Preseason Prep Part 2 - Proper DIY Scope Mounting
Updated: Apr 27, 2022
You’ve spent the last several months saving that hard-earned money. You’ve researched the forums, read the reviews and watched numerous YouTube videos to help you make your decision. And finally, you pulled the trigger (gun builder humor) and made the purchase. Now’s the time to get that new optic properly mounted.
Here are some of the tools that we will use:
• Tipton Gun Vise • Wheeler Engineering: Fat Wrench, Level-Level-Level, 30mm alignment and lapping kit
• Common Level that you would use around the house. 8-10 inches length
* At the end of the article, I’ll provide a more "low-tech" option if you don’t happen to have all these tools on hand.
Our approach here will be similar (minor variations) to what most gunsmiths or builders would use to mount an optic. In this case we will be using a two-piece ring set from Hawkins Precision that has 25 MOA of elevation built into the rings. This ring set also has an anti-cant bubble level built in as well. We will be mounting a Zeiss Conquest V4 4-16x50mm scope.
We'll start the process by initially leveling the gun via the receiver in the gun vise.
Next, we will remove the bolt and insert the Wheeler action level into the raceway. Make sure that it’s touching on both sides. Most Remington and Winchester actions will level this way. If you have a Tikka/Sako style action you may have to level on the back end of the action right where the bolt is inserted.
Now it’s time to grab the torque wrench. If you have ever worked on a truck and had to use a torque wrench then you are probably familiar with foot pounds. When working with a rifle we will use inch pounds. Always refer to your optics and scope ring manuals for proper torque settings. If you over tighten the rings to the scope you could bend the main tube. This could damage not only the scope body, but also the internal mechanisms that perform the adjustments. The same applies to the rings being mounted to the action. You will torque to the action specs for the thread pitch. Many custom actions have larger diameter screw holes which allow a high torque setting. If you happen to be mounting a scope with rings for a picatinny rail, use the same method.
Once the rings are properly set and torqued, take a set of alignment bars and snug them into the rings. Make sure your front and rear are properly aligned. This will ensure that your scope is sitting true in the rings.
Note: If you are off on alignment, this is the point where the rings may need to be lapped. This would require using the lapping bar and compound in the kit and removing the anodized coating until the front and back rings are equal. This is typically not required with quality or more expensive rings.
Now we are getting the fun part, putting the scope into the rings. This is where we will need to use those levels to make sure we are square to the receiver.
Remember that level that we put in the receiver? Now we're going to put it to use. With that in place, situate your scope in the rings and put the top level on your scope cap area. I typically remove the top cap or windage turret to provide a more level surface.
Now, move your scope left or right until the top level matches the bottom level. Next, take the top portion of the rings and mate them with the bottom. At this point, set your eye relief by looking into the scope and making sure you have a solid sight picture.
Once your eye relief is set, begin finger tightening the screws in a cross pattern. Start with the top left, then bottom right, then bottom left, and then top right. Continue to repeat these motions throughout the remainder of the process. This keeps you from having one of those scopes with a nasty gap on one side. Do this until you reach the desired torque specs. And don't forget to replace the top cap/turret and snug it up.
That's it. Now your scope should be ready to hit the range and punch some paper.
Quick Tip: If you don’t have any of the tools that were mentioned in this article, what should you do? Here’s the old school way. Take a string with a weight and hang it from a wall. Preferably a light-colored wall. You are going to make a plumb bob. Use this to align the crosshairs on the vertical axis. You should also make sure that you tighten each screw on your rings to finger tight. Do the best you can to “feel” your way just past finger tight and snug up. This may not be the most precise way. However, you will still be able to get your rifle on target for this fall.
If you'd like more tips or want to talk custom builds, please visit the website at https://www.flintridgerifles.com or drop an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.