fbpx
mounting a rifle scope

How To Mount A Rifle Scope | What You Need To Know

It is interesting that one of the most mystical elements of rifle-shooting (after buying a rifle scope) is getting a scope sight mounted correctly and, when done, finding out if the rifle will shoot straight after zeroing.

So, if you are not a pro on mounting a rifle scope, check out this guide below.

bench rest for mounting rifle scope
A bench rest is a helpful tool to keep everything you’ll need close by while mounting your rifle scope.

What You’ll Need

When mounting a rifle scope, the tools you’ll need can be as simple as a correctly sized screwdriver, and sometimes a small open-end wrench. (This all depends on the type of mounts being used, however, and yes, there are differences by the dozens).

A bench-rest system is a great way to install a scope. In some cases, an Allen wrench is also advised, or even required, to lock down ring screws. (However, in other situations, the full array of gunsmith tools are required when receiver bases and ring systems need installing).

What you’ll need:

  • Screwdriver
  • Small open-end wrench
  • Bench rest
  • Allen wrenches

Mounting Your Rifle Scope | Step-By-Step

When going to work on a rifle scope mounting job, it is nice to have a clean, clear space to do the work. Even the use of a gun vise or mount is a great idea, and can save both time and effort in the event parts fall away from the scope or rifle.

If you’re worried about mounting a scope being a difficult task, let me put your mind at ease; I mount scopes while watching my favorite hockey game at the same time!

There are some jobs that require tapping new screw holes, and advanced mounts that require more parts then the scope contains. However, in general, most mounts are field dirt simple to work with and figure out for yourself.

Step-by-step rifle scope mounting

  1. Set scope in place

    Currently, modern rifle scopes are making more use of the Weaver-style bases that carry a rail with notches cut into the upper surface. The rings are set up with matching cuts and all you need to do is drop the scope into the rail.

    Be sure both rings are aligned with the correct notches, and set in place solidly. Once you have the rings in place, simply draw down the primary (large) compression bolt or nut.

    Independent bases are a bit more work in that each is set on the pilot holes in the receiver, one at a time and with two screws In most cases, they are set in place and tightened down. The bases are always paired with a specific scope ring type. Be sure the rings and bases match. If you buy them as a set, this should not be an issue.

    IMPORTANT: At times the base sets are not exactly the same height. Check each with care. In most cases (but not all), the higher base is forward, and the lower base is toward the rear. That is because the height of the receiver section is different. If bases were the same, you would have an issue there.

    A suggestion here is to get new combination rings and base systems, often called cantilever bases and rings. All you do is this:

    Using a Weaver-style (Picatinny-style) mounting rail, drop the whole system into place on the grooves, split the ring half sections, then set your scope onto the lower half of the ring group. (If you can’t do that, it is advised that you not shoot a gun either!)

    NOTE: Looking for the perfect scope for your rifle? Check this out.

    weaver style base for mounting rilfe scop

  2. Align the scope

    Now, with the rings installed as above, it’s time to align the scope within the rings. Keep in mind that the crosshairs require leveling, so leave the rings with the installed screws loose enough to allow you to rotate the scope as required.

    Also, be sure to check eye relief at this point. You’re may regret having leveled the scope, then tightened it down, and found that you’re stretching a mile to see through your scope.

    Why do I know this?

    Because it has happened to me more times then I should admit here.

    When leveling the scope’s crosshairs, see the horizontal line and set the scope in a solid rest position.

    Now look through the scope, again with the rings not turned very tight against the scope tube in order to allow that horizontal line to run level with an object that is of a known correct level. This can be the edge of a building, or some other related structure.

    When I align my scope, I use a bubble-mounted system that long-range shooters use, or at times, I just wing it and go with my gut feeling as to a correct level. When I recheck my level after mounting, I am almost always right on the money. I guess that comes with experience, as there are some weeks when I mount five or six rifle scopes in as many days.

    One thing is for sure, you don’t want to count on the person at the gun counter for all the help.

