Steel vs Aluminum scope bases.

Discussion in 'Long Range Scopes and Other Optics' started by ajridgedell, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. ajridgedell

    ajridgedell Well-Known Member

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    Looking for a good one piece scope base for my rem 700 in 300rum. I have leupold steel rings and vortex viper scope on some cheap 2pc weaver base from cabelas. Now im gunna make you laugh, I put some aluminum foil under the scope in the rear ring to give me some more elevation adjustment. It has actually worked fine for about 250rnds but now zero is off and im ready to buy a 20moa one piece base. They got some inexpensive ones on optics planet, a weaver for like $40, then there's night force for a lot more. Is it worth the price difference? And are steel bases going to be any better than aluminum? I assume that is the main difference between the cheap bases and expensive ones. Thanks for any help.
     
  2. LouBoyd

    LouBoyd Well-Known Member

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    The main properties of aluminum relative to steel are:
    Aluminum has 2-3 times the thermal expansion.
    Aluminum has about 1/2 the weight.
    Aluminum usually has less strength.
    Aluminum can corrode, steel can rust.
    Both can be cast or machined.
    Both can be high or low quality.

    I usually choose whichever material the base attaches to. That is, I put steel bases on a steel receiver and aluminum bases on an aluminum receiver, such as an AR-15 if they have a large area of contact. If the rail bridges a large gap over the ejection port and won't be as hot as the receiver I may use an aluminum base on a steel receiver if the scope also has an aluminum tube. That can reduce bending from thermal expansion. In any case the most important feature is whether the base is accurately machined and fits both the receiver and the rings.

    I do use some of the aluminum optics planet rails, the one made by EGW. They are well machined.

    As with many shooting related decisions one parameter gets traded for another. It's not a matter of best, only what's appropriate for a given use.
     

  3. Tikkamike

    Tikkamike Well-Known Member

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    I have tried all kinds of rails and on a 700 if you dont want to spend the money on NF or badger buy a TPS, they have an intregal recoil lug and are steel. those would be my choices
     
  4. 436

    436 Well-Known Member

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    From what I've found; "if" everything is in alignment and properly milled, I go with steel to steel and aluminum to aluminum; action to base to rings to scope. I use more {near all} of the aluminum products on the AR type rifles, and the bolt guns get steel from the receiver to the scope
    This works for me.
    436
     
  5. ajridgedell

    ajridgedell Well-Known Member

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    Are TPS products only available from their web site? Says out of stock for my application. I do like the idea of using steel base with steel rings.
     
  6. davewilson

    davewilson Well-Known Member

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    the main advantage of using a steel base is it can help with the rigidity of the receiver. 700's have quite a bit of metal removed, especially a repeater. epoxy the base to the receiver and it will be stiffer across the top where it is needed the most.
     
  7. sp6x6

    sp6x6 Well-Known Member

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    Ditto above, and on my larger mags steel. I have used the weaver w/ lug on smaller calibers, alum. without issue. I jb weld them on:D
     
  8. Tikkamike

    Tikkamike Well-Known Member

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    I got my tps from midway. I put Burris xtreme rings on it and have had no problems.
     
  9. ajridgedell

    ajridgedell Well-Known Member

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    I have read about bedding the base to the action, jb weld is sufficient bedding compound? or would i be better off just screwing it down on the action as is?
    I'm ordering the TPS from midway, thanks for the help guys.
     
  10. Tikkamike

    Tikkamike Well-Known Member

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    I don't have The nerve to jb weld a base to my action.... but I can see how it would work... just seems very permanent.
     
  11. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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    I bed all of them on with JB Weld Quick. The trick is to get a thin coat on the base, but not in the screw holes or on the threads. Use a release agent on the threads ( I use johnsons paste floor wax) Then snug t down just enough to get the excess to squish out all around. Clean p the excess with Q-tips but Don't tighten it yet. Let sit over night to dry. Then remove the screws, clean them, apply blue locktite and torque them down evenly. The whole purpose here is to get a perfect fit between the base and receiver with out flexing the top of the rail and pulling it out of square on top. If you just bolt it on many times the top of the rail is not true. Check it with a good straight edge.

    If you ever want it off just apply a little heat from a propane torch. Or, if you can't get past gluing it to your receiver, simply apply a coat of release agent to the top of the action before you bed the base on. This will allow removal and a clean receiver top. But you will still have a perfect fit between the rail and action.

    I feel this is important guys. Any rail that is not true on top will result in transfering that degree of misalignment directly into your scope tube. Plus, your rings will not be on a true plane either.. Not good!!

    Jeff
     
  12. brentc

    brentc Well-Known Member

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    There are some very high quality bases made from each material. Seekins, for example, makes extremely high quality mounts out of 7000 series aluminum alloy. Seekins mounts are regarded as top notch by most shooters. Talley and TPS also have a reasonably priced quality aluminum alloy bases. The main differences between high quality aluminum bases and steel bases is weight and cost. Both materials are more than adequate for what we're using them for.
     
  13. SidecarFlip

    SidecarFlip Well-Known Member

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    Not necessarily.....

    Aluminum rails, unless specifically stated will be anodized black or clear anodized silver (aluminum color). Steel will be parkerized or hot mineral bath etched. Without getting into the mechanics of anodizing, it's basically a controlled oxidation of the porus surface of the aluminum and the addition of a coloring die impregnated into that surface through electrolysis.

    Rail choice is predicated on weight and cost considerations at least in my case. All picatinny rails, if made to the Mil Spec will be within the tolerance that spec spells out. Weaver rails are another story.

    Interestingly, I've shimmed backends (of scopes) as well. Never used tin foil. Used thin brass shim stock form rolled to the inner radius of the ring. 0.010 on a 6-7" rail yields about 10-12 MOA. I've also considered shimming the back rail to receiver mounting foot bit haven't done that as of yet.
     
  14. brentc

    brentc Well-Known Member

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    Jeff, did you find the need to bed the bases on your custom actions?