Mounting and zeroing a scope can either be a nice and easy day with plenty of time shooting and scoring bullseye, or it can be an exercise in frustration. Typically mounting and zeroing a scope is pretty easy, as long as all the components fit. However, when you hit a snag you may find yourself in a pinch. When it comes to scopes, a snag keeps you from getting on target, and makes the scope useless. So what do you do?
The first step is diagnosing the problem. To do that you need to look over the entire weapon and scope system until you can find the issue. Once the issue is discovered you can start taking steps to fix the situation.
First let’s take a look at the ammunition. Are you attempting to sight in your optic with different brands of ammunition? This may be an issue and solution. First off if you are just loading random different cartridges and loads into your weapon you’ll never get an accurate zero. Different bullets have different weights, and different loads have different powder charges, and this greatly affects where the round hits. So try one load at a time.
If you can’t zero the weapon with 20 rounds of one load, try another. Some rifles work better with certain loads, so experiment to find the best load for your rifle and scope.
When sighting an optic is it works to rest the weapon on something to stabilize it. This does ensure the greatest accuracy possible when shooting a weapon. A rest needs to have so leeway to it though. A hard rest, like a wood table can cause the weapon to bounce, or will apply pressure on the barrel, sending your shots high. Use a soft rest like a sand bag.
First check the screws that are attacking the rings to your scope. Are they loose? Is there any wiggle in the scope rings? If there is wiggle you need to tighten the screws and apply loctite. Make sure the optic is centered. If the scope rings are loose you’ll notice you can rotate the scope a bit. Rotate the scope until the crosshairs are perfectly vertical and horizontal. If not, move on to step 2.
Detach your scope rings and insure they are smooth and even on the inside. Makes sure there are no burrs, or internal deformations. Makes sure both scope rings are identical in size and shape. If there is any issue with the scope rings toss them, and invest in a new set.
If your mount bases are removable, check for looseness. If loose, tighten, and apply loctite to the screws. You should also remove and check the bottoms or the mount, and the rifle base. Wipe them down, and feel for any burs or deformations.
Make sure both the mount and scope rings are high enough that the scope doesn’t touch the rifle. There should be plenty of clearance between the scope and rifle.
5The Scope Itself
Sometimes it’s very possible to have a bad scope. This could be caused by misaligned lenses, broken lenses, broken turrets, dead clicks, the list goes on and on. Maintenance wise there is not a lot you can do unless you are an experienced scope builder. What you can do is preventive maintenance, and preventive damage.
The first step is knowing what the max round your scope is rated for. A scope designed for a rimfire weapon is not a good choice for a 30-06, the recoil of the round can break the scope.
Clean scope lenses with the same cleaners used for high powered and expensive cameras. Avoid household glass cleaners.
Pay attention to the O rings that keep water and debris out of the optic. Are they inflicted with dry rot? Are they even still there?
6Look Over The Rifle
Are you sure it’s a scope problem? Plenty of owners of the Remington 7400 rifle know that wandering zero is a problem that can affect rifles. Try moving the scope to a different rifle, and ensure it’s not the weapon causing the issue. Also hunting rifles tend to have thin barrels to reduce weight, and these barrels tend to heat up fast. A hot barrel can also affect how the firearm shoots, especially when it comes to magnum rounds.
Modern scopes are extremely well made, and rarely will one encounter issues. The main problem is when one fails diagnosing it can be a pain. You must be methodical, careful, and thorough if your diagnoses, and in your fix. Remember there could always be more than one problem, so check everything.