Tag Archives: Leupold

Lapping Scope Rings for improved contact, Part II

A simple tool to level the scope crosshairs to the gun.Wheeler’s Professional scope mounting kit includes the Level, Level, Level set.  This first level attaches to the gun via a magnet.  Steel scope mounts normally have a flat that can be used to mount the level.

I double checked to see that a flat on the action was aligned level with the scope base, because the level would be in the way of the scope during mounting if positioned as shown here.

Placing the level on the action to leave room for the scope over the base.



With the level in place we know that the action is level, so we can move on to install the scope in our lapped rings.

On a gun with factory length of pull, that would be 13.5″ to 13.75″ measured from the center of the butt plate or pad to the center of the trigger, the rear ocular of the scope should be 12.5″ to 13″ from the heel of the stock.  This will set up the scope so that you or your client will not receive the nasty crimson caterpillar.

Wheeler Engineering Levels in place to insure level mounting of scope. In the picture at left you can see that both the rifle and scope are level, insuring the crosshairs match up level to the rifle.  This is one of the simplest methods of leveling I have ever used.   I have a level that I can clamp on the barrel for the same purpose, but this system is faster and will work with most situations.

The Wheeler kit includes Loctite for the screws and bases.Wheeler also includes Loctite so that screws and bases can be mounted solid, without fear that they will loosen up or move.

Nikon scope mounted level to the rifle.



The final stop in the process assemble the rings and tighten them up to hold the scope.  Again the levels are used to make sure nothing moves during this process, and if it does it’s simple to move it back with the levels as a reference.  Once the scope is collimated (bore sighted) your ready for the range.

Up to this point I did not mention one thing, the kit from Wheeler Engineering includes a DVD on how to use the kit.  I watched the DVD with the mindset that I did not know how to do this work, it was well thought out and I think anyone with a little desire could use the kit with great success.  There is nothing left to question.   Possibly most important is that there is nothing else I would add to the kit, they thought of everything you need to mount a scope and it is in this kit.  The professional kit pictured here includes all the tools for both 30mm and 1″ tube scopes, it could not be more complete.

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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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