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How are you guys leveling your optics to your rifle.

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There's no point in leveling your scope to your rifle, what matters is that the scope is leveled in respect to the horizon. Some long range shooters even cant their rifles significantly in order to get a better wrist angle, and that's no problem. Yes, your zero might be a little different, but as long as the reticle always remain leveled in respect to the horizon, the adjustments will be correct. I would recommend getting a scope level so you can ensure consistent shooting.

This is the truth. Put a spirit level on the scope and make sure the reticle is plumb to it.

http://www.scout.com/military/snipers-hide/story/1540059-canted-rifle-level-scope

Of course, they also make rifle stocks which are designed to have a canted cheek/buttpad, while keeping the receiver and scope level together to achieve a similar effect.

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I found the attached photo on an air gun site.

"A" is what normally is considered the "holy grail", and you don't do anything wrong by leveling the scope to the rifle. But in my opinion "F" and "G" are also viable options, if you like having a canted rifle.Yes, you get a little different zero/ ballistic table, mainly in regards to side adjustment, which is illustrated in the video tunabreath linked to, but it's repeatable and you can hit consistently.

What might cause problems, regardless of option A, F or G, is that you can get tricked by the terrain when shooting in the field. You may assume the hill you are shooting at is level, and line your reticle to that hill, while it really has an incline, and then your zero table doesn't match anymore. So I think a bubble level might be useful in the field, scope adjustments and gravity are the key words.

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Edited by 2Xalpha

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This is the truth. Put a spirit level on the scope and make sure the reticle is plumb to it.

http://www.scout.com/military/snipers-hide/story/1540059-canted-rifle-level-scope

This article flys in the face of what other established experts (like Todd Hartnett) demonstrate and teach. Certainly there are arguments for both, but if you are going against the traditional method, you have to understand what the difference is and the effects. Particularly when it comes to windage and the difference between dialing in adjustments and holding. And that's where it gets really complicated.

He is talking about a very slight difference in cant between the rifle and the scope. He is also talking about shooting prone from a stable position at a fixed distance with corrections dialed in. I'm not enough of an expert to evaluate this, but I'm not willing to make a blanket statement that he is right and tradition is wrong.

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If I remember correctly, I actually picked this up this idea from the "Magpul Art of Precision Rifle", hosted by Todd Hodnett.. But I am not sure of the physics behind it either, so I agree on what you say about not making a blanket statement.

However, I hope we can agree that: If the scope is level and directly above the bore (as in photo A), you will still get an error if the reticle isn't level in regards to gravity (unintended cant by the shooter). If you rely on the target background (the hill) and line that up with your reticle, you may be fooled to believe that everything is level in regards to gravity when it's not. Because of this I think a bubble level matched to the reticle can be useful on longer ranges, but I don't have any data.

Edited by 2Xalpha

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Spuhr mounts have a leveling system built in that uses an angled slot and a tapered shim to level the scope. They offer a base that sits on the rail to level scopes with separate rings. Thats what I use. Very clean simple and quick.

Unless you have a Z6i :/

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However, I hope we can agree that: If the scope is level and directly above the bore (as in photo A), you will still get an error if the reticle isn't level in regards to gravity (unintended cant by the shooter).

In the Magpul video, there is a point at which one shooter is hitting high (or low) to the side of the target. Todd tells him to watch his cant and that puts him back on target. I know that they are using a Horus reticle and holding for their corrections rather than dialing but I don't think it makes much difference.

The reason I question the canted rifle / level scope issue is that the bullet path is not straight, it's an arc. When you adjust for distance you are pushing the reticle down which brings the barrel up which increases the arc. If you cant the rifle, you are actually pointing the barrel slightly to the side of the target. Closer in it won't matter but at 800-1000yd it can.

In reality, the differences are proably minor. If you are shooting a 3G or PRS competition then having a completely level setup is far from being your biggest concern. If you are shooting 1000yd F-Class where the difference between an X and a 10 could win or lose the match, then everything matters.

And Mike makes one very important point in his video, being in a comfortable shooting position is one of the most important things for consistency. You can always make a minor sight adjustment to correct but if you aren't comfortable with your position you are likely going to be shooting all over the place.

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Graham, I agree.

If your reticle is not perpendicular to the bore, then holdovers/unders will absolutely be left or right of center as you dial elevation adjustments. I really discovered this for myself shooting Long range black powder with a shiloh sharps, MVA soule sight, and great big 520 grain lead bullets. I had to use bits of aluminum to make sure that my tang sight was perpendicular to the bore axis or else I had a heck of a time sighting in my rifle. It would shoot left up to 100 yards, dead on at 100 and then move right after. The higher I had to dial in, the more it shot right. That meant the sight was canted to the right. Granted, the sight was mounted below the bore axis, so it could have been more pronounced, in both directions.

