Shooting Mystery is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

How to Repair a Rifle Scope: Rebuilding and Disassembly

How to Repair a Rifle Scope

If you’re a hunter who wants to learn how to properly maintain and repair your rifle, remember that you need to give the same attention to your rifle scope.

Here, we’ll walk you through everything so you can perform the perfect rifle scope refurbishing for the next hunting season.

Preliminary Step: Understanding the Parts of Rifle Scopes

Preliminary Step

Before you get started on tinkering, you must understand several things, which include the parts of a rifle scope.

This will let you figure out which parts need repair, while also giving you a better understanding of how all these parts work.

Objective Lens

Ever wondered what the eyes of your enemy would look like?

Well, for your target, it’s the objective lens. This is the external lens of the scope that receives light from your surroundings and directly faces your target.

The bigger it is, the higher the amount of light it can absorb. However, note that this will also make your scope heavier, which won’t work for all rifles.

Generally, the objective lens can easily get damaged if the glass or lens coating is low quality. A bad lens coating makes them more prone to getting scratches or shattering.

Ocular Lens

The ocular lens is what will directly face your eye and show you the light received from the objective lens.

Depending on the lens, it will have various coatings to improve light transmission and its ability to repel water.

Focus Lens

As the name “focus lens” suggests, this lens lets you focus. Pretty obvious, right?

Have you ever taken a picture and realized it isn’t the proper scale? Well, this lens fixes that by correcting any parallax disorders you may encounter.

Eyepiece

This is a rigid metal cylinder that holds the ocular lens of the scope. Depending on the model you have, you may be able to make adjustments to improve the focus of your reticle systems.

Erector Tube

The erector tube works to make sure whatever image reaches your eye will be upright. That way, you can be sure you’re seeing everything accurately through the optics.

Scope Tube

Think of this as the housing or case of your rifle scope.

It is a solid metal tube that contains all the moving parts and fragile lenses of the scope and attaches to your rifle through a few rings at each end of the tube.

Elevation and Windage Turret

You can find your scope’s elevation adjusters or turret on top of the rifle scope.

This is a millimeter wheel that lets you adjust the vertical position of the reticle when you’re zeroing in.

Just like the elevation adjusters, this is also a millimeter wheel that lets you adjust your scope.

However, you can find this on the right side and it works to adjust the horizontal position of your reticle.

Both these components can get damaged over time if your scope rusts.

Reticle

There are different types of reticles and the maintenance will depend on what kind you have.

  • First Focal Plane reticles are placed in front of the magnification lens, while a Second Focal Plane reticle is positioned behind the magnification lens.
  • Laser-etched rifle scopes are susceptible to damage from water droplets that are produced by temperature changes in the tube.
  • The standard wire reticle has the same vulnerability to temperature changes because it uses 2 metal sheets or wires in the tube.

Things like temperature changes should definitely be considered when buying your scope.

Power Ring

Remember that toggle or button you use on a camera to zoom in or out? That’s essentially the function of the power ring.

This lets you magnify or zoom in, and vice-versa.

Note that higher magnification will mean you have a considerably smaller field of view, which means you won’t see what’s nearer to you as much.

However, field of view from the power ring will also give you better detail on the image you’re looking at.

Steps for Rifle Scope Repair: Maintenance & Alignment

Steps

Rifle Scope Maintenance

One of the first things a hunter or rifle owner needs to know is how to care for your scope regularly.

Remember: The purpose of maintenance is to prevent long-term damage to your scope, so you must do this regularly.

Step 1: Nitrogen Refill

If you wear glasses, isn’t it irritating when your lenses fog up whenever there is any moisture change?

But the truth is… Nitrogen prevents moisture damage by keeping it from entering and damaging your scope.

Manufacturers fill their scopes with nitrogen at the factory, usually with a vacuum line into the tube, before sealing everything up.

Now you have 2 options to refill the nitrogen.

  1. First, you can send it back to the manufacturer or any professional to have them refill the nitrogen.
  2. Second, you can also do-it-yourself by placing your scope inside a nitrogen-filled bag.

And if you notice that the nitrogen seal seems to be leaking, DON’T PANIC! Just put it in a container with some silica gel bags and leave it to absorb excess nitrogen.

Step 2: No Oil!

Because scopes are made of metal, you may be tempted to oil them to avoid rusting. Resist this urge!

Oil will damage the components of your scope, including the external components like the windage adjuster.