    I have friends who who do work in gun shops and sure as heck know their stuff. However, some of the “help” needs a tune-up and could well take a course on scope-mounting and parts sales to be sure. So, don’t assume everything is correct because the person at the gun counter says so.

    I have heard about hunters and shooters who went on “exclusive” and costly trips with a gun that was never checked beyond the gun counter.
    Not a good idea, as some have found out when a once-in-a-lifetime trophy walks out in front of them at 100 yards and they miss the shot because the scope is heading south when the shooter is looking west. (An exaggeration, but hopefully you get the point).

    So if you’re deer hunting for example and your scope isn’t dialed in exactly right, you’re going to have an errant shot. Arguments about what caliber is best don’t really matter if you can’t hit what you’re aiming at!

    rifle scope level

  3. Shoot for final zero

    Remember, just because a salesman at a gun shop “bore-sights” your scope for you, that is only a starter adjustment in terms of locating the correct zero for the rifle and scope.

    Bore sighting means getting a bullet some place on paper, with luck. After the rifle is bore-sighted, additional adjustments are necessary. In other words, shoot the rifle before ever counting on the correct sight adjustments on your new scope sight.

    When checking for scope accuracy and live fire shooting, try and shoot from a sitting bench-rest position with bags (sand is best). You want to eliminate as many variables as possible that could enter into producing a bad group or point of zero.

    As a final note, always shoot a group of at least three rounds for a quick double-check in terms of your bullet’s impact accuracy. Also, don’t be alarmed if someone shooting your rifle hits a different zero point. We all shoot a bit differently, even with textbook training. What is your zero belongs to you.

    sandbag rifle rest

Lapping Rifle Scope Rings

A word about lapping the scope rings. Lapping means taking any possible variation in roundness off the inside of the rings, so that you have as much contact between rings and scope as possible. Lapping the rings is a good idea if you’re shooting bench-rest or super accuracy group development.

I do not lap my rings because my good rifles and ammunition all shoot sub-½ MOA, and that is all anyone not shooting bench-style events needs. (Bench-rest is shooting for the smallest hole possible in the target. One hole groups win in many cases.)

So, if you are deer hunting for example, lapping the rings isn’t really necessary.

Final thoughts

Once you have properly mounted and sighted in your rifle, that doesn’t mean you never check it again.

Screws and bases need to be tight and checked often, as even general transport can cause vibration and lead to a loosening of parts.

Happy shooting!

Annihilator broadhead retest pic

Annihilator Broadheads Review | A revealing re-test

In this article, I’m covering a re-test of the 125-grain Annihilator Broadhead.

When I originally tested this broadhead, it performed extremely well in terms of penetration, (i.e., draining a water jug) and in terms of the hole that it produced in a layer of MDF.

It also flew really well out to 50 yards. However, beyond 50 yards, there just seemed to be a drastic drop in velocity, causing an incredible drop in the point of impact.

lusk archery adventures retest of annihilator
I decided to re-test the Annihilator after talking with multiple people that had not gotten the same results as I did in my original test.

However, after making a video of that test, I was contacted by some friends who had also tested this broadhead at longer ranges, but did not see the drastic results I had seen.

I then visited with the designers of the Annihilator broadheads at the Archery Trade Association (ATA) show. They also said that their tests had not shown the drastic drop. In fact, they had seen really consistent flight, even at longer ranges. So, I told them I would very gladly test it again.

The backstory to my original test of the Annihilator broadhead

The day of the re-test, it was sub-zero temperatures (with the wind chill). When I re-tested the head, I found that the people I had spoken to were exactly right. It flew extremely well, even at longer ranges.

I realized that in my original test, I had made a two-fold mistake.

My two mistakes

Before I tested the Annihilator broadhead the first time, I was talking to a friend about it. He told me that when he shot it at longer ranges, there was a really large drop due to the wind resistance of that big surface area that they have. And so, that was already in my mind.

So, then when I shot it and tested it and there was a big drop, and I thought, “Oh, this just confirms what my friend had said.” I didn’t retest it or question my test results enough. That was my first mistake. I shouldn’t have had that in my mind.

