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Best method or system for leveling a scope???

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Old 12-06-2010, 12:57 AM
Junior Member
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 14
Best method or system for leveling a scope???

I have used the Wheeler scope level but it still doesn't get alignment bang on. How are folks here mounting theirs?

Thank you
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Old 12-06-2010, 02:03 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Salmon, Idaho
Posts: 392
Re: Best method or system for leveling a scope???

My method for mounting a scope and aligning the reticle is as follows. First I assume that the bottom of the action is perpendicular to the bore. That being said I remove the barreled action from the stock and place it on a level surface with the action supported on a pair of precision ground 1-2-3 blocks and I use a machinist jack set to support the muzzle end of the assembly. With the scope loose in the rings and as close as possible to the location I want it to be for proper eye relief I can rotate the scope within the rings and use a machinist set up square indexed of the same level surface as a vertical reference line. Line the vertical crosshair up with the vertical edge of the square and you are plumb. I've tried putting spirit bubbles on the tops of the reticle caps and on the reticle itself and it's never worked out, at least not to the level of precision that I'm after. I prefer to use machined surfaces to reference off of when trying to maintain parallelism and perpendicularity. All these tools can be purchased from MSC or Enco for less than what you 'd spend on most of the scope leveling gadgets that are on the market.

My ideology here is that the goal is to align the reticle vertically with the bore. I find a machined surface somewhere on the bottom of the action (whether that is the recoil lug or the actual bottom of the action) and use a precision ground block to support the action. This means that my action is now in a parallel attitude with my reference surface. Then I'm using a precision ground tool (square) to establish a vertical line from the same reference surface that I then align the vertical crosshair with. Everything is referenced off of the same surface and a machined surface of the action. It works for me, and as a machinist it makes sense to me to use the same techniques an inspector would use. If I had a 100yard long granite surface plate I would use that, but to my knowlege no one has one of those. It's not as complicated as it sounds and the tools are inexpensive and accurate.
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:11 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: PA
Posts: 1,074
Re: Best method or system for leveling a scope???

Before going to the range, I lay my rifle with scope loosely mounted in my cleaning cradle. I eye
ball line up the field of view and get the reticule as square as is then possible. Tighten the ring screws down so that the scope can barely be rotated. Get two small bubble levels, place one on top of the elevation cap. The other I glue to a popsickle stick, and hold it under the stock. This is easy with a flat fore end. On a round fore end, I try to bridge it across the loading port.

Now, find a carpenters square, a 4' cord and tie a weight (I use a large washer) to the string. You might also need a 6" clamp and a small piece of wood, about 1"x2"x15". Head to the range and attach the clamp and piece of wood to the end of a 50 yd. target backer. Tie the plumb line to the wood. Sit rifle and scope in a solid rest at the bench. Use the carpenter's square from 12 to 6 o'clock on the recoil pad to get the rifle situated level. Line the reticule up with the verticle string. Rotate scope in direction for the verticle reticule to match the string. Tighten ring screws, re-check, and shoot at 50 yds., then 100 yds.

To verify, shoot a box at 100 yds. If your scope has 1/4th min. adjustments, fire first shot at one corner of a 1" square, move the adjustment right 4 clicks, shoot again, then down 4 clicks, fire another round, then left 4 clicks, take another shot, and finally, again fire at the first corner. If you have done your job correctly, the first and fifth shots should be one hole.
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Old 12-06-2010, 12:46 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: SW Montana
Posts: 4,456
Re: Best method or system for leveling a scope???

I lock the rifle down in a vise and level it with a level on the tang and sight it at a 100yrds. I have a vertical line set up at a 100yrds on cardboard and I line it up and lock it down lightly, then I dial it all the way up and down and adjust if necessary so that the turret moves perfectly to the line. Lock it down and shoot it to zero on the line then dial up to the top and shoot again to verify the turret is tracking correctly.
High Fence, Low Fence, Stuck in the Fence, if I can Tag it and Eat it, it's Hunting!

"Pain is weakness leaving your body"
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Old 12-06-2010, 07:46 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: GEORGIA
Posts: 1,198
Re: Best method or system for leveling a scope???

The way I do it is like this. I attach a B-square level to my Picatinney rail under the scope. I figure that I will use the B-square level to keep the rifle level when I shoot. Then I put the scope in the rings at the correct eye distance for me. I tighten up the rings just enough so the scope can be rotated. I am able to put my bench rest on my outdoor table on my deck. Then I line the vertical cross hair on the edge of my neighbors house that is 100 yds away while keeping the B-square level. I have put a 6' carpenter level on the house and it is perfectly plumb. When I run the turret all the way up and down I know that it is as close to plumb that I'm going to get it.

This is how I know it is plumb to my action or rail.

"Aim small miss small",


Last edited by joseph; 12-07-2010 at 12:01 PM.
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Old 12-06-2010, 11:34 PM
Gold Member
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Shangri-La
Posts: 926
Re: Best method or system for leveling a scope???

I use an EXD

EXD ENGINEERING : EXD ENGINEERING VERTICAL RETICLE INSTRUMENT - World's Largest Supplier of Firearm Accessories, Gun Parts and Gunsmithing Tools

which is well made and level when compared to a larger level

set the rifle in a vise on the bench aimed out the door and place the EXD on the scope barrel and barrel

rotate the rifle in the padded vise until the EXD shows level and lock it in. Aimed out the door to a 4' level on a fence 30 yards out, now rotate the scope until the reticle is level with the 4' level. When the EXD is level and the reticle is level the trick is to lock the scope rings in and keep it that way. This takes all the cant out of the rifle

Vertical Retical Instrument

The trick is to duplicate this when at the bench or in the field and I like to get a ScopLevel

Scoplevel Anti Cant Leveling Device

which folds down when not in use

If you can read this, thank a teacher.......if you are reading this in English, thank a soldier.
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Old 12-07-2010, 12:52 AM
Junior Member
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 14
Re: Best method or system for leveling a scope???

Thanks fella's, all very helpful information. I usually have them close but looking for perfect. Thanks again!

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