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April 21, 2008

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Bases and Rings, and Other Bad Things

Here are two ways to cause trouble: Yell "Incoming" at a Hillary Clinton rally. This will be intensely funny to the people who watch it next day on You Tube, but after you are Tasered by the Secret Service and sentenced to 10 years in prison for being a Public Wiseass, it may not seem like such a good idea.

The other way is order a rifle from one of the top gun makers around the country and offer to mount the scope yourself. Probably he will just hang up. Or he may make a noise like a choking chicken, and you will hear a thump and his wife screaming his name in the background. These guys know that in all the realm of riflery, nothing causes so much sorrow, pain, and woe as the average shooter mounting his own scope.

Mostly this is the fault of the people who make scope mounts. They assume that the people who buy their stuff have a modicum of common sense and mechanical ability and write their directions accordingly. They are wrong on both counts. Often, people don't even read the instructions. I think it was scope-mount maker Maynard Beuhler who said, "When all else fails, read the directions." Beuhler's mounts, by the way, were handsome and very strong, and a real pain in the ass to get on a rifle properly.

Some mounts are perverse. The old Weaver mounts are cheesy and cheap looking, but they're very light, very strong, and put the scope very low over the receiver. The problem is that as you tighten the ring screws, they torque the scope clockwise. So before you tighten them, you have to guess how much out of whack the vertical crosshair is going to move, and position it slightly counterclockwise to compensate. It usually takes six or so tries before you get it right, and you are powerfully motivated not to swap scopes on that rifle.

Putting a heavy scope on a hard-kicking rifle is a prescription for trouble because of Newton's First Law of Motion, which states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest. (Newton, in addition to being one of the great geniuses of all time, was an odd duck. He once ran a knife blade around his eye socket to see what would happen. Nothing did.)

The heavy scope wants to sit where it is; the rifle insists on moving. So, if the scope weighs enough and the rifle kicks hard enough, the scope will either edge forward in its rings, or it can yank the rings out of the bases, or it can shear the base screws. (To Be Continued)


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Well, I imagine that having the Secret Service shove a tasar up my a$$ would be less painful than screwing with a scope.

Clay Cooper

May I add to WA Mtnhunter and I got to say did a fine job explaining the problems of proper scope alignment. With everything perfect and you sight in say at 25 yards. Theoretically, this is supposed to put you in the neighborhood around 200 yards pending on the cartridge. Let’s say you tilt your rifle to the left like a lot of shooters do and you’re dead on at 25 yards. The bullet exits about quarter inch to the right of sight alignment at the muzzle then quarter of an inch at 50 yards , at 200 yards your one inch to the left and so on. If you sight in at 200 dead on, your only quarter of an inch to the left at 400 yards. The bottom line is this, if one of the top gun makers around the country and you offer to mount the scope yourself and he just hangs up on you? That gun maker is a flat out idiot! It must be tailored to you like a fine suit! Just because a piece of equipment feels great to them, like a nice pair of boots, most probability it’s not a perfect fit for you. What size boot fits perfectly for one person, will blister your feet and rub your leg raw at the top of the boot. I hate those boots with those padded rings at the top of the boot! I’ve seen High Masters cant their rifles as much as 45 degrees and even more.

Hers a really nice scope alignment tool I found the other day.
As one of our shooters would say Mr. Peter
Keep the barrel hot
And full of holes!
I say
I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it Sir, if you can hit a pie plate at the maximum range of your ability, go for it!