If you’ve accidentally done this already, take it to a professional who knows how to take scopes apart and deal with this issue.

Step 3: Cleaning Lenses Regularly

Step 3

Just like with binoculars, you need to clean scopes regularly to get rid of dust particles.

  1. First, use a cotton ball soaked with isopropyl alcohol or lens cleaner to wipe away the particles.
  2. Then, use a puffer brush to get those small particles that can cause minute scratches on your lens.

Keep the lens cap on whenever you aren’t using your scopes.

Pro hunter tip! Do not wipe the lens surface with a rag or cloth because this will scratch it.

Repairs for Scope Misalignments

So now you know the regular repairs you need to perform, this part teaches you how to deal with a misaligned scope.

Step 1: Mounting Rings

Step 1

When adjusting rifle scopes, hold it on a stable, flat surface so that it doesn’t move around. This will prevent any problem with sighting your scope.

Before you even try adjusting other parts of your scope, double-check you mounted your scope properly onto your rifle.

Why? Because a bad rifle mount won’t hold scopes onto the rifle and will lead to misalignment.

What if you’re using weaver mounts?

In that case, pay attention to the weaver rings with the parallel ridges running across the mount. Adjust it until you can’t anymore, then note the point in the scope and the target’s location at that same point.

Now, mount the rings at a 180-degree angle from that initial point you marked.

Sight your scope again to see if your problem’s gone. If not, you will need to replace the scope rings to see any improvements.

Step 2: Adjustments for Off-Center Mounting Holes

Some rifles have holes that just aren’t placed right. Bummer.

You can’t accurately see objects, let alone see them in detail, without fixing the problem of off-center holes.

In case you have this, use the proper tools to measure whether they are, indeed, off-center. Then, carefully drill new ones in.

Just remember to be careful, because rifles are expensive. If you’re not 100% confident you can do this, take it to a professional.

Step 3: Check Your Ammo

Your sighting will change depending on the ammo you use. Make sure you use the right type recommended by the manufacturer.

Replacing or Having Scopes Repaired Professionally

If the damage is too severe, you will need to replace your scope. So, when do you call the time of death on your scope?

If you just can’t zero in despite replacing the mounting rings and adjusting the magnification knobs and elevation or windage turret, it’s usually a sign that something major is wrong in the internal alignments.

What is a Rifle Scope?

What

A rifle scope is a part that lets you magnify an image of your target by positioning it and your eye on the same optic lane.

The scope also lets you align the center point to the target where you want your bullet to hit. This is usually marked by a dot or a particular reticle type like crosshairs.

How does it perform this seemingly magical feat, you ask?

Well, through light transmission using the lenses inside the scope!

History

With years of lens development (from using spider webs and horse hair then manual scoring to chemical etching on the lenses and more), scopes have come a long way.

Can you imagine using a tube that doesn’t even have windage and elevation adjusters?

Today, the details you can get from, say, Leupold scopes are insane. Moreover, you also get longer eye relief, so you can try your hand at multi-day hunting.

These improvements, from the technology in the tube to the use of nitrogen and numerous windage and other adjusters, make the scope what it is today.

Why Rifle Scope Repair is Important

Why it's important

When you’ve already spent hours tracking down your prey, the last thing you’d want is to make a mistake that will scare them away.

Better Hunt

Skittish animals are difficult to track. And once you find them, one wrong move can easily cause the whole herd to disperse.

So…check that your rifle scope is in tip-top shape before you go out to hunt.

A well-maintained scope will also give you a more accurate shot, which lessens unnecessary injuries and ensures you come back with your prized trophy or meat.

Cheaper

Moreover, fixing a scope is much cheaper than buying a new one, unless its damage is so severe that there’s no way to bring it back to life anymore.

If you know how to take it apart and spot any damage, it will also be easier for you to decide on whether the damage is too bad or is still salvageable.

The Right Scope

The Right Scope

Unlike binoculars, you can’t just use any scope.

You need to find one that can easily fit onto your rifle, which means that if it can’t support big scopes, then there’s no use forcing it.

If you have a very thin barrel, it will be challenging to sight your scope.

To check if the problem lies with your scope or your rifle, try placing your scope onto another rifle. If it works just fine, it’s likely a compatibility or rifle issue.

Conclusion

As you can see, all these steps are simple. Now it’s time you try your hand at repairing your scope yourself!

For good rifle scope options, check out our article on the Top Rifle Scopes Worth Under $300.

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.