A riflescope is an optical aid, which is mounted on the rifle and is used to locate the target. As you can probably guess, buying a good rifle scope is not enough, and doesn’t end there!
You need to regularly get it serviced by some professional or clean it on your own from time to time. Due to regular use in rugged conditions, the riflescope tends to attract dirt or misalignment of the lens may occur. But this can be corrected by just disassembling it and cleaning the parts and putting them back together in the correct order.
Today for disassembling a rifle scope, the main problem is that modern scopes are often sealed and argon or nitrogen purged, so when they are disassembled the gas is released thus letting oxygen to enter. Hence the riflescope no longer remains waterproof and fog proof.
The other issue is that sometimes people tend to fix pieces back together on an assumption basis rather than following a correct order. So, proper care should be taken while disassembling and reassembling your riflescope.
Before disassembling your scope you need to know about its parts and their uses so that you don’t end up ruining the scope.
Parts of riflescopes
- Scope tube: The scope tube is the most important element of the scope, hence avoid scratching the surface of the scope
- Optics: The light enters the scope via this part, and the reticle is etched to the optics only. This should not be tempered while disassembling.
- Ocular lens: This is the lens that directly faces the shooter’s eye. Often coated with anti-reflective and waterproof coatings. Making it necessary for you to clean them with a lighter soft cloth.
- Eye-piece: This is a meta cylindrical tube that holds the ocular lens to its place. It is used to adjust the focus.
- Windage and elevation turrets: These are the millimetre wheels located on top of the scope, they are used to adjust the horizontal and vertical axis of the reticle, respectively.
- Power ring: This is used to adjust the magnification of the image (target). This is an important part of the scope and should not be rubbed vigorously.
Required products to disassemble riflescope:
- A lens cloth or microfiber cloth
- Tweezers to work with small parts
- Owner manual/ guidebook of scope
- Alcohol-based cleaning solution
- Hex wrenches
Instructions to be taken care of
Before starting to deconstruct, have your scope’s owner manual by your side, just in case. The manual should be displaying your scope’s parts and then place your rifle on its side over the bench.
You don’t want to ruin a good scope in the process so proper care should be taken while picking out the pieces and remembering the correct order in which they are to be put back together.
Some people use paper to put pieces which belong together as a group. The delicate pieces should be treated with the utmost precision and care. The small parts might appear menial but they are the essence of a scope. And if any part is missed or placed incorrectly the scope might get misaligned.
- Dismount the scope
After carefully placing the rifle on a sturdy surface our first step would be to detach the scope from the rifle.
For this, get your hex wrenches and remove the hex bolts which are holding the scope in its place. Place the wrench over the bolt and move it in a counter-clockwise movement, one at a time, do it till the scope is removed from its mounting base.
Once it’s removed, place the hex bolts by the side of scope rings. Take a brush or a clean cloth and dust away any dirt or debris that is on the surface of the scope. This will prevent the dirt from entering the scope.
- Remove the parts (Expertise required)
This is the part that requires the most attention. The parts should be removed carefully and then placed down even more sparingly. As mentioned earlier you can use a paper or a box to keep the parts in order. If you are doing this for the first time then take proper care or it will end up ruining your riflescope.
If you are dismantling a scope that is argon purged, make sure to wear a mask while detaching the parts as some gas might escape the scope and it might asphyxiate you.
- Cleaning the parts
Take a clean microfiber cloth and an alcohol-based cleaning solution. Dip the cloth in the cleaning solution and clean the optics and scope rings. The small parts can be dusted with a brush. Make sure to use a clean cloth and a brush to scrub the parts.
- Resetting the scope to factory default (optional)
Sometimes people do it if they want to resell their scope and sometimes just for their own satisfaction. This includes the zero-reset and resetting the scope.
Turn the eyepiece of the scope clockwise until it doesn’t move any further and the eyepiece is back to the default setting.
Clean the scope once again to get rid of any smudge or smear marks which might obstruct your view. Also, you can refill it with gas to make it waterproof again. Any manufacturer or the seller can purge the gas in.
- Mount scope on the rifle
Now grab the hex wrenches and mount the scope to the rifle. Make sure that you place the scope in alignment with the mounting area of the rifle.
It should be levelled properly so that the scope doesn’t stay loose on the rifle. Also, don’t over tighten the screws as it may damage the hex bolts as well as the mounting base.
- Final adjustments and cleaning
Now that the scope is mounted on the rifle, check for the alignment and the zero setting. Reset it if required. Check the windage and elevation adjustments and reset it to zero. It is advised by professional shooters to zero in your scope after every shooting activity. Give it a good wipedown and your scope is ready to be used again.
Common queries people have while disassembling scope
Why disassemble the scope?
The main reason to disassemble scope is to get rid of any dust or debris that might have gone in the tube. It is done to clean it from inside and service it so that scope works well and the view is not obstructed.
Sometimes, people disassemble it merely out of curiosity as they want to know how it works from inside. In this case, it is advised to use some cheap scope instead of toying around a good scope that you own.
What safety measures should be taken while disassembling?
When disassembling a gas purged scope, wear a mask. Always wear gloves while disassembling to avoid making smudge or smear marks on the parts.
Treat the optics carefully, and don’t touch the glass or try to hold it by the rim. Use tweezers to unscrew small parts and also to pick small parts.
How regularly should we service the scope?
It is not advisable to go for complete disassembly very often. However, cleaning or basic shimming should be done frequently. Regular practice to zero in the scope should be followed.
More than servicing itself, the requirement is to maintain the scope properly. If not taken good care, it tends to deteriorate over time.
Can we oil the scope for smooth functioning?
No! It is highly advised not to use any kind of machine oil on the scope. Sometimes people think it will smooth out the rusting. If the oil enters the tube and touches the lens it will ruin the glass.
What causes rusting of scope?
The rusting is a clear sign that the nitrogen sealing has been broken, in this case, the product should be returned to the manufacturer or should be replaced.
The rifle scope should be maintained properly to keep it working in a good condition. The complete disassembly of an expensive scope should be done only if you are confident that it won’t mess up the scope.
It is advised to start with a cheap scope first and then move forward to some expensive one. The main concern while disassembling is to remember which part goes where. Don’t attach the parts on an assumption basis, it will just be a futile effort then. Keep the owner’s manual with you and go through some detailed videos before you start it.
Always use a clean cloth to wipe the surface of optics. Don’t rub the parts vigorously, otherwise, the parts might fall out. Understand when it is necessary to go for complete disassembly and when only minor cleaning will be sufficient. Disassembling it often can make the parts lose and the scope will not be that efficient.