Scopes mounts are the handshake that creates a unification between rifle and scope. They are crucial to a successful and accurate gun, and are more important than most people give them credit for.
Scope mounts, or rings, are everywhere—some made with precision manufacturing in the US or Europe, others are barely held together Chinesium. Today we are talking scope mounts, from the types to height and quality we want to leave you covered for your next precision rifle build.
Types of Scope Mounts
There are two types of scope mounts for long range precision shooting. Admittedly there are other “mounts” that are designed for red dots to adapt them to Picatinny rails, and QD scope mounts intended for red dot tubes.
We aren’t talking about those today. We are talking about traditional scope mounts designed for long-range shooting with variable scopes. Those two types are single (or one-piece) scope mounts and scope ring (or two-piece) mounts.
Both are valid and very easy to use, and neither is better than the other. They simply have two distinct roles and offer shooters different options. Weighing your options is always important, and you’ll need a firm examination of your weapon system before choosing one or the other.
Hopefully, we can guide you on what works best for you, but ultimately it’s a decision you’ll have to make yourself.
Single-piece Scope Mount
A single-piece scope mount is two scope rings mounted to a single base. One-piece scope mounts are incredibly rigid and durable. One-piece mounts are perfect for high recoiling systems. Long-range rounds are typically very powerful rounds and are capable of some brutal recoil.
They are typically used on modern semi-automatics for a few different reasons. These mounts can push your scope forward, allowing the bell of the scope to sit above certain handguards. These mounts allow proper clearance for a long-range scope.
One-piece mounts ensure the two scope rings are always positioned perfectly in line with each other and set the proper distance away. One-piece mounts are a little heftier than two rings, but the increased strength may be a good mitigating factor.
One-piece mounts aren’t the best choice for bolt action guns, however, which are the most accurate and precise rifles out there. The issue here is that a single piece scope mount has to go above the action of the rifle.
This lowers clearance and makes it harder to load bolt actions, as well as unload and clear potential malfunctions. This is certainly something to consider when purchasing mounts.
Two-piece rings are durable and much lighter than a one-piece mount. They are quite handy when it comes to bolt action rifles. Two-piece scope rings require proper alignment, which isn’t hard, just required. Two-piece rings can easily stay on an optic and be moved around from gun to gun with ease if you choose to do that.
Two-piece rings are light and handy, and best of all very affordable. A high-quality set of rings costs a lot less than an equally high-quality scope mount.
You have to aim to buy the right rings or mount for your particular set-up, and the first step is determining whether you need the old school two-piece scope rings or a single-piece scope mount.
Scope rings and mounts come in different sizes: generally low, medium, high, and extra high. The height of your scope rings should be as low as possible. The lower it is, the easier it is to sight in. It will also allow you to make more adjustments, and it’ll create a more comfortable cheek weld.
So why wouldn’t everyone in the world use low mounts?
Well, the height of your scope will be determined by the size of your scope. Specifically the size of your scope objective lens.
Long-range scopes with large 56mm objective lenses are going to require a high or extra high rings. A 24 mm objective lens can be mounted nice and low.
If possible, check with your scope manufacturer and find out what ring height they say you need and go from there.
If not, there are calculators and charts online that will help you determine the right height rings. Unfortunately, the industry hasn’t standardized ring heights, so one company’s low maybe taller than another company’s low.
These calculators will tell you how much clearance you need, and you can simply look at the specs of the rings to determine if it’s enough.
Don’t forget to include the measurement of your objective lens cover if you are using one, as it will add a few MMS to your measurement. Just a little pro tip from someone who’s messed himself up once or twice.
The quality of your scope rings or single-piece mount cannot be overstated. For some reason, people will spend a grand on a rifle, 500 bucks on an optic, and then use 15 dollar rings. You want rings that are durable and strong and preferably made from a known manufacturer.
Vortex, Leupold, Warne, and many other companies produce scope rings at various budgets, but they are generally strong and perfect when appropriately applied.
A cheaper Leupold or Vortex set of rings wouldn’t go on a long-range build in 338 Lapua, but on a 22 LR rifle, they are perfect. You have to understand that different qualities and lines of rifle scope mounts are designed for different purposes. Choose one built for your specific purpose and be willing to spend the money.
Scope rings or single-piece mounts are the glue that holds the gun together. A rifle can shoot true, and a scope can be precise, but without the firm hand of scope rings, these pieces of kit are useless. Quality scope rings or mounts are a big deal when it comes to placing precise rounds on a target.
A fraction of inch of give or wobble could be several inches once the bullet gets down range. Always take into account your scope rings and never underestimate their importance.