Clay Cooper

Peter, one more thing!
Put on the shirt and coat that you will be shooting in. Make sure your rifle is unloaded and probably be best to go ahead and remove the bolt. Safely pick out something out at 75-100 yards and with proper stance aim at it. Now lower the rifle to your hip, close your eyes and shoulder your rifle to that point of aim. Now open your eyes, is the scope too close, too forward, rotated clockwise or counter clockwise, are the iron sights causing an optical problem? There is a lot of things that must be tweaked to you and you alone! I was called on frequently to mount scopes and tailor each rifle to the shooter at the shooting range at Eielson AFB Alaska. During off season 20 scope installations per month was the norm and peeked to 15-20 per week in July and first 2 weeks in August. I charged nothing for this and wouldn’t this make a Gun Smith sick $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$


"Checking both planes with an alignment tool and lapping the rings will correct or prevent that condition. It's too hard to just eyeball without an alignment aid of some sort."
A 1 inch (or whatever diameter scope tube you have) steel rod about 2 foot long makes an excellent tool to get the rings lined up to each other, and is almost essential to turn those redfield (I believe that's the brand) twist in front mounts into the base.

And as to the fool who used salt water, he really needs introduced to Loc-tite, the blue removable kind is best, if you use the permanent kind you might as well use Crazy Glue! They mean PERMANENT!

WA Mtnhunter


Using a single 1" rod will work, but not as well as the alignment tool since it is hard to tell if the rod is seated uniformly in the rings. I guess if the rod is perfectly straight, the lower rings will be torqued into alignment when the upper rings are tightened on the rod.

Then, with your perfectly aligned rings, you can torque the crap out of your scope with the adjustable rear ring screws! I have those POS's on a couple of rifles yet. But when or if the scope or mount is changed, the adjustable rear rings will be replaced with Leupold dual dovetail, Warne, or Talley style rings like my other ones. The adjustable ones will be found on Ebay soon after....

If a scope doesn't have enough adjustment range to get on target with true fixed rings, then one needs a better scope or correct the ring alignment with the bore/receiver.

That said, I had to correct the misaligned receiver drilling on a Savage 110 my son bought a few years ago. It could not be sighted in because the scope did not have enough adjustment travel to compensate. Only after investigating the receiver drilling alignment with longer screws and a long machinist's scale as a straight edge, I used Leupold adjustable rear base and rings to get it back in line. But after it was aligned and lapped, the adjustment screws were tightened really tight and not used to adjust during bore sighting. BTW, it is a real shooter, or it too would have been sold off years ago.

WA Mtnhunter

Clay Cooper

Ditto's buddy.

When helping friends mount decent scopes to replace the POS Wally World specials, most were shocked to see just how much out of alignment their bases and rings were.

There are times to "get a bigger hammer", but scope mounting is not one of them!

Best regards

Jim in Mo.

That looked like a nice settup from advance, never used an alignment tool so if the rear punch would not snap into the front would you alternately loosen/tighten lower ring screws?

Dr. Ralph

I have a lot of friends who try to make me figure out their guns because they can shoot mine but not theirs... inevitably it is either a scope that is not dialed in or cannot be because of poor mounting. I lock-tite the base, tighten the screws alternately on the rings just like changing a tire and dial it in and suddenly they have a gun that will hit!

Being gun nuts I think we underestimate the opening day only hunters who buy the cheapest Wal-Mart special that is supposed to be bore sighted and hit the woods. I stand by my equation and it figures out to 33.75% of all misses... I may be low.

Dr. Ralph

I suppose that should have been we overestimate the opening day only hunters... well, overestimate their experience and underestimate their lack of knowledge of firearms.

Clay Cooper

Jim in Mo.
Just because a gun is in a gun is level in a padded vice, still is not correct! The only way to check this without buying a gizmo tool is to remove the bolt and simultaneously look down both scope and bore and lineup the vertical crosshair with the bore.

Dr. Ralph

I always mount the rifle and look through the scope and adjust to my sight picture... everyone says my scopes lean to the left but not when I'm holding the gun.

Clay Cooper

Dr. Ralph
You tilt your rifle and I don’t and that’s perfectly fine!! That is why when some gun maker thinks they can make a one size fits all, is an idiot! Some of the best shooters (High Masters even) I came across hold their rifle at a 45 degree angle and sight picture is at 4 o’clock on the target. What’s good for me, may not work for you!!!

I rest my case!

