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Can you Repair or Rebuild a Rifle Scope?

A good rifle scope might be a bit expensive, but it will last forever. However, even if it lasts a long time, there will still be times when you’ll have to repair any damage your scope may have sustained or adjust settings that seem to have gone out of place.

Can you repair or rebuild a rifle scope? No, except in a few simple cases you usually can’t repair a scope yourself. You can ask the manufacturer repair it as they have the right tools and capabilities. They might either fix the scope or replace it.

Can you Repair or Rebuild a Rifle Scope

Here is everything you need to know in case you ever need to readjust or repair your rifle scope:

What is Inside a Rifle Scope?

The basic inner anatomy of a rifle scope is as follows: there is a large objective lens through which light enters the scope. This light passes through a smaller ocular lens and is then focused on the shooter’s eye.

If you’re experiencing problems with your scope, there are a few parts of your scope that might be contributing to it:

  • The objective lens- Transmits light to the ocular lens at the other end of the scope.
  • The focus lens-Used to correct parallax error by sliding it towards or away from the objective lens.
  • Erector tube- Responsible for keeping the image that reaches your eye upright.
  • Windage & Elevation Adjustment turrets- A series of springs run between the elevation and windage adjustment and the erector tube. Pushing the elevation knob inwards elevates the erector tube. Similarly if the knob for windage gets pushed in, the tube moves left or right.
  • Magnification- The magnification knobs cause the magnification lens to move inside the erector tube to adjust the level of magnification. To increase magnification, the magnification lens needs to be moved towards the objective lens.
  • Reticle- A reticle placed in front of the magnification lens is called a First Focal Plane (FFP) reticle. A reticle placed behind the magnification lens is known as a Second Focal Plane (SFP) reticle.
  • Lens Coating- The transmission of light through a lens is determined by the type of coating it has. A scope with multiple protective coatings will provide proper protection from the elements and allow for improved light transmission. The coating also reduces the sun’s glare, making it easier for you to see your target in broad daylight. .
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What Parts Can Break on a Rifle Scope?

Now that you know exactly what parts of your rifle scope are important, it’s time to look at the parts that are the most susceptible to damage:

  • The objective lens can be damaged if: the glass is of low quality or the protective coating isn’t good enough. Your lens may suffer a few scratches if the coating isn’t thick enough, but if the glass is of very poor quality, it may shatter and need to be replaced entirely.
  • The turrets for elevation and windage can be damaged, which means you’ll be unable to adjust your scope till they’re fixed.
  • If the nitrogen levels in your scope are insufficient, the interior can absorb moisture and cause the scope to rust (nitrogen keeps the moisture out).

Essentially, any part of the scope can break, but as long as you take good care of your scope, you can keep it in good shape for many years. Even so, once you’re out on the field, your scope is at risk of getting damaged, so let’s discuss how you can tell if there is any damage and how you can fix it.

How Do You Know That a Rifle Scope is Broken?

Often, it can be difficult to figure out if your rifle scope is damaged or needs some readjustment.

How Do You Fix an Out-of-Adjustment Scope?

If your scope isn’t working properly or you can’t see clearly through it, it might just be because of a little misalignment. Always remember, when you’re sighting a scope, hold it on a flat, stable surface to ensure that it doesn’t move out of place. For those new to the world of shooting, sighting your scope refers to aligning it with your rifle to get a proper aim.

Let’s look at what causes this misalignment and what you need to do to fix it.

Mount Rings

The scope needs to be mounted properly on the rifle. If the base rings are not of the right quality, they won’t be able to hold the scope in place and it will be so misaligned that even adjusting the scope for parallax error won’t be enough.

You can find out if the scope is the problem by following these methods:

  • If you’re working with weaver rings, this method will work for you. Weaver-style mounts have small, parallel ridges running along the mount. If you’re trying to adjust your rings on the field and can’t adjust anymore, make a note of this point and the location of your target at this point. Now mount your rings 180 degrees from their initial point. Try sighting your scope again. If the problem persists, it’s probably time to replace the scope rings.
  • The same testing method can be used if you’re working with picatinny rings.

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Off-Center Holes

You might be trying to mount your rings on holes that were drilled off-center on your rifle. With the right measuring tools, you can gauge to see if the holes are off-center or not. Rifles are expensive: it’s advisable to be more cautious when drilling the holes to avoid such problems from occurring.

Problems with the Scope

If even after adjusting the scope rings and knobs externally, your scope still isn’t working, there’s something wrong with the internal adjustments. In most such cases, you’ll either need to get your scope repaired or replaced.


The type of ammunition you use will change the sighting of your scope. Some rifles work better with bullets of a certain weight but might not get properly sighted if the bullet is too heavy.

The Scope Isn’t a Good Fit for the Rifle

Some rifles are not built to support large scopes. The barrel may be too thin and you’ll find it difficult to sight your scope on the rifle. Try using the scope on a different rifle. If it works, then you know your scope is alright. If the scope isn’t working on a different rifle either, you’ll need to get your scope repaired or replaced.

Is it Worth to Try to Fix a Rifle Scope?

While some of the cheaper rifle scopes start from USD 100, the more premium ones go up to around USD 1,000 or more. Before you start thinking about buying a new scope, it’s important to consider whether your current one can be repaired or not.

After you’ve completed the necessary tests to find out whether your scope is actually damaged or it’s an alignment issue, the next step is figuring out how you’ll repair it.

Lens repairs can start at around USD100-150, but for someone using a premium scope, this cost is significantly less than that of buying a new scope. In short, it depends on the scope you’re using: if the scope originally cost less than repair costs, then it’s better to buy a new one. If the scope is of very good quality and you’re very happy shooting with it attached to your rifle, then invest in repairing it. Also, keep in mind the extent of the damage. If you feel like even after repairs, your scope still won’t perform as well as it used to, replace it.

Can You Rebuild a Rifle Scope?

If you have a basic scope that wasn’t too expensive, you can dismantle and rebuild it yourself. Just be careful not to lose any of the small parts or it might not work properly again. It’s advisable to get your rifle scope professionally fixed unless you have prior experience in scope repairs.

If you’re rebuilding a scope, don’t forget the nitrogen (or silica gel) for the interior to prevent moisture buildup.

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Protecting Your Scope from Getting Damaged

One way to avoid damaging your scope is to take the proper maintenance measures in the first place.

Filling the Scope with Nitrogen

Scopes generally have nitrogen inside them to prevent moisture from entering and damaging it (or fogging up the lens). If the nitrogen has seeped out, even tiny silica gel bags inside will do the same job.

Rifle scopes have nitrogen gas injected in them before they are sealed at the factory. If you need to redo this process because your scope is acting up, you can either send it to your manufacturer to take care of it for you. If you’re reassembling the scope yourself, you can complete the job by placing the scope in a nitrogen-filled bag. wear gloves and rebuild the scope through the bag. 

Don’t Use Oil

If your scope is showing signs of rust accumulation, you’re probably feeling tempted to clean it with oil. If the oil seeps into the scope, it will damage the interior. If you’ve already made this mistake, get your scope checked to avoid further damage.

Keep Your Lens Clean

Clean your lens with alcohol and make sure you have the lens cap on when it is not in use. Most importantly, don’t use any rag or cloth to clean it because it can potentially scratch the surface of the lens.

Keep Your Scope in Good Shape

Whether it’s an adjustment issue or the need to repair or replace your scope, make sure your scope is functioning properly and has been sighted. Once both these conditions are fulfilled, you will be able to see your target clearly and aim accurately.

Kevin Collins