View Full Version : Mounting a scope: why is getting level so impossible?

10-13-2017, 10:50 AM
I've been told the proper way to mount a scope is to make everything level forwards/backwards, and left/right, at all stages
of the mounting.

This is on a Marlin 22 Magnum...

I just received some Burris Zee rings and Weaver mounts.

I put the rifle in a gun vise. I'm using a big carpenter's level.

I couldn't really make the rifle level left to right, only vaguely based on the back sight.

I installed the weaver mounts. Checked level both ways. It was good.

Then I installed the Burris Zee rings and removed the top half. Checked level, and not happening. The forwards/backwards measurement shows the rings are tipped down towards the barrel end of the rifle. The left/right measurement shows the front ring is slightly tilted one direction, and the rear ring is slightly tilted the opposite direction. Nothing to adjust. They are both tightly on the weaver mount. The Burris ring has no moving part for the mount. The screw moves, but it bends the metal in rather than sliding in a secondary piece of metal to keep it on the mount.

I add the scope and the top half of the rings. Here is the only opportunity to bend things a little. With the level on the elevation cap of the scope, I play with the tension on the 4 top rings screws, but not over doing tension against the scope, and slightly improve level outcomes. But the scope still tilts down towards the rifle barrel end.

Am I expecting too much from consumer grade components or am I missing something? I picked Burris as it seemed to be well rated for Weaver rail use.

Rory McCanuck
10-13-2017, 11:49 AM
Just the first things that come to mind...
My first guess would be the mount, rather than the rings.
Receiver absolutely clean with Brake Kleen before mounting?
Bottom of mount clean?
Is there a tiny burr at the end of the rail?

If nothing obviously shows up, swap front ring for back, then try turning them the other way around and check to see if the tilt changes.
If it does, it's the rings.
If it doesn't, it's the mount.

10-13-2017, 11:55 AM
I've read about and have seen lots of effort in getting a scope absolutely perfectly level. The funny thing is I've never even tried and yet my rifles shoot very straight and accurately. I just do the best I can in a small gun rest such as what comes in a kit like a commercially available shooters' box. It's worked fine so far and without the endless frustration of using bubble levels and trying to eliminate a small cant of a couple of degrees in one direction or another. I don't know, but maybe I've just been lucky to have had no accuracy issues in this regard.

10-13-2017, 01:25 PM
I just put on a set of Vortex rings that were completely out to lunch the first go. Rotated both rings 180 degrees and they're dead bang on perfect. Just how she goes sometimes..... I've had really good luck with the Weaver Grand Slam rings being nice and square, but couldn't find a low 30mm set local.

10-13-2017, 01:44 PM
sometimes the holes in the receiver aren't perfectly centered. Mounts may be out or incorrect. The receiver itself maybe be out of spec slightly. The rings may be out of spec.

I would say the rings are out of spec with what you're describing if the rifle is "level" and the mounts are "level". Have you tried swapping the "front" ring with the "rear" ring to see what happens? Had that problem once on a customers gun.

If not then lapping the rings may also be in order.

10-13-2017, 02:18 PM
You say carpenter level and I think of a 4' long level you're trying to use??

I usually end up eyeballing everything.

10-23-2017, 12:12 PM
"...using a big carpenter's level..." Too big. Go buy a 6" level. Level the rifle first.

10-23-2017, 12:52 PM
I use these guys, they work quite well, easy to fit them onto whatever flat surface is available.



10-24-2017, 06:53 AM
Use an I phone 6 level. Itís 360 degrees

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10-24-2017, 06:55 AM
Launch the Compass app on your iPhone and calibrate it (if necessary). Then swipe to the left on the screen to reveal the level. You can then turn the iPhone on its side or on its back to use the leveling functionality.

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10-25-2017, 08:38 AM
I invested in the Wheeler kit - it does take quite a bit of the guess work out and let's you mount the scope level and properly the first time. It still takes patience to get it perfectly level in many cases.


10-25-2017, 10:38 AM
I have the economy version, still works well, got on sale one day 1/2 price

01-05-2018, 07:09 PM
I have a Weatherby Vanguard S2 with a Nikon Monarch 3 mounted on top. After having 2 places try to get it just right, I decided to buy the tools and do it myself. At least then I wouldn't have anyone else to blame but myself.

I slid a piece of barstock into my receiver and made sure it was resting on both bolt tracks. I leveled my rifle in the rest side-to-side and front-to-back (even checked it diagonally). The elevation dial on my scope is flat on top and I leveled that to the rifle bore. I torqued the ring caps in 3 stages and checked the levels during each stage. I've also added an anti-cant level to my scope. I figure this is about as much as I could do to make sure everything is straight.

The scope is mounted with 1-piece Talley lightweights, so I don't have a picatinny rail or individual rings to worry about, and it's a .270, so I can create a level platform in the action. Ultimately, the most important thing is to line up the vertical axes of the scope and bore.


01-07-2018, 04:23 AM
This doesn't necessarily pertain to the OP's issue but i found this article on reticle perpendicularly a while back that seems to have dissapeared. Never tried it but if you want your scope to be dead nuts on i don't think you can beat it. Basically what you do is sight in your rifle to dead zero at a given distance then using a level and a sharpie draw an upsidown T on some blank paper on the target board. Take one shot at the base of the T then crank the scope turret up and take another shot with the cross hairs on the base of the T. Depending if the shot hits left right or center you can loosen the rings and tweak the scope the appropriate way. Use some tape or a dry erase marker between the rings and the scope so you can see how far your twisting it.

01-07-2018, 08:22 AM
When I mount mu scopes I like to add a small drop of silicone to the underside. This allows it to dry into place and then screw it in. This way it doesnt move when tightening the screws

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01-07-2018, 03:25 PM
I just mount the bottom half of the rings/mount and place a spirit level across them. Level that, then install scope and level off the top of the elevation turret. Is that perfectly levelled? Probably not, but its close enough. What matters more is your reticle level with the target and your elevation adjustment tracks true vertically.