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Most of the time, when you buy a nice scope, it doesn’t come with any way to actually mount it on your rifle. Typically, you’ll need two components to make this happen: a base and a set of rings. There are variations of each of these, but the basic idea remains the same. Since this can sometimes be a confusing and intimidating part of getting a scope, we’ve put together these reviews of some of the best rings and bases we could find.
One thing we’ll talk a lot about in our buyer’s guide is compatibility. You can find a lot of great products that may or may not be compatible with your rifle or your scope, so that’s an important thing to keep in mind. First, though, let’s jump into our recommendations.
|Best Rings Overall||Vortex Optics Pro Series Riflescope Rings||
|Best Base Overall||Semedea Picatinny Rifle Scope Rail Mount||
|Premium Choice||ATN Quick Detach Mount||
|Monstrum Offset Cantilever Dual Ring Scope Mount||
|UTG Scope Mount||
The Pro Series rings from Vortex Optics are our number one pick because they are straightforward, customizable, and come in just about any variety you may need. You can get them in 1-inch and 30 mm variations, as well as low, medium, or high configurations depending on how big the objective lens diameter on your scope is.
They don’t have a cantilever to them or any way of positioning the scope ahead or behind the rail, but they are precise, strong, and even have markings to indicate how many inch-pounds of pressure the screws should be tightened to for best results. They use Torx-style screws, so you’ll need a driver with that type of head if you don’t already have one.
On top of all that, they’re also fairly affordable and should be precise enough to satisfy even the most demanding gunsmith or precision shooter.
Bases can be tricky because there are very few industry standards among rifle manufacturers on where to place mounting points that a rail can be attached to. One of the few standards that have been adopted by a lot of modern sporting rifles (MSRs) is the M-Lok system, and this Semedea Picatinny Rifle Scope Rail Mount works great on those systems. You get a full set from 13 slots down to 3 slots and they can be mounted anywhere on a rifle that is a Mlok.
Typically, this is the handguard, which may put your scope further forward on the rifle than you want it. That being said, most MSRs come with a rail pre-installed on the upper receiver anyway, so if you are buying a base for an MSR, it is likely to go on the handguard anyway. If you are using a scout scope or pairing this base with a cantilever set of rings, then this can also work great.
The best rifle scope rings, mounts, & bases for the money depend a lot on what platform you are using and how it all needs to work together. If you need a rail to mount an optic on, a good place to start is to search for a rail compatible with your specific model of rifle. For the price, the product from Semedea is a great choice.
This mount is designed specifically for ATN scopes like the X-sight and ThOR but should work well with any 30 mm scopes as long as their tube is long enough. It has a slight cant to it and will set the scope back a little bit from where it’s mounted. Usually, this is a good thing, as it gives you that extra inch or so to bring the scope back.
There may be a rare occasion where you need to mount the scope further forward than is possible, but that is atypical and in theory, you could simply turn the mount backward. All the physics would be the same, but the recoil would be in a different direction relative to the mount, so if you’re mounting on something heavier than a .308, that may not be a recipe for success.
The stand-out feature of this one is the quick detach, or QD mount. Quality QD mounts are hard to find, and they tend to be more expensive (as is the case with this one), as it’s tricky to maintain a firm hold on the rail under recoil while being held there by clasps. If you want an easy install, a QD mount, and you have a 30 mm tube diameter on your scope, then this can be a great, if pricey, choice.
Where the ATN is designed for 30 mm scope tubes, the Monstrum is similar but designed for 1-inch scope tubes. It’s a cantilever mount that gives a full 2 inches of either forward or backward extension so it can work great in a variety of set-ups. It’s a lot more affordable than the ATN, and while it doesn’t have a QD mount, it uses thumb screws instead of Torx screws to mount to the rail so that it is still relatively fast to transfer it.
It’s made out of 6061-grade aluminum, which makes it both tough and light, and it gets a flush wraparound on a 1-inch scope out-of-the-box, which saves a lot of time in the mounting process.
You won’t get the same highly precise customizations on this scope as you do from buying two separate rings, but only long-range precision (LRP) shooters will notice the difference in accuracy. If you’re shooting within 600 yards and are fine with an MOA group, this mount won’t be what stops you.
If you want to get sub-MOA or want to go further than 600 yards, you may begin to notice a slight difference between this and rings that were professionally mounted by a gunsmith.
This is another example of a rail, and this one is specifically designed to mount on a Remington 700. It’s a good rail for the 700 and can attach securely enough to withstand the recoil from the heavier rounds. It’s spaced well for a longer scope that can get out to the effective range of the .308 Winchester.
The obvious drawback is that it’s not compatible with any other rifle, which makes it a great example of what was mentioned earlier in the article about needing to find a rail that is specifically designed for the rifle that you want to put it on.
This is one of the reasons why the AR-15 platform has become so popular—there is a lot more cross-compatibility between brands. If something works with one AR-15 variant, chances are it will work with another. If you happen to have a Remington 700 then great, this is a fantastic option for you, but otherwise you can consider this rail a stand-in for rails designed specifically for your rifle.
Leupold has an amazing reputation in the industry for a good reason. These mounts combine the rail and the rings into a single unit while still giving you the precision of having two separate rings instead of one piece. Leupold also sells a wide variety of these rings that are each designed for a specific rifle platform.
