Tactical Scope Mounts

Len Backus

Staff member
May 2, 2001
Tactical Scope Mounts
I am interested to know how many of you long range enthusiasts use tactical mounts on your rifles. I am talking Leupold MK4's, Badger Ordnance, GG&G, MWG or Knight's Armament. No doubt there are a few others. H-S Precision is now selling a really nice set of tactical rings and custom bases for their actions and the Rem. M-700.
For those not familiar with tactical mounts, here is brief description. The gov't set some standards for mount bases - the result of which is the Picatinny rail - a one-piece steel mount with extremely accurately placed grooves along its top surface. Into these grooves a simple ring set fits - or for that matter a variety of mounts for a variety of optics such as night vision units.

Tactical rings are simply rings on steroids - they are heavy suckers - two screws per side on the top strap. A heavy tight-fitting cross-bolt that fits into the slots on the Picatinny rail mount holds the rings to the base, in identical fashion to the old Weaver rings.

Interesting that the old Weaver design has proven to be the most reliable, robust system - it is better than any other mounting system. All bolts and screws are torqued to very specific poundage - torqueing is the secret to repeatability. I have found that my tactical rings return within 1/2 minute, usually less each time I install them.

The Weaver system is better than the tried and true Redfield dovetail/opposing screw system or dual dovetails. Guys who know claim that the dovetails will eventually shoot loose. I don't know about that but I was told at Redfield that the major problem they used to get re mounts was the dovetails snapping off when the two opposing screws became loose. I had a Redfield type set of mounts get bent or sprung after a nasty fall a couple of years ago - that would not have happened with tacticals.

Most tactical bases are precisely sloped (for an additional 20 or 25 minutes of elevation), causing the scope to tilt downward, the barrel up, to assist long distance shooting by ensuring that the scope does not run out of adjustments.

I particularly like the bases manufactured by Richard Near, a Saskatchewan manufacturer. They are definitely some of the finest bases on the market. Near bases are used by some of the most elite tactical units in the U.S. They are expensive but worth it if you like to have the best. Tactical rings and bases run about 300 bucks.

Why should a hunter consider tactical mounts? Only if you want, need, or enjoy possessing, the absolute best. Tactical mounts are the Mack-trucks of the scope mounting industry. Some people see the need. Some people just like their looks…

Is anybody, beside Dave King, a user of tactical rings?

posted April 19, 2001 12:00 AM

Gary Rihn

From: TN
Registered: April 14, 2001
Posts: 15
I've got Mark 4 base & rings on my M700 308. They hold a Mk4 M1 16X. I've got data out to 750 yards with it, haven't run out of elevation yet. Our club is building a 1000 yard range now. That will get me the rest of my dope.

You're right, they are heavy duty. Besides, the cool factor is way high on them too.

posted April 20, 2001 11:13 AM

Steve Shelp

From: NC
Registered: April 11, 2001
Posts: 7
Where in TN are you and what type of 1000yd range are they building? Will it be high-power/F-class or BR range. Just curious. I've been known to drive a few extra miles to shoot before.
Plus we have about 5-10 shooters in the TN and KY area that drive 5-7 hrs to NC to shoot at our range and I've been approached by multiple shooters from TN with 50's just itching for a place to shoot also. Just an FYI to you and your club. This isn't really on topic here so if you want to talk off line you can reach me a [email protected].

Shoot Safe,

posted April 20, 2001 03:05 PM

Gary Rihn

From: TN
Registered: April 14, 2001
Posts: 15
I'm just east of Memphis a few miles. The range is outside of Memphis as well. Couldn't get any further from NC could it?

It will be a High Power range. We currently have a 600 yd HP range, with 200/300/500/600 yd berms. It will be converted to 100/200/300 yd berms, giving the back end to the sporting clays shooters. (So we'll have two separate ranges, in addition to the 100 yard covered line). The new range will be nice, facing north (sunlight issues). Come on over when it's done. (Probably next year though by the looks of it). You've got a place to stay here.

