How to Level a Scope – Step-By-Step Guide

One of the basic parts of your gun setup is attaching your scope to your rifle. While the process in itself is simple, you will often have to level your scope in order to obtain a more accurate aim. This is somewhat time-consuming, especially if you’re doing it for the first time, but it doesn’t have to be complex. Today, let’s discuss how to level a scope and what important factors you need to consider.

Step 1: Understand Why You’re Doing This

Before we discuss how you can level your scope, it’s important that you understand the importance of doing so. When you simply install the base and rings and mount your scope directly, your aim won’t be as exact as you may like it. Even a slight rotation can cause the reticle to appear blurry or dislocated, which will never allow for an ideal aim.

When leveling your scope, you’re not adjusting it to any one user, but instead to the rifle itself, in order to make the reticle and optics fit the receiver and aim perfectly. With a properly leveled scope, your windage and elevation tweaks are much more accurate, your aim will be perfect, and you won’t be distracted by having to level your reticle in the middle of your hunting trip. Thus, it’ll help you to save time in the field and also make the experience more enjoyable.

Learning to Level Your Scope

If you’ve already mounted your scope on the rifle and the optics appear blurry or rotated, that’s a clear sign that you need to level it. But how can you learn to do this if you’re new to the process and there’s nobody around to show you? Leveling your scope is surprisingly easy once you know how, so you can learn everything you need right here in this guide. If you’d like some extra guidance, find a video online or ask your hunting friends to explain it to you.

Step 2: Gather Your Tools 

The first thing you’ll want to do is gathering all the appropriate tools. To level your scope, you’ll ideally have a rifle cradle or rest to keep it steady while you work. Also, make sure to have the appropriate mount and rings ready, as well as hex wrenches, which are the tools used to tighten up most scopes. If this is not the case for your scope, get the appropriate tools you’ll need. The manufacturer’s manual should be able to tell you what they are.

You’ll also need two spirit levels so that your scope and rifle can be leveled up together. Try to use small levels, which will work even better, and go for ones with aluminum housing, which are usually of good quality. If your levels are older, check them against a machinist’s to make sure they are still true. Once you’ve gathered all of these materials, you can start the scope leveling process.

Step 3: Secure Your Rifle and Scope Rings

Make sure to unload your rifle and remove all the bullets in order to work on it securely. Place it upright and anchor it well so you won’t have to worry about keeping it steady while you work. Although this may seem like a small and insignificant step, remember that safety and security always come first, and make sure not to skip it. What’s more, properly anchoring your rifle will make the following processes much easier and quicker.

Next, install your lower rings on the base or rails and tighten them up, then place the scope on top and add the upper rings. If you haven’t done this before, remember that it’s just like a puzzle and they should all fit together well. Make sure you don’t fit them too tightly at this time. Your scope should be secure but still loose so that it can be rotated.

Step 4: Level the Rifle with the Scope 

Now comes the main step: leveling the rifle with the scope. Use both levels, beginning with one on the rifle’s rail or barrel. It doesn’t matter exactly where it goes, as long as the area is flat. The second level will be placed on the elevation knob of your scope. Sometimes, this may not be flat, and in this case, you’ll have to remove the turret first.

When you’ve done this, you can align the levels. The easiest way of achieving this is to rotate the scope until it fits the rifle’s leveling. Check the readings on your levels, and once they match, you have achieved your goal. Your scope and rifle are now properly leveled.

Step 5: Tighten and Test Your Scope

At this stage, the scope will be quite loose and you have to tighten it to complete the process. Use your hex wrenches to do this gently but firmly, trying not to move the scope at all while you tighten it. You have to be a bit careful with this process, so make sure not to grab your scope too firmly.

Once it’s tightly fitted to your rifle, the scope should be perfectly level, but test it out just to make sure. If it’s true, you’ll be able to use it with no problems going forward and enjoy the perfect aim it now provides.

What If I’m Still Having Trouble With How to Level a Scope?

Sometimes, you will have completed the process but still have some issues. If you’re sure you’ve correctly leveled your scope, but the reticule is still cocked to one side, this may be a manufacturing issue. Usually, your riflescope comes with a warranty, so you should contact the manufacturer to see whether there is an easy fix. If not, you should be able to get a replacement from them.

Learning how to level a scope as part of your basic initial gun set-up is of vital importance if you want your aim to be accurate. Although you may be tempted to skip some of the basic steps, don’t. Instead, complete them all in order for the best result. Remember, you will likely only have to complete the process once, but if done correctly, you can benefit from a level and accurate scope for the long term.

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox writes on a variety of topics ranging from reloading ammunition to gun cleaning. He has been featured on various publications like thetruthaboutguns, Sofrep & many more. Joseph is also the founder of Gunloading, where he reviews different types of reloading & firearm products available on the market.