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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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If I remember correctly, you commented on this blog, or in F&S, that a shotgun scope with a 50 yard parallax worked well for rimfire rifles. I had never mounted a scope before, but using the dovetail rings that came with my Ruger 77/.22, I didn't have any trouble mounting a 1x-4x Bushnell shotgun scope. That Ruger system made it easy. If a squirrel is close enough to see with the naked eye, that rifle will drop them. So I'm pretty happy with the results.


To Clay Cooper,
With ya on Quigley Down Under, awesome movie.

WA Mtnhunter

Ruger rings are not as foolproof as you might assume. While the bore axis alignment may be easy, vertical axis alignment is not guaranteed. It might take a heavy lapping to get the front and rear rings in perfect alignment so as not to impart undue torque on the scope tube. The Wheeler scope alignment and lapping tool kit from Midway USA is a bargain compared to a damaged scope.

Clay - I got my Sightron 3-9x mounted on my Ruger 77. Hope to get out shooting this weekend. I like the sharpness and low light visibility of the SII. It compares favorably with the VX-II's and III's I have. I took a couple of rifles out on the deck at nearly dark and I liked what I saw. Can't wait to shoot with it.

WA Mtnhunter

Del in KS

I hear you on the Leupold's. Never failed me either, but I am trying out a Sightron S-II on a Ruger 77 .257 Roberts just for grins. I have Leupold scopes on 5 rifles with never a problem either.

I just have to log on to the Shiloh website about twice a week to listen to the soundtrack! No. 1 Sporter - 34 in. barrel, 45-70.

Bill (not MAHER)

I too like Weaver rings and bases. I also hate the torque problem. I think Weaver now makes rings with screws on both sides so that should solve the problem. Thanks...Bill.


Speaking of scopes and rings... Saw the new Browning X-Bolt yesterday. (IMHO, it looks better in pictures thn in real life.) It requires a mount with 4 screws per end! who even makes such a thing?

NH Philosopher

Mounting your own scope is part of the learning process in the sport of riflery.

How does one mount a scope incorrectly - go to the range - sight it in - and not realize that the scope is out of alignment before actually going afield? Procedurally - the last step is a culmination of the three.

I'd respond to Dr. Ralph, hello Sir, that "poor marksmanship" is the reason for 90% of the misses, 50% of the time, by 75% of hunters.

Know your rifle and know it well.


Mounting a scope on a Ruger or Sako/Tikka T3(yeah, the rings are made of aluminum or some other light alloy) are not that diffucult as long as you take your time, get them straight, and alternate tightening the ring screws. I've put 100 rounds through my Tikka T3 .270 (Leupold VXII 3-9 X 40) without a glitch. Shoots sub MOA with 2 brands of factory 130 grain ammo.
I've had a Sightron SII 3-9 X 42 on my Browning A-bolt .7mm-08 for seven seasons now. Great scope, never a problem. For most of my hunting, the .7mm-08 is my "go to" rifle of choice.


Whats vertical Axis allignment, or bore axis allignment. Im in the dark on that one. Can someone shed some light on that for me?


""One fella had a sure fire cure for a base that shot loose. One drop of salt water into each screw hole. Once rusted in place, "...it ain't never comin' loose!" He was correct, but you should have seen the result!"""

Hey what was the result man?!?!..LOL


I have mounted all of the scopes used on my rifles. The only problem has been with Ruger Rings and those ##@#@!!!! torx screws they use. Today, when I get a new Ruger no 1, I buy Warne rings. No problem. Most real rifle looneys know how to properly mount bases, rings, scopes, AND sight in their own rifles. I don't want anyone,(unless I am present) to mount a scope on my rifle that is set to their eye.


With correct torx bits, the screws aren't bad. I've never stripped the head of a torx screw, but I have on a phillips head.


Thanks Dave. I just mounted two scopes, by myself, with no formal training. I feel like the other shoe is about to drop..........

Clay Cooper

NH Philosopher
Know your rifle and know it well!


Jim in Mo.

Thanks for bringing that subject up about the bubble on top of receiver and scope. I've thought of doing it. Now, why won't it work? This is a question not a challenge. After all, if a gun is level in a padded vice...


I always mount my own scopes as well as do alot of minor gunsmithing, also repair cars, trucks, computers, electrical and plumbing problems, can do masonry work as well as carpentry work. Never liked to having to depend on others to fix my problems so I learned how to do it myself.
I have a Swedish Mauser with a Redfield one piece base that is both screwed and silver soldered onto the rifle, that base is never moving!

As to scopes I prefer 3x9x40mm, plenty of light gathering and when moving it's set on 3x, if I see something long way off then I'll turn it up to 9x. If you run into something at 50 to 100 yards you don't need anymore than 3, mabey 4x tops.

JMO folks.


Burris signature bases and rings with the inserts seem to help in the scope alignment problems. I have mounted tikka t3 in 270 and 300wsm, rem 7mm, and ruger 338. purfect alignment and over 100 rounds through each and no problems. A great mounting system.


Gosh, has our entire society become a bunch of lame-brained idiots that they can't read instructions and invest in a couple of tools. Most scope mounts I've installed don't require rocket-science - a little common sense goes a long way. But you know, I think common sense isn't very common anymore. It is refreshing to see a few individuals out there that don't have to depend on someone else to screw their light-bulbs in.


u-huh, right on. and something else as a point of praise to the people on this blog. I think this group has a lot of common sense. Ive read someother blogs..non-outdoors ones. and i tell ya "common sense" really isn't that common. On YouTube most comments about videos are just people cussing other people out. And when people do have a conversation, its usually also idiotic. I remember some idiot saying he didn't see what was really so bad about Stalin and his regime. Another. either a communist that needs to be shot or just another idiot. In that particular discussion that was going on He was like "Viva la Stalin" u huh whatever buddy. I trust you get mental help soon.

I know that off the subject but I thought Id just throw that in.


It's taken me a bit to get back, but the "result" was a real mess.

According to the gentleman, he used 1 tsp table salt in 1/2 pint water. What he "didn't" account for was "volume"! Salt water squished out as he tightened the screws. Unfortunately, he didn't see the "leakage" and when the gunsmith finally got the base broken loose, the entire top of the receiver, under the base, of a pristine pre-'64 .257 Rbts looked like the surface of the moon!
He had to resort to a custom gunsmith in Turner Town, Texas. Don't know what they did, but it cost him a pretty penny!



ahhhh. Lol wow. ya I don't think ill be using that method anytime soon.


I never thought of mounting a scope. My LGS guy has always done it as a matter of course.

And Dr. Ralph, thanks for the mathematical brainteaser up hi in the thread. I'm gonna figure that out and get back to you on the overall percentage of misses you have stated!

WA Mtnhunter


Rings can be aligned or misaligned in 2 axises. Looking down on the rifle from above the receiver with it mounted in a gun vise, the front and rear rings can be cocked and not in perfect alignment with each other parallel to the bore, which will impart torque on the tube and the innards.

Looking at the rifle in the vise from the side, they might also not be in alignment in the up and down direction with the same result.

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.



To Wa MtnHunter,
Thanks. that did answer my question.

WA Mtnhunter


The alignment and lapping tool from MidwayUSA will pay for itself in about 2 gun shop scope mounting fees or about one-tenth of a damaged scope. I think it was about $30.

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