setting up your scope


Aug 16, 2011
how do you set up your scope ?

for scopes that I dial elevation ; I've been doing the tall target ever since I learned about it . it seems to me to be the most perfect way of being sure the scope is aligned to the rifle bore . all I do is get my 100 yard zero on a target . then at 100 yards I hang up a large cardboard , and put a perfectly plumb line on it . I'll use a 4 foot level , or a plumb bob . put a aiming spot at the bottom of your vertical line . aim at this spot and shoot , you should hit this spot if your zero is true . then dial your elevation turret up a lot , tonight I used 37 moa . aim at the same spot and shoot . if your scope is aligned correctly you should hit your vertical line . I hit roughly 39inches high , this would be correct . if your hitting one side , or the other , your scope needs twisted . then rezero on the other target , and shoot the tall target again . do this until your bullet impacts the vertical line . here is a link that explains the process a lot better than I can . ... larity.34/

here's a few pics from tonight .
I got zeroed on the yellow target , upper left is my final 100 yard zero .


now I go to the tall target . I aim at the orange dot at the bottom of the vertical line , and shoot .
if the 100 yard zero is true you should hit the vertical line .


then dial up the elevation and shoot at the same aiming spot . your bullet should hit on the vertical line . it will be high by the amount of elevation you have dialed . I dialed 37 moa , that's
roughly 38-3/4 " .on the tall target , the very top hole is from a scratch awl , I hung the plumb bob from .




if I'm using a drop reticle ; I draw a tall target at 100 yards . I shoot the bottom aim spot with my main reticle . I then use one of the lower sub-tensions and shoot at the same aim spot . bullet should hit the vertical line at the height the scope reticle is designed at . if you impact off to the side of the vertical line , the scope needs twisted .
Just about the same deal as you Jim. The only difference is I will shoot 6 shots alternating between the two. Meaning I will shoot 1 shot at a 100, crank up 10 mils, fire 1 shot, return to zero, fire the next, and so on till I have 6 shots on paper. Tests the tracking and also the vertical.
Scotty , that's a good way to go , especially with an unknown scope . this scope I was setting up , has always tracked true , and returned to zero properly . a couple weeks ago I had some problems , the scope moved in the rings , mount broke .I'm not sure what happened first . I wanted to be sure I had it properly aligned . I figured I'd take a couple pics of the process , and put it up on here . it might help someone out in the future .
Definitely a good post. I can’t mount a straight scope perfectly the first time to save my butt. I’ve got about every tool under the sun but shooting is truly the only way that has ever worked for me.
I do the same and confirm the tracking like Scotty does.

it's tough to get them on straight . I'll just mount it up to the best my eye will do , then get it on a target . if I target test it , it always looks correct . if it's a close range scope and I just eyeball it , I'm always thinking it's not straight .
I just put a new scope on my 7 Mashburn. Decided to check it out a little.

I didn’t plumb bob it so I can’t say I’m perfect vertical yet but I decided measure it out and see if it worked as advertised. I had 5 rounds of old stuff for the gun left over. They don’t shoot bug holes like the load I just set up but they’re about an 1.25” sorta load in this new chamber.

I laid the reticle on my target and saw I could get about 7 mils out of it on paper so that’s what I used.

I fired 1 at the bottom, cranked 7 mils, shot another, back down for 3, back up for 4 and then back down for 5.

I figured out it should be about 25.06” between groups

So, while not a perfect test it wasn’t all over the map and when I laid the reticle back over the groups it looked spot on.

7 mils is out past a 1000 for me so it’s unlikely I’d ever use more hunting but I guess if I can get a taller target I’ll try it out. With the more accurate load I think it’ll look better on paper but for my purposes I have some trust the scope is doing as it is told.

