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You might be a gunsmith, you might be an engineer, and you may have been mounting scopes on rifles since a date that borders on ending with B.C. You might be doing it wrong. “It’s not your fault,” (Good Will Hunting, 1997). There’s more to mounting a riflescope than commonly thought. Overall, it is a simple process, but must be done correctly for proper optic function and reliability. Save yourself time, frustration, and ammunition by doing things right on the front end.



1. Start with good rings and bases—you’ll thank yourself later

Often overlooked, many people highly underestimate the importance of quality rings and bases. They become an afterthought in the rifle/riflescope purchase process and get skimped on. Remember, these are the components that connect the riflescope to the rifle. If they are not up to the job, you’re stumbling out of the gate.


2. Take it to the max

When setting eye relief, it’s important to do so on the riflescope’s maximum magnification. With the rings still loose, slide the scope fore and aft and look through it to find its optimal position/eye relief. Shoulder the rifle several times and bring the scope to you during the process. Make adjustments as needed. This will ensure the best sight picture throughout the zoom range.



3. It’s time you get on the level—by using levels

After eyeballing the reticle as close to plum as possible, it’s time to break out the bubble levels. With the rifle braced and locked in place, set one bubble level on a flat surface of the rifle (generally on the receiver), the other on the riflescope (generally on top of the elevation turret). Gently turn the scope in the rings until both read level. Note: Just because your reticle may appear to be slightly canted after proper mounting, doesn’t mean it is. Right-handed shooters often notice a perceived subtle cant to the left and left-handed shooters the opposite. It’s not the reticle that’s canted, but the rifle itself when brought to the shoulder.



4. Use an inch pounds torque wrench—not to be confused with an impact wrench

A common misconception is the need to really crank ring screws to ensure the scope doesn’t slip under recoil. Over torqueing can lead to tracking issues due to flexing of the outer scope tube, which impedes functioning of the internal erector tube (the part that moves when adjusting your turrets). Crimped scope tubes can also result, which is an unfortunate and permanent issue. Ring halves are not supposed to touch. Once tightened in an alternating fashion, much like you would tighten the lug nuts on a tire, there should be equal spacing/gap between the top half and bottom half of the rings (applies to horizontally split rings). As a general rule, 15 to 18 inch pounds on the rings is more than sufficient, even for magnum calibers. You can be slightly more aggressive with the ring to base connection with 25 to 35 inch pounds of torque.



5. Don’t use Thread Locker

Recommended by many, it is not necessary to use Thread Locker on your ring or base screws. Thread Locker lubricates screw threads, causing a wet-torque which can actually lead to over-torqueing. Your torque wrench might read 15 inch pounds, but in reality be much higher.

Implement these tips into your riflescope mounting process to get the most out of your rifle and the optic that sits atop it.

by Mark Boardman



    Hank B said:
    December 3, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Generally good advice as far as it goes, especially in regard to using good rings and bases. I’ve found that with a few exceptions, it’s a good idea to properly lap the scope rings for that “perfect” fit to the ‘scope tube. I also put a very thin coating of rosin on the inside of the ‘scope rings as just a little extra precaution (probably not needed) against the ‘scope moving in the rings. I do this by dissolving the rosin in alcohol and painting on a very thin coating with a Q-tip. I also make sure I use high quality mount & ring screws of proper length to get maximum thread engagement without bottoming out or protruding through. And despite recommendation #5, I’ll continue to use blue Loctite to anchor the screws – and I’ve NEVER dented or crimped a ‘scope tube. (DON’T use red Loctite or you’ll have the devil’s own time getting things loose in the future.)


    j wood said:
    December 3, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    After steps 1-5, attach a scope mounted bubble level on the scope tube, plumb to the levels used to mount the scope.

    Using a level, plumb a yardstick vertically to a target frame, secure the yardstick to the target frame at 100 yards.

    With the rifle secure, and with all due diligence for safety, rotate the elevation turret, beginning at the top of the yardstick and work your way downward. Observe the reticle alignment to the plumb yardstick and corresponding measurements per click.

    You are checking 2 things with this final step;

    1) confirming your reticle is level relative to gravity (If not, carefully adjust scope bubble level)
    2) confirming that your scope adjustments are correct or to what degree they are out of spec

    You can now remove the scope, use the same rings and mount it to another rifle and be correctly aligned.


    Adam said:
    December 9, 2015 at 10:12 am

    You can have your scope canted in the rings and on the rifle as long as your level (anti cant device) is true to your reticle. Most would cringe at that comment however think about it, your reticle is level to gravity, thats the object. If you don’t have the ability to adjust cant into your recoil pad this is an acceptable option. This method introduces a miniscule amount horizontal offset. It’s less than .0001 MOA ( if your scope height is 2 inches high) SO my point is; match the reticle to the ACD and do your best getting it level in the rings. IF your ACD mounts to your rail (not the tube) then all 3 components must be level. Ya follow??


    Eduardo Abril de Fontcuberta said:
    December 10, 2015 at 8:19 am

    After decades of tests on torqueing screws there are many, most, manufacturers that USE red 222 and 222MS loctite.
    Torque is not something like black magic or “wet” it a well know concept and a well researched and practuced procedure.
    The REALLY important issue with small acrews is to reduce thread friction created when a new screw is threaded into a new thread. Screw it several times handtight and then apply Loctite 222 or MilSpec 222MS and torque to its manufactured torque. Also clean both with acetone or degreaser.
    This is what most manufacturers recommend as the basic protocol. High power rifles and un loctited screws dont go well together…as simple as that.


