As a newbie shooter, you might not have heard of rifle scope bases before, or maybe you’ve heard and don’t really know how they work. But if you’re a professional shooter, you should know what they are. A rifle scope base is a component that is attached to the receiver of a rifle to provide a solid and secure scope mounting platform. The base is designed to match the specific make and model of rifles, ensuring a proper fit and preventing any damage to the rifle’s receiver.
The scope base provides the foundation on which the scope tube is securely attached to the rifle, allowing the shooter to accurately aim and shoot their target. Shooters use rifle scope bases for mounting different kinds of guns, so whether you want to mount a scope for competitive shooting, hunting, or plinking, you must make use of a scope base when mounting the scope.
- Categories of Rifle Scope Base
- Why Is A Rifle Scope Base Important?
- Types Of Scope Base
- How To Install A Rifle Scope Base: Step-by-Step
- Common Issues When Installing a Riflescope Base
Categories of Rifle Scope Base
There are two main types of rifle scope bases: one-piece and two-piece.
One-piece bases are made from a single piece of material, typically aluminum or steel, and are designed to provide a secure and stable platform for the scope. This type of base is often preferred for hunting and competitive shooting, as it provides a more solid and rigid scope mounting system than two-piece bases.
One-piece bases are attached to the receiver of the rifle using a mounting screw or other fastening devices, providing a rock-solid foundation for the scope. The solid construction of one-piece bases eliminates any flex or movement between the scope base and the rifle, allowing for more accurate aiming and shooting. One-piece bases are also often finished with a protective coating, such as anodizing, to protect against corrosion and wear.
On the other hand, two-piece bases consist of separate pieces that are attached to either side of the rifle’s receiver. This type of base is typically less expensive and easier to install than one-piece bases, making it a popular choice for those who are just starting out as a shooter.
Two-piece bases are usually made from aluminum or steel like their one-piece counterpart, and they are designed to match the specific make and model of the rifle. The two pieces are attached to the receiver using a mounting screw or other mounting devices and are held together by a connecting bridge. Although two-piece bases are not as secure as one-piece bases, they still provide a solid foundation for holding the scope tube and are more than sufficient for many shooting applications.
The choice between a one-piece and two-piece rifle scope base will largely depend on your individual needs and preferences. If you are a seasoned shooter or hunter, a one-piece base may be the better choice, as it provides a solid and stable platform for the scope. On the other hand, if you are just starting out or are on a budget, a two-piece base may be the more cost-effective and practical choice. Regardless of which type of base you choose, make sure you select a base that is specifically designed for your rifle to ensure a proper fit and prevent any damage to the receiver.
Why Is A Rifle Scope Base Important?
A stable and secure rifle scope mount provides a solid foundation for the scope, preventing any flex or movement between the scope and the rifle. This ensures consistent and accurate aiming with each shot. A properly mounted scope will not shift or move during use, even with heavy recoil, allowing the shooter to focus on their target and make accurate shots.
Rifle scope bases are made from durable materials such as aluminum or steel and are designed to withstand the rigors of shooting and hunting. A sturdy base will help protect the scope and prevent the need for frequent repairs or replacement. In addition, a properly mounted scope is less likely to suffer damage from impact or other stress, increasing its overall lifespan and performance.
A rifle scope base makes it easier to mount the scope securely and accurately. It also ensures that the scope remains in place even with heavy recoil, providing consistent performance shot after shot. The ease of mounting also allows the shooter to quickly and easily change or adjust the position of the scope, giving them greater flexibility and control over their shooting experience.
Protects the rifle
A properly fitted riflescope base helps to prevent damage to the rifle’s receiver, which is a critical component of the firearm. A poorly fitted base can cause scratches or other damage, affecting the overall performance and value of the rifle.
Many scope bases come with a variety of mounting options, allowing the shooter to choose the best mount style based on their individual needs and preferences. This makes it possible to use a wide range of scopes with a single rifle, increasing the versatility of the firearm. Versatility means using the base for different shooting situations and easily adapting to different environments and target types.
With a stable and secure base, shooters can have confidence in their aim, knowing that their scope is properly mounted and will not shift or move during use. This confidence can help the shooter to focus on their target and make accurate shots, improving their overall shooting experience and performance.
