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newbie scope questions

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Unread 07-14-2011, 03:19 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Rapid City, SD
Posts: 181
newbie scope questions

i was reading an old thread in this section about scope mounting and they were talking a lot about "lapping" the rings when mounting scopes. can anybody tell me what it means to "lap" the rings? and all these different ideas on how to make scopes left and all that jazz confuses me. i understand the concept of vertically aligning the reticle, but leveling the scope make my head spin. are we leveling the scop in relation to the bore of the barrel, or are we leveling the scope in relation to, say water?
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Unread 07-14-2011, 04:22 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Weiser, Idaho
Posts: 1,198
Re: newbie scope questions

Here is my inexperienced answer to your questions. Lapping means to smooth the rings out so the scope sets in the ring perfect no rough edges and no uneven contact points usually done with a proper sized rod and super fine sand paper. Leveling the scope is an advanced set to setting the reticle vertical. It levels the scope with the stock and barrel perfect. So when you aren't holding the rifle perfect the scope is canted in the same way as the rifle.
Hope this is right information and if not we both learn something. I have learned a lot on this site, lets see if I retained any of it.
Every man needs a good woman, good dog, good horse and a good gun.
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Unread 07-14-2011, 04:30 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 420
Re: newbie scope questions

Lapping rings is done by hand with a honeing bar after the rings are installed on the rifle to correct minor misalignments. Leveling the scope is a bit trickier, leveling to the rifle prevents the vertical component of the bullet trajectory from becoming part of the horizontal component. If the rifle is isn't level then the bullet trajectory will go in the direction that is the lowest (according to the horizontal crosshairs). Generally it is easy to tell if the scope is level to the rifle by adjusting the elevation knob all the way down and shooting a group and then adjusting the elevation knob all the way up and shooting a group. the two groups should be in vertical alignment with each other
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Unread 07-14-2011, 05:07 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Rapid City, SD
Posts: 181
Re: newbie scope questions

hey thanks guys! i appreciate it. hopefully i don't have to do that. but if i do, i suppose we'll find out how well i did! i should know in a few weeks when i get my gun and scope!
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Unread 07-15-2011, 08:36 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: So. California
Posts: 409
Re: newbie scope questions

To get a rough "Level", you can mount your bottom ring onto the base you chose, take a bubble level and set it across the base ring. Move the action until you show Level in the bubble. You then set your scope into the rings and mount it. Leave it slightly loose in the rings, and take that bubble level and set it on top of the Elevation Turret. If it shows level, great! You can also put the level on the windage (vertical) and check it that way as well.

Then follow Kens advice to double check that it really IS level.

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Unread 07-17-2011, 07:47 PM
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: Western North Carolina
Posts: 82
Re: newbie scope questions

I never took lapping scope rings too seriously, you know, that's for the hard core paper punchers. But then I had an opportunity to get a lapping kit and the first rings I lapped were an eye opener.

It was AMAZING how little contact my scope rings were making with the scope tube. When you lap, you remove the finish inside the rings so you can immediately see where the "high" spots are. Not only does lapping remove the high spots, but also any machining imperfections, pinch points and slight mis-alignment.

Your rings marry the scope to the rifle making it one unit. One without the other is not much good. One half of the equation in top notch shape and the other only so-so will only give so-so performance. They have to be bound together as a single unit. The rings are the "glue" that binds them (scope and rifle) together causing them to work together as one.

I have become 100% convinced that without lapping, with your rings only making semi-contact with the scope, that there is NO WAY you can realize the full potential of your rifle/scope combination as far as accuracy is concerned.

Further, I believe that it is a simple matter for a minor bump or even recoil to shift point of impact without lapping.

Lapping puts the rings in contact with the scope rather than a small portion of the rings in contact with the scope, which necessitates really torqueing down the rings to maintain your zero integrity, if that is even possible with just a tiny amount of the rings in contact with the tube. Further, it puts tremendous force on very small areas of the scope tube.

Not terribly expensive and quite inexpensive when used with several rifles and considering cost of rifles and scopes. Here's a kit including torque driver for both 30mm and 1" tubes:
Wheeler Engineering Scope Mounting Combo Kit 1" and 30mm - MidwayUSA
This is just a cheapy kit but servicable.

I believe, at the very least, lapping removes one variable that can effect accuracy when chasing after the best from your rifle/scope combo.
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Unread 07-18-2011, 08:02 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Great Falls, MT
Posts: 9,758
Re: newbie scope questions

Use Burris signature zee rings with inserts (
) to eliminate the need for lapping. The tremendous gripping power of the ingenious design anchors the scope at zero round after round. Additionally, a synthetic self-aligning insert inside the steel ring cradles the scope and insures proper alignment and guarantees scope-to-ring contact is virtually 100%.

I use the older Wheeler Engineering level-level-level (
) to level my scopes with the rifle and then torque it with Wheeler's FAT torque wrench (

But if you really want to lap your existing rings, check this out ...

Good luck!


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Last edited by FEENIX; 07-18-2011 at 08:19 AM.
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