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How to Disassemble a Rifle Scope in 9 Quick & Easy Steps

How to Disassemble a Rifle Scope

Sometimes, my scopes have bad days.

It’s moments like these that require some cleaning or resetting. However, to do that, the rifle scope has to come apart.

I found that disassembling a rifle scope is a good way to troubleshoot some problems.

However, it’s quite risky and could result in disaster if you are not careful.

If you’re looking for a complete, foolproof, and SAFE procedure on how to disassemble a rifle scope, you’ve come to the right place!

Disassembly of Rifle Scopes


I’ve disassembled a few scopes for resetting and cleaning purposes only. Some might even want to do so of painting!

However, I would NOT recommend a COMPLETE disassembly down to each piece.

Scope cylinders are tightly sealed with GAS. Opening the scope tube releases oxygen, which makes your scope fog proof and waterproof.

Not only that, but the internal arrangement is HIGHLY complex.

Your equipment may contain electronic reticles and prism-based sights, which need to be in a PRECISE position.

In short, you might cause a problem and void the warranty if you dismember ALL the parts. 

You DON’T want that to happen.

DON’T WORRY! This guide will help you determine how far you can go in disassembling your rifle scopes.

No need to sweat as this task is fairly easy. BUT remember to focus and work slowly.

If this is your first time, keep in mind to account for each part. The rifle scope contains multiple elements.

Be sure to know where each one goes when it’s time to piece everything back together.

How to Disassemble a Rifle Scope

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 hex wrench and/or any scope-specific tools depending on the type of rifle scope you have
  • 1 clean lens cloth or microfiber cloth
  • A workplace where you can lay and keep all of the disassembled parts
  • Optional: Tweezers

PAY CLOSE ATTENTION and follow the steps below on how to disassemble a rifle scope for a smooth scope repair.

Step 1: Clear Out Your Workspace

Step 1

Before disassembling my scopes, I always make sure I have a CLEAR, CLUTTER-FREE workspace.

I’m not the tidiest person, so I put A LOT of importance on this first step right off the bat.

I found that laying a carton or paper WIDE ENOUGH to cover the whole table really helped keep everything in place!

You do not want to work on a table with holes or cracks as some pieces, or the case may easily fall off or get scratched.

Step 2: Retrieve Scope Manual

Step 2

Most rifle scopes come with a MANUAL. If you still have it, read and review the process specific to your scope.

If you can’t find your manual, come up with a way of arranging the components when disassembling.

One helpful trick I came up with was to place one piece after the other depending on the sequence of how they were disassembled.

Remember which side they belong to and group them together.

Taking notes or photos for reference was also a HUGE help! I didn’t have to rely on my poor memory.

TIP: Reading through the manual is also a good way to help you learn how to adjust your rifle scopes correctly.

Step 3: Detach the Rifle Scope

Step 3

Begin by detaching the scope from the rifle. Do this by removing two hex bolts using your hex wrench.

Take note that some rifles may have 4 hex bolts.

Put all the hex bolts to the side to avoid mixing up the pieces. I like to put mine in a specific container to prevent them from getting lost.

Before proceeding, I give the whole body of the rifle scope a light dusting. I recommend a microfiber cloth to clean and remove unwanted particles.

As for the lenses, wipe them in a singular circular motion.

I made the rookie mistake of not being gentle enough, which gave me scratched lenses.

Lenses are more delicate and prone to scratching, so operate carefully!

TIP: If you are planning to paint the body, you can opt to remove the rifle scope rings as well. However, if you only plan to do a light cleaning, the rings can stay where they are.

Step 4: Disassemble the Scope (For Experts Only)

Step 4

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are simply trying to reset the scope or achieve zero, you may skip this procedure as well as the next and proceed to step 6.

If you are familiar with the pieces of your rifle scope, you may proceed with this step. Many rifle enthusiasts do this as it’s fairly simple and straightforward.

Another step I take is to ensure my hands aren’t sweaty. It may help to wear gloves during this step.

Make sure your hands are steady, and AVOID CLENCHING the pieces too hard.

For example, the reticles or crosshairs are fragile and can get scratched easily. Many of the pieces are also small, so focus and handle these with care.

Check each piece and inspect for any damage.

If you find some damage or faults, have someone repair or fix the damaged piece or send it to a scope repair shop.

Step 5: Clean and Wipe (For Experts Only)

Step 5

Once the parts are detached, take your microfiber cloth and sloooowly wipe the body or case to make sure nothing gets inside.

Make sure to also clean the lenses and scope rings as well. This REDUCES THE RISK of transferring anything inside the holes, such as dust or dirt.

When cleaning, I prefer to use grease or lube.

