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How to Mount a Scope on a Rifle Without a Rail

How To Mount A Scope On A Rifle Without A Rail

Mounting your scope could be a tricky business if you are new to the game. You can either ask a professional for help or you can mount your scope by yourself using our suggested steps. 

How to mount a scope on a rifle without a rail

Mounting your scope by yourself also means that you can adjust it to your exact measurements, matching it to your shoulder for that fitting. Most rifles come pre-drilled with rails or some other means of mounting a range on them. But a few rifles may not be equipped with rails to mount the scope. 

This article will guide you from the basics to the advanced way of mounting a scope without a rail. Yes, we are going to cover it from scratch.

First and foremost, a scope cannot be directly attached to a gun. It needs a supporting structure that will hold it on the top of a barrel. Rail is a base on the barrel of a rifle to which it attaches scope. If your rifle does not have a rail, then you need to mount that first.

To mount your scope and rail to your barrel, you will need the following tools:

  1. Your Rifle: Well, this goes without saying!
  1. Scope: It is always helpful to have a scope with you. This way, you can test the setups and do the necessary adjustments then and there. 
  1. Rail for a scope:  Rails are straight mounting brackets (usually made of metal strips or polymer) on the receiver of a rifle, handguard, or fore-end stock to allow sliding/variable mounting of optical sights and accessories such as tactical lights, laser sights, vertical/angle forelegs, and bipods. 

You have to have a rail to mount your scope, unless your scope or rifle already has rail, in that case, you don’t have to mount them separately. 

  1. Mounting Rings: “Rings” is a kind of generic term used to denote the individual attachments that connect the scope to the weapon. Some ring mounts connect the scope directly to the weapon, while others need a special mount.

This is fixed to the firearm, and then the scope rings are connected to the frame or base mounts. You need rings to attach the rails. Ignore them if you already have rails mounted.

  1. Torque Wrench: A torque wrench is a tool used to apply a particular torque to a fastener, such as a nut, bolt, or lag screw. It is typically a socket wrench with unique internal mechanisms. 

When the tightness of the screws and bolts is important, a torque wrench is used.

  1. Levelling Kit: A levelling kit is a precision tool designed to allow a scope to be accurately levelled on any firearm with ease.
  1. Gun stabilizer or a Vice: Either of those two is preferable, but the thing you need to do is to uphold your gun. 

A collection of binoculars with a strong foundation for the assets using sandbags will also work. As a last-ditch effort, you can always build something proprietary, like a pair of 2×4/5 chunks linked together (you’re going to have to be imaginative here).

  1. Boresighter: A bore sighter is a specialized device that helps in visually pre-aligning the bore-axis of a firearm barrel with the target, to more conveniently zero the fuses (optical or iron sights). 

Advanced laser bore sightings make it very easy to see through a rifle at a range or open field. You can consider laser bore sights, which fits the weapon chamber. When the laser has been switched on, the weapon is pointed to the game and your scope/sights should be matched to the target point of the laser. 

In a perfect environment, you will be without wind, gravity, or air-resistance, the weapon will be spot-on without the addition of a scope.

  1. A professional(optional): If you know how to work with the right tools and you can drill your rifle properly with precision, then it is well and good (given that you own these tools). But if you are not confident in your gunsmith skills then you may consider employing a quality gunsmith to minimize the risk of screwing the rifle.

A gunman will tap and drill for attaching a new base plate, and then mount the plate. On top of that a rail, and then finally the scope. These parts will need absolute accuracy to make certain that each part is straight. This is important because if the parts are off-centre, it will call for more holes to be drilled on the gun.

Now that you are ready with all the necessary equipment, let’s start mounting your scope on a rifle without a rail.

Step 1: Attach Rail to your Rifle

Attach Rail to your Rifle

Unfortunately, technology isn’t that developed yet for attaching a scope on a rifle without a rail. There’s just no way of doing that!

This task requires a great deal of expertise. Contact a gunsmith if you think you will not be able to do it

Step 2: Tap and Drill

Secure the receiver of your rifle in a vice (a sophisticated device to hold guns) to stabilize it. Place a particular jig above the gun that has pre-drilled holes in it. Align it perfectly on the rifle’s receiver to dip holes in it. 

Now, this will ensure the holes you are about to drill are in a perfect line, avoiding any mistakes, and re-work to be carried out later. There is a high chance that your firearm will have holes pre-drilled in them because most of the modern rifles come this way. Skip this step if your firearm has holes already drilled in it. 

Step 3: Attach the base/bottom Plate

A baseplate connects the rail to the receiver, making installation of the base plate one of the most important and 3rd step. Start connecting the posts by cleaning the connecting outsides, dry and clear, adding a thin layer of grease or rust deterrent. 

Tick that the fields are correctly positioned and then make certain that you don’t attach them backwards. Before fastening the plate, apply some Loctite, to make certain that there’s no moisture beneath the mount and that there’s also a more long-lasting connection.

Step 4: Attach Rail

Now you can connect the rail with the base plate. It can also be a variable fixture, which depends on the rail you are building. The universal one has to be the Picatinny rail. 

Put a thin light oil coating on the bottom of the fence before you rise it (to avoid corrosion), make careful not to put grease on the screws. Spread a bit of Blue Loctite at the base screws.

Step 5: Attaching Rings and the Scope

Attaching Rings and the Scope

Ensure correct measurement of these rings – height and diameter for placing them on your range. Not all scope rings and bases match each other, hence you will have to be certain about the parts that you are buying. And be sure that they match each other.

Now, scope rings often come in various heights, which can be confusing. But always try to place a scope at the lowest possible level and as close as possible to your rifle. This ensures that the bell is reaching and touching your rifle’s barrel. 

The key purpose of carrying out the above operation is to enable the eyepiece for a smooth functioning of the bolt. You can always opt to take help from a specialist if you still feel confused and overwhelmed.

  • Align the Reticles: Place the lower 50% of these rings and mount the scope. Now, secure the above 50% just enough. This should accommodate the scope to spin and move forward and backward. Holding the rifle in your hands, slowly pivot the scope to a level where the scope’s reticle is perfectly upright and parallel.
  • Adjust eye Relief: For adequate protection against a recoil, always remember to have a suitable distance between the scope and your eye. For a safe distance, we consider a distance of 1 inch or more from the place you believe it would be safe.
  • Tighten Screws: It’s always good to check, and then to look-over again. Make sure your scope is correctly positioned, and then secure the rings and screws.

Step 6: Use a Boresight

Tools required to mount a scope on AR-15
man cleaning gun rifle pistol maintenance on table

When the scope is completely mounted and aligned, it’s time for a boresight. Insert a boresight using the correct insertion pin, then change the horizontal and vertical axis to the desired target point, ensuring that it is correctly aligned and set.


To summarize the entire procedure, check if your rifle already has a rail. If it doesn’t, then you need to have a rail and a base plate to mount your scope. 

Arrange the necessary tools for the job, and then first, attach the baseplates to the gun’s receiver then mount a rail. Once everything is set, i.e. all the rings and screws are sitting tightly in their place, then mount your scope. 

Do the necessary adjustments to your scopes like aligning the reticles, and adjusting the eye relief. The last step is to use a boresight to make sure that your rifle is properly aligned and set. Now that you are all set, Happy Hunting!