Why do we obsess about scope rings?

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I was in the market for a new set of rings recently and ended up getting a set of Kelbly's rings. Beautiful machining at a premium price. I then started thinking critically about why super high quality rings matter.

Do we have the wrong assumptions around the need for high quality rings? By using and paying a premium for perfectly machined rings, we are assuming that the rest of the system is perfectly aligned. In other words we assume:
1. Zero vertical flex in the scope rail when mounted to the action.
2. Perfect straightness of the scope rail - at least for the distance between the rings.
3. Perfect straightness and roundness of the scope tube (this is probably the biggest assumption)

If any of these assumptions are not true, we introduce stress when mounting a scope. Let's factor elements that do not contribute to stress such as strength of the rings, additional mounting points, etc. Unimounts clearly eliminate #1 and #2. Lapping rings may compensate for errors introduced by #1 and #2.

Rather than trying to seek perfection in the rings themselves wouldn't it be a better idea to mount the rings to the firearm and then bed the scope into the rings using epoxy? This bedding process would compensate for machining errors in the ring, base, and scope.

I tried bedding rings about 10+ years ago as an experiment. I used a cheap set of Burris Xtreme Tactical rings (Chinese made) and used J-B Weld as a bedding compound. I applied lithium grease to the scope tube as a release agent. I aligned the scope properly and just barely tightened the ring tops. After letting things cure for a few hours, I removed the ring / scope assembly and tapped the rings with a plastic-tipped hammer to pop them off the scope body. I then trimmed off the excess J-B Weld and cleaned the scope body. After letting it cure for about 24 hours, I reassembled everything for a perfect stress-free fit.

For some reason, I stopped doing this on other rifles. Possibly because I have no evidence that stress free mounting makes any difference in any way. It did make me "feel" a bit more confident about my gear.

I'm curious to hear other's thoughts.
 

MaverickNH

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Ruger 10/22 and BSA scope - I just put it on. My more expensive rifles & scopes, I use the Wheeler kit. The better the rings, the less likely lapping is needed and more attention to alignment is useful, I find.
 
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Are you asking why people bother with super high quality parts because you’re under the assumption that some part is probably out of spec anyway?
 

paul73

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there is shitload of well milled rings in $50-$70 segment.
to find good ones in under $40 segment would be a trick, it is always a hit and miss gamble. UTG makes cheap ones that are more or less reliable, but, it is also a gamble.
 

mac1911

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I have set ups where the rings cost more than the rifle or scope.
Basically you end up doing what you think is best even if you only believe its better can be enough.
I have had to bed mounts to receivers.
I have used shims , super glue, tape , silicone adhesive. What ever it takes. I have used set screws.
That was in the old days.
Theres are all sorts of nice rings,mounts these days to make life easier.
 
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ReluctantDecoy

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I'm a novice, but I was under the assumption that a fraction of a mm in tolerance at the scope equals inches or feet of differential at the target end, depending on distance. While that can be corrected with windage and elevation, isn't the premium in not having to correct for machining?
 

mac1911

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I'm a novice, but I was under the assumption that a fraction of a mm in tolerance at the scope equals inches or feet of differential at the target end, depending on distance. While that can be corrected with windage and elevation, isn't the premium in not having to correct for machining?
Even if we had perfectly aligned reticle to the bore the bullet flight , barrel harmonics and other factors call into play the need for the reticles.
The end goal is repeatability , if your scope/mount flexes, or shifts you have issues.
 

mac1911

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I'm a novice, but I was under the assumption that a fraction of a mm in tolerance at the scope equals inches or feet of differential at the target end, depending on distance. While that can be corrected with windage and elevation, isn't the premium in not having to correct for machining?
Your assumption is correct.
Lets just think of the cross hairs as your front sight and your eyeball is the rear sight.
Lets say your center line of your reticle is 1.5” above the bore and your eye is 8” from the reticle. < depending where your reticle is located.
Using the above .002” is 1” at 100 yards.
Now if you use the center pivot point of your scope i think it turns into .0002”
How obsessive do you want to get. Lol

Lots of variables. I grew up with scopes zeroed to a few inches high and staying with in point blank range of a 8” -10” impact zone.
Or Zero and forget it. We used the 30/30 reticle as range finder , hold over device. Whats available today is just awesome and also over kill
 

paul73

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i really love steiner rings, i think bang per buck they are the best, while not the most expensive.

but i would not say they do anything way better than most of the competition in $50-$70 segment.
it it is milled well - it 'just works'. no matter what it costs. believe me or not - those rings are also just fine:
 
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the first video states to put a level on the scope turret to level the scope to the rifle.

The second video shows you why it is not a good idea to do that and recommends using the bottom of the scope housing to level the scope...

and another video showing a different theory for leveling to your shooting style and not the rifle.

Just thought that was interesting.



