Lapping Scope Rings for improved contact

Wheeler Engineering Professional Scope Install Kit

Pictured here is the Wheeler Engineering, Professional Scope Mounting Kit. The kits are available in more than one configuration.  You can get kits for 1″ scope tubes, 30mm scope bodies, or like shown here the professional kit contains both 1″ and 30mm tools.

Adjustable torque wrench, inch pounds for scope mounting.

Most of the parts in the Wheeler kits can be purchase separately, like this torque wrench.

The torque wrench included in the kit is adjustable and easy to use.  You just treat it like a fat screw driver.  Torque the scope bases to the desired setting.  Leupold suggests: base screws 14 in/lbs, ring screws, 15-17 in/lbs, and 45 in/lbs on the windage screw.   Like most things in gunsmithing there are many opinions.  Personally I have been mounting scopes for over 25 years and I like 20 to 25 in/lbs on the ring screws and about 20 in/lbs on the base screws.  Now that is with a whole host of exceptions.  First the diameter of the screw, second the number of treads engaged.   It should be obvious that if you have less threads engaged that you have less strength, so then Leupold’s suggestions make more sense to me.  However if I have five or six threads engaged, I have much more strength to draw on.  It should be noted that if you over torque a screw you can shear if off.  In the case of scope rings if you torque too tight you can and probably will dent the tube of your scope.

Now that you have the scope bases installed look back at the first picture above, the center tools are installed in the scope rings so that you can see if the rings are properly aligned.  Not only windage but also elevation matter when installing your rings.  The rear base of the system shown here had to be shimmed to align the rings.  Its not necessary to fully tighten the scope rings with the center tools, just snug so that the tools will not slip.  Once the rings are closely aligned it is time to install the lapping rod.

ready to use the Wheeler Engineering scope ring lapping rod.

Place the rod in the rings and leave the ring loose enough so that you can slide the rod back and forth fairly easily, but the rings should not move around or rattle.  The kit includes lapping compound, smear a small amount of the compound on the rod and begin moving the rod fore and aft.  You just need enough compound so that the lapping rod is coated well, the compound is actually going to cut metal away from the rings.

Wheeler Engineering 220 grit lapping compound for scope rings.The compoud that Wheeler includes in the kit is 220 grit, so it is pretty aggressive.  Scope rings are usually made from soft material because they are just a clamp to hold the scope in place and are under very little stress.  Consequently it only took me a minute or two to get the desired results.  Scope rings must be able to clamp down on the scope tube to hold it in place.  If we were to lap too much we would ruin the rings ability to clamp the scope, so more is not better.  When you look at the pictures of the inside of the rings below keep in mind that we just wanted to increase the contact area and improve alignment so that the scope is not put in a bind by the rings and mounts.  The uneven amount of blueing removed in the  pictures here show how the slight misalignment of the rings is repaired by the lapping process.Lapping rings is best used to increase alignment and contact.

The bottom ring on the left of the action (front)  is lapped more on one edge, the rear ring is also lapped a bit more on the rear edge,  this is because the rings were slightly misaligned in elevation.  Now the scope will rest in the bottom of the rings without any tenancy to twist or tip.

I will finish the mounting of the scope soon, check back.

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2 Comments

Filed under accuracy, Firearms, Gunsmithing, How To, hunting, Rifles, Sights/Scopes, tools

2 responses to “Lapping Scope Rings for improved contact

  1. James Boughton

    Looking for a reputable rifle scope repair shop or individual in the East Dallas area within 20 to 50 miles from Rockwall, Tx. Need no prank responses..

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