One of the biggest nightmares that any hunter might face is running into issues with their scope. It is an inevitable thing and truthfully speaking, it is a fairly common situation that all of us have faced at some point or the other.
In the hunting community, some of the most common problems that you might face (apart from the ever-changing laws and regulations, of course!) is related to the gear that you use. Whether it be the dilemma about the kinds of guns and ammo you should invest in, or running into trouble with your equipment, problems with your rifles and their scopes are basically run of the mill issues and can usually be sorted out on your own.
Coming to your rifle scope, there are a number of things that might end up going wrong. You might have trouble with calibration where your scope has issues holding zero. It might be missing some external parts, or your field of view might be obstructed when you look through the rifle. Or, your scope might even have technical adjustment issues wherein the height of the scope won’t adjust appropriately.
When it comes to the latter, there are many factors at play. They may be internal or external, and it might also ultimately pare down to your skills and experience. I say, don’t worry and follow our guide to find out how to adjust your scope when it won’t go low enough.
What does scope adjustment mean?
First of all, before we even begin to fix the problems with your scope, it is important to know what adjusting your rifle scope actually means. If you’re an absolute beginner or a novice, this next part is some of the most fundamental things about hunting that you should know, ideally before you step foot in the jungle. On the other hand, if you’re reading this as a pro, it still doesn’t hurt to brush up on the basics, does it?
Your rifle scope is what essentially allows you to fine-tune your point of contact after you have bore sighted your rifle, or in simpler terms, perfect your aim at the target that you want to drop. Safe to say, that when this off by even the slightest bit, you might end up missing your target by a lot.
There are two directions in which scopes can be adjusted— vertically and laterally. The second one is done using the turrets for moving the crosshairs left and right, and the former is done by clicking the turrets to adjust the height of the crosshairs.
Why should I level my scope?
There are three crucial reasons as to why leveling your rifle scope is absolutely essential before you go hunting. The first is that the proper windage and elevation will allow for greater accuracy while shooting and dropping your game. Second, the reticles or markings on your rifle scope will fulfil their purpose as intended by the manufacturer. Third, it will reduce the margin for human error and make your job easier— almost foolproof if you make the adjustments as per the necessary requirements.
What happens when your scope doesn’t adjust low enough?
Thus, when graduating your scope in tiny increments to fine-tune your aim, you should ideally be able to clearly see your target right on point. When that doesn’t happen, and you have maxed out the number of clicks on your turrets, that is when the problem arises.
If your scope is not level, then at worst, you will simply not be able to maintain your precision later while shooting. Further, the crosshairs will be lopsided and will hover in front of your line of vision, thereby distracting you.
Why do scopes not go low enough?
HUMAN ERROR: There are many reasons why your scope won’t go low enough. The most obvious reason accounts for human error because even though the procedure for mounting and levelling your scope is pretty straightforward, there are still minor mistakes that can happen. Remember that what seems “good enough” on paper really isn’t good enough in reality, in which case, take apart your gear and carefully put it together again.
TECHNICAL OR MECHANICAL ISSUES: While assembling your gear together when it is precise, as mentioned before, is easy, troubleshooting your scope issues is a tad bit more intricate when there are mechanical or technical glitches. These difficulties might be brought about by your scope not being mounted parallel to your rifle, loose screws, unlevelled bases, or even ill-fitting scope rings. Your problem with lowering your scope might be caused by one, or even a combination of these issues, the remedies for which will be addressed in the following section.
What to do to adjust the scope low enough?
First things first, keep in mind that levelling the rifle scope to its gun and levelling the rifle while shooting are two very different things. The latter is necessary for long-range accuracy, but it can only be achieved when your rifle scope is properly mounted onto and levelled to the gun.
Now let us come to the adjustment part. As mentioned before there might be numerous underlying causes behind your scope not going low enough, so here is a basic troubleshooting guide.
1. Resetting to the Optical Centre
Often, if you crank the elevation and magnification as far as it will go, then there is a risk that dragging the scope’s erector or inner tube might have gotten it scratched. To take the pressure off the inner tube walls, move it to the center of the scope body and proceed to zero in again from there.
2. Scope Bases or Rails
The mounts or rails of your scope should be checked often for proper left to right placement and the alignment should be changed accordingly. Barring any major problems with the screws, you can fix things by yourself.
Next, keep in mind that while hunting from a height, you should always opt for angled rails for shooting at long distances, the structure of which ask for lesser adjustments to be made. These raise the back end of your scope and point the front end down, essentially altering the middle point of its range of adjustment. They are easy to use and cheap as well, and can be commonly found in 20 or 40 mil sizes <affiliate link, if available> among others as well.
3. Scope Rings
If your scope rings differ in model or heights, or have obstructions between them, then that might be the reason why your scope isn’t lowering sufficiently. Also keep an eye out for dirt and debris which might end up loosening your scope rings.
3. Examine Your Equipment
There are a couple of equipment-related things you need to be aware of. Check if your rifle was drilled and tapped correctly before the mounting. Some rifle scope models have turret locks that limit the view adjustment within a certain range, usually one full rotation from zero. In that case, you should check for physical blockages like locks, screws or buttons and refer to the user’s manual for more information.
One of the easiest ways to take care of scope misalignment or when your scope isn’t lowering enough, is to make use of shims. A shim is basically any small piece of material that can be used at a critical juncture for realignment.
Return your scope to its mechanical zero. Then, place a few thin sheets of metal or strips off an old beer can at the bottom of the front scope ring. Add or remove the shims until the scope is adjusted to its proper height and you can zero in perfectly. Just remember, don’t go overboard with the shimming and keep your scope rings slightly loosened to keep your equipment from harm.
Additionally, you could also try shimming the rail for balance if your design and model allow for it.
5. Spirit Level
Check that the spirit level of your scope (if you have one) is accurate and isn’t offering up false readings since they can vary widely in quality. A good idea would be to match yours to a machinist’s level periodically.
6. Switching Bases
If you’re shooting at ranges longer than the average, then that might be a reason why your scope isn’t going low enough. To rectify this, consider switching to a Weaver base <affiliate link, if available> or a Picatinny base <affiliate link, if available>. Both of these bases allow for higher accuracy and make a drastic difference to your mounting, which in turn, allows better use of your scope.
If all these tips fail, then it is best to stop tinkering about with your gear and contact professionals at your company who will be able to sort out your issues. Keep in mind that sometimes technology can fail and your scope itself might be faulty.