M14 Forum


Easy scope alignment process - lots of photos

This is a discussion on Easy scope alignment process - lots of photos within the Optics forums, part of the Gun Forum category; One of the things that a lot of us do to improve our rifle is install a scope. Then we go out and shoot some ...


Go Back   M14 Forum > Gun Forum > Optics


Reply
 
LinkBack Moderator Tools Display Modes

Old April 6th, 2011, 12:21 AM   #1
Dodgin' The Reaper
 
RAMMAC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Western U.S.
Posts: 6,976

Awards Showcase

Easy scope alignment process - lots of photos

One of the things that a lot of us do to improve our rifle is install a scope. Then we go out and shoot some paper and some of us are disappointed because we don't get the groups that we had hoped for. There are lots of reasons for that but I wanted to talk a little about two things that I have found that help me get tighter groups. The most important is ensuring that the reticle is perfectly horizontal and vertical and the second is ensuring that you keep the reticle properly aligned as you squeeze off the shot. The first is a crooked reticle and the second is a canted rifle. They both can cause a group that contains two smaller groups. Typically there will be a couple of impacts close together and then a short distance away a second tight group of impacts.

So, to ensure that the reticle is not crooked and therefore perfectly horizontal and vertical you have to align the scope with the rifle. This is the process that I use and have found it to be very precise.

These are the tools you will need;
  • A gun vise, I use a Tipton
  • A torque wrench with the appropriate bit for your scope screws, I use a Wheeler Fat Wrench
  • A bubble level, I use a CTK Precision gun level
  • A laser level, I use the Ryobi Tek4 self leveling level
  • A pencil

Put the rifle in gun vise and level it using a bubble level.


My CTK bubble level installed on the flat spot behind the rear sight. This is the most convenient and reliable flat spot available.


Once the bubble is centered the rifle will be leveled.


Make a witness mark on the scope and an adjacent ring using a pencil. The pencil marks will wipe off without causing any damage to the finish. The witness mark provides a reference point that helps you make small adjustments to the scope.


Loosen the screws on your scope rings.

Setup the laser level. The Ryobi model levels itself so the crosshairs will automatically be vertical and horizontal. If your laser level does not have this feature then you will have to level the device before you attempt to adjust the scope. I put the laser level on a surface other than the one my rifle is on so that I don't cause the projected crosshairs to move while I'm working with the scope. The laser level is sitting on the blue boxes on the work bench.


Turn on the laser level (I staged this photo so the laser level is not where I put it when I actually adjust the scope).


Now turn the scope until the reticle crosshairs align with the laser level's crosshairs. Tighten the scope's ring screws with the torque wrench and recheck the reticle for proper alignment. You can use blue loctite on the ring screws but in most cases it isn't necessary. Some people use the cap over the elevation adjustment for a level reference because they assume that the cap is flat. Sometimes that will work but most often it doesn't. After adjusting my scope I put a second bubble level on the top of my scope to see if it would show level, this was the result;


You now have your scope's reticle properly aligned with the rifle but how do you ensure that you are not canting the rifle as you take your shot? I use a anti-cant bubble level. There are several available but the one I use attaches to my picatinny rail and projects out to the side. The first thing you have to do is install the device and verify that it is leveled to the rifle. You do that by putting a bubble level on the flat behind the rear sight and level the rifle. Then make sure that the anti-cant device's bubble is centered. Finally, tighten the screws that hold the device to your rifle and you are done. When I take my shot I check to ensure that the rifle is not canted by verifying that the bubble is centered. You would be surprised at how much tighter these two things make my groups.







Super dog, Maggie, put this information together so if you find any errors please feel free to address your comments to her as I'm sure she will respond...of course I will have to do the typing since her nails need trimming.

RAMMAC is offline  
Remove Ads
Old April 6th, 2011, 01:30 AM   #2
Squad Leader
 
yellowthunder's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 294
Terrific post Rammac! I'll have to get myself a gun vise now!

yellowthunder is offline  
Old April 6th, 2011, 06:07 AM   #3
Old Salt
 
BLACKTAIL 8541's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Northern CA
Posts: 1,738
Very good write up.