The second mistake that I made in the initial test is that I had made adjustments to my site tapes and I didn’t take that into consideration when I was testing the Annihilator.

So, I felt really badly. I went back and made the adjustments in my site tapes and… Boom! Dead on!

I feel really badly that I made both of those mistakes, and both of those mistakes adversely affected the reputation of Annilator (as well as my own reputation for doing a poor job in testing the broadhead).

I want to give a sincere apology to the makers of Annihilator broadheads, to their loyal fans, and especially to those who I turned off from these broadheads after my initial test, because it actually does fly very well even at longer ranges.

So, that’s why I wanted to do a completely new test. I’ve got new test mediums for 2020 that I’m using anyway. So it’s a good way to do those.

The Annihilator broadhead | The specifics

So, let me explain this broadhead just a little bit for those of you that aren’t familiar with it.

When I first heard about it, I wasn’t that interested in testing it because the cutting diameter is sub-1 inch. It’s 0.91 inches of cut. To me, that’s just so small.

I thought, “Why would I want to test the head that has that small of a cut?”

However, what I wasn’t understanding was the design has a “scoop” feature to it. So, while it has a small cutting diameter, when it presses through a medium like animal tissue, it actually displaces an incredible amount of it. (Note: As of the publishing of this article, I personally have not tested the Annihilator head on an animal).

So, the hole that it creates, and the tissue that’s displaced, is in theory far greater than if it was just 3 crossblades of 0.91 inches. It has an incredible surface area. (That showed in a test that I had done originally. The Annihilator drained a water jug in record time. It also put a big hole through MDF. And so, in the retest, I wanted to show that).

The Annihilator is designed to put a much larger hole than the head size suggests. The small surface area allows it to fly really well, but then displace a lot of tissue. And so, it makes a really nice hole.

Another cool thing about this head is that it’s a solid piece of 4140 tool steel. That is a really high quality of tool steel. So, it’s way more resistant to impact and much tougher than stainless steel, for example. It has a Rockwell hardness of 52, which is a pretty good balance of being soft enough to resharpen and hard enough to keep its edge.

Another thing I really like about it is that resharpening for this head is extremely easy. It’s like the Bishop Holy Trinity and some other three blades that I’ve tested in the past.

You can just lay it flat on a flat stone or any kind of a flat edge surface and it is very easy to sharpen to a razor-like edge.

ballistic gel and mdf board
For penetration testing I used MDF board, foam padding and ballistic gel.

In my re-test, I used a half-inch layer of MDF surrounded by 1/3 of an inch of rubber foam mat. Beyond that was a gel block by Clear Ballistics, so you can see what happens to the broadhead once it enters the gel. (I will be doing this for all the broadheads I test this year).

Then, I shot it through a 22-gauge steel plate 5 times. (I like to shoot it through the steel plate until there begins to be significant damage to the blades. So, I basically see how many times it can be shot into the steel plate without facing significant damage. But, I stop at 5 because with some heads, I could keep going forever).

The Re-Test of the Annihilator

So let’s get into the test results and see how it did with long range flight, penetration and water drainage ability.

Long-Range Flight

In the re-test I was able to pop a balloon at 70 yards with this head.

Penetration Testing

In terms of penetration through the MDF and gel, the Annihilator did very well. It did not do as well as some other broadheads I’ve tested, but it still had good penetration and made a nice hole in that MDF, as well as the gel.

Below, you can see the penetration of the Annihilator after going through the MDF and the rubber foam mats and into the gel. It penetrated 8-1/4 inches.

penetration test of annihilator in ballistic gel
The Annihilator, through MDF, foam pad and ballistic gel.

Below is a steel plate after I shot it 5 times with the same head. You can see the Annihilator really does make nice holes. Thus, it should displace a tremendous amount of tissue.

annihilator through 22 gauge steel plate
The Annihilator, shot into a 22-gauge steel plate.