Types Of Scope Base
The Picatinny rail is the most common type of scope base. It is named after the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey, where it was first developed. The Picatinny rail features a series of slots along its length, which provide a range of mounting options for the scope. This type of base is standardized, meaning that it is compatible with a wide range of firearms and scopes. The slots on the Picatinny rail are also spaced evenly, allowing for precise and consistent mounting.
The Picatinny rail is commonly found on modern firearms and is popular among hunters, target shooters, and military personnel. This base provides a secure and stable platform for the scope, making it a popular choice among shooters who need to mount and remove the scope frequently.
The Weaver rail is similar to the Picatinny rail but has a different slots profile and spacing. The Weaver mount was developed by William Ralph Weaver in the 1930s, and it is a popular scope base among hunters and target shooters. A Weaver mount is compatible with different firearms, although it may not be as versatile as the Picatinny rail. The slots on the Weaver rail are not spaced evenly, so it may be more difficult to find the perfect mounting position for your scope.
The dovetail rail is a low-profile rail that is commonly found on older firearms. It is a straight rail with a unique shape that allows the scope to be mounted and held in place. This type of base is typically found on rimfire rifles, shotguns, and single-shot rifles. The dovetail rail is not as versatile as the Picatinny or Weaver rails, as it does not provide as many mounting options. However, it is a popular choice among hunters who prefer a low-profile setup for their firearm.
A custom base is a type of base that is built specifically for a particular firearm or scope. This types of scope bases are usually machined to fit the specific needs of firearms and the riflescopes being used. Custom bases are a popular choice among target shooters, as they provide a perfect fit for their firearm and scope. A custom base is usually more expensive than other types of bases, but it provides a secure and stable platform for the scope, making it worth the investment for seasoned shooters.
An integral base is a type of base that is built into the firearm, making it a permanent part of the gun. This type of base is often found on single-shot rifles or rimfire rifles. The integral base provides a stable platform for the scope but may limit the shooter’s ability to mount and remove the scope as needed. This type of base is typically used by hunters who prefer a simple and lightweight setup for their firearms.
The type of scope base you choose will depend on your shooting preferences. The Picatinny rail is the most common and versatile base, while the Weaver rail is popular among hunters. The dovetail rail is a low-profile option for hunters, and the integral base is a permanent part of the firearm. Finally, the custom base is a perfect fit for target shooters who want a specially built mount.
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How To Install A Rifle Scope Base: Step-by-Step
Unload the rifle
Before starting the installation process, it is important to make sure that the rifle is unloaded. This step is crucial for the safety of the shooter and everyone around. For example, if you have a bolt action rifle, remove the bolt and make sure that there are no rounds in the chamber. If you have a semi-automatic rifle, remove the magazine and ensure that there are no rounds in the chamber. Whatever type of weapon you want to mount your base on, ensure it is completely unloaded.
Clean the rifle
Cleaning the surface where the base will be installed is important to ensure a secure and stable mounting surface. Use a clean cloth to wipe down the area where the base will be installed if a rifle has been used in the field and has debris or dirt on it. Cleaning the mounting surface will ensure a secure mounting surface and prevent any dirt or debris from interfering with it.
Select the correct base
Different rifles need different bases, so it is important to choose the correct one for your rifle. For example, if you have a Remington 700 rifle, you will likely use a Picatinny base. If you have a more specialized rifle, such as a single-shot rifle, you may need to use a custom base that is designed specifically for that type of firearm. It is important to choose the correct base to ensure the scope is securely mounted.
Prepare the tools
Having the right tools is essential for a successful installation. If you want to install a Picatinny mount, you will need a screwdriver, Allen wrenches, and a torque wrench. Make sure you have these tools on hand and within reach before starting the installation process. Having the right tools will help to make the installation process faster and smoother and will ensure that the base is properly secured to the rifle. A torque wrench is particularly important for ensuring that the screws are tightened to the correct specification, which is important for the stability and reliability of the base.
Attach the base to the rifle
This is the part we’ve been waiting for. This step involves physically attaching the base to the rifle using the screws and other hardware provided. If you are using a Picatinny base, align the base with the mounting surface on the rifle and secure it in place with screws. Tighten the screws evenly with a torque wrench.