BLACKTAIL 8541 is offline  
Old April 6th, 2011, 06:58 AM   #4
Dodgin' The Reaper
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: verbannt Lager
Posts: 5,232
Great write-up RAMMAC, good pics too, and a good looking dog there.

One stupid question if I may... What if the reticle is canted a few degrees as seems to be allowed by many scope makers (I think Leupold allows 5 degrees either way)? Wouldn't your adjustments be off then if the reticle is perfectly level? That's what I've heard the proponents of leveling off the turrets say at least. I certainly don't know what the best method is but yours looks good. Heck, I may do both just to see if my reticle is out of whack when my new scope shows up.

NoExpert is offline  
Old April 6th, 2011, 07:42 AM   #5
Dodgin' The Reaper
 
RAMMAC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Western U.S.
Posts: 6,976

Awards Showcase

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoExpert View Post
Great write-up RAMMAC, good pics too, and a good looking dog there.

One stupid question if I may... What if the reticle is canted a few degrees as seems to be allowed by many scope makers (I think Leupold allows 5 degrees either way)? Wouldn't your adjustments be off then if the reticle is perfectly level? That's what I've heard the proponents of leveling off the turrets say at least. I certainly don't know what the best method is but yours looks good. Heck, I may do both just to see if my reticle is out of whack when my new scope shows up.
Well Maggie got a little upset the other day because she found out that my Nikon Encore scope had exactly that problem. But under closer inspection it was the bottom half of the vertical hair of the reticle that was slightly crooked so we were able to use the horizontal hair and the upper half of the vertical hair for alignment. It looks like the cross point of the hairs is still in the center of the scope but in this case the scope may get returned to the manufacturer for repair or replacement since it has BDC bubbles and they may be off on windage. I will check how it performs out to 300 yards before I make a decision. The rifle is intended for medium sized game so the problem with the scope may not be important considering the size of my targets. Now if I were using the scope for accuracy shooting and printing tight groups I would probably return the scope without a second thought. So I guess what I'm saying is if your cross hairs were assembled crooked then you either have to compromise on the alignment or return the scope.

I really don't trust leveling off the turrets because I've seen cases where the turret itself was either loose or had no flat surface of large enough size to allow the bubble level to sit properly. To me, using the turrets is just adding another part to the process and sort of muddies the water; is the crooked reticle the turret, the cap, the tube, the cross hairs themselves? With this process all I worry about is getting the bubble level tight to the receiver and then I adjust the reticle as best as possible.

RAMMAC is offline  
Old April 6th, 2011, 07:57 AM   #6
Fire Team Leader
 
awmp88's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Native Texan (temp transplanted)
Posts: 209
great post !

awmp88 is offline  
Old April 6th, 2011, 08:25 AM   #7
Dodgin' The Reaper
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: verbannt Lager
Posts: 5,232
Totally understand your reasoning and gotta do what works for you. I may be spoiled too in that USO scopes with at least illuminated reticles have a flat on the turret housing ahead of the elevation knob to level them with. But I think I'm going to do both ways and check them against each other. Then I can see if the internal bubble level is off also. I really like that receiver level you have there, I think I may order one, or two.

NoExpert is offline  
Old April 6th, 2011, 08:38 AM   #8
Dodgin' The Reaper
 
RAMMAC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Western U.S.
Posts: 6,976

Awards Showcase

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoExpert View Post
Totally understand your reasoning and gotta do what works for you. I may be spoiled too in that USO scopes with at least illuminated reticles have a flat on the turret housing ahead of the elevation knob to level them with. But I think I'm going to do both ways and check them against each other. Then I can see if the internal bubble level is off also. I really like that receiver level you have there, I think I may order one, or two.

I suspect that when you buy a better quality scope like yours you get...well...better quality

Here is a picture through my Nikon to give you an idea of how the reticle lines up with the laser level. Now keep in mind that the bubble level on the turret cap was way off.


I purposely offset the two cross hairs so that you could see their relationship a little better. If you compare the two sets of cross hairs very closely you can just see the slight error in the scopes reticle. It isn't a large error but it doesn't take much to through the impact off at 300 yards.


