Anyone who uses a rifle to shoot may have experienced rifle scope creep at some point. Rifle scope creep is basically the movement of the scope as a result of the force of firing.
How do you stop rifle scope creep? There are a number of ways. The easiest and longest lasting is to lap your scope rings. This creates more surface between the scope and the rings which keeps the optic in place.
When you initially install the scope onto your rifle, there are screws and mounts to secure it in its place. Over time, the screws securing your rifle tend to come loose because of the shock of firing.
This may potentially damage your rifle as well because the screws are likely to create holes and cracks in your rifle as they move around. Once your rifle has been damaged, you can send it for repairs, but it will no longer go back to its original state and is likely to cause problems repeatedly.
Rifle scope creep is a problem with all rifles but is particularly prominent in air rifles – Best Scopes for Air Rifles.
Can the Rifle Scope Movement be prevented?
There are ways to prevent rifle scope creep or at least reduce the damage it causes.
What can you do to Stop Rifle Scope Creep?
One way is to use a rail that is attached on top of the rifle. The scope mount is fitted into the ridges of the rail and is unable to move and unlikely to cause scope creep.
Some popular rails include the Picatinny and Weaver rails. The major difference between the two is that the ridges of the Picatinny rail are wider, fewer in number, and farther apart. With the Picatinny rail system, you can attach your mounts anywhere, but the weaver rail has fixed slots. Whichever one you choose, make sure to check if the particular model only works with a certain type of scope mount or if it can be used with any mount.
Other mounting systems like the dovetail don’t have ridges to stop the mount from moving back and forth. In that case, you need to use a scope stop pin that prevents your scope setup from moving. This is particularly important on an air rifle with heavy recoil!
Lapping Scope Rings
The manufacturer finish on scope rings is too smooth to allow for a proper grip, which is why many shooters opt to lap their rings themselves. Lapping kits can be purchased from your rifle manufacturer or online. Lapping increases the connected surface area between the scope and the rings.
Lapping involves applying an abrasive substance between the scope and scope rings to create friction and allow them to adhere to one another. It smoothes out the surface by getting rid of any rough or uneven patches.
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Some shooters line the inside of the scope rings with tape. The tape used usually has a cloth or gauze finish for creating an abrasive surface. You can get rifle tape online for as much as USD 5 for a roll.
Warning: Never use electrical tape for this purpose as it will melt, which will not only cause rifle scope creep, but it can also damage the body of your scope and rifle.
Shimming the Rifle Scope
Shimming involves placing a thin sheet between the scope and scope ring. This not only elevates the scope, but it also fills any empty space where the rifle scope can move around. Aluminum sheets, card paper and cardboard can be used for this purpose.
Ideally, you should only use a single sheet or two at most. Any more and the scope will become unstable.
Using an Adhesive
Adhesive substances for rifles such as Loctite are a popular solution for dealing with scope creep. The products have different color signifying the product strength, for instance, red is the strongest, blue has medium strength and colors like purple have a faster setting period.
Shooters go for the blue if they don’t want to permanently attach the scope to their rifle. If you ever want to remove it, you just need to apply a little heat to the glue and it’ll come right off. If you want to permanently secure your scope on your rifle, you can choose the red, which is the most long-lasting option.
You can consult your rifle manufacturer for guidance on which option is best for you particular weapon and optic.
Another alternative is to use nail polish. You simply put a drop of nail polish on the lower ring before placing the scope tube into it. The nail polish will dry and prevent the scope from moving. It’s reasonably easy to remove if you need to replace your scope or unmount it for any reason.
There are many “hacks” and other household items to avoid scope creep. Shooters have used things like nail polish and sticky mail cards to hold the scope into place, so it doesn’t move when a shot is fired.
You can feel free to try out such methods but be careful with what you use. You don’t want to damage the barrel of your scope or rifle accidentally.
Replacing the Rings
If the rings have become very old, they may have gathered a little rust, which prevents them from holding the scope properly. In that case, it might be time to get new scope rings, which can hold your scope in place.
Mounting Your Scope Properly
Many times, the problem of rifle scope creep is a result of the scope not being properly attached to the rifle. Simply tightening the scope rings may be the trick to securing your scope and preventing it from moving around.
Also, check to see if the screws you’ve used to mount your scope are the right size for the scope and rifle. Having screws that are too small or slightly larger can also cause the sight to stay loose and move around.
The same goes for the ring size. The ring size should be suitable for the scope, such that once the scope is mounted on the rings, a slight gap is visible at one end. If there is no gap, the ring diameter is too large, or the scope body is too small.
Is it Only an Issue with Air Rifles?
Since air rifles involve the use of compressed air or gases, the shock of firing is more intense and rifle scope creep is more likely to occur. It’s also harder to resolve this problem in air rifles. Picatinny and Weaver rails don’t fit on the low-cost air rifles.
Some shooters may even test out super glue for their air rifles. However, the glue is not strong enough to prevent rifle scope creep and may end up damaging the barrel of the rifle.
Some air rifles come with a rail screwed into place. There are also additional holes where you can insert arrestor pins to prevent scope movement. If your air gun doesn’t have any holes for arrestor pins, you can attach an arrestor block to your rifle. Arrestor blocks are quite affordable and you can find options, which cost around USD 20. They are also offered as a scope stop that you can mount behind the rear ring to prevent the scope from moving from the heavy recoil as you can experience with an air rifle.
Is Any Particular Rifle Scope & Mount Experiencing this?
Rifle scope creep is a problem that might also have something to do with your specific rifle and mounts.
- 22 Air Rifles: Mounts attached to these rifles experience plenty of movement and may move by as much as 0.5 inches with a single shot. The body doesn’t have holes to drill stop screws to prevent this from happening.
Some shooters have also complained about this problem continuing despite using weaver or Picatinny rails. After using a one-piece Weaver or Picatinny mount it’s unlikely for the back and forward movement to occur on your air gun. You might need to get a mount with a scope stop pin to prevent that kind of movement.
- Gamo Rifle Scope: There have been numerous cases where shooters have reported problems with their Gamo rifles and the fact that they frequently cause rifle scope creep. This problem also stems from the fact that Gamo supplies air rifles, which are already known for causing scope creep because of the pressurized gas being released. Use any of the outlined methods above to stop your scope from moving on your air gun.
Making the Right Decision
Although rifle scope creep is a common problem, there are many ways to prevent it. The first step is to obviously do your research before purchasing your rifle and scope. If there are particular models that are known for this, avoid buying them.
If you face this problem after you’ve used the rifle and optic, try the solutions recommended above. Make sure you know what is causing the problem and use the appropriate solution. With the right steps, you can secure your rifle scope so that it doesn’t move around and you can shoot comfortably.
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