In the mean time, I shoot a bit at Tullahoma, TN with the National Guard matches. The range there goes out to 1000 yds, but it involves closing a road, as you have to shoot over it. Maybe you've been there? (Our guys are shooting a sniper match there this weekend, out to the 1000 yd mark. Unfortunately, I've got to work )

posted April 20, 2001 07:59 PM
I've been coming across a problem with the Badger one-piece bases. The screws supplied with the base are too long for the front set of holes.

Being an little fussy about my procedures and equipment I always check the base screw tightness one screw at a time by tightening one then check for fit then loosening the screw and tightening another and recheck. I do this for each screw in the 4 screw series and it assures me that no screw is bottoming out and thus providing no benefit.

This last weekend I watched a newbie mount his Badger one-piece base without performing this check and I stopped him. He wasn't too happy about my offering assistance until HE discoverer that the front screws were too long and merely filled in the holes without providing any assistance in holding the base to the rifle. I also just recently read on Sniper Country http://www.snipercountry.com about another person having this same problem and assuming the screws were working loose rather than just being too long.
Your procedure is one that should be applied when any mounts are installed, great idea. I feel that scope mounts are somewhat overlooked, with so much emphasis on optics, tuned actions, super accurate barrels etc.

Two topics of interest regarding scope mounts are switching to larger mounting screws and ring lapping. I would be interested to hear if anyone is doing either.

I have never had any of my recievers re-drilled and tapped for the larger screws. With the much heavier scopes we are using perhaps it would be a good idea?

I have had some of my rings lapped but just did so because my gunsmith buddy said to - he had the tools and showed me how. Does it make a difference? I have heard that Badgers do not have to be lapped - any comments?
I lapped the rings on my last 3 or 4 scope mountings. I still have a Zeiss scope that was mounted 6 years ago by a pro without lapping. He put it on my .340 Weatherby and it proceeded to slip. This is a fast, hard recoiling cartridge with slippage being common.

One edge of one of the rings dug in and scraped the finish off the scope tube during recoil. That couldn't have happened if he had lapped the rings to create an even fit of the rings against the tube. The other obvious issue is loss of accuracy due to the slippage.
guys! I don't throw rocks at those who use "tactical" (translate "beefed up") rings but I don't use em. (I have) My thinking is that they emphasize the misalighnment inherit in the system unless you lap them (a laborous procedure)to overcome this. The standard Hunting mounts made by Lupy and z rings by Burris are more forgiving for misalighned bases and in effect swivel between front and back rings allowing for less stress between the mounting points. I am only concerned with heat stresses after firing feeling that it's gonna be hard to knock the zero off in most hunting applications anyway and considering what's holding the reticle inside the scope and there are only 4 little screws holding the whole mess anyway unless you count the loc tite under the weaver base. ...and it being mounted without stresses affects it less if you follow what I'm saying. The Lupy or the Burris Z-ring with the Nylon inserts are the best but the Lupy needs lock tight on the horizontal mount screw to keep it from changing under recoil. The Tactical competetors feel better having the toughness of the badger and the fact they can be ordered with taper to accomidate long distance shots is reason enough to use them.
MY shooting is almost always under 800 so my scope will elevate enough to cover it so that isn't a factor with me. A coyote is a little bitty muther at that range and beyond that I leave him be if he don't come in. That's just my drift on the matter.
You mention stress two or three times, could you explain what stresses you are referring to. I might be wrong but I would expect that a heavy one-piece tactical style base might receive some stress from miss-alligned receiver screw holes but wouldn't the one-piece base hopefully be true and strong enough to minimize stress or miss-alligned rings. I have been told that there is frequently miss-allignment of the screw holes drilled into receivers - that is why Burris came up with their nylon shims I expect.

Don't intend to doubt your opinion, just want to understand it better.

