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How to Disassemble a Rifle Scope: 9 Fast and Easy Steps

How to Disassemble a Rifle Scope

Need to disassemble your rifle scope but don’t know where to begin? Think that you might be keeping a broken scope?

Your trusty rifle scope is built for ROUGH games. However, incorrect dismounting can potentially RUIN the whole equipment and your rifle.

If you’re looking for a complete, foolproof, and SAFE procedure to disassemble your rifle scope, you’ve come to the right place! Read on and follow the steps below to get you started.

Disassembly of Rifle Scopes


Disassembling your rifle scope is required if you want to reset, clean, or paint your rifle scope.

However, a COMPLETE disassembly of it – down to each piece – is NOT recommended because:

  • Scope cylinders are tightly sealed with GAS. Opening the tube releases the oxygen which makes your scope fog proof and waterproof.
  • The internal arrangement is highly complex. Your equipment may contain electronic reticles as well as 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. We DON’T want that to happen.

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

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

Guide on How to Disassemble a Rifle Scope

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 hex wrench and/or any scope specific tools depending on the type of 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.

Step 1: Clear Out Your Workspace

Step 1

The first thing you have to do is to PREPARE your workspace.

We recommend laying down a carton or paper WIDE ENOUGH to cover the table. This would prevent misplacing any small parts.

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 the scope you have.

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

  • Place one piece after the other depending on the sequence of how they were disassembled.
  • Note which side they belong to and group them together

Take some notes or photos if you need to. These can serve as a reference later on.

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

Step 3: Detach Rifle Scope

Step 3

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

Note: Some rifles may have 4 hex bolts.

Put all the hex bolts to the side to avoid mixing up the pieces. That’s basically it!

  • Before proceeding, give the whole body of the scope a light dusting. Use the cloth to clean and remove unwanted particles.
  • As for the lenses, wipe them in a singular circular motion. Lenses are more delicate and prone to getting scratched so operate with care.

TIP: If you are planning to paint the body, you can opt to remove the 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 scope, you may proceed with this step. Many rifle enthusiasts do this as it’s fairly simple and straightforward.

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

For example, the reticles 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.

Step 5: Clean and Wipe (For Experts Only)

Step 5

Once the parts are detached, take your 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, some 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. 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 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 – it means you have reset your scope!

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, we suggest cleaning 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.

Also, do a final check. 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 to 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 do this mistake.

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 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 scope. If you are trying to detach the scope, chances are you already know how to zero your rifle in.

Zeroing requires aligning the scope properly to make sure the perceived target or “aim point” of the shooter 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.

Repeat all the 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. You only need to detach the scope when you have to:

  • 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 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.



That ends our tutorial on how to disassemble a rifle scope!

There is no need to rush to your gunsmith to assist you in this process. Many find the disassembly process fairly easy, as long as they follow the right steps.



September 16, 2021 - Reviewed and updated article links

About the author

Christopher Wade

Christopher Wade is a true outdoorsman. After spending most of his career as a firearms expert and instructor in Nebraska, he retreated to the great outdoors to enjoy retirement.

Christopher’s expertise in handling firearms and hunting gear are what propelled him to create the Shooting Mystery blog. He hopes for all readers to gain useful and practical knowledge for enjoying their time outdoors.