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How to Level a Rifle Scope Properly: 3 Easy Techniques

How to Level a Rifle Scope

To achieve the precision of your point of aim, you must also master the art of leveling your rifle scope.

But how should you level your rifle scope and make it work?

We’ll teach you a simple way below.

What You Need

Before jumping right onto leveling the scope, first things first.

Preparation

Let’s discuss precision scope leveling using the following levels. Make sure you have the levels you need, such as

  • Spirit levels/bubble level
  • String line level
  • Reticle leveler
  • Barrel clamp level
  • Plumb bob

These tools will help you as we go through the steps later. Don’t worry. Let’s take it easy.

Safety Level

Have your gun clear and unloaded with bullets to avoid it from going off.

Top-shooter note: You can also remove the bolt from the rifle.

Also, point your gun in a safe direction. The sight should be clear and safe from anyone who might be in front of it to reduce any accidents.

Pre-Steps on How to Level a Rifle Scope

Now, it’s time to estimate and set up that rifle scope off the bat.

Ready? Let’s get those rifle scopes ready in the steps below!

Scope Leveling: Estimate How Everything Fits

Scope Leveling

The act of scope leveling is easy – that’s undeniable. But the process can be a slight hassle.

Remember: positioning the levels properly achieves precision.

To be more specific, estimate the right amount of rig spacing you need. Why? BECAUSE it affects the placement of the scope onto the rifle.

You might have to practice several times to achieve top performance.

For example, if your Picatinny rail is shorter than your first focal plane optic, estimate where to attach your scope rings.

The first focal plane scope has a shorter front tube and a long back tube. With its structure, you might have to space out the scope rings.

What’s the proper way to attach your scope in the rings?

  • The front scope ring should be against the turret housing to ensure it’s squarely mounted with the turret housing. MAKE SURE you don’t compromise your eye relief.

Bottom line: you must have enough eye relief. Otherwise, you better ready yourself to get smacked in the eye by your rifle scope.

Also, it provides you the stability of your scopes, which is crucial for leveling.

BONUS TIP: Taking into account parallax adjustments is also vital to remember, but isn’t directly related to leveling your scope.

Installing the Riflescope

Installing

Scope rings are usually halved horizontally into two parts.

The bottom part is attached to the rail mount, and the upper part, the ring caps, are attached to the bottom rings.

  1. First, start off the process by setting the scope on the bottom rings.
  2. Adjust the scope body until it gives you leeway on how you can set up your firearm.
  3. After that, you can now install and tighten the ring caps with a torque wrench.
  4. Tighten the scope ring screws alternately to avoid the riflescope from moving by itself, but be sure you can still rotate the scope.

Technique #1: Using a String Line Level

Technique #1

String line levels are tools commonly used for masonry and carpentry.

A string line level is useful for leveling two reference points and is usually used with a chalk line or a plumb bob, also known as a plumb line.

A string line is a cheap, efficient tool in leveling the scope.

Fast fact: It’s already been used since ancient Egypt. If that makes you more excited, let’s dive into how to use a string line level.

You don’t need to buy an actual plumb line. You can customize a DIY string line level.

Don’t know how? Watch this video for a tutorial.

If you know it already, then you’re set! Let’s level your riflescope using the string line level technique.

1. Secure the Rifle in Place

Sit your gun upright in a gun cradle, either on a rare bag or gun vise.

2. Attach the Scope Mount/Base

Screw down the scope mount, also known as scope base, onto your rifle by using a removable thread locker.

You don’t want the screws to hit your bolt. Manually inspect your receiver and prevent it from any obstructions.

3. Project the Reticle Through the Eyepiece

Use a torch to aim and project the reticle through the eyepiece.

Once done, you will see the shadows of the reticle cast on the backdrop. The shadows should be dark enough so that we can easily trace the reticle.

4. Level the Scope Reticle

You may have to adjust the scope body by rotating it a bit sideways. Do this until you see the reticle parallel with the string line.

If it doesn’t work, adjust the screws instead. Remember to adjust them alternately in crossways to keep the scope body secured in place.

5. Relevel the Gun

After verifying the reticle’s level, let’s relevel the rifle.

Torque the rifle on a rare bag or on a gun vise until your scope is level. The bubble should be popping exactly in the middle of the vial.

6. Check and Test

While adjusting the rifle scope and its screws, check the firearm gun level. Always have it secured on its cradle.

Also, ensure that the rifle levels with the scope. In short, ensure everything is level.

After checking everything, test the scope: First, aim and then project the reticle through the eyepiece. The string level should be perpendicular to the reticle’s lines.