Mount the scope to the base
After the base is securely attached to the rifle, the next step is to mount the scope to the base. This is done by aligning the scope with the base and securing it in place with screws or other hardware. To mount the scope clean the base and underneath the scope to ensure a secure connection. Align the scope rings on the scope base and tighten the ring screw on one side to hold the scope ring in place. Put the scope in the scope ring and tighten the ring screw.
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Ensure proper alignment and test
It is important to check if you properly mount the scope. The final step is to test the setup. You can fire a few rounds at a target to see if the scope is properly aligned and that the base is secure. If the scope or base becomes loose or misaligned during testing, tighten the base screws or make any necessary adjustments to ensure that the setup is functioning properly. Once everything is functioning properly, you are ready to use your rifle with the new scope and base.
Other Things To Note About Installing A Scope Base
There are a few additional things that you should keep in mind when installing a rifle scope base:
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions
Make sure you use the manufacturer’s instructional guide for the base and the scope. The instructions will include information on the proper torque specifications, which is important for ensuring that the base and scope are securely attached to the rifle.
Before purchasing a base, make sure that it is compatible with your rifle and scope. Some rifles have unique mounting surfaces that may require a special base or adapter.
Consider the rifle’s purpose when choosing a base. For example, if you plan to use a rifle for hunting, you may want a lighter base that is easy to carry. If you plan to use the rifle for long-range shooting, you may want a heavier base that is more stable when place on a gun vice.
It is important to consider the environment in which the rifle will be used when choosing a base. You should choose a rust-resistant base if you are planning to shoot in humid or wet environments.
Get professional help
In case you need assistance with any aspect of the installation process, consider seeking professional assistance. Gunsmiths or firearms dealers can help you choose the correct base, assist with the installation process, and ensure everything is working as it should.
Regularly check the tightness of the screws and other hardware on the base and scope to ensure that everything remains secure. Over time, the screws may loosen due to recoil or other factors, so it is important to periodically check and tighten them if necessary.
The ring height used when mounting an optic can affect the image and overall shooting experience. Some people prefer using low rings.
Backup iron sights
Consider using backup iron sights in addition to the optic. This can provide a backup option if the scope becomes damaged or loses zero during use.
Use quality tools
When installing the scope and base, use quality tools. By doing this, you’ll ensure that all the hardware is tightened properly and that your rifle or scope won’t be damaged.
Weight should be taken into account when choosing your setup. A heavier scope and base can affect the balance and handling of the rifle, so it is important to select a setup that is appropriate for the intended purpose.
Ensure that the scope and base are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
Make sure your scope and base are constructed with high-quality materials. Even with heavy use, this setup will remain durable and long-lasting.
Common Issues When Installing a Riflescope Base
Using an incompatible scope base for your rifle model is a common issue that can cause significant problems during installation. The scope base is designed to fit specific rifle models, and using the wrong base can lead to fitment problems, misalignment, and even damage to the rifle. Always check the manufacturer’s specifications and ensure that the base is explicitly designed for your particular rifle model.
Incompatibility issues may arise due to variations in rifle receiver dimensions, hole patterns, or mounting styles across different rifle models. Some bases may have unique features that make them suitable for specific rifles, such as integral bases that are custom-built into the firearm. To avoid this issue, carefully research and select a scope base that is compatible with your rifle model. Many manufacturers provide compatibility charts or guidelines to help shooters choose the appropriate base for their rifles.
Misaligned Screw Holes
Improper alignment of the screw holes on the scope base and the rifle’s receiver is another common issue encountered during installation. If the screw holes do not align accurately, it can lead to difficulties in securing the base properly, resulting in a loose or unstable mount.
To address this issue, ensure that the base is positioned correctly on the rifle’s receiver before attempting to tighten the screws. Double-check that the holes on the base align perfectly with the corresponding holes on the rifle. Sometimes, it may help to gently wiggle or shift the base into place to align the holes correctly. Using a punch or alignment tool specifically designed for scope base installation can aid in precisely aligning the screw holes. These tools help prevent any unwanted movement during the mounting process, ensuring a more secure and accurate fit.
