A Guide on How to Mount a Scope on a Gun By Yourself

How to Mount a Scope on a Gun By Yourself

Mastering a skill feels amazing. Expressing basic competency feels pretty good. Getting started, however, tends to feel more grating than great.

You can't become competent, or a master, if you don't take that first step. Learning how to mount a scope represents a crucial step in shooting mastery. Knowing what goes into the mounting process teaches you about the variations in sight to the target.

These days, with modern barrel crafting, accuracy is less an art of working with a gun and learning its peculiarities and more about gear. Learn to calibrate your gear—and your accuracy will improve.

Read on to find out how to mount your scope like a pro, and start hitting that bulls-eye every time!


How to Mount a Scope Simply

When attached properly, a scope enables a shooter (you) to hit a target regularly with confidence. 

Achieving a tight grouping takes a few extra steps, and isn't possible with a scope aiming degrees and inches off of your barrel.

Aligning a scope properly is one of the key goals of mounting a rifle scope yourself. 

Mounting breaks down into four broad steps: equipment needed, prep, mounting, and calibrating.


Equipment

Be careful in this first stage. The scope you intend to mount comes with instructions and reading those always pays off. Specifically, you need to understand the diameter of your scope to ensure it fits the rings you pick up or that came with your rifle.

In addition to the scope and rings, you need a screwdriver, a cradle or vice, some degreasing agent, and some thread locking compound. A pre-built kit provides all the tools and materials needed for scope mounting.

Additionally, a torque wrench is handy, but not an absolute necessity. Alignment rods also help but can be worked around. 


Prep

Prepare your mounting area by attaching your vice/cradle to a solid bench. You want the rifle stabilized and level.

Before putting a rifle into position, make certain it is unloaded. Remove the bolt or firing pin and ensure it's pointed in a safe direction. Wipe down the rail or mounting base and your rings with the degreaser.

Work in a well-lit area that gives you room to move to the side and behind the gun.


Mounting

How to properly mount a scope differs slightly between different scope bases. Picatinny rails and Weaver-style mount bases require different steps.


Rings

Mounting the base of the rings is the only step that changes from one rifle type to another. For a Picatinny, you clamp the ring bases to the rail and tighten the screws to lock. Leave some room in the screw and don't torque them at this stage.

For a Weaver base, the rings screw into the top of the rifle. Again, you want to tighten them but leave yourself room for adjustment.

Dovetail rings screw into the ring base via angular movement instead of a screwdriver. Always use a wooden dowel or alignment rod to twist the rings down, never use your scope as it bends the housing and can affect the optics. 

Once your ring's bases are attached you want to test that the scope rests level between the rings. Use alignment rods to confirm the rings won't distort or bind the scope.

When you are comfortable with the positioning, lock down the bases screws with locking compound. Don't worry about the inability to adjust the scope further with the base locked down. There is plenty of room for those adjustments in the rings.

Remove the tops of the rings to set in the scope.


Attach Scope

Place the scope in the cradle of the ring bases. Make sure that the scope is the right way in the bases. The objective and ocular bells should be outside of the rings, not touching either. 

You want to position the scope according to three maxims.

First, you want the scope to be as close to the barrel as you can mount it without touching the barrel.

Second, you need the scope to be out of the way of the bolt or other firing levers. Nothing should touch or bump the scope (including your finger between). 

Third, the eye relief should rest in front of your face where it is easy to look through but not so close you smack yourself in the face on recoil.


Level Reticle

Look through the scope and adjust the reticle until the vertical and horizontal alignment is precise.

Place a level and an anti-cant indicator on the scope to confirm its level with the rifle.


Tighten it Down

With everything level, attach the ring tops and screw them down until firm. Alternate half turns on the screws all the way around until they are tight. You want even spacing between the ring halves so the alignment is maintained.

Don't use locking compound on the rings. You may need to perform other adjustments or to attach a different scope of the same diameter in the future. 


Calibrate and Adjust

With the scope mounted, you still need to do some gross adjustment and fine-tuning before you're done. Use a boresight to make this easier.

The goal here is to make sure the bore and the scope are centerlined. Adjust the axis of the windage turrets until the center of your reticle lines up with a target between 25 and 50 yards. 

You want to hit a range and bench test the rifle at 100 yards to zero. A few shots in and a few more twists of the windage turrets will put your reticle on the target.

While not a complete myth, accuracy improvements beyond 200 yards are rare enough that you shouldn't sight for it. Sighting to 100 yards is as accurate as you need, from there it's up to you to know the drop on your ammo and the crosswinds.


Now You Know How to Mount Your Scope

Even if you outsource your scope mounting to a gunsmith, it's still good that you understand how to mount a scope. It will help you get the most out of your shooting experience. 

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