I am going to ask Marty Borsdon, owner of Badger Ordnance to comment, maybe he could discuss this a bit from a scope mount engineer's viewpoint.
Ian asked me to look in on the thread and comment as I see fit.

Tactical mounts and rings are heavier, true! Cost more, you bet!
Weaker rings and mounting systems will cause a scope damage much easier than a good solid one piece mount and rings that grip said mount instead of twisting in or slipping on.

All Remingtons, and I mean all! Are twisted and most other actions are not much better, a wimpy one piece base or (god forbid) a 2 piece base will not work in your favor.

The twist in style of mounts were found to be a very poor choice by the Army and the Marines in Viet Nam, (30-35 years ago) bad ideas die hard.

There is another way to view the issue, you are on the big hunt of your life, the biggest________ (fill in the blank) is in your cross hairs, you pull the trigger, bang!
Miss!??? Ring/mount assy is bad. Bummer!

$700.00 Gun, $1000.00 Scope $12.00 scope mount and rings, Tooled leather sling with your initials $95.00…Save some cash on vanity and put it into your rifle/scope interface.

At my company we use a simple rule "You only have to do it right Once!"
Pick all the best equipment for the job at hand.

My 2 cents

P.S. on the "screws are too long" on Badger mounts, we had some trouble with a production lot of Remingtons that required a bit longer screws, so for about 2 years we shipped longer screws, untill we felt that all the actions in question had been purchased. We supply "correct" screws now.
I just noticed that my answer didn't get posted. (I probably did something stupid). On stresses, what I am referring too is the heating and cooling (uneven in the action between front and back due to proximity of the chamber.) The scope tube goes through some of this in spite of anything but the more rigid rings (in my mind) tend to warp the scope tube (not permanently) inside. This is probably not even measurable due to the fact that other changes (wind etc) are so much more of a factor. Don't anyone take this for some kind of scientific gospel, it's just something I conjured up.
Lemme say one more thing, nothing here should be construded to mean there are no difference between mounts. Some aren't worth the time it takes to bolt them on. Others are efficient and don't cost a lot. You can't hurt by putting on good (and expensive) mounts if you see to the stresses on those that have the strength to bend things unless lapped.

Does Badger have a website?

I am about to put a Near base on my 300WSM and they recomended your scope rings.
I can't find you on a web search and had a couple of questions.

Opps, badgerord.com seems to work.

[ 12-05-2003: Message edited by: Swamp Fox ]
I've got Badger rings, bases, floorplates, and knobs on both my 700s, the long action has their lug as well. I think their products are among the best available. The rings are made in matched serialized sets, and used in conjunction with a BadgerOrd base require no lapping, and fit perfectly. Any potential stress from misaligned receiver holes would be apparent between the base and receiver, but not into the rings/scope.


[ 12-06-2003: Message edited by: MontanaMarine ]
I ordered another set of Badger rings from Marty yesterday for my 5.5-22x56 NXS on my Tommy...They are the best insurance out there for my scope mounting money. I have at least six sets, from my full blown tactical rifles to my mountain rifle stocked .300 Win Mag. I have a few of his bases, too and they ain't bad, either.
Whether you get them for the cool factor or the strength, you can't go wrong...
I have two custom Rem. 700's with Ken Farrell tapered bases. One has Badger rings and the other has TSR tactical aluminum rings. The Badgers are awsome! The TSRs are of high quality but when you try to remove them from the base they become slightly formed to the base and will not come off without "excessive" persuasion. As time and funds allow I will be upgrading to steel rings. I used to use Burris signature Zee rings but the cross bolts are pathetically lousy. If the screwdriver head does not round off the puny fine threads will strip. If I'm going to waste $50 bucks on rings it will be to buy "overkill" Badgers. I also am planning on some Badger tactical bolt mod's. Rem. bolt handles don't leave much manuevering room when a low mounted NXS scope is used.
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