And that’s how you use the string-level technique. Let’s hop onto the next one.

Technique #2: Using a Segway Reticle Leveler

Technique #2

A Segway Reticle Leveler has two rectangular plastic wings connected with a brass rod at the bottom.

Each wing has printed horizontal lines, which are used as a reference level. One of its wings has a level useful for leveling the scope and the rifle.

The whole piece comes with a rubber band that wraps around the firearm and compresses the two wings in place.

Now let’s go through the process of how to use it for leveling your rifle scope.

1. Secure Your Rifle

Sit your gun upright in a gun cradle.

2. Attach the Scope Mount

Screw down the scope mount onto your rifle by using a removable thread locker. Don’t let the screws hit your bolt.

Manually inspect your receiver and prevent it from any obstructions.

3. Assemble the Reticle Leveler

  1. Remove one of the wings.
  2. Insert the brass rod under the scope and on top of the scope mount.
  3. Slide the other wing back onto the rod until the two wings touch the scope.
  4. After that, hook the rubber band onto one of the wing’s hooks. Pull it and pass it through under the gun, then hook it to the other wing’s hook.

4. Enure the Brass Rod Isn’t Tilted

Check the position of your brass rod. It should sit upright on the base and not tilted to either one of the sides.

We need to make sure everything is parallel and level so you can achieve the precision of your point of aim.

While adjusting the brass rod and the wings, verify the alignment of your rifle by using the reference level in one of the wings.

The rifle should always be secured in the gun cradle.

5. Square Your Scope with the Axis of the Rifle

Align the horizontal lines on the leveler with the horizontal axis of your riflescope.

After ensuring the lines are parallel, adjust the screws on each scope ring.

Top-shooter tip: Tighten each screw alternately, one scope ring at a time (This prevents the rifle scope body from shifting).

While adjusting, check the reference in the leveler and its horizontal lines to verify everything is in place.

6. Relevel the Gun

Torque the gun on a bipod or a rare bag until your scope is level. The bubble in the spirit level should be popping exactly in the middle of the vial.

Once done, you deserve a round of applause. Congratulations!

Technique #3: Using Wheeler Professional Reticle Leveling System

Technique #3

This leveling system is on another level (sorry, pun intended). Wheeler Professional Reticle Leveling System has a metal reference level and barrel clamp level.

Although the reference can be recalibrated, you shouldn’t calibrate its set screws unless… you want bad accuracy.

There are two aluminum metals mounted. The bigger one is the clamp and the smaller one is the reference.

1. Secure the Rifle in Place

Sit your gun upright in a gun cradle, either on a bipod or on a rare bag.

2. Attach the Scope Mount

Screw down the scope mount on your rifle by using a removable thread locker. As mentioned in the previous techniques, don’t let the screws hit your bolt.

3. Set up the Upper/Top Part of the Barrel Clamp

Set the upper/top section of the clamp using its adjustment knob.

The top/upper section should be approximately parallel to the lower section of the clamp (This will allow you to have enough adjustment range later).

4. Attach the Barrel Clamp

Barrel Clamp

  1. Slide the clamp toward the fore-end of the barrel.
  2. Tighten its thumbscrews evenly on each side.
  3. The clamp should align with the rifle. Make sure it’s secured and attached tight enough. Do this now since you’ll adjust it later without the adjustment knob.

5. Place the Reference Level

Find an even surface on the receiver to use as our reference surface. If the receiver doesn’t have a flat surface, use the mount riflescope base instead.

Remove the cap of the elevation adjustment knob and place the reference on top of the elevation knob.

Two important things to consider:

  1. Be sure the reference is centered on top of the elevation knob
  2. It should be perpendicular to the rifle and action.

6. Level Everything

  1. Adjust the riflescope until the level’s bubble pops right in the middle of the vial. Be sure the clamp still levels the rifle.
  2. Adjust the thumbscrews on the scope rings alternately to prevent the riflescope from turning. Furthermore, the clamp and the reference levels should be parallel throughout the process.

Case and Point: Conclusion

Conclusion

From scope rings and your elevation turret down to the spirit level and elevation knob, leveling your scopes is  MUST if you want accurate aim and precision.

Whether it’s semi-auto precision or bolt action rifles, proper levels ensure you knock down wild game with fulfillment.

Now go out there and test it out!

FINAL TIP: For more tutorials related to riflescopes, you can check out our guides on Sighting in Riflescopes the RIGHT Way and Zeroing In Riflescopes at 100 Yards.

 

CHANGELOG:

September 16, 2021 - Reviewed and updated article links, updated article title

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.