How to Mount a Rifle Scope – Step-By-Step Guide

A brand new rifle scope is always a treat. But before you can hit the range or head out into the woods, you’re going to have to mount it to your rifle first. While this process isn’t very difficult, newcomers might have some doubts. Even veterans can learn a thing or two about how to mount a rifle scope. Here’s how to do it.

How to Mount a Rifle Scope in Seven Simple Steps

1. Prepare the Rifle and Scope

Before you can begin, you need to make sure that all of your parts are present and your workspace is clear. Ideally your gun should be mounted on a gun bench using vices to ensure stability when mounting your scope. Unbox your scope and make sure that it came with the mounting rings and that everything seems to be in good working order.

After all, if you got a lemon, you’d rather know it now so you can send it back before spending time mounting it. It would also be wise to clean up your rifle beforehand to ensure a good fit between the rings and the base. If everything appears to be ship shape, carry on. Here’s how to mount a rifle scope.

2. Verify Your Bases Are Correctly Positioned

The bases on the upper receiver are where the mounting rings are going to be placed. You need to make sure that these bases will not put the rings too far apart or too close together. Remember that the rings will go around the thinnest part of the scope: The tube.

If you’re installing bases for the first time or replacing older ones, you should use a torque wrench or gunsmithing screwdriver to make sure you don’t overtighten the screws.

When you’re confident that the bases are properly set and will allow the rings to accommodate the scope, you’re ready to begin.

3. Mount the Lower Half of the Rings

Mounting the rings takes a bit of planning. For starters, you want to keep the scope as low as possible on the rifle. This keeps the scope closer to center of mass, which improves handling. A scope that’s too high up the receiver will weigh down the front of the weapon, throwing it off balance and making recoil more difficult to manage.

You also don’t want to place the rings so far apart that you cannot adjust the scope once you mount the rings. If the rings are right up against the bell and power ring, for example, you won’t be able to slide it back and forth at all, which is important for getting the perfect fit later on in this process. Similarly, if you mount the rings right up against the adjustment body, your scope is stuck.

When you’ve figured out where the rings will go, screw in the bottom half. Take turns adjusting each screw so as to avoid skewing the rings too far to one side. Once both lower rings are firmly in place, you’re ready to continue.

4. Place the Scope in the Rings

Set your scope in the rings and make sure that it’s straight and true. Get behind your rifle and see if the scope is properly aligned. Of course, it won’t be perfect yet since you haven’t tightened it down. However, at this stage, you just want to make sure the rings were properly mounted.

There are also devices for this purpose. You can get a leveling system that will show you if the two rings are evenly mounted or if they are askew. A leveling system consists of two pieces that mount to each ring and come to a point. If the points are not perfectly aligned, then you know you need to adjust one of the rings slightly.

If all looks good, go ahead and place the upper half of the rings and secure them to the lower half. You do not need to tighten them just yet, as we need to make some more adjustments to the fitting.

5. Level the Scope and Adjust Position

Before we can tighten the rings and truly mount the scope, we need to make a few final adjustments. First, slide the scope forwards or backward slightly to adjust eye relief. You want to make sure you have a clear view through the scope but enough distance to avoid a black eye from recoil.

The proper distance is almost certainly a bit more than you think so nudge it forward a little more and you should be fine. Remember, this is an easy adjustment to make later on if you have to. Next, look through the scope and level the reticle.

You may also want to place a level on the scope to make sure it’s not off-center or skewed in any way. When you’ve got it where you want it, time to lock it down.

6. Tighten Rings Carefully

This is probably the step most people rush through and regret. Take your time! As you tighten the rings, go in an X pattern. Start in one corner, go to the opposite corner, then to the opposite ring, then the opposite corner. Make small turns each time.

As you go, keep checking to make sure your scope has stayed level and that it hasn’t rolled over. Be sure not to overtighten the screws as this could damage your scope. If the scope does shift significantly when tightening screws, back up and reset it before continuing. Do not try to solve the problem by overcompensating elsewhere.

7. Fine Tune and Test It Out

Use a bore sight to dial in the scope for best results. Once your scope is mounted and sitting pretty, it’s time to take it for a test drive. Shoulder your rifle and get a feel for the eye relief. If everything feels right, then it’s time to actually go out and shoot.

You will likely need to make some small tweaks to get your scope perfectly aligned. You can only do that after several groupings. But once you’ve got your scope dialed in, it’ll be good to go. And now that you know how to mount a rifle scope, you’ll be able to do it much faster next time around.

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.