It may not make much difference on a scoped hunting rifle when the line of sight is a little over an inch over the bore axis, but with a 34mm tube and 4.5-27x56 scope the is 2" above the bore axis, combined with a sight in distance of 100 yards and shooting out to 1,000 yards or more, you will notice it. Out here, there is one shoot that has targets out like 1,400 yards, and the bullet path is off a big flat, then over water then up to a cliff face, all at the bend of a river, so you have up draft, cross wind then another updraft all messing with your bullet on a IPSC size steel plate. The JC Steel Challenge, look it up, there are some great videos.

wg

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But in my opinion "F" and "G" are also viable options, if you like having a canted rifle.Yes, you get a little different zero/ ballistic table, mainly in regards to side adjustment, which is illustrated in the video tunabreath linked to, but it's repeatable and you can hit consistently.

What might cause problems, regardless of option A, F or G, is that you can get tricked by the terrain when shooting in the field. You may assume the hill you are shooting at is level, and line your reticle to that hill, while it really has an incline, and then your zero table doesn't match anymore. So I think a bubble level might be useful in the field, scope adjustments and gravity are the key words.

These two points are key.

You would have to shoot with the same cant on your rifle every time, unfortunately, courses of fire will often require shooting strong and weak sided.

PRS matches are not often shot on level terrain.

I'm not trying to put you down. I am just adding my personal observations from practicing shooting from compromised positions, at various angles and distances.

Take care,

Gene

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Spuhr mounts have a leveling system built in that uses an angled slot and a tapered shim to level the scope. They offer a base that sits on the rail to level scopes with separate rings. Thats what I use. Very clean simple and quick.

Unless you have a Z6i :/

Lucky I don't have one of those.

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There's no point in leveling your scope to your rifle, what matters is that the scope is leveled in respect to the horizon. Some long range shooters even cant their rifles significantly in order to get a better wrist angle, and that's no problem. Yes, your zero might be a little different, but as long as the reticle always remain leveled in respect to the horizon, the adjustments will be correct. I would recommend getting a scope level so you can ensure consistent shooting .

I disagree. It will change elevation adjustments above and below sight in point of impact moving POI left or right.

You are right and the other poser is wrong. You should also have a level on the gun itself. Cant easily can make you miss as range extends.

Pat

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I didn't appreciate how much arc there is to a bullet path until I shot a long range class where they put out a whole bunch of steel torso targets at varying distances, some out where you could see, some partly concealed. One target was at about 600+yds and almost completely behind a berm with only the tip of the head showing. To hit this target, you had to aim into the berm and let the arc of the bullet carry it over the berm and into the target. It was freaky.

We were shooting as teams, one shooter one spotter. I was spotting and my partner had been having problems with windage adjustments. We were using holds for windage and what was working for me was consistenly too little for him. On this target, he couldn't seem to get on target because we couldn't see where the bullet was hitting. Long story a bit shortened, he had a poor position and I noticed that he seemed to be canting his rifle. I suggested he straighten it a bit and his windage problem mostly went away.

For someone shooting prone at fixed distance targets (like F-Class), the rifle level won't matter as much as consistency. For someone shooting PRS or targets at different distance, different height, etc, where positional consistency isn't possible, then having a scope/rifle that are on the same axis is probably more important.

I've read enough of what Frank Galli has written to respect his opinion. That's why I wonder were he is coming from with this. I'm pretty sure that he is speaking about a very slight difference in cant here and for that he is probably right. If you are more often shooting from a stable prone position then you are best off being as comfortable as possible. Having to twist the rifle some in that position is probably more of a detriment than having the scope slightly off level.

Complicated.

Edited by Graham Smith

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Graham, the best estimate I could come up with off hand for a 45-70 firing a 520 grain bullet with an estimated BC of .25 and a muzzle velocity of 1600fps would be about 120' of drop (240 MOA) at 1,000 yards! I have no idea exactly, and can't find my note book, but I seem to remember something around that number as an estimate, but honestly I can't tell you because I don't know how to do the conversion when my sight reads inches, not MIL's or MOA. I know the sight was almost at the top of it's 289 MOA of elevation adjustment range (book says 289 MOA, but again, not sure how to convert between the numbers on the sight verses just dialing MOA). My sight is a #103 Long Range Buffalo from Montana Vintage Arms. It rests on the back of a Shiloh Sharps 1874 #1 Sporter with a few upgrades.

Anyway, sorry to get off the topic of how I level my scope.

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I have a bench vise outside of my shop and I will put the barrel into a barrel clamp and level the sight base with a torpedo level. then I will stick the scope and rings onto the base with the rings loose. sight down to my fence that is about 10 yards away and hang a florescent strings with a 5 lb weight on it to dampen the movement out . adjust scope till the cross hair is parallel with the string, tighten rings and I'm done. I also make sure that the scope mounted bubble level is level at this time.

I highly recommend that you install a bubble level on your scope. it is amazing how crooked the world is and a horizon can fool you into thinking that it is level.

Edited by JohnRodriguez

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I usually use 2 levels but once I needed to remount a scope while at the hunting camp. I leveled the action with a phone app and then placed the scope in the rings and shined a flashlight thru the scope making a crosshairs shadow that I turned by hand until it was vertical. Then tightened it down.


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I mount the scope as level to the gun as possible using bubble levels on the reveiver and the elevation turret.  Then I set my laser lever with a crosshair pattern near a white wall as far away as I can practically get it and align the crosshairs with it before tightening my scope mounted bubble level down.    

