are considering requires. The instructions below are for a bolt-action rifle.

Make Sure the Firearm is Unloaded

The first thing you should always do when you are working with any firearm in any capacity is to check to make sure it is unloaded. Never skip this step no matter how certain you are that the rifle is unloaded. There are too many cases of people making mistakes each year to forego this step.

Place the Rifle in a Cradle

Place the rifle on a secure and sturdy location, such as a rifle cradle, so it will stay in place while you are working on it. The Tipton Gun Butler, or a similar solution, will work well for this.

Cleaning

Take a small amount of alcohol and dab it onto one of your cleaning patches. Remove the oil from the top of the receiver. You will also want to clean the screws, rings, screw holds in the rifle and rings, and the bases in the same manner before mounting. When you remove the oil, it will help to ensure that the Loctite you use cures properly to keep the scope in shape.

Test the Bases

Make sure the holes in the base are matching up to the holes in the rifle. Screw on the bases, but do not use any Loctite at this step. This is just a test to make sure it all lines up properly.

Attach the Rings

You will then attach the rings to the bases. Make sure that you are following instructions from the manufacturer to get the rings on the right bases, as some may be different heights depending on the scope.

Place Your Scope

Add the scope to the rings to make sure you have enough room between the rings and the turret to access the controls properly. In some cases, you might need to make adjustments or turn the bases around to allow for more room. Ultimately, follow the instructions included with the scope, and you should find that it will work well with most firearms.

Start Tightening

Only after you have made sure that everything is in place should you start to tighten the screws. You will start with the bases and add them first. Add a small drop of Loctite to the screws, which will help them stay in place even with recoil.

Do each of the bases on its own. Screw the bases in place and use a torque screwdriver to make sure that you have the proper torque on your screws, which should be specified by the manufacturer. The Wheeler torque wrench mentioned below will be able to measure this for you. Make sure they are not overtightened.

Add the bottom rings to the base following the manufacturer’s instructions. Again, you will want to add a small amount of Loctite to keep everything in place.

Put the scope into the bottom rings and then place the top rings on the scope. At this stage, you will only want to lightly tighten the top rings. You want the scope to still be loose enough that it can move, so you can level the reticle.

This is also when you want to be sure that you have enough eye relief to make sure that you will have plenty of room between your eye and the scope regardless of the magnification. Ideally, you will want to have between three and four inches from your eye to the scope. This way, the recoil will not cause the rifle scope to hit you in the face when you fire.

If you wear glasses when you are shooting, use those glasses when you are setting up your eye relief. This ensures that you don’t have any nasty surprises when you use the scope for the first time.

If you find any issues when you are examining the scope at this stage, make adjustments to ensure proper eye relief and to ensure it is mounted at a comfortable height for shooting.

Leveling

Using two small bubble reticles will let you level the reticle, so your shots will be accurate. You will want to put one level on the action of the rifle and the other on the elevation dial of the scope. Once it is level, you can turn the scope in the loose rings to level it. Once it is level, you can start to tighten the screws more to ensure it stays level. Check the eye relief again and then you can finish tightening the scope.

However, you still aren’t finished

Bore Sighting the Rifle Scope

Once you have your scope mounted and you’ve ensured that it’s level, you will want to bore sight the rifle. This is easy to do, as it simply means that you need to make sure that the centerline of the barrel looks to the same places as the scope at a distance. Most people will use a target that’s about 50 yards away to bore sight their scope.

To do this, you will keep the rifle in the rest and look through the bore. Line up the bore with the target and look through the scope to see where the crosshairs are located. You can make turret adjustment to make sure the scope and the bore are on the same target.

Let the scope sit overnight so that the Loctite will cure properly. Once it’s cured, you will be able to take the rifle to the range to give it a test.

Other Types of Rifles

Mounting a scope on other types of rifles, such as those that have rail systems, follows a similar set of instructions. Many find it easier to mount on rifles such as AR15s, but the process is similar. Always make sure that you read through the instructions for the type of mounting system that your rifle will require and make sure that you follow those instructions.

Tools to Consider Getting for Mounting Your Rifle Scope

As mentioned, we’ve collected several tools that will help make it easier to mount your rifle scope. Check out the following options and see if they might work well for your needs.

Wheeler Firearms Accurizing Torque Wrench

Wheeler Firearms Accurizing Torque Wrench

You have the option of just choosing the torque wrench from Wheeler, or you can opt for a package that includes a gun vise from Tipton, or a package that includes a leveling system.

The torque wrench features a range of screwdriver heads to ensure you have just what you need for the job at hand. It offers torque readings, as well, so you can make sure you are not under or overtightening the screws.

This tool is durable and high-quality, and it could be a good option to add to your set of firearms tools. It is easy to use, and it comes with a case to keep everything organized properly. If you don’t have a vise or if you don’t have a leveling system, you might want to choose a bundle that includes those options.

Tipton Gun Butler

Tipton Gun Butler

You will find that the Tipton Gun Butler provides some great benefits that could help to make it a perfect addition to your set of tools. It works as a secure method of holding your rifle while you are working on it. The product will also make it possible for you to store and organized cleaning supplies and other items you might need while you are working on the rifle.

It features cleaning forks that will hold the rifle securely without marring the body of the firearm. It has non-slip rubber feet, and it is made from quality materials, so you can be sure it’s built to last. The product works great when you are cleaning the rifle, as well.

GoldCam 1” Scope Rings

GoldCam 1” Scope Rings

These scope rings will work well for Picatinny and Weaver rail systems. The set includes two high profile and two medium profile scope rings. They have a see-through design that can provide visibility for open sights. They can also provide a secure mount for your scope, and the built-in tape ring within the rings helps to prevent marring on the scope.

These are high-quality and easy to use for those who may be mounting a scope on a rail system. The rings also come with two Allen wrenches.

Conclusion: Do the Job Right

Mounting your scope and bore sighting is not too difficult, but it does take several steps, patients, and the right tools. You can do it on your own rather than spending money to hire someone to do it for you, and the tools that we have discussed above can make the process much easier. When you do it yourself, it also helps you learn more about your firearm and scope.

Just make sure that you are doing the job correctly. Remember, the instructions from the manufacturer that comes with your scope will supersede instructions mentioned here, or instructions that your friends who have never mounted a scope might give you.

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