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Shooting More Accurately – How to Mount and Sight-In Scopes

How to Mount Your Riflescope

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: The secrets to shooting accurately include choosing the best rifle for your hunt, the correct ammunition and the right bases and rings, mounting your scope properly and then sighting-in your scope correctly. To gather the best information on how to make rifles shoot more accurately, I talked with Russ Sockwell of Mark’s Outdoors in Birmingham, Alabama, a gunsmith with 10 years of experience who mounts scopes and sights-in thousands of rifles each year.

“I use Leupold bases and rings for mounting riflescopes,” Russ Sockwell says. “I like them because they can adapt to mount on any rifle, and they’re very strong. Too, Leupold bases and rings have windage capabilities in the rear to insure that even if the gun’s drilled off-center, you still can make the needed adjustments to make the rifle shoot accurately. All of my personal rifles have Leupold mounClick to enlargets on them. The cost of these rings and bases is about $50. I believe that a hunter needs to invest in quality rings and bases. If your scope isn’t securely attached to your rifle, you won’t be able to shoot accurately. Here’s the procedure I use to attach the bases to the gun, the rings to the bases and the riflescope to the rings.
* “Have your gun drilled and tapped by a qualified gunsmith, if your gun’s not drilled and tapped to accept bases.
* “Degrease the gun with Gun Scrubber made by Birchwood Casey, before attaching the bases to the barrel of the gun. Don’t forget the screws and screw holes. Gun Scrubber removes all the oil, dirt and grime, evaporates quickly and leaves a clean surface.
* “Apply Loctite Threadlocker to the screws before screwing the bases to the barrel. If you don’t use Loctite, then over time, the guns will vibrate the screws and the scope loose, and the gun won’t shoot accurately.
* “Screw the bases to the gun. Click to enlarge
* “Attach the front ring to the front base with a Leupold Mounting Tool. Attach the rear ring to the rear base using a Leupold Ring Wrench. Tighten the screws with the torque bit, a style of Allen wrench that allows you to apply more torque to the screw to make it tight without stripping the screw that comes with the base-and-ring set. Next turn the front ring into the dovetail fitting on the base with a Leupold Ring Wrench, which also prevents scratching the rings, which can scratch the scope.
* “Lay your scope in the rings. Although various guns and scopes need to be mounted in different positions to give the shooter the correct eye relief, generally, you can start by laying the front tube of the scope in the front ring about 1 inch from the front bell of the scope. Once you get your scope set about where you think it needs to be on the rings, put the top half of each ring over the scope tube. Snug them down but not too tightly. Then you still can square-up your crosshairs and adjust your eye relief if needed.
* “Tighten-down the windage screw on the back of the scope toClick to enlarge keep the rings in place.
* “Mount the rifle, check-out your eye relief, and make sure your crosshairs are straight. Always keep both eyes open when you’re looking through the scope, adjusting your eye relief and lining-up your crosshairs. Since you’re in such close quarters when you’re looking through the scope, often the objects will appear blurred. However, by keeping both eyes open, you can better see your reference points. Correct eye relief means you have a full picture inside the scope with no black moving around inside the scope. To make sure the crosshairs are straight, aim the gun at a straight edge like a doorframe, and determine whether your crosshairs are straight up and down with the doorframe.
* “Tighten-up the four screws that hold the rings in place, once you’re certain the eye relief is correct, and the crosshairs are straight up and down. At Mark’s Outdoors, if a customer buys a scope, a gun or rings and bases, I’ll mount the scope for free and bore-sight it.”

To learn more, go to, email Sockwell at or call (205) 822-2010.

Tomorrow: How to Sight-In Your Scope

Check back each day this week for more about " Shooting More Accurately – How to Mount and Sight-In Scopes"

Day 1: How to Mount Your Riflescope
Day 2: How to Sight-In Your Scope
Day 3: How to Pick a Riflescope
Day 4: What’s the Best Reticle
Day 5: What Price to Pay for a Scope


Entry 373, Day 1