The rifle scope mount is an important component for rifles and long-range guns. It is the base used for mounting the scope. The best of rifle and scope combination would be rendered useless without a set of reliable and sturdy scope rings and bases. If the scope mount does not match the mounting system of the rifle or if it is offset even by a fraction of an inch, it could completely throw your aim off and result in a miss.
Thousands of bullets have been wasted due to incorrect installation of the mount base and scope rings. Long-range gunning enthusiasts and hunters are often left frustrated on why their aim remains inaccurate despite making countless adjustments to the scope. Not only does it waste bullets, but it also makes the whole sporting activity lose its fun.
In this piece, we look at different types of rifle scopes mounts and their benefits. We identify the ones that might be more suitable for some varieties of guns and examine the differences between some of the more popular scopes.
What Are the Different Types of Rifle Scope Mounts
The scopes mount is the base that is attached to the gun and provides space on top to mount the rings for the scope. The mount should be designed in such a way that the iron sights can be used when the scope is not attached.
The base of the scope is available in various styles and built with different types of material. Stainless steel bases are considered the sturdiest and do not deteriorate in most conditions. Aluminum bases are also used by some manufacturers because of their higher water resistance.
The sturdiness of the base is important to ensure that the metal does not deteriorate easily with time. If the base becomes worn out, the scope will go out of focus and the whole shooting and mounting system will become inaccurate.
There are three main types of rifle scope mounts used. Each one of these mounting systems offers its own distinct pros and cons.
Weaver Scope Mounts
The weaver style scope mount is the most commonly used type of rifle mount. Weaver-style bases use a flat and wide base with crosswise recoil slots cut into the base which is generally about 7/8th of an inch. The recoil slots in these Weaver-style bases are built in the correct size to accept weaver style scope rings that have corresponding lugs at the bottom. Generally, the recoil slots on the weaver style bases and their corresponding recoil lugs are roughly .180″ wide.
The scope rings and the base fit together securely, similar to a jigsaw that prevents movement in the coil when you use Weaver-style rifle scope mounts. The Weaver-style bases can come in one or two pieces that are connected to the rifle. Weaver-style bases with multiple pieces are used for bigger and more powerful scopes. The Weaver-style base metal can be made of steel or aluminum.
It is quite easy to attach weaver scope rings onto the base. You can even put them on with the scope still secured inside them. The scope rings can be taken off and reattached to a rifle without a significant loss of zero. This makes it easy to remove the scope and carry it in a bag while traveling or to use the same scope on different rifles if they all use weaver bases.
Leupold Scope Mounts
The Leupold base is a standard non-weaver style mounting system. It is also called Redfield or Burris. The scope base comes in one or two pieces and usually made of steel. These bases are popular for their sleek shape and strength. They are considered reliable and trouble-free for hunting and long-range sports shooting.
Gun manufacturers who use the Leupold style offer as much interchangeability as those who rely on the Weaver-style rifle scope mounts. However, unlike the Weaver style rings, the Leupold rings cannot be easily detached and put on another gun.
If you want to remove the scope, you will need to separate the top half of the scope rings from the system. The front ring has a protruding, beveled rectangle made of metal under the ring, which is turned securely into a dovetail slot at the front of the base. Usually, the two halves of the Leupold rings are assembled loosely. A scope ring tool or a screwdriver handle is carefully inserted between the pieces to gain leverage, turning the ring into the base. This requires a press fit; this cannot be done by hand alone.
The rear ring is placed right on top of the mount. It is secured in place by two opposing screws that are tightened into the ring’s base. Both screws are built with a leading edge that nicely fits inside the corresponding slots inside the ring.
The screws are turned in the opposite direction to fit into a single ring between them tightly. You can tighten the screw on one side after loosening the one on the opposite side to move the ring laterally on the base. This effectively works as a windage adjustment for the ring. You can do this if your base holes are drilled off the center or the gun’s aim is slightly off to the right or the left.
Ideally, both screws should be tightened equally and adjustments should be made with the scope. The scope sits super-secure on the mount but unfortunately, you don’t get the flexibility to quickly mount on a different rifle that you get with weaver style rings.
Picatinny Scope Mount
The Picatinny rail is another popular and time tested mount design that offers unique pros and cons. Three main areas where this mount base differs from the weaver style design are the slot placement, number, and dimensions.
Picatinny rail has a wider and slightly deeper slot compared to weaver style mounts. The base is usually thicker than a 2 piece base set due to the ejection port relief that is cut in the bottom of the base. The base offers a standardized spacing between the slots which generally extend down the whole length of the base.
Many shooters prefer the Picatinny base to mount a rifle scope because of the surface area that the shooter gets to mount the rings. If you are using a two-piece set and still do not get the desired level of eye relief you can use an extension base to spread them out even further. The Picatinny rail allows you to move the scope to a different slot and adjust it at any time.
Another major advantage of Picatinny rails is that you can use a 20 MOA base for shooting at a very long range.