Over-Torquing or Under-Torquing
Correctly torquing the screws is essential to ensure the stability and alignment of the scope base. Over-torquing the screws can lead to damaging the base, the rifle’s receiver, or the threads, while under-torquing can result in a loose or unstable mount.
Always use a torque wrench to tighten the screws to the manufacturer’s recommended torque specifications. This ensures that the screws are tightened to the appropriate level without exceeding the safe limits. Different scope bases may have different torque specifications, so be sure to consult the manufacturer’s instructions or guidelines. When using a torque wrench, work in a crosswise or diagonal pattern, gradually increasing the torque on each screw. This technique helps ensure even pressure distribution, leading to a more secure and stable mounting.
Cross-threading occurs when screws are improperly aligned or forced into their respective threads, resulting in a binding or stripping of the threads. This issue can severely compromise the integrity of the scope base installation, leading to instability and potential damage to the base or rifle receiver.
To avoid cross-threading, take extra care when inserting screws into the threaded holes on the base and rifle receiver. Always start threading screws by hand to ensure they are going in smoothly and straight. If any resistance is felt during the initial threading, stop immediately and realign the screw. Applying excessive force or attempting to force misaligned screws can lead to irreparable damage.
Failing to tighten screws sufficiently can lead to them coming loose during shooting sessions. Loose screws compromise the stability of the scope base, causing the scope to shift or lose its zero. This, in turn, can result in inconsistent accuracy and difficulty in hitting targets.
Regularly checking the tightness of the screws is essential to maintain a secure scope base. After heavy use or experiencing recoil, it is advisable to inspect the base and retighten the screws if necessary. This preventive maintenance ensures that the scope remains firmly secured to the rifle, providing consistent accuracy and performance.
Over time, due to the effects of recoil and vibrations generated during shooting, some shooters may notice slight shifting of the scope base. This shifting can adversely impact accuracy, as it alters the alignment of the scope with the bore.
To mitigate base shifting, it is crucial to ensure that the base is securely attached to the rifle’s receiver. If you notice any signs of shifting, inspect the screws and the base for wear or damage. Applying thread locker to the screws can provide added security against base shifting. Thread locker helps to keep the screws firmly in place, reducing the effects of recoil-induced movement.
Scope Ring Height
Choosing the correct scope ring height is crucial to achieving optimal alignment and eye relief with the scope. The height of the scope rings determines how high the scope sits above the rifle’s receiver or barrel, affecting the shooter’s ability to obtain a clear sight picture.
Scope ring height is directly related to the diameter of the scope’s objective lens. Scopes with larger objective lenses typically require higher rings to provide sufficient clearance for the bell of the scope. Conversely, scopes with smaller objective lenses can use lower rings for a more compact and streamlined setup.
An overhanging base can create interference with the ejection port or other rifle components, potentially hindering the rifle’s operation. Some bases may extend beyond the receiver, causing issues with ejection or bolt manipulation.
To avoid this problem, carefully select a scope base that is designed to fit your specific rifle model without overhanging. Check the dimensions and contours of the base to ensure it fits neatly and securely on the rifle’s receiver. During the installation process, pay close attention to the base’s position and alignment. If you notice any overhang, consider using a different base that better suits the rifle’s design. Choosing a base with a proper fit ensures that the rifle functions smoothly and efficiently.
Damaged Base or Screws
Carelessly handling the base or using damaged screws during installation can lead to various problems. Inspect all components, including the base and screws, for any signs of damage before proceeding with the installation. A damaged base may have scratches, dents, or misshapen sections that can compromise its stability and compatibility with the rifle. Damaged screws may have stripped threads or warped heads, making them ineffective in securely attaching the base to the rifle.
Before mounting the base, carefully examine all components for signs of wear or damage. If you discover any issues, replace the damaged parts with new ones. Using undamaged and high-quality components ensures a secure and reliable scope base installation, contributing to improved shooting performance and accuracy.
What are the different types of scope bases?
The most common scope bases are Picatinny, Weaver, Dovetail, Custom, and Integral.
What is the purpose of a scope base?