CAUTION: Before applying anything, check if it is compatible and safe to use with the type of scope you have. Rifle scopes are more delicate thus, regular or ordinary gun grease might only damage the lenses or the scope.

Step 6: Optional Reset

Step 6

During the disassembly process, most people also take this time to reset the rifle scope.

Resetting your scope means bringing the scope back to default factory settings:

  • Look for your scope’s eyepiece and turn it CLOCKWISE (to the right).
  • Keep turning the eyepiece until it won’t move any further.
  • Once you’ve reached this end, you have reset your scope to its factory settings!

When to do this step: 

  • If you need to zero in your rifle from scratch
  • Before you sell or give your equipment to a new owner

Step 7: Final Wipe

Step 7

Before putting it back again, I like to clean it for the last time.

Take a clean cloth and check for any smears or smudges on the body of the scope. Any dust buildup should also be cleared.

Remember, a clean scope paves the way for a clean aim!

After that, I recommend doing ONE FINAL check on the parts.

Double-check if the scope rings are intact. Every screw should also be wound up correctly.

Step 8: Reattach the Rifle Scope

Step 8

It’s now time to put the scope back on the rifle.

Again, refer back to your manual from the manufacturer to determine how to properly tighten the scope.

The crucial part of this step is ensuring the AXES are properly aligned and leveled. Pay attention to HOW it should be mounted. 

People OFTEN make the mistake of mounting it incorrectly. You can learn the different types of scope mounts here!

Rifles do not need overtightened scopes.

Over time, the screws will cause unnecessary friction with the mounting base holes and scope rings.

This would widen the mount holes and make it MORE DIFFICULT to mount a new or different scope in the future.

Step 9: Zeroing Your Scope

Step 9

The final step would be zeroing in your rifle scopes. If you are trying to detach the scope, chances are you already know how to zero your rifle in.

Zeroing requires your rifle scopes to be properly aligned to ensure the shooter’s perceived target or “aim point” hits the point of impact.

  • Check the windage and elevation and do the necessary adjustments.
  • Do practice shots by shooting a batch of 3 or more bullets.

Zeroing takes some trial and error; you may have to repeat all the re-zeroing alignment checks and steps until you achieve zero.


When Do I Need to Detach My Scope?

Detaching your scope is NOT part of your regular maintenance or check. I only detach my scopes if I need to do the following:

  • Do a deep cleaning of your scope
  • Paint your scope or scope rings
  • Fix scope alignment that goes beyond simple windage and elevation adjustments
  • Clear out any stuck piece blocking your objective lens or when you spot something inside the scope tube

Disassembling your optic gear is a great option to troubleshoot persistent problems you may have with your rifle.

It can also IMPROVE your scope alignment and point of impact.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Disassemble a Rifle Scope Without Any Prior Experience?

I DO NOT  recommend disassembling a rifle scope if you do not have prior experience doing so.

If you are not careful, your may cause further damage to your scope.

If this is your first time, it is still recommended to take it to a professional first before trying it yourself.

After all, safety comes first!

Do I Need Any Special Tools to Disassemble a Rifle Scope?

Usually, simple tools like a screwdriver or hex wrench are all you need.

But most of the time, scopes have specific tools used to remove and clean the parts, such as a turret removal tool or a spanner wrench for the objective lens.

If you aren’t sure how to use these tools, you can ask a professional for help.

Is It Necessary to Clean the Parts After Disassembling a Rifle Scope?

Absolutely! It is one way to ensure you still have a high-quality scope.

Cleaning your rifle scope is essential in preventing dust and debris buildup, which could eventually lead to poor optics and performance in general.

Furthermore, regular cleaning also keeps your rifle scope usable for a LONGER period of time.

How Often Should I Disassemble My Rifle Scope for Cleaning?

I wouldn’t say there is a fixed schedule on how regularly you should clean a scope. Instead, it depends on HOW OFTEN you use it.

If you do not shoot that often, you may only have to clean your rifle scope once a year.

However, if you shoot quite regularly, it may require more cleaning, maybe every few months or so.

Can I Reassemble the Scope After Cleaning It, or Do I Need to Seek Professional Help?

If you had the knowledge and confidence to disassemble your rifle scope in the first place, I would say it shouldn’t be a problem to reassemble it yourself.

Otherwise, if you are worried about messing up the reassembly, I advise you to take it to a professional.



That ends my tutorial on how to disassemble a rifle scope! Check out this tutorial on how to fix a broken rifle scope!

There is NO NEED TO RUSH to your gunsmith to assist you in this process.

Many find the complete disassembly process for rifle scopes fairly easy as long as they follow the right steps.

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