Edge Retention

In terms of the durability of the edge (edge retention), the Annihilator is pristine. There is not a mark on it. It doesn’t quite shave hair, but it still bit into my fingernail… very impressive.

So, it’s durable as they come. It went through 5 layers of steel back-to-back-to-back with zero damage. That’s what that 4140 tool steel is going to do. It kept its edge really, really well.

annihlator broadhead edge retention
The Annihilator kept it’s edge incredibly well, even after being shot 5 times through a 22-gauge steel plate.

Water drainage test

The water drainage test was just other otherworldly. I don’t know any other word to describe it. It drained the bag in .40 seconds!

The reason I used the water bag drainage test instead of a water jug drainage test is that I felt that in a water jug, because the plastic is pretty stiff, sometimes the plastic folds in, sometimes it comes out, sometimes it stays in place. And so, the results are very inconsistent. Even with one head, I get different results.

But with water bag drainage test, and I fill it up 10 cups the same amount that the line is the same in all the tests that I do, try to shoot it in the same spot every time. It’s much more consistent and much more like an animal because the bag is a little more nimble, like the tissue or the hide of an animal. And so, what you see is kind of what you’re going to get in terms of the drainage.

annihilator broadhead water bag drain test
Water drainage test

The Annihilator goes into the bag and displaced so much water so readily, it actually created a back-pressure to the water. When I looked at it in super slow motion, I could it make the hole and suck the water right out of the bag. It was just amazing to see that. It’s an indication of what may happen with blood-letting and tissue damage within an animal as well. I can’t wait to test it on an animal at some point in the future.

Conclusion

I’m really grateful that I was encouraged to retest the Annihilator, because I knew it was a great head before. It tested really well in all categories except long distance.

However, now knowing after the re-test that it actually flies extremely well, even at long distances, it has gone from a very good head to a phenomenal head.

So, now I have confidence in this head at longer ranges. It gets a 10 out of 10 in terms of accuracy at long range.

annihilator broadhead results
The Annihilator report card

The Annihilator did excellent in all of the test categories. This is a winner of a head and it’s something to really consider for pretty much any animal you are going after. Give the Annihilator a look. Great job, Annihilator!

John Lusk archery goat
John Lusk of Lusk Archery Adventures
man holding duck hunting shotgun

Choosing The Best Duck Hunting Shotgun | 3 Things To Consider

No worse feeling exists in the sport of waterfowl hunting than pulling up to dust a flock of mallards and then… your gun misfires.

I’ve been in that frustrating situation before and I don’t want you to experience the pain I did. 

So, how exactly can you keep this from happening?

Well, it begins with the firearm you select. I’m not here to push one brand over another, but rather to help you find the gun and gauge that best fits you so you can go with it.

What exactly is shotgun “fit?” Scroll down and watch the video near the end of the article to find out!

Does price matter?

dead geese and duck
At the end of the hunt, you want a shotgun that has performed as expected, hopefully resulting in a successful harvest.

I’ve hunted with guys who bought the latest and greatest shotgun on the market only to watch them miss every duck that decoyed. I’ve also hunted with guys who were shooting a “pawn shop special” and they absolutely slaughtered every duck within a mile radius.

So, what was the difference?

Well, one group of guys thought the expensive gun would make them a good shot. The other group knew they needed a gun that they were extremely comfortable shooting in several different conditions.

Simply put, the best shotgun is the one you are most comfortable using.

But how do you figure that out?

Which type of shotgun fits your hunting style?

There are three main types of shotguns. The most popular is the semi-auto, followed by the pump-action, and the over-under. They all come in different gauges and all are solid choices when it comes to waterfowl hunting. I have personally hunted with all three for at least one season each. As I hunted with each, I found there are pros and cons to all.

I prefer to hunt with a 12-gauge shotgun, regardless of the type of shotgun I am shooting. But, enough about me, let’s look at three critical factors in determining the best shotgun for ducks and waterfowl.

