How to choose the best scope ring / scope mount for you rifle or precision airgun ?

Choosing the best scope rings for your rifle requires a certain amount of knowledge and can be quite confusing for newcomers to rifle shooting.  There are quite a few questions to ask your self before going to your gun dealer and choosing your scope mount or ring mounts.

Is a 1 piece or 2 piece best ?

It is best to use a one piece scope mount / scope ring for all spring / piston precision air rifles with 3/8" / 11mm grooves / dovetails.  This is because they have a more aggressive recoil than precharged pneumatic air rifles due to the nature of how the air is compressed.  Spring piston air rifles generally have  longer dovetails than PCP rifles and the rail is continuous without a breech / loading area in the middle of the rail.  One piece mounts are the best choice here.  A few PCP precision airguns, rimfire rifles and centrefire rifles with a full length picatinny rail will allow one piece mounts to be fitted so if possible choose a one piece mount.

The width of your rifles dovetail and how to measure.

Luckily 90% of precision airguns and rimfire rifles have dovetails / grooves that are the same width - 11mm.  These scope grooves are usually an integral part of the rifles receiver or cylinder and normally require tip off scope mounts.  Many centrefire rifles have picatinny or weaver rails fitted instead of a grooved receiver and Sportsmatch are offering an increasing range of this type of scope ring.  The picatinny / weaver system is the best scope mount solution as the scope mount wraps around the rail on the rifle and provides a solid link that cannot possibly move under recoil.  This system is 21.2mm / 0.835" wide but is regularly advertised as 20mm.  If you are unsure of the width of the dovetail on your rifle the best thing to do is to take your airgun or rifle to your local gunshop and ask them to try different types of scope rings / scope mounts to see which model is the best fit.  The gun dealer may well have seen your make and model of rifle before and will be able to advise you which is the best option.  The 11mm dimensions is normally taken from the widest point of the scope rail as this is the easiest part of the dovetail to measure.  However some manufacturers measure dovetails using rollers at the narrowest point.  The width of a picatinny or weaver scope mount is 21mm but the angle is also different at 45 degrees so this is a different scope mounting system all together.

What body tube diameter is best for my rifle scope?

Most scope mount / scope ring manufacturers say that the best rifle scope tube diameter is 30mm or lately 34mm as this allows more light to be transmitted from the rifle scopes objective lens to the shooters eye making for a brighter clearer image.  However many rifle scopes still have a 1” (25.4mm) diameter body tube and most shooters are very happy with this size, particularly for use on precision airguns.  It should be noted that 25mm scopes are actually 25.4mm and require 1" scope rings.  Rifle scopes with 30mm diameter body tubes are more often used on centrefire rifles using picatinny scope mounts and rails.

How high do I need my scope ring to be ?

Generally it is best to keep your scopes objective lens as close as possible to the barrel.  So therefore the best scope mount is the one that is only just high enough to clear your scope from touching your rifle.  Don’t forget to allow enough clearance to allow your rifle scopes lens covers to be fitted.  They are normally around 2mm in thickness.  Some rifle shooters prefer to raise the height of their rifle scope mount in order to match the height of their particular rifles high or adjustable cheek piece in order obtain a comfortable head and neck position.  It is important for your head is upright when looking though your rifle scope so this has to be considered when choosing the best scope rings / scope mounts for your airgun or rifle.  It is important to remember that if you rifle or airgun has a grooved receiver the scope height will be lower than if your rifle has a raised / machined full profile dovetail so therefore your choice of ring mounts may be affected.  This method of manufacture is often used on PCP airguns and increases the centreline of the scope considerably.

Do I need an adjustable scope mount ?  How to choose?

As a projectile (bullet of pellet) exits your rifles barrel it initially climbs.  But what goes up must come down so quite quickly the bullet will level out and then start to drop.  If the bullet drops below the maximum amount of adjustment available on your rifle scope you will need an angled or adjustable scope mount.  Many shooters also like to roughly zero in their rifle scope using adjustable mounts so that only very little of the rifle scopes adjustment is being used to finally zero their rifleRifle scopes do work best when the adjustable turrets are close to the centre point.  Some British manufactured adjustable scope rings / scope mounts include fasteners with a special anti vibration coating on that is common place in the aircraft industry.  This means the screws cannot shake loose due to aggressive recoil.

Do I need a shock absorbing / dampa mount?

If your spring powered precision airgun or centre fire rifle recoils aggressively the result can often be a broken rifle scope.  Sometimes the crosshairs break or in extreme cases even the scopes internal adjustment fails. How to solve this rifle scope problem?  The best scope mount for the job is a dampa mount.  The dampa mount allows the top half of the mount to slide a small amount on the base and this returns in micro seconds.  No loss of zero occurs and there is no need to keep buying new rifle scopes !

How to correctly tighten the fasteners on your scope rings

Most manufacturers will provide a recomended torque figure for both the ring and base screws.  This information should be available on the scope mount or ring mount manufacturers website or actually on the product packaging.  If you do not have a torque wrench please only use the allen keys provided and remember that the thickness of the material used on many scopes body tube is thinner than you may think.  Overtightening could result in a crimped rifle scope tube.

With all the above information you should be able to choose the best and most suitable scope mount / scope ring available which if fitted correctly will provide many years of good service and accurate shooting.  When buying scope mounts you shouldn’t look to save money and buy the best scope mounts you can afford and avoid at all costs fake or copies of well known brands.  The best scope mounts on the market are visually good quality and well finished.  They are made of the best materials and some will come with a lifetime guarantee.  Its good to remember that if you are confident in your equipment especially the link between your rifle and scope you shooting will improve