Grant LaVelle, chief instructor at Maximum Life Expectancy in Missouri as well as GunSpot, teaches numerous distance-shooting classes. Grant taught marksmanship in the U.S. Marine Corps and served as a SWAT sniper, and now he conveys this knowledge to his students.
A common scenario he sees in these courses is people that come to his long-range classes having spread their money inefficiently amongst their gear. In these cases, he usually sees two types of students: student #1 will come in with a $2,500 to $3,500 great-shooting rifle with plenty of bells and whistles. Then on it, they will set a $200 scope and some $35 dollar rings.
Student #2 will come in with a nice rifle and a comparably nice scope with great target knobs and clear glass, and one that will hold zero exceptionally well. But for the mounting solution in between the excellent rifle and optic — their rail and scope rings — are just plain garbage.
You can spend all the money in the world, do all the research and be the most skilled shooter in existence. But if you can’t hold things solid and consistently on your rifle, your results will always suffer. Grant preaches in all his classes the importance of going overkill on your mounting solutions. Your scope rings can make a good scope great, and likewise, a great scope bad. It’s all about holding our zero. If we can’t do that, then why even shoot, right?
Grant swears up and down by Badger Ordnance scope rings. They offer reputable mounting solutions for optics, and it is important to note that almost all manufacturers have their products that vary in quality — and price points. Badger Ordnance has scope rings as low as about $40 and up to around $250.
Read, do some research and choose carefully. Something I have fallen victim to is seeing scope rings with a high-quality name and assuming they are rock-solid. It’s up to you what to pick, but if you choose to cheat yourself, you could cause yourself a lot of heartache.
Perhaps the best thing about scope rings is they are a reliable, long-term purchase. Quality ones are very unlikely to break, which means you can use them over and over again. You may drop scopes and break them, or your rifle may give out one day. But your rings can be a lifetime investment.
To prove the importance of good-quality mounting equipment, we came up with a test to demonstrate what it can do — and a test we suspect will make traditional shooters pull their hair out. To watch our test, check out the video at the top of this page.
For our test, we have two scopes that are sighted in on our Model 2020 Waypoint. We have a Bushnell Match Pro and a Bushnell Elite Tactical XRS II. The idea is that you can swap scopes as much as you want and, as long as everything you have features good quality parts and gets replaced in the same spot, your zero will never be lost.
To start, we had the Match Pro mounted up and we took it off and put on the XRS II. It’s important to remember where the scope sat in the Picatinny rails also when mounting your scopes. Set them in the rails and then push them all the way forward in the slot.
After we tightened it down using our torque wrench to the specified setting indicated by Badger Ordnance, we fired a few shots. All of our shots ended up inside a 1” square at 100 yards, with all the shots practically being on top of one another. Next, we un-mounted the XRS II and put on the Match Pro, and fired a couple of shots. We noticed the same thing — we were able to put shots inside a 1” square at 100 yards.
Maybe you’re wondering why you would ever switch scopes like this, and therefore this test doesn’t matter to you. It’s true that you may never want to switch scopes. But, if the mounting solutions can keep zero after being completely moved and then put back on, won’t it be fine if your rifle gets dropped? As long as your scope will hold zero, this proves that your zero would be rock-solid.
Remember, when mounting your scopes, be sure to remember the slots they are mounted in and push them all the way to the front of the slots. Then, tighten the rings to the rail. If you can use a torque wrench to make sure your optic is torqued down the same amount, as we did, that is a great idea, too.
Don’t shortchange yourself. Ammo is expensive. Don’t spend hours throwing bullets downrange and then having to re-zero every time something is bumped. Travel with ease of mind knowing that your zero is safe if you are mounted up with some quality gear.
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