Weaver vs. Picatinny Scope Mount
There aren’t a lot of differences between the two types of scope mounts. The main difference between a weaver style and a Picatinny scope mount is in the placement and width of the recoil grooves. The grooves on Picatinny rails are .206″ wide. Their center-to-center width is .394″.
The grooves for Picatinny rings must adhere to the fixed specifications because the military wants the grooves of the Picatinny rings to allow different scope mounting systems to be mounted at the top of the gun with no concern for compatibility. Another difference is that the Picatinny rails popularized as a single piece mount where the scope is fixed.
The Weaver rails were originally made in two pieces, one at the front of the receiver and the other at the rear. The bolt opening left the space for magazines on the firearm to be exposed and easy to reload. This made it easier to insert cartridges into the rifle, allowing the shooter to top up magazines. After detachable magazines were introduced for guns, one-piece weaver rails started replacing the two-piece design to mount Weaver style rings.
The Weaver rail must have a recoil groove length of .180″ in order to be considered a Weaver. In most cases, the Weaver scope mount system has a specific application on the weapon it is made for hence interchangeability is not an issue.
The bottom line is that accessories for guns that are made for a Weaver system will fit on a Picatinny rail with ease, for the most part. However, a Picatinny scope mount will not fit on a Weaver rail system because of the bigger groove size. You can mount weaver rings onto a Picatinny rail but not the other way around.
What is a Dovetail Scope Mount
The groove on the dovetail mounts bases is shaped similar to a dove’s tail. The Dovetail rings mounting base has an oblong hole built into it with bevels on the inside that are perpendicular to the bore. The dovetail scope mounting system separates the base from the scope rings while offering a standardized way for the rings to attach to the base of the dovetail style system.
The dovetail ring has a connector that can be attached to the base. Dovetail rings are turned at a 90-degree angle with a large tool to fit it into the correct alignment with the barrel, locking them into place. The dovetail scope mount system is very sturdy, similar to the Picatinny, while still allowing users to easily replace Dovetail rings of different sizes on the gun without affecting the base of the dovetail system.
What Are Tip-Off Scope Mounts?
Tip-off scope mounts are directly attached to the grooves built into a rifle. They come in different sizes and varieties. These types of mounts were quite popular back in the day and they are still used in .22 rifles. The scopes can be attached and replaced on rifles easily, even without a tool.
The mounts do not allow attachment of more advanced scoping systems or other accessories on the rifle. However, they can be useful for medium-range shooting on a secondary rifle.
What Is An Integral Mount?
In most cases, the scope is fit on to the rifle with the help of one or two ring pieces that encircle the scope and keep it securely in place. Some manufacturers have come up with scopes that have an integral scope mount system that is built as part of the scope. Instead of using rings, the scope can be directly attached to the rail system itself.
This can be handy when you are traveling and need a scope that doesn’t require too much effort to carry and change on the road.
When Do You Need An Offset Mount?
Modern scope rings fit directly above the mounting points. If you are using an older gun, such as the AR-15 rifle or an M16, the mount position can cause the scope to end up too close to your face. This will make it very difficult for you to see through the lens. The recoil from the gun may also cause the scope to hit you in the eye when you shoot and cause an injury.
The solution is to use an offset mount. The base of this mount is directly connected to the receiver. The rings are located well in front of the mount position. This allows the scope to fit directly to the top of the receiver but the scope attaches well in front of the mounting position.
The benefit of this mount is that you can fit the scope at the right distance from your eye regardless of which gun you are using. The offset mounts come in one-piece or two-piece models that include rings at the front and rear. Each separate ring has its own offset mount.
Do You Need A Quick Release/Detach Mount?
The quick-release mount has a push-button detaching system. When you unlock it, the front ring and rear ring open up allowing you to change or replace the scope as required.
These scope mount systems are very convenient for traveling and allow you to easily store your scopes in a bag. The downside is that they won’t fit all types of scopes and only allow attachment for specific scopes.
What Is A 20 MOA Scope Mount?
The MOA stands for Minute of Angle. It is a type of scope mount system that is used for shooting at a very long-range distance.
When you are shooting at a distance of 0 – 400 yards, the bullet should travel true to the aim, depending on the bullet efficiency. When you increase the shooting range and go up to a distance that is further out, 600 – 1000 yards, you would need to adjust the aim and raise the rifle slightly higher to account for the bullet drop.
The 20 MOA scope system allows you to angle the rifle for more accurate shooting at greater distances. A 20 M.O.A. is equal to 1/3 of one degree.
We reviewed some of the popular types of scope mounts and the pros and cons offered by each type of scope mount system, be it Weaver-style rings and bases or a Picatinny rail you’re considering. The best known are the Weaver-style and Picatinny rail. The Weaver base offers more flexibility as you can use Weaver style rings to mount your rifle scope onto a Picatinny rail. That’s not true the other way around!
Did we miss any rifle scope mount types in our review? Please let us know.