Relieve your scopes from the vice-like grip of their rings! Your scope (or scopes!) is a prized possession, and perhaps even constitutes some of the more expensive equipment in your armory. So why ruin it with ring marks and glaring indents when you can avoid it by learning how tight your scope rings should actually be.
What is the purpose of a scope ring?
Before diving into the hands-on part of actually putting on and adjusting your scope rings, a better look at the purpose and functioning of the same will help you in your later endeavor.
Put simply, scope mounts attach your telescopic sights or other optical guides to your rifle. Scope mounts are of two types: rail and rings. While the former has many advantages and disadvantages in comparison to the two-piece ones, it is the latter that we are more concerned about for now. The scope rings are composed of a base that connects to your rifle and metal rings (usually made of steel or aluminum) that attach to the scope. It is thus clear that the only things holding your scope down are your scope rings, so it is incredibly essential to secure them without damaging your gear.
How to mount a scope ring?
Often, beginners leave the mounting and setting of scope rings and the scope to a professional or a seasoned gunman. While that is a good idea for absolute novices to prevent accidents, if you intend to pursue hunting for a long while, you have to learn how to mount and tighten your scope on your own.
First off— and this is an absolutely essential thing to keep in mind while making any changes to your rifle components— you should check and double-check that your gun is not loaded. An accident here would not be a pretty sight after all, as you can very well imagine. Once that is done, ensure that there are no fitment and height issues by making sure that your scope rings match the scope bases. The compatibility of the different mounting parts is essential because the proper fit will keep your scope steady.
The next step is simple. Proceed with attaching the lower half of your ring and base setup to the scope base holes on the rifle using the appropriate screws. You could also use Blue Loctite for better adhesion but take care not to put too much since the tiniest bit extra can cause over-tightening even if you are using torque wrenches. Sometimes you will notice that the scope rings end up being mounted at slightly different angles. In that case, don’t fret and instead try lapping or sanding down the inside of your scope rings using a lapping tool until aligned.
Once that is done, you need to make sure that your rifle scope and the action of your gun are lying on the same horizontal plane. This is known as leveling and can be done using plumb lines or looking at bubble levels. If you are looking for more accuracy and don’t want to eyeball it, then you could consider investing in professional leveling kits <affiliate link, if available>. Upon placing your scope on the bottom half of the rings, put the top half on and lightly screw it down. When done with this, you should go about adjusting the eye relief, reticle focus, and finally, to finish, you can start tightening all your screws to their optimal torque and finish mounting your scope rings and scope.
How tight should my scope ring be?
Once you have finished mounting the bases and the scope is fitted snugly into its proper position, as mentioned before, you can start tightening everything. But how tight should you go?
When it comes to fastening the scope rings on your rifle, always remember without fail: Less is more. That one statement is something you should keep in mind every time you tinker with your scope adjustments, or mount and tighten a new one.
Initially, when you still have adjustments to make to your eye relief and also fix your focus, there is no way out but to eyeball the tightness. A good measure would be to keep the screws loose enough that the scope can be moved and rotated with the slightest bit of resistance. Also, you want to ideally maintain a roughly even spacing on each side of the upper and lower rings when full tight, so go by those guides.
When it comes to the final tightening of the screws holding the mounts and rings together, that is when all your vigilance should come in. Most companies provide information on the pressure ranges that scope rings and bases can be tightened between. You can find this in your model’s user manual, the company website or you could contact their customer service for prompt assistance.
Broadly speaking, your scope should be held securely between the scope rings and the screws should be tight but not to the point where they inflict damage and cannot be removed using your regular tools. Take care to see that the screws never cut through the hex head holes or screw slots and damage them.
Upon ensuring that everything is in its proper place and securing all the formerly loose parts of your setup, you’re all set to go since you’ve adequately tightened your scope rings.
Some Handy Things to Keep in Mind
While mounting and tightening your scope rings, here are a few practical tips to keep in mind that will make your job easier:
1. Double check that your rifle is empty and that there are no bullets left behind before dissembling and re-assembling the gun parts.
2. To make your work easier and to avoid accidentally tipping over and damaging your rifle or its parts, put it in a sturdy gun rest or weigh it down with sandbags so that it stays stable throughout the process. It is a great idea to invest in a good quality rifle rest like <affiliate link, if available> which can also assist your precision and save you from getting fatigued on long hunting expeditions.
3. If using new bases and rings, the metal parts need to be degreased before use. After that lubricate them with a thin layer of oil to prevent corrosion and rusting, and to also reduce friction at the moving parts.
4. Often, if you are installing a scope for the first time on a new rifle, you will find that the holes in the rifle meant for scope base holes are plugged. These need to be removed before anything else which can be done with a flathead screwdriver. Usually, base mounting screws require the use of Torx tools, so it is a good idea to keep your toolbox handy.
5. Use a small dowel to align your scope rings in a straight line over the receiver. Balance the dowel in between both the rings and move one end until it is positioned parallel to both, the receiver as well as the barrel of your rifle.
6. Try and mount your scope rings and scope as low as possible without making contact between the objective bell and the rifle barrel. Also, allow enough distance to adjust eye relief to its optimal length.
6. It is essential that even screw pressure is maintained throughout the process of tightening down your scope rings and bases. Refer to your user’s manual or the company website for the recommended pressure range for your specific scope model and adhere to those limits diligently.
7. Don’t end up tightening your scope rings before you have aligned the crosshairs or reticles of our scope in your natural hunting position. A properly lined up scope will allow you to see a clear picture of your target without any black markings or a black ring around the perimeter.
8. When all the previous steps have been completed, only then should you begin to finally tighten your scope rings. Ideally, you want to do this gradually in small increments so as to not upset the leveling of your scope because unevenness will result in a loosely held scope at one end. When the scope is not fitted properly between the rings, it runs the risk of getting damaged during shooting because of the intense recoil of most hunting rifles.