Ya' know, after looking at the picture a little while it looks more like the horizontal is the one that is off a little...hmmmm, I think I need to go to the garage for a few minutes.


Last edited by RAMMAC; April 6th, 2011 at 08:43 AM. Reason: added more comments
RAMMAC is offline  
Old April 6th, 2011, 09:20 AM   #9
Dodgin' The Reaper
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: verbannt Lager
Posts: 5,232
Move your eye side to side and up and down behind the reticle and see if it curves as you move.

NoExpert is offline  
Old April 6th, 2011, 10:02 AM   #10
Dodgin' The Reaper
 
RAMMAC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Western U.S.
Posts: 6,976

Awards Showcase

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoExpert View Post
Move your eye side to side and up and down behind the reticle and see if it curves as you move.
I do that as a test for parallax, is it useful for something else?

RAMMAC is offline  
Old April 6th, 2011, 10:19 AM   #11
Dodgin' The Reaper
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: verbannt Lager
Posts: 5,232
It can tell you if there's an optical issue on a SFP or fixed power scope. Not so much on an FFP scope.

NoExpert is offline  
Old April 6th, 2011, 10:23 AM   #12
Dodgin' The Reaper
 
RAMMAC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Western U.S.
Posts: 6,976

Awards Showcase

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoExpert View Post
It can tell you if there's an optical issue on a SFP or fixed power scope. Not so much on an FFP scope.
I understand, you are talking about actual lens issues. Well like I mentioned, I've done the test to look for a shift in the cross hairs but I've never looked for any other oddities. I'll give it a try and see if the reticle bends or changes shape. Thanks.

RAMMAC is offline  
Old April 6th, 2011, 10:27 AM   #13
Dodgin' The Reaper
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: verbannt Lager
Posts: 5,232
Only reason I mention it is you mentioned the vertical line first and then the horizontal so that's why I think it could be an optical thing going on.

NoExpert is offline  
Old April 6th, 2011, 10:28 AM   #14
Dodgin' The Reaper
 
RAMMAC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Western U.S.
Posts: 6,976

Awards Showcase

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoExpert View Post
Only reason I mention it is you mentioned the vertical line first and then the horizontal so that's why I think it could be an optical thing going on.
Yup, it makes sense, I'll definitely check it out, and if I get confused I'll have Maggie double check me.

RAMMAC is offline  
Old April 6th, 2011, 04:57 PM   #15
Dodgin' The Reaper
 
RAMMAC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Western U.S.
Posts: 6,976

Awards Showcase

Alright, I checked the scope like we discussed NoExpert and I found nothing of note about the lenses. But Maggie noticed what was happening and she straightened me out. Specifically it was the surface of the wall that the laser cross hairs were projected on, it wasn't exactly flat. That dog just keeps showing me up.

I also used Leupold's Zero Point Bore Sighting tool to verify the reticle's position by a second process and it came out well too.

The reticle compared to the laser level cross hairs


The reticle compared to the Leupold tool

RAMMAC is offline  
Reply

  M14 Forum > Gun Forum > Optics



Search tags for this page
align rifle scope
,
align shotgun scope
,
aligning vertical scope
,
best scope alignment tool
,
canted scope crosshairs
,
how to align a rifle scope
,
how to align scope crosshairs
,
laser level with scope
,
rifle scope alignment tool
,
rifle scope alignment tools
,
rifle scope reticle alignment
,

scope alignment

Click on a term to search for related topics.

Moderator Tools
Display Modes


Similar M14 Forum Discussions
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Nitride/FNC/Melonite etc etc losok The M14 72 April 6th, 2014 09:55 AM
Aligning, Lapping & Torquing Scope Rings-How to M14sRock Optics 47 September 22nd, 2013 03:31 PM
any 444 Marlin shooters out there? Earthquake Lever Action 16 July 12th, 2013 02:15 PM
For Sale: FS: Sage EBR stock spf / Pro Mag hd scope mount 5thgen4runner PX 7 February 22nd, 2012 08:34 PM
Beware Leupold Mark 4 Scope Mounts TexIndian Optics 3 August 5th, 2007 11:44 AM



Top Gun Sites Top Sites List