View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rFOtmWqBUI


View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-lpJgLtxyg



View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsIN4LSX-8o
 
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pastera

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Hard mounting an aluminum bodied scope to a steel receiver could also induce stress at temp extremes **.
For 99.9% of applications it will never be a issue but one hard mount and one resilient mount would eliminate the issue with different COEs.

** - problems with thermal expansion really come to light when your optical bench is 35' long. Even on the photonic systems focus and boresight are hard to hold over full temperature range.
 

Mudflap621

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the first video states to put a level on the scope turret to level the scope to the rifle.

The second video shows you why it is not a good idea to do that and recommends using the bottom of the scope housing to level the scope...

and another video showing a different theory for leveling to your shooting style and not the rifle.

Just thought that was interesting.



View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rFOtmWqBUI


View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-lpJgLtxyg



View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsIN4LSX-8o

Leveling the reticle is the only correct way to do it period.
 

mac1911

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Leveling the reticle is the only correct way to do it period.
Theres so many little things , in the end you set up how ever you need to to get the end results.
Just someones natural cant when shouldering a rifle can toss everything off. Many different reticles also can influence your set up
This reticle on the WOA service rifle scope has a cant scale so you can make sure when you change position any cant can be corrected or assure your canted the same.
 

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Ron Jablonski

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Leveling the reticle is the only correct way to do it period.
I think that works for mounts with 0 moa but when you start to add moa to the mount the scope and rifle should be leveled. If the gun is canted and the reticle is plum then as you dial elevation you inadvertently add windage. I may be wrong but It makes sense to me. Also, If you level everything and find your reticle is canted then wouldn't that mean your scope is out of spec?
 

MC56

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I think that works for mounts with 0 moa but when you start to add moa to the mount the scope and rifle should be leveled. If the gun is canted and the reticle is plum then as you dial elevation you inadvertently add windage. I may be wrong but It makes sense to me. Also, If you level everything and find your reticle is canted then wouldn't that mean your scope is out of spec?

He's correct. You level the rifle, then level your reticle using a plum line, this way your rifle, scope base, mount and reticle are all in line. If your turrets are canted 1 deg (probably wouldn't even be noticeable with human eye), it really doesn't matter as your reticle is level with the rifle.

I'll add that your eyes can f*** with you when you get behind the gun. Trust your plum line. Also why sent-it levels are becoming so popular.
 

Ron Jablonski

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I just mounted a scope last night in the garage with levels. As soon as I have time to go to the range I'll bring a plumb bob and check the reticle for shits and giggles. I'll probably make a tall target to check for tracking also.
 

Mudflap621

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I just mounted a scope last night in the garage with levels. As soon as I have time to go to the range I'll bring a plumb bob and check the reticle for shits and giggles. I'll probably make a tall target to check for tracking also.
The problem with a level on turret cap or on bottom of the housing is there is no guarantee either match the reticle.
 

mac1911

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And it all goes to crap when your bony or fatty shoulder throws everything off trying to mount the gun LOL
I have adjustable recoil pads on some rifles to fight that mess
 
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All the opinionated optics mounting comments are useless UNLESS you have a rail or ring mounted bubble level. A bubble level ensures shot to shot consistency repeatability and NOT introducing incremental cant.

IMO, the most important optic setup steps are first a fixed perpendicular rifle (verified by a PERMANENT mounted precision bubble level ) clamped in a rifle vise. Now you know for fact you have a baseline REPEATABLE reference each time shouldering your rifle. Now at this point all's i've ever done is lay a precision bubble level across the scope cap and done. When i'm shooting 600+ yds my primary reference is my bubble level , not the crosshair. I've mounted probably 13 different optics and with my methods my crosshairs always appear to be plum after i've set my rifle my rifle with my rifle mounted bubble. YMMV .
 

Mudflap621

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All the opinionated optics mounting comments are useless UNLESS you have a rail or ring mounted bubble level. A bubble level ensures shot to shot consistency repeatability and NOT introducing incremental cant.

IMO, the most important optic setup steps are first a fixed perpendicular rifle (verified by a PERMANENT mounted precision bubble level ) clamped in a rifle vise. Now you know for fact you have a baseline REPEATABLE reference each time shouldering your rifle. Now at this point all's i've ever done is lay a precision bubble level across the scope cap and done. When i'm shooting 600+ yds my primary reference is my bubble level , not the crosshair. I've mounted probably 13 different optics and with my methods my crosshairs always appear to be plum after i've set my rifle my rifle with my rifle mounted bubble. YMMV .
You’re correct up until you put a level on the turret cap. This is a moving part that isn’t directly connected to the reticle. The bottom of the turret housing is better but still there is no guarantee that it’s in perfect relation.

Spin your turret and check level every 90* I’d be surprised if they all showed exact same thing.

Also looking level and being level are two different things. If I eyeball level my reticle always looks slightly canted to the right but a plumb bob don’t lie.
 
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