Jim in Mo.

Clay; Still confused, eyeballs lie, levels don't.
Dr. R. ; What you said is understandable. My rifle/scope is fine for me, when I do my sons', before I torque the screws down he always has me slant the scope. His view thru the scope must be different because of shoulder to stock, check on comb, who knows?
P.S. I asked Dave a question the other day about proper torque on bases/rings. I figured somebody would chime in but haven't heard anything. Always told 40 in. lbs. on action screws, 'heard' 20 in.lb. on base screws and 10 in.lbs. on rings.
Always figured theres a proper amount rather than grab a torx bit and give it hell.

Jack Daniels

Had many rifles and scopes, rings.Most were Weavers until a few years back. Decided I needed a new scopes for a once in a lifetime hunt. So checked a few shops and decided on a Nikon Monarch 3 x 9 x 40. After checking all the bases, rings,decided to go with the Leupold Dual Dove Tails. Once they mounted correctly, they will stay on 0 forever. I also prefer steel bases and rings verses the Alum jobs. way to light of wt and easy to loose 0. Just bought a new rifle, it came with Weaves, did not fit the gun and came from the factory, So replaced them with Leupolds and will hit within 2" at 200 yds, providing I hold steady. Now just need a lot of pratice to SEASON the rifle and learn the scopes impact on sight line,. Most quality scopes will out-last us, but Wal-marts 29.95 jobs not for big game hunting. Again,a matter of choice. I once choose a Swing away Weaver, get zeroed, flip over the scope and rings to use the open sights, and swing scope back in a shooting position, never came back to 0, so got them off immediaely.

Jim in Mo.

Jack Daniels,
I remember years ago seeing those 'swing away weavers'. Glad I didn't buy cause it didn't make sense.

Jack Daniels

Jim: At the time all my guns had open sights, and living where many trees on property, sometimes not time to scope a deer. So thats why I put them on.But decided to go west one year, and changed scopes and rings and glad I did as got my Elk that year. Most guns now come with no sights,so the old swing-aways gone by way side.I got 3 sets, no market for them, so may try to trade to someone for what-ever he has I could use. I kinda feel the same about the quick det. type. I doubt if you remove a scope, then re-attach, it's not gonna be back on 0,regardless of what they say. Unless each screw or lever is turned the exact same, no way can it be lined up as before. I will just stick with Leupolds DDT's and know they on 0. Did you ever see the Swing a-ways see-thru? Man the scope was about 3-4" above bbl.Have you seen the new MArlin XL7? it;s a jewel and price is most reasonable. Not many good used guns available for 327.00. Mine just arrived, goes to gun smith for mounting the DDT this week with other guns for some adjustments.My Custom MAuser needs safety work. May decide to convert to a 2 position safety, as the orig action, the lever for the safety is kinda in the way with it scoped.If was having a new Custom made, would use a 700 action, rather than the Mauser. I just like the feel of the 700. But this new MArlin feels great, will know more once get a New scope mounted and shot a few roundsBack to the Dual Dove Tails, believe you could drop from 40K feet up and the scope would not move and still be 0 ,gun may be in pieces, but 0 still there. Take care,more later afterI get the scope added.

Del in KS

Jack and Jim,

My Knight inline muzzle loader has a Leupold quick release base and rings. It works great to just pop the 1.5-5X scope off so I can clean the gun without getting the mess on my VXIII. Never had a problem returning to zero and it holds the scope solid.

BTW you might be able to sell those swing aways on Ebay.

Jack Daniels

Never tried eBay, good idea, may give them a try. I have seen lots of STUFF on e Bay, but got burned once by buying use mdse sight un-seen,taught me a lesson. It's bad enough to buy new stuff un-seen as pictures and write-ups can paint a pretty picture. But e Bay may be my best chance to unload these swing aways as no smart hunter would buy them now with the many different set ups in bases and rings out there. Thanks for suggestion.

Jack Ryan

Well you can't say I'm not succint.

