how to install a scope on a rifle

Believe it or not, installing a riflescope is not difficult. While you could choose to pay someone to do it for you, why not save the extra cash and do it yourself?

With a few simple steps and some inexpensive tools, you’ll soon find out mounting a riflescope is an easy task. Every firearm owner should know how to do this simple armorer level task, which will help you install and upgrade riflescopes on various rifles.

Gather the necessary tools and components

To properly install a riflescope, you will need a few basic tools. These tools are not expensive, and chances are you already own most of them. These tools include:

  • Gun vise
  • Scope leveling kit
  • Torque wrench screwdriver
  • Other basic hand tools (screwdrivers, Allen wrenches, etc.)

Once you have these tools, next you will want to locate the components needed to mount the riflescope. First, if not already installed, you will need picatinny scope bases and install them to the rifle itself.

Next, you will need the scope rings and bases. These are the parts that securely mounts the scope to the rifle. It’s very important that the scope rings are the same diameter as the tube of the riflescope, otherwise they will be of no use. In addition, you will need to choose scope ring bases that are high enough for the outer lenses of the scope.

Lastly, of course, is the riflescope, which you should carefully select based on the rifle and what you want to achieve with your rifle platform. Too large or too small of a riflescope will limit the potential of your rifle.

Find a level surface

After you have gathered all the necessary tools and components, its extremely important that you use a level work surface.

Not having a level work surface will throw everything off and make instillation much more difficult and make the reticle off keel.

A dedicated work bench is Ideal, but any flat and level table will work just fine. Once you have located your work surface, its time to put the rifle in the vise, make sure its level too, and proceed with the next steps.

level surface to work on rifle

Install scope ring bases

For the next step, you will need to install the bases of the scope rings. Attach the bases to the picatinny rail and make sure they are spaced apart appropriately.

After they have been installed to the rail, tighten the hardware firmly. Later on, you will need to tighten them to a specific torque setting after the scope has been mounted to the rings.

As a final step before you install the rifle scope tube to the bases, place a piece of black electricians’ tape to the inside of the scope rings. This will ensure a snug fit and will further prevent the scope from coming loose over time due to the rifle’s recoil.

Adjust for eye relief

Eye relief is the distance between the scope and the shooters eye. Because of recoil, riflescopes are designed to be viewed a certain distance away from the glass.

Too close of an eye relief will result in painful injuries from the scope hitting you in the eye. At the same time, too far away will make it difficult to get a full picture of the reticle and cause an uncomfortable strain on your neck.

Once you have adjusted the riflescope forward or backwards for the best eye relief, now you can level the riflescope so the reticle is properly aligned.

Level the riflescope

Leveling the riflescope on the scope ring bases is crucial because it ensures the reticle is aligned properly. If the reticle is not level, it will make adjustments difficult and limit precision accuracy.

Place the scope on top of the scope rings bases and using your scope leveling kit, place the small bubble level on top of the elevation turret, and clamp the other bubble level to the rifle barrel.

Once you have adjusted the rifle so the barrel is level, now you can move the riflescope to adjust based on the level at the elevation turret.

Be very meticulous when adjusting the scope and make sure it is as perfectly level as possible. Once you have achieved that, then you can add the top part of the scope rings to secure the scope in place.

Secure scope rings

Now that the riflescope is adjusted for the correct eye relief and the reticle is perfectly level, now you can move on to the final steps of securing the hardware.

Place the top parts of the scope rings on the scope and tighten the hardware. In the very final step, you will tighten them to a specific torque, but for now just tighten them so they are firm.

Scope rings can have 1-2 screws on each side of the scope ring. Make sure to tighten all the screws equally so you don’t mess up the reticle level. To make sure of this, keep the scope leveling kit on for now.

Tighten each screw a little bit each time and repeat until they are firm. You may need to adjust if the level goes off center, but if you pay close attention to how you tighten the screws it should work out just fine.

Torque down hardware

The final step in mounting a riflescope is tightening down all the hardware to a specific torque. This will result in a rock-solid mount that even through many rounds shot and hours of abuse, the scope mount won’t budge.

For the scope ring bases, tighten the hardware to 35-45-inch pounds with your torque wrench. If the manufacturer of the scope bases provides a specific inch pound value, use that, but 35-45-inch pounds will work in most cases.

Next, keeping a close eye on the bubble level on the scope, tighten down the scope ring screws to 15-18-inch pounds, or whatever the manufacturers specifications recommend. While torquing down the scope ring screws, just make sure you are doing so evenly, and the bubble remains level.


Installing a riflescope doesn’t have to be complicated. Many firearm enthusiasts are intimidated by this task and simply pay someone else to do it.

There are a lot of benefits to installing a riflescope yourself. You can save a little extra cash, you won’t have to wait for days for an armorer to finish the job, and you can take your time and do it right.

As long as you follow these simple steps, you can mount your own riflescopes and do it correctly every time and do so with minimal time and money invested.

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