      Bill Honrath said:
      December 15, 2015 at 10:00 am

      I also like to paint a tiny amount of blue Loctite on the bottom half of the rings, using a Q-tip, before setting the scope in. Is that really necessary? Probably not. But it gives me an extra sense of confidence nothing is going to change under a heavy recoiling rifle, or if I would happen to slip and fall with my rifle.


        Eduardo Ade Fontcuberta said:
        December 15, 2015 at 11:58 am

        Sure and drop in top base too, but only if you dont mind leaving the scope marked if retired and changed from one rifle to another.


    Bob Peterson said:
    December 10, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    2016 Catalog


    Jon Gifford said:
    December 22, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    Round and round on the Loctite. I have contacted multiple manufacturers. Leupold, Nightforce, and others all recommend lightly lubricating the screw threads. Loctite functions as such. NOONE recommends chemically de-greasing screw threads and inserting them dry. As far as I can tell, using Loc-tite with regard to assembly and torque is a non-issue. I think the problem you are seeing is that the kind of person who uses loctite is also much more likely to be the same guy using German torque specs for ring caps. Gut und tight!, and THAT is the source of issue. Not the loctite.


      Eduardo Abril de Fontcuberta said:
      December 23, 2015 at 11:05 am

      Hello again,
      It is not inserting them dry what I said, or meant. It is matching threads from base and screw to remove friction drag from the ecuation, handtight a couple times and then remove them and then torque them using loctite. About degreasing it is not a scope manufacturer idea….its the threadlocker one….. The use of loctite on an oiled screw is like placing a bandaid on a wet finger.
      And about tightening PERSONAL recomendations…there are many different, even among each manufacturers R&D and T&E and Sales teams, ( leupold and nightforce included) depending on the recoil , type of base, needs, marketing and engineer team own experience. What goes into the scope manual is a different thing.
      But, work some years around .50 rifles and you will find a consensus about the true value of the non-loctite options. And remember that for a 308…any good protocol will work.
      Thats all I mean and it is my way of mounting bases, based on 25 years of mounting bases in military fifties and comp rifles. I do it this way because the other ways did not work FOR ME. Your system might work for you and mine is not better or worse…than yours…its just mine. I posted it to avoid some web friends the frustation I had for years . If they are old enought to shoot then they are old enough to discriminate the info and decide their own way.
      Merry Christmas to all


    Doug Seale said:
    January 24, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Lots of good advice and none will get you into trouble. As far as the Loctite if you purchase Larue Tactical mounts they arrive with a blue loctite already applied. Im sure not one to argue with Larue.


    jon said:
    August 29, 2016 at 12:40 am

    How accurate is the Vortex Torque wrench?


      vortexoptics said:
      September 9, 2016 at 9:45 am

      Very accurate. We wouldn’t sell it otherwise.


    Andrew Morison said:
    September 2, 2016 at 3:09 am

    I am fond of shooting and hunting as well.I notice Dimension , MOA, eye relief ,Reticle etc. I also make sure I use high quality mount & ring screws of proper length to get maximum thread engagement without bottoming out or protruding through .I have recently discovered a site best rifle scope covered with clear and concise design of this new turret .


    Giuseppe Kincaid said:
    December 13, 2016 at 2:32 am

    As soon as I found this website I went on reddit to share some of the love with them.


    Dave Hamilton said:
    January 21, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Loctite – Why is the red loctite being put in blue tubes & blue loctite in red tubes ?


      vortexoptics said:
      January 23, 2017 at 10:28 am

      Hey Dave!

      I am not sure why that is happening, I would contact Loctite themselves to answer that question for you!


    AugieS said:
    March 18, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    Rosin was mentioned. Does it come in paste, liquid, or powder? Also, however it comes, where can rosin for scope mount purposes be found?


      Bruce said:
      December 13, 2017 at 12:50 am

      Your nearest music store – violinists use it.


    Augie said:
    December 13, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    On all my scopes, lapping for sure using the Sinclair lapping kit, and a bit of sticky paste rosin(very small amount). I use the stick rosin from the baseball section at Big 5 sporting goods. Made for batters rubbing it on the bats grips.

    Lastly after leveling the scope, torqueing the fasteners, and boredoghting with a laser, I’ll take a pencil and scribe marks on the top half of the scope, at each side of the upper rings. The marks are not obtrusive, but a quick check will tell me if my scope is moving at either direction. It wipes off clean with silicone spray later on.


    Augie said:
    December 13, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    I meant BORESIGHTING!! Sorry about my big thumbs on the cell phone, lol


    jessica8394 said:
    December 14, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Special thanks to the endeavors for displays different scopes.It has delighted me and gave ideas about many new and original features of different rifle scopes rare in this case.


    Augie said:
    December 18, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Just got done mounting my 4-12 x40 Diamondback onto my Benjamin Marauder. I find lapping the rings make it so much easier to level the scope when tightening down on the ring screws. The scope won’t “role” as I find it does when mounting a scope to in lapped rings


    John Smith said:
    January 7, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    Who makes the red level used in the picture above?


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