There are some drawbacks here, though. The rings are only held together by a single screw on either side, so two screws in total, where normally you’d have at least four screws, and as many as six in some cases. The rings seem to hold up just fine, but there is definitely a concern over the long run that they may not hold zero as long or as well as some other rings.
If you can find them for your rifle, they are a good bet and a good price considering that it combines the rail and the rings together.
So, all these mounts may be making you ask—what if you want two rings but also a cantilever? Well, then the Nikon M-Tactical could be what you’re looking for. These Nikons are designed specifically for MSRs and give a riser and a cantilever to the shooter. These are available in 30 mm tube diameter.
Nikon no longer makes riflescopes, but it’s unclear whether they will continue to make rings and mounts like these. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of them available and they can be a great way to get the best of a lot of worlds on your scope rings.
A lot of shooters that are buying optics for the first time gravitate towards the solutions that are more “one-size-fits-all” or simplified because the process can seem complicated. While it can be daunting at first, once you understand how everything goes together, it’s actually pretty easy to navigate.
What is the make and model of your rifle? That is the first place you should start. You need to get some kind of base on your rifle in order to then mount rings on it. As a general rule, we would recommend using a Picatinny rail as your base as long as that is possible with your rifle. If you bought a modern sporting rifle, chances are it already has a Picatinny rail on it.
If you don’t know where else to start, just do a search online, “rifle make and model + rail mount” and it should pull up some good options.
There are rings, such as the Leupold, that do not require a rail to be installed and can mount directly to the rifle. That’s fine, but it takes a little bit more advanced planning and if you’re already intimidated by all this it can be best just to go through the standard steps.
Different scopes have different objective lens diameters. The objective lens is the part of the scope that points away from you and you see out of when you look through. The ocular lens is the end of the scope that you look into. The objective lens size will determine how high you need your rings to be because you have to give the scope enough space so that the lens doesn’t rest against the top of the rifle.
As a general rule, if your scope objective lens diameter is under 40 mm, you should be good to use low profile scope rings like the “low” height from Vortex. If the diameter is between 40 and 46 mm, then medium rings should do it, and if it’s above 46 mm then you’ll want high. This can definitely vary from rifle to rifle, especially at the sizes that are close to the edge of a certain range.
If you’re not sure, you can always get one of the cantilever mounts that gives you lots of height to work with.
Compatibility is a big issue. We’ve talked about it with rails, but it’s worth noting again that each rifle will have mounting points for a rail in slightly different places, so unless you’re working with an MSR, you will probably have to find a rail that is specifically designed for your rifle. The good news is that even with all the different rifle models out there, most mainstream models will have a few choices of rail for it.
Next, you need to make sure the rings you buy will work with the base that you have chosen. There isn’t a whole lot of variety from ring to ring, although there can be serious differences in quality that can affect your success. The most common sizes that you’ll encounter are 1 inch and 30 mm rings. There are scopes that have different tube diameters, but they are uncommon.
The tube is the middle part of the scope between the ocular and objective lenses before the scope starts to taper up to the objective lens or jump up to the size of the ocular lens. This is the portion of the scope where the adjustment knobs for windage and elevation will be. Sometimes either reticle illumination controls or parallax adjustment will be here as well.
As we mentioned above, the rings also need to be high enough above the rifle for the scope to sit comfortably without touching the rifle at all. There are two main issues with this: one, if the scope is touching the rifle as it shoots, it’s much more susceptible to damage from either the recoil or the heat of the barrel.
Two, if it’s touching the rifle that means that it’s being pushed upwards at least a little bit, which can affect the functionality of the scope and reduce the amount of surface area that the rings have to grip the scope with. This can put an undue amount of pressure on small areas of the scope instead of spreading out the pressure along the whole circumference of the tube.
Besides compatibility and quality issues, what separates one set of scope rings from another? Well, there are a few things. Some rings come in pairs and each mount to the rail independently. These are the most flexible of ring mounts because you have more control over the distance they sit from each other.
There isn’t a standard length of tube on a scope, so if you buy a single mount with the two rings together that are 4 inches apart and your scope only has a 3.5-inch tube, you won’t be able to use those rings to mount your scope. Buying a set of two independent rings takes care of that for you, but it also introduces another variable that you have to manage in order to get good results from mounting your scope.
Another difference between scope rings is whether they have a rise to them, cantilever, or neither. Generally speaking, you want your scope to be as low to the rifle as you can without the scope touching, but it’s not usually a big deal if your scope is a little higher than it has to be. A cantilever can be nice for positioning the scope exactly where you want it on the rifle to accommodate for your shooting form.
Hopefully, these reviews helped you better understand the world of rifle scope rings and mounts. The best rings overall that we found were the Vortex Optics Pro Series Riflescope Rings. Finding the right rail for your rifle may require you to look for a rail that is specifically designed for your model of rifle. There are some different choices of rings that may work better or worse depending on your needs. If you’re looking for a good deal on a mount, try the Semedea Picatinny Rifle Scope Rail Mount—which we thought was a steal for the price.
We did our best to cover the variety of mounting rings out there and select some of the best options from each category. Even if you end up needing to get something else for your set-up, hopefully, these suggestions will give you a good starting point.
Featured Image Credit: Igor Samoiliuk, Shutterstock
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Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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