Shooters spend a lot of time researching different rifles and scopes when putting together their shooting systems. While these are obviously the most critical pieces, smaller gear should not be taken lightly. One component often overlooked is the purchase of reliable rifle scope rings. Rifle scope rings are circular clamps that are used to attach a scope to a rifle using pre-installed mounting bases. Quality rings keep the scope mounted securely to the weapon enabling accurate aim at all times. Even top of the line scopes will prove to be useless when paired with sub par rifle scope rings. The last thing a shooter wants to deal with after sighting in their weapon is unreliable zero, or the inability to have consistency in hitting the mark. This is where a set of good scope rings comes into play.
Top Three Recommended Scope Rings
- Vortex Precision Matched Rifle Scope Rings
- Burris XTR Rifle Scope Rings
- UTG Max Strength Picatinny Rings
When deciding what type of scope rings to install, factors such as price, material and the manufacturer’s reputation for quality products should all be taken into consideration. It is extremely important to match the scope rings to the correct style of base. The most common base is the Weaver style. Weaver style bases have a .180 recoil slot, to which the rings are attached. Most scope companies make a set of rings that correspond to this style of base. Picatinny bases are similar to the Weaver style, but are larger. The Leupold style of base is the industry standard that non-Weaver styles are measured against. Almost all modern rifles are set up for a certain type of mounting base, either pre-drilled or grooved. In the case of a weapon that lacks a pre-set mounting point, it may be necessary to have the holes or grooves machined by an experienced machinist or gun smith. Once the correct base is matched to the firearm, it is simply a matter of purchasing a set of rings to coincide with the mounting system as many of the rifle scope rings on the market can be used with different manufacturer’s bases.
The primary options in terms of materials used in the manufacturing of scope rings are steel or aluminum. Steel rings are much sturdier and keep the round shape of the rings from becoming compressed and oval shaped over a period of time or in the case of the rifle being dropped. They are most often produced by molding or machining. This process offers more variance. Aluminum rings are made using a process called extrusion, in which many rings are created from a single piece of material. This process creates mostly identical rings offering the best accuracy. Each style of ring comes with many options in terms of the finish to match the shooter’s preference. Everything from a matte finish to a camouflage is available. Another thing to consider is the height of the ring purchased. Rings come in low, medium, and high heights. Typically, the size of the scope’s objective lens outside diameter and the ocular ball size will determine the height needed on the rings in order to allow the scope cap to clear the barrel.
Proper installation of rifle scope rings does more than just secure accurate aim. It may also help to protect the gun, the scope and more importantly, the shooter. Mounted rings that are too loose will most likely turn freely over time and throw off the accuracy. Rings that are too tight, even just slightly, may bend the sight tube rendering the scope inoperable. When trying to avoid damaging the scope, it is imperative to match the inside diameter size of the scope ring to the outside diameter size of the scope tube. Look for a set of rings that will allow the scope to mount close to the barrel of the rifle but without actually touching it. This will make it much easier to bring the target into the sight picture more quickly and will also help to ensure a higher level of accuracy when shooting long distances. Once the scope and rings are mounted in place and adequately, use Loc-Tite or another brand of thread locker ensures the screws will not loosen with recoil.
There are many other options than just normal rifle scope rings. Extension rings can be used when it is desired for the scope to sit higher on the rifle. These can also be used in cases of mounting a shorter scope onto a rifle with a longer receiver and can offer about another half-inch of mounting leeway. Quick release rings have a lever that allows the user to take off the scope more easily when cleaning or transporting the firearm from the field. It can also come in handy for a hunter trying to put a longer-ranged scope on, depending on the type of game being hunted, though if a single scope is used between more than one gun, re-zeroing the scope will most likely be necessary each time it is exchanged. Offset scope rings allow the scope to be mounted on the side of the weapon. These types of scope rings are usually chosen based on the action style of the gun and if the weapon already has factory mounted sights.
Most of the time, manufacturers of rifle scopes also make sets of rings to compliment the scopes they produce. It may seem ideal to purchase rings made by the scope manufacturer but it is not necessary, as many companies make quality rings that can be paired with any style of scope. One line that Weaver manufactures are Lever-Lok rings. Made of solid steel, these rings consistently receive high ratings in reviews. They have a cross-lock design, which helps to keep the rings more stable and secure. They are also quite affordable and easy to install. Lever-Lok rings also allow a quick release without the need of tools for removing a scope. In fact, it is possible to detach these rings with the scope still attached to them. Leupold makes the Rifleman series of scope rings, which are machined from aluminum; these rings are lightweight and able to withstand significant recoil forces. They are low priced and also receive good reviews on a regular basis. Though on the higher priced end, Nikon makes a variety of rifle scope rings that live up to the company’s reputation for high-quality products. Many of these rings come in the Mossy Oak style finish. The Simmons Company makes sets of aluminum rings. Extremely affordable while still being well built, these rings not only consistently receive good reviews, they also have a loyal following of customers.
With all the different options of rifle scope rings out on the market, it can be a bit confusing trying to decide the correct one to purchase. The most important things to look for are light rings that match the mounting system that the particular firearm utilizes and also the size of the scope tube. The last thing any shooter wants is to spend their hard earned dollars on a rifle and scope only to have the whole system compromised by poor scope rings. Good rings need not be pricey, but they should stay secure once attached to the weapon giving peace of mind to the shooter.