Just figured this is a good spot for it. Jim spurred me to show what I do. I was just hurrying a bit and didn’t use a plumb bob for a straight line. Next time.
jimbires":2pskp59s said:
it's tough to get them on straight . I'll just mount it up to the best my eye will do , then get it on a target . if I target test it , it always looks correct . if it's a close range scope and I just eyeball it , I'm always thinking it's not straight .

Same here. Drives me crazy sometimes
Scotty , thanks for posting up your procedure .

in my early days of sighting in a scope , I remember needing to change windage as I adjusted elevation . I never thought anything of it , now I know why .
I mount the scope using Wheeler’s professional reticle leveling system. Then get it zeroed for 100 yds and reset turrets. On the target I’m using I’ll put a dot 21” up for MOA scopes equaling 20MOA. On MIL scopes a dot 18” up equaling 5Mils.
Jim, i use card board now, but spray paint white to help me pick up the bullets.

I do put a scope cant level on the rifles I’m going to shoot long, so I’m not chasing my tail with scope mount issues vs human mount issues.

I mount the rifle in a vice while mounting the scope. I have a black plumb line on the wall, so I do a decent alignment job. The last was a 2-10 on my 45/70. I use a torque driver to keep the rings from pulling to one side.. set it light, ie 5 inch pounds.. get all the screws to the same tension, then walk it up to spec a couple pounds at a time. It’s tedious, but keeps the scope from twisting during tightening.

I‘ll try the plumb line at 100.

I’ve only recently started buying scopes that you can dial. But haven’t done that yet.

Next step In the progression of learning…

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I usually just draw a circle for the aim point . the evening I shot this , the sun was shining right into the scope . I couldn't see the circle very well , so I put a target dot up to aim at . I try to make the aim spot small . be careful of your paralax , it can really screw you up using high power at close range .

mjc , let us know how this works out for you .
Mark answered my question with a scope level on board. I've never seen sure the Indian (me) was holding level without one. Except my long shooter's I don't put levels on my hunting rigs.

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I removed the Zeiss 3.5-10x scope from his model 70 300 WSM, added a tally rail and mounted a 1-4x with cross hairs and a illuminated dot.

First leveled the rifle in the vice.
Mounted the Talley rail and confirmed it was level from and back. (Marlin 1895 had a twisted receiver.. and the rail conformed to the receiver on tightening down).
Added 1piece scope mount for the 1-4.
Got it squared on the plumb line(basement wall). Torqued the screws tediously. Was 2 clicks right to hit bullseye at 100.

I think the gun vice is an unsung hero in mounting, closely followed by compulsive double and triple checking for minor tweaks.
Way better than sending a box or two of ammo down range … don’t know if will ever trust a retail outlet to mount a scope for me again. One LGS near me has a 50, 100, and 200 y range in their basement.. if they mount, give them your ammo, and they will mount it and zero at 100 or 200 per your spec. The guy that does this says he does about 3000 sight ins a year… he’s really great with solving things that don’t make sense.. I trust him. Usually has it right in 3-5 shots..

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The beautiful part of great scopes is I can usually zero with 1 or 2 shots at most at ANY range if the reticle matches the dial. Simply lay the reticle over the first shot, read the reticle like a ruler, make the adjustments and bam, you're done.
Guess I'm simple minded. On 99% of them I take a small carpenters square, have the rifle in a vice. Use the straight edge of the square sitting on a table to line up with the 2 butt plate screws. (Factory usually has both of them dead on center.) Left edge of the screw holes, right edge, center, doesn't matter. Long as the top matches the bottom. Now the rifle should be level left to right. Mount the scope and put a small bubble level or protractor on the top turret.
I’ve mainly used the leveling system that attaches to barrel, and to scope. I have not done a tall target test before though. I’ve done the box test, but I believe the tall target test is most likely the best way to go.

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I swear by the EXD engineering scope level. It will center the scope over the barrel and using a plum bob and shining a flashlight backwards thru the scope gets the crosshairs square to the bore.

I verify with a tall target similar to above but this has been dead on every time so far.

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