Mount Up

Wayne van Zwoll

By Wayne van Zwoll, Petersen’s RifleShooter


Most scope mounting work is straightforward, but even experienced shooters bungle mounting jobs. Not long ago, in a hurry to scope a rifle, I installed the rings without checking height. I’d assumed the front and the rear rings were the same; alas, they were not.

Then, as if to add insult, I botched a second mount job when I didn’t realize the base screws were a few threads too long and were bottoming out. Result: I sheared off both screws in the receiver.

And once on an African hunt with a borrowed rifle, the gun’s Redfield-style scope base lost its left-hand windage screw. I should’ve checked the rifle when some shots flew true and some did not, but I didn’t. Unfortunately, it cost me some animals.

To prevent these and other problems, attach your scope when you have time to think about what you’re doing, where you have good light and no distractions. Like taking an important test, shooting a rifle match or giving a speech, affixing a scope to your rifle is best done early in the day, when you’re not tired.

Here’s how to do it. Snug the rifle in a rifle cradle. If you don’t have a cradle, get one.

Swab the receiver and mount or ring bases with gun-cleaning solvent to remove grease, grit and fingerprints. Follow with a dry cloth, then a silicone-impregnated rag.

Put base screws in a coffee saucer. If you don’t, you’ll lose one or more. Guaranteed.

Set the base on the receiver and start the screws using a close-fitting magnetic screwdriver tip – the tip only. After screws are seated, add the screwdriver handle and snug them alternately. Check bolt clearance by cycling the action before tightening the screws. If you feel any undue resistance, back off the offending screw and replace with a shorter one or grind to fit.

Before attaching rings or giving base screws a final turn, set your scope on the base to check ring spacing and ensure that you’ll get proper eye relief. Variable scopes with short sections of free tube can limit your options. Some scope bases can be reversed to your benefit.

If you don’t see how you can place the scope where you want it, consider another base or extension rings. While rail-type bases aren’t trim, they typically offer more latitude in sight placement.

Tighten the base screws as if you were paid by the inch-pound but will be docked a month’s wages if you twist one off. Loc-Tite is not necessary, in my view. If you wish to lock those threads, use blue Loc-Tite; it allows screw removal more readily than the red version.

Leave Ruger-style rings snug but not tight to the receiver so the scope can self-center.

Separate the rings, using the saucer to hold ring screws. Keep the ring halves paired and the ring ends oriented as they came from the package. CNC machining is supposed to make such matching unnecessary, but it’s still a good idea.

This article was contributed by Petersen’s RifleShooter, a publication of Intermedia Outdoors.  Visit for more useful shooting articles.

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