The purpose of a scope base is to provide a stable and secure platform for mounting a riflescope. This helps to improve the accuracy and reliability of the rifle.
How do I know if a scope mount is compatible with my rifle?
To determine if a scope base is compatible with your rifle, check the manufacturer’s specifications for your rifle and the base. Some rifles have specific requirements for the type of base that can be used.
Can I install a scope base myself?
Yes, it is possible to install a base yourself. A professional gunsmith should be consulted if you are uncertain about how to install your scope base.
What tools do I need to install my scope base?
The tools needed vary depending on the base and the rifle. However, common tools include screwdrivers, Allen wrenches, and torque wrenches.
How do I clean my scope base?
Cleaning a rifle scope base is relatively simple. You should first make sure that the rifle is unloaded and then use a soft cloth or brush to remove any dirt, debris, or fingerprints. Avoid using solvents or other harsh chemicals, as they can damage the surface of the base.
Should a torque wrench be used when installing scope bases?
While a torque wrench is not strictly necessary, it is recommended to ensure that the base screws are tightened to the correct torque specifications. Over-tightening the screws can damage the base or the rifle, while under-tightening the screws can result in a loose or unstable mount.
What is the difference between a one-piece and two-piece scope base?
A one-piece rifle scope base is a single unit attached to the rifle’s receiver, while a two-piece base consists of separate components attached to the receiver and the barrel. One-piece bases are typically more rigid and stable, while two-piece bases provide greater flexibility in terms of mounting options.
What is the difference between a fixed and detachable rifle scope base?
A fixed rifle scope base is a permanent part of the rifle and cannot be removed, while a detachable base can be removed and reattached as needed. Detachable bases are often preferred for hunting or other applications where the scope may need to be removed more frequently.
Is it possible to mount a scope on a pistol?
Yes, it is possible to mount a scope on a pistol. However, you may need to use a special scope base or mounting system that is designed for pistols.
Can I mount a scope on a lever-action rifle?
Yes, it is possible to mount a scope on a lever-action rifle. However, you may need to use a special scope base or mounting system that is designed for use with a lever-action rifle.
Do scope bases made for one brand of rifle work for another?
In general, scope bases are specific to the brand and model of rifle, so it is not recommended to use a scope base made for one brand of rifle on another brand of rifle. However, some aftermarket scope bases are designed to be compatible with multiple brands of rifles, so it is important to check the specifications before purchasing a scope base.
Can I mount a scope on a shotgun?
Yes, you can mount a scope on a shotgun. However, you will need to use a scope base specifically designed for use with shotguns. Additionally, shotguns typically have more recoil than rifles, so it is important to choose a scope and scope base that can withstand the recoil of a shotgun.
What is the difference between an integral base and a custom base?
Integral and custom bases are not the same. An integral base refers to a scope mount that is built into the rifle itself as a permanent part of the design, while a custom base is a separate accessory that is specifically made to fit a particular make and model of rifle.
Integral bases are less common than custom bases, requiring specific modifications to the rifle to be installed. On the other hand, custom bases are a more flexible and widely used option, as they can be added to various rifles without requiring any modifications to the firearm. Both integral and custom bases offer a secure and stable platform for mounting scopes, but custom bases offer greater versatility, as they can be used with various rifles.
Mike Hardesty is a published freelance gun writer. He also possesses specialized expertise in rifle scopes With dozens of articles and reviews published in Pew Pew Tactical, Snipercountry.com, and TTAG (The Truth About Guns), Mike is considered a firearms expert. His special area of expertise is handguns.
Mike is a long-time shooter. He has been punching paper targets, taking deer and other game and shooting at competitions since about 1975. Other related pursuits include reloading and bullet casting. He currently reloads for over 10 calibers, both handgun and rifle. His reloads, particularly for 9mm, were in great demand during the height of the ammo shortage among family and friends. He donated hundreds of rounds to informal shooting sessions. He was quoted as saying “I do not sell my reloads but I sure will help my guys shoot ’em for free!”. He has a few cherished firearms that he has inherited or otherwise procured — those are his favorites.
He earned B.S. and M.S. degrees from Indiana State University in 1974-1975.
He’s a firearm experts and is the founder of mhardesty.com.