Less than three lines and to acheive "the most...." of any thing is pretty darn good. Thanks for the compliment.

Doesn't change the premise of the question any though, regardless of your attempt to rationalise ineptness at one of the most basic combinations of skill and concept required of a shooter.

Do we even need to be capable of adjusting the sights to be considered competent any more, or does that require a specialist as well?

Just where do you draw the line? I'm not saying they need a test or any thing. I'm just saying when I hear some one on a shooting line who say's they can't mount a scope or adjust it, I keep a little closer eye on 'em to see they know which way to keep the thing pointed.

JAck Daniels Bottling Co.

If you not going with Leupold set up, then try B-Square. Their rings have 4 screw holes as the old Weavess of long ago had. Looked today at some Tasco's and not bad,only no screw thru the rings to fit in the grove, kinda moe or less for 22
s i believe. Angle Lock not bad, but I still prefer the Leupold Dual Dove Tails then not going to move period. Cost more $ but if shoting a trophy that extra 20 bucks you spent on a good mount job,will seem like Peanuts. Unless you have proper equiptment, by all means get a quality gun-smith (not a clerk at Wal-marts) to mount and bore sight your scpe. At least will save you Ammo by getting you on paper at 25 Yds, then its up to you to zero where you want to shoot. mine about l50 yds for here, further if go west. If the gun smith charges you 10-20-Bucks itsa bargin,but all likely hood , if you buy scope, set up from him,he will install free. i would.As many bases/rings needa little metal grinding now to fit proper and leave enough oening for rejected shell or even loading,.My last Rem, the Reveresable front base was too long by l/2' and he ground it down to fit flush with opening . Has been 3-4 ys, and rifle still on 0 and has flown all over the country on hunts. Never has had to be re-zeroed since the first time. I use 2 different Ammo's,a cheap for pratice, Core-lokt and Swift for hunting, both in l80 grs. 0 wish hunting season was opening in AM. When I start thinking of guns and Ammo,big game hunting steps in.Need to be on the horn lining up a hunt now, but found out better results to talk on phone, rather than the E-mail.Me, I hate the phone, rather use the Putter, as never get to talk to a living person, always a Menue voice.

Del in KS

OK guys here's a way to save yourself some dough. No need to have a collimater or pay someone to adjust your scope when you can boresight it yourself. Just take the bolt out and place the gun in a good solid rest. If you have no rest take a cardboard box, make 2 u-cuts in each end. Place the rest on a table or some other steady surface. Look thru the bore and adjust the rest until you can center a distant item (50-100 yards like a mailbox for instance) in the bore. Then without moving anything make your scope adjustments. Once you can look thru the scope and the bore and see the mailbox is centered in both you are ready for the range. This will get U on paper.
At the range put up a target and carefully fire one shot. Without moving the gun move the crosshairs to the bullet hole or just above it. If you can't see the B-hole no problem. Go downrange and mark it with a black marker, piece of tape or something. Then place the gun back the way you had it for the shot and adjust. I like my crosshairs set 2" above point of aim at 100 yd with most rifles. At this point you should be ready for target practice.
If you have an auto-loader and can't see thru the bore pay someone or buy the collimater but understand the collimater will most likely only get you close and you will need to shoot to actually verify zero. This is because the Collimater does not make allowances for imperfections that may affect bullet impact.


i got a m77 7mm mag and it uset to shoot in the same hole at 100yards easy now cant hit a can at 20 yards we figered it would be the scope but no we tride every scope in the world then we thank its the barrel wiep sqrews i need some one to take thers and see how many IN, LBS, theres is and i can go from ther

Jim in Mo.

I had the same problem and it was the action screws had worked loose. If you have a ploastic trigger guard make sure the rear screw hasn't busted thru. Tighten screws 40 in.lbs. making sure you tighten front screw at forearm first.

Dick Gresock

I have a Buehler 1-piece scope base marked "FM". Can you tell me what rifle it fits?

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