Rifle Scopes  Scope Leveling: F***!

LongRangeJunky

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Do you ever feel like you can never get a particular optic level? I have a Razor Gen 2 on my DT SRS A1 and despite using feeler gauges to level I just don't feel right looking through it. I have a PST on my RPR and she looks and feels good and shoots straight. My DT SRS has only been out to 500 yards and prints teeny little groups but I swear she is sitting at teeny tiny cant. It could just be me but was wondering what guys do when they know their optic is level but doesn't "feel" like it is when behind the rifle. I don't really want to start ANOTHER scope leveling thread, just curious what the process is to get your mind to believe what the tools you have used tell you!
 

Tyler Kemp

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Here's what I do.

1) Hang a plumb line

2) Get comfy behind your gun

3) loosen scope rings so you can align crosshairs with plumb line

4) tighten rings, make sure nothing moves

5) install level while crosshairs match plumb line


Usually fiddling with two bolts to tighten your level down kinda sucks. I made my own design that has a hinge on one side, and only one bolt to tighten:

7rNLs9R.jpg
 

PDXGS

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Here's how I do it:
I use a newish deck of playing cards stacked under a scope turret housing- the scope sits perched on the (already attached & properly torqued) lower ring segments just sitting on the card stack.
I place a small level on my Pic rail and another on top of the elevation turret. Match the levels. Install the upper ring segments and torque them down.
Remove playing cards.

I'll take that to the range and compare against a plum line and do an elevation check on a target at 200-300 yds.

Scopes like the Sig Tango 6 with Level indicator are nice too!
 

goosed

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Just a thought:

Your scope might be perfectly level to the gun... and that may be the problem.

Each stock/buttpad can sit in your shoulder pocket differently. This particular stock may be causing the rifle to cant slightly while shouldered.

There are tools to verify the exact degree of cant(if any), but I wouldn't bother as a slightly canted rifle really isn't a big deal and may even change with every different position (standing, prone, sitting, etc.).

The easiest solution is to adjust the scope to be level to the ground(your eye) while shouldered in the position you shoot the most rather than level to the rifle. This will ensure everything "feels right". It also minimizes the effect the cant has further down range.

Sent from my SM-G930P using Tapatalk

 

79steeler

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    Just a thought:

    Your scope might be perfectly level to the gun... and that may be the problem.

    Each stock/buttpad can sit in your shoulder pocket differently. This particular stock may be causing the rifle to cant slightly while shouldered.

    There are tools to verify the exact degree of cant(if any), but I wouldn't bother as a slightly canted rifle really isn't a big deal and may even change with every different position (standing, prone, sitting, etc.).

    The easiest solution is to adjust the scope to be level to the ground(your eye) while shouldered in the position you shoot the most rather than level to the rifle. This will ensure everything "feels right". It also minimizes the effect the cant has further down range.

    Sent from my SM-G930P using Tapatalk

    This is good advice and probably why you feel the way you do.
     

    steve123

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    Things I've seen..

    The reticle could be canted a degree or two off "in" the scope. Fairly common.

    If you are a right handed shooter, with the reticle actually level, it will appear canted slightly low on the left horizontal. At least that's the way they look to me. I think it just looks that way because our faces are cocked clockwise a little on the cheekpiece???
     

    metal2meat

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    I'll second what goosed said! Leveling the scope to the rifle can result in it not feeling natural. I believe the HMFIC (Frank) of this site talks about it in one of the training videos. Most of us shoot a slight cant or the stock design results in a slight cant. I get behind the rifle with my eyes closed, when I'm comfortable, I open my eyes and adjust eye relief. When I have that right, I do the same on a plumb line or my neighbors garage door to set the reticle verticle. After the scope is cinched down I set the level to the reticle.

    I use TPS rings frequently because they're indexed and their directions allow you to tighten the rings and the scope will not move.
     

    Patty

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    Here's what i do, because I've experienced a reticle inside the scope being off just enough that it doesn't feel right when the scope is showing level. This way you don't need a range or distance to aim at a plumb line.

    1) Set your rifle up in front of a plain light colored wall. with a plumb line hung between the wall and the end of your stock. Make sure your rifle is level, or you have it adjusted to your natural fit. Either is fine.
    2) Shine a bright flashlight through the front of your scope and turn your eyepiece until it focuses the reticle clearly on the wall. I usually tape the flashlight to the barrel to keep it steady while i work.
    3) Line the reticle up with the plumb line and tighten down your mounts,
    4) Done.
     

    Jerry R

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    Actually, plumbing or leveling your scope off the reticle is the incorrect method of doing this to maintain adjustment precision. If you adjust off your reticle and it is canted as little as 1 degree your elevation turret will not be at the 12:00 position. At that point when an elevation adjustment is dialed your reticle will not be tracking straight up and down, it will be tracking at the same angle that your reticle is tilted.
    Using a method whereby leveling it off a flat machined surface on the scope itself is far more accurate.
     

    Patty

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    Actually, plumbing or leveling your scope off the reticle is the incorrect method of doing this to maintain adjustment precision. If you adjust off your reticle and it is canted as little as 1 degree your elevation turret will not be at the 12:00 position. At that point when an elevation adjustment is dialed your reticle will not be tracking straight up and down, it will be tracking at the same angle that your reticle is tilted.
    Using a method whereby leveling it off a flat machined surface on the scope itself is far more accurate.

    That makes sense to me. So why are others in the industry recommending the other way?
    https://kahntrol.com/leveling-a-reticle/
     

    RoterJager

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    I believe it depends on what you are using to adjust elevation and windage. If I were just using the reticle for my adjustments, I’d probably level the reticle. If just using turrets I’d level the scope so the erector is moving level.

    I adjust elevation with the turrets and hold wind. I level the scope so the erector moves level


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     

    dirthead1

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    Actually, plumbing or leveling your scope off the reticle is the incorrect method of doing this to maintain adjustment precision. If you adjust off your reticle and it is canted as little as 1 degree your elevation turret will not be at the 12:00 position. At that point when an elevation adjustment is dialed your reticle will not be tracking straight up and down, it will be tracking at the same angle that your reticle is tilted.
    Using a method whereby leveling it off a flat machined surface on the scope itself is far more accurate.

    Jerry,

    What would be the best way to do this with a PM ii 5-25? Feeler gauges between the scope rail and the flat on bottom of scope?
     

    Jerry R

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    Jerry,

    What would be the best way to do this with a PM ii 5-25? Feeler gauges between the scope rail and the flat on bottom of scope?

    I set a machinist level on the flat top section of the main tube at the illumination assembly and compare it to a second one on the bolt raceways. On an action with a machined integral rail you can use the rail but this is not recommended on a Remington action unless the holes have been indicated and trued.
     

    super_poot

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    Trust me, it's anything but simple.

    I meant its a simple solution to the problem of trying to get an external level aligned with your erector travel and or reticle.

    So why don't more manufacturers do it? Why does't S&B do it? Correct me if I'm wrong, I don't know that your don't do it.

    I am just curious as to why its not popular, it really seems like the best place for a level, the place that you are already looking, through the scope.
    I know that USO has it as an option and that the new Sigs have some kind of an internal cant indicator with lights or something.
     

    strike33

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    Do you ever feel like you can never get a particular optic level? I have a Razor Gen 2 on my DT SRS A1 and despite using feeler gauges to level I just don't feel right looking through it. I have a PST on my RPR and she looks and feels good and shoots straight. My DT SRS has only been out to 500 yards and prints teeny little groups but I swear she is sitting at teeny tiny cant. It could just be me but was wondering what guys do when they know their optic is level but doesn't "feel" like it is when behind the rifle. I don't really want to start ANOTHER scope leveling thread, just curious what the process is to get your mind to believe what the tools you have used tell you!

    I have the same setup and it doesn't "feel" level even though it is. Had the same issue with a Gen 2 on a custom Badger. They are level but seem to just appear canted to the left
     

    Patty

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    I was just fiddling with my razor gen 2 because I previously had it leveled by reticle to a plumb.
    I leveled it on top of a deck of business cards. And if I measure with a level on top of the elevation turret with the cap off the level shows it is not perfectly level. And when I look through the glass, the reticle appears slightly canted. I’ve never had trouble shooting at a distance with this scope, so I’m not sure what to make of it.
     

    Ayoung1

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    Jerry,

    What would be the best way to do this with a PM ii 5-25? Feeler gauges between the scope rail and the flat on bottom of scope?
    This is what I have always done, I've never had a scope that wasn't level to the rifle/mount.

     

    Tyler Kemp

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    Folks are making this way too complex. I've seen expensive scopes where the reticle isn't perfectly lined up with the scope tube or knobs.

    I don't understand what putting shims under a scope is going to do any better than just getting comfortable behind your gun (as most folks will cant the recoil pad into their shoulder pocket), then lining up your crosshairs with something known level or truly vertical.
     
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    Sheldon N

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    My process....

    Put rifle onto heavy duty tripod with hard plate chassis mount.
    Hang a plumb line and align reticle to plumb line,
    Clamp the bubble level on the scope tube.
    With the rifle still on the tripod mount, run the scope through the elevation travel range to see if the reticle tracks true with the plumb line.

    With my MPA chassis