How to Attach a Scope to a Rifle – Step-by-Step Guide with Tips & More

The first step to making a rifle scope ready to aim and shoot is to attach it to the rifle itself. 

Needless to say, it’s crucial to get it right because if you don’t, all of the other adjustments you make to the scope, later on, will be inaccurate. 

Quick Summary

In this post, we will expand upon all of the steps you need to take in order to effectively mount your scope onto your rifle. 

Let’s get into it. 

Get the Right Rings and Bases

Pretty much all modern rifles come pre-drilled or modified for adding scope bases and other similar attachments. 

Hence, the first step you should take is to observe these grooves and identify the proper fit for them. 

You’ll need to ensure that the rings are the correct diameter and height to properly attach your scope. 

Certain scope rings only fit certain scopes so ensure that you get appropriate ones that work with all of the components. 

It can be a good idea to either research online to figure out which rings are best for your specific rifle and the scope that you have. 

You can also ask an experienced gun shop owner or expert for advice regarding this as well.

 Note: If you want to know complete guide and tips about scopes click HERE.

Mount the Bases

It’s typically a good idea to mount the scope as low as possible to your rifle without the objective bell coming in contact with the barrel. Also, allow for clearance at the eyepiece so that you can freely operate the bolt of your rifle. 

Start by rubbing all of the surfaces dry and then, apply a thin coat of oil or something similar that prevents rust. 

Ensure that all bases are correctly aligned and that you do not screw anything in backward. 

Note: If you want to know When was the First Rifle Scope Invented? Click HERE.

Make sure that you have an even fit by incrementally tightening each screw. 

This means that you should not tighten a single screw all the way in at once. Instead, you tighten it a little, then the next one, then the next one, and then you come back to the screw you started with and tighten it a little again. 

This will ensure every screw is evenly tightened. 

Align the Reticle 

Once you have the bottom half of the rings attached, position your scope roughly where you want it to be and start to tighten the top halves of the rings. 

Don’t tighten the top halves all the way. 

Tighten them just enough so that the scope is held in place but it can still be freely rotated and moved back and forth. 

Place the rifle on a flat, level surface and look through the scope. 

Rotate it until the reticle inside it is exactly vertical and horizontal. 

Note: If you want to know Who Makes Leatherwood Scopes? Click HERE.

Adjust Eye Relief 

Next up is eye relief. 

The eye relief of a scope can be defined as the longest distance between your eye and the closest surface of the scope that allows you to get a full, unobstructed view inside it. 

It’s essentially the farthest distance you can have from the scope and still be able to make out everything inside it clearly. 

You need to ensure the eye relief is correctly adjusted so the scope doesn’t hit you in the head from recoil when you fire the gun. 

To adjust eye relief, follow these steps: 

Step 1: Close your eyes and place your cheek behind the scope in a position that you normally would be in when aiming. 

Make sure that this is your most comfortable and default position that you would use during the actual shoot. 

Step 2: Open your eyes and look through the scope with your dominant eye. 

Step 3: If you see a wide darker ring on the outside of the scope and the entirety of the reticle, this means you’re too close to it. 

In this case, you should move the scope a bit farther from you. 

If you see a wide darker ring with only a portion of the reticle, then that means that you’re too far away from it. 

In this case, you should move the scope closer to you. 

Step 4: When you can see the entirety of the reticle clearly with only a narrow dark outer ring, you’re at the perfect eye relief position. 

Once this position is reached, you can begin tightening the screws to lock the scope in place. 

Note: If you want to gain information about How to Sight in a Leupold Muzzleloader Scope click HERE.

Tighten the Screws 

attach scope

Before you begin to tighten, it’s a good idea to double-check every single aspect of scope mounting that we have discussed above. 

Ensure it’s in the right position and then begin to tighten. 

Similar to when we were mounting bases, you should tighten the screws alternately and incrementally.

This will ensure even spacing between the ring halves. 

Once you tighten all of the screws, your rifle scope will have been firmly mounted. 

Now, you can begin to calibrate the reticle inside of it as well as the parallax correction system most modern rifles have. 

You can check out our guide on elevation and windage to get an in-depth look at how you can correctly calibrate those adjustments.

Bore Sight

Finally, insert a boresight into your rifle with the help of an insertion pin for the caliber. 

Once inserted, you can adjust the vertical and horizontal axis so that it suits your desired point of aim. 

You can check out our guide on how to boresight a rifle for a detailed look at the process. It’s definitely something that newer shooters have a ton of trouble with. 

Important note: Bore sighting a rifle is only done to enable your rifle to print on paper at 100 yards. 

In order to properly “sight in” or “zero in” your scope, you will need to fire test shots at the firing range.


Wrapping Things Up…

That’s pretty much all there is to it when you attach a scope to a rifle. 

Mounting a scope to a rifle is the first and arguably, the most crucial step of the whole process. 

This is because if you mount it incorrectly, then all of the elevation, windage, and parallax correction adjustments you make later on are going to be useless. 

Make sure that you don’t waste your time and that you mount your scope onto your rifle properly using the steps we’ve described above. 

If you have any further questions, let us know in the comments below.

If you want to know more information about scopes click HERE.


  • John Moses

    John is the Editor in Chief here at The Outdoor Stores. His area of expertise ensures that there is no one better to suggest which rifles are most suitable for your hunting experience. He is also available for you to contact him personally to discuss the types of animals you want to hunt and the terrain you will be hunting on. Feel free to read his posts for expert opinion on Rifles, Scopes, Rangefinders, Bonoculars and Monoculars.

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