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Do not trust the scope is manufactured exactly. Meaning the turret caps and bottom of the scope may not be perfect and using those will not get your reticle vertical using bubbles and gauges alone. Just because the top turret cap is level, means nothing in regards to the reticle.

 

I always use a plumb-line. I will use bubbles on the rifle itself, and adjust the scope to be vertical against a plumb-line. The plumb-line is vertical. This allows you to be precise and get correct head position, eye relief and a vertical reticle at the same time. I use a fat orange nylon/rubber strap with a weight on the end. It's easy to see, and wide enough to get good reference picture (center/edge). It can be done as close as 25ft or further if you have room; think prone in the kitchen, plumb-line in the yard 😉

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But the erector is built front the bottom of the flat part of the scope, plumbing the reticle doesn’t always mean it will track square with the adjustments. Squaring the bottom of the base is the best way to ensure proper elevation adjustments.

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1 hour ago, Delfuego said:

Do not trust the scope is manufactured exactly. Meaning the turret caps and bottom of the scope may not be perfect and using those will not get your reticle vertical using bubbles and gauges alone. Just because the top turret cap is level, means nothing in regards to the reticle.

 

I always use a plumb-line. I will use bubbles on the rifle itself, and adjust the scope to be vertical against a plumb-line. The plumb-line is vertical. This allows you to be precise and get correct head position, eye relief and a vertical reticle at the same time. I use a fat orange nylon/rubber strap with a weight on the end. It's easy to see, and wide enough to get good reference picture (center/edge). It can be done as close as 25ft or further if you have room; think prone in the kitchen, plumb-line in the yard 😉

 

+1.  I won't claim to be a precision rifle expert, but the only difference with me vs. the statement above is I'll use a yard-long bubble level and level it horizontally for the horizontal cross hair line and put it as far out as is reasonable, which doesn't have to be horribly far out.  25 yards has worked for me, but it may depend on how strong your scope is-- I tend to use relatively low power scopes, 16x and less.  Either method should work.

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Same concept as Spuhr.  As for using levels, if you have a quality base and quality optic, this type of tool will almost certainly get you a more accurate result than eyeballing a level.

 

https://arisakadefense.com/products/optic-leveler

 

Here's a 200 yd target shot with rifle set up using the Ariska.

 

 

target 8-28-15.jpg

Edited by ltdmstr

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26 minutes ago, ltdmstr said:

Same concept as Spuhr.  As for using levels, if you have a quality base and quality optic, this type of tool will almost certainly get you a more accurate result than eyeballing a level.

 

https://arisakadefense.com/products/optic-leveler

 

Here's a 200 yd target shot with rifle set up using the Ariska.

 

 

target 8-28-15.jpg

Yep pretty much an adjustable parallel.

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19 hours ago, chevrofreak said:

I mount the scope as level to the gun as possible using bubble levels on the reveiver and the elevation turret.  Then I set my laser lever with a crosshair pattern near a white wall as far away as I can practically get it and align the crosshairs with it before tightening my scope mounted bubble level down.    

I figured I had better show what I mean.  This laser level projects a crosshair, which gives you two frames of reference for alignment vs a plumb line, and the crosshairs are self leveling like a plumb line.    Having someone help you tighten your scope mounted level while you keep the reticle aligned makes it go much smoother. 

 

This laser level is approximately 25 yards away on my garage door.     This was a friends rifle, and now that his reticle is leveled, he is smacking plates dead center at distance while using holdovers. 

1012182141-2080x1170.jpg

1027181255-2080x1170.jpg

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6 hours ago, ltdmstr said:

Same concept as Spuhr.  As for using levels, if you have a quality base and quality optic, this type of tool will almost certainly get you a more accurate result than eyeballing a level.

With all do respect, your wrong about this. The human eye & brain are pretty amazing gear. This tool is still dependant on the machining of the scope itself. You can buy a gadget for $30-$100 that might work, or you can make something for $0 that will work. I have seem +$1000 scope that were not machined true. Posting a 200y target doesn't really help us either. 250y is about the closest target I see at any match. A misaligned reticle will only start to show effects much further down range.

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19 minutes ago, Delfuego said:

With all do respect, your wrong about this. The human eye & brain are pretty amazing gear. This tool is still dependant on the machining of the scope itself. You can buy a gadget for $30-$100 that might work, or you can make something for $0 that will work. I have seem +$1000 scope that were not machined true. Posting a 200y target doesn't really help us either. 250y is about the closest target I see at any match. A misaligned reticle will only start to show effects much further down range.

 

However you want to do it is fine with me.  But the problem with your method is not the human eye and brain.  It's the width of the laser and the lines on the reticle, and the ability to read them accurately.  If you're off by a thousandth of an inch, or a couple of thousandths of an inch at 25 yards, which is entirely likely, multiplied out to 200+ yards, it's going to be off by way more than the scope and base method.  In any event, neither is definitive until tested and verified.  And your comment about the 200 yard target doesn't make a lot of sense.  How much bigger do you think that group's going to be at another 50 yards, or another 200 yards?  Also, what distance do you zero at?  Most people In know start at 200 and work up their dope from there.

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