The three criteria I used to determine the best type of duck hunting shotgun are as follows:

  • Dependability: How unlikely it is to malfunction in different weather conditions?
  • Ruggedness: How much abuse can it take from being tossed in the back of a truck and dragged through mud all season long?
  • Amount of birds in the blind: That should be pretty self-explanatory. If I was able to shoot more birds with it, I hunted with the firearm more often!

The Most Dependable Shotgun

shotgun and decoy
Part of having a dependable gun is knowing it won’t jam or misfire.

As far as dependability goes, an over-under is going to fire every time the trigger is pulled. A pump-action is going to fire basically every time, as well. The weather conditions are not prone to affect the firing capabilities of an over-under or pump-action.

The semi-automatic shotgun is a different story.

As long as they are clean and lightly oiled in warm conditions, a semi-automatic works great! However, in my experience, when the cold weather hits, semi-auto shotguns tend to become finicky. So, when I need a gun that is dependable, I hunt with a pump-action or an over-under. 

12 gauge shotgun shells
Shotgun types come in different gauges… my personal favorite is the 12-gauge.

The Most Rugged Shotgun

Ruggedness, once again, goes to an over-under or a pump-action. The over-under has so few moving parts that make it such a rugged gun. Now, this does not apply if your over-under is a gun that only comes out of the gun safe to get oiled and then gently placed back in its place. 

The over-under I used was as basic as they are made, perfect for the tough conditions I hunt. A pump-action has a few more moving parts, but in my experience hunting with one, they are just as rugged as an over-under.

The semi-auto shotguns I hunted with were not as rugged as I had hoped they would be, but in recent years semi-auto shotguns have made tremendous strides in ruggedness. 

The Most Deadly Shotgun

The most critical factor is the number of birds the firearm helps bring down cleanly.

semi automatic shotgun and black lab
Semi-automatic shotguns give you the ability to fire 3 shots rapidly, but may also lead the shooter to rush the shot.

The semi-auto shotguns are outstanding when I need to fire off all three shots quickly, but I have a tendency to rush my shot. That is my fault, not the firearm!

When hunting with a pump-action, I am forced to slow down just enough to be much more accurate and add more birds to my limit.

The over-under shotgun I hunted with drastically fell short because it lacked the third shot I was familiar with. My friend, Jason Cruise, claims the third shot is a wasted shot more often than not.

I would disagree.

Yes, many times by the third shot, the birds are out of range. However, when the ducks are back-flapping in your face, that third shot is a huge advantage. Every hunt I am on, I will consistently shoot all three shells in a single volley. When I hunted with my over-under, I desperately missed having that third shot. 

So, what exactly is “shotgun fit” and how do you get the right fit for you? Check out this video to find out.

And, the best shotgun type is…

As I mentioned above, all three shotgun types have their pros and cons. However the one that stands out the most is the 12 gauge pump-action shotgun.

The pump-action shotgun is a workhorse. It is not anything fancy but it consistently gets the job done. Time after time, adding birds to the limit. No matter the weather conditions, a pump-action shotgun will deliver what it promises… three shells. 

Why the Pump-Action Shotgun is the Best

The reasons I choose to hunt with a pump-action shotgun over the other two styles are because a pump-action is typically more dependable than a semi-auto, it is extremely rugged, and I shoot more birds with a pump-action than an over-under. 

I admit I am extremely tough on my gear. So, I need a firearm that will hold up to the abuse, enduring throughout the season. A pump-action shotgun does this for me more consistently than the other two styles. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t bring my other guns on a shoot or two during the season. I love shooting my semi-auto when the weather permits and my over-under has become my turkey hunting shotgun. 

Whether you are just getting into duck hunting or waterfowl hunting has been a lifestyle for a while now, a pump-action shotgun is a tool that won’t let you down.

Before purchasing any firearm, do your research. I would recommend not only reading the online reviews, but also getting your hands on the gun you intend to buy prior to buying it. This ensures that it fits you well and you are more than comfortable handling it.

Buying a firearm is a big purchase, don’t rush into it. Take your time and choose the best shotgun for you

*All photos used by permission from Brad Alan

Cart