Attaching a scope to a rifle can feel like a complex evolution. If you do it incorrectly, your scope will move when firing it, and or you’ll be less accurate. 

However, if you have the right tools, and follow these steps, you’ll be able to properly mount your scope, and mitigate those problems. With that, let’s begin.

Step 1: Have the Ring Tools

First, you’re going to need to have the right tools in order to attach your scope. However, when it comes to the tools, there are some that are absolutely requirements for this, and then there are some recommended tools that will help to make this either more accurate, or more efficient. 


  • Allen wrenches hex keys:
  • Threadlock:


  • Torque wrench instead of allen/hex:
  • Leveler:

Step 2: Get the Right Rings and Base

Next, you’ll need to make sure you have the right base and rings for your scope and rifle.  This step used to be the hardest because only certain bases work for certain rifles.  Then on top of that, certain rings would work with certain scopes and some of those rings only work with other bases.  If that made your head spin, you’re not alone. 

Luckily, just recently, Gun University came up with a free tool that figures all of that out for you.  Using the Scope Ring Finder, all you need to do is enter in your specific scope, then your rifle, and the intended interface (how you’d like the ring to attach to the base), and the Scope Ring Finder will list every ring, base and lens cap that will work.  Furthermore, it will find the cheapest price online.

Now, using this tool, you no longer have to figure out the diameter, height, and bases and just just use this to find your perfect pairing.  Also, if you’d like to learn more about how to manually find them, be sure to have a good understanding of the types of rings in the market.

Step 3: Attach the Base to the Rifle

Once you’ve got your base, you’ll need to attach it to your rifle. If your rifle already has a base on it (like most AR15’s do), then you can skip this step.  If not, then continue forward.

First make sure to clean off the surface of the rifle using a CLP or gun oil.  Next align the base to the rifle and attach it via the screws. Once you have the base attached, then remove one screw and add some loctite, and screw it back in.  Do one screw at a time.

Step 4: Attach the Scope Rings to the Base

Now that you have the base attached to your rifle, it’s time to attach the scope rings to the base.

To do this, first position the rings where they fit the base and your rifle just right (A).  Then make sure the rings are shoved forward as much as possible and then tighten them down to the base.  This is because the rings will have a bit of slop, and when you fire, that inertia will have them drive backwards.

Once you’ve done that, go ahead and place the scope on the rings (B).  Next put the top part of the rings over the scope (C). You don’t want to fully tighten them because in later steps we will be adjusting the scope.  

NOTE: Depending on the rings you are using, you might have a knob or screw that helps the rings to clamp it to the base.  If you do, it is best to have the knob or screw on the opposite side of the casing ejection.  

Step 5: Adjust the Scopes Position

At this point we have the rings attached to the base, and can sit the scope on top of the bottom part of the rings.  However, before we screw the top part of the rings onto the scope, we need to make sure the scope is sitting in the right position. 

To do this best, you need to position your head on the stock of the rifle as if you are about to fire.  From there, you want to move the scope forward or backward until the black fuzzy ring has disappeared.  If you need to, you might need to move the rings and thus move back to step 4.

Step 6: Level Your Rifle Scope

Most scopes have a flat bottom that you can use to align the scope to the rail and since we haven’t secured the rings to the scope (that comes next), there is some wiggle room to adjust the scope to the base.

If you purchased the leveling tool that was recommended earlier, you can put the base of the leveler on the rail and use the wedge to align the body of the scope to the rail.

If however, your scope is round bottom, you can use a set of levels to level the rifle first, and then you can level the scope by putting a level on the top of the scope cap. 

Step 7: Secure the Rings

Now that you have the scope in the right position, you can fully tighten the rings around the scope.  It is best to tighten the rings in an X pattern.

If you have a torque wrench, it is best to follow the guidance if given by the scope or rings.  However, the below are good rules of thumb to use otherwise:

Scope Mounting ComponentPreferred TorqueMaximum Torque
Rifle Base20-22 in/lbs25 in/lbs
Tactical rings to base65 in/lbs65 in/lbs
Hunting rings to base20 in/lbs25 in/lbs
Scope rings around scope15 in/lbs20 in/lbs

Next Steps to Your Scope

Now that you’ve got your scope mounted to your rifle, you’ve still got a few more steps before being ready. If you haven’t already, you’ll need to not only zero your scope so as to improve your accuracy at different distances. 

However, with a properly installed scope, and a well zero’ed scope, you should be good to go. 

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Tactical Gun Review, along with Texas Outdoors Network, is published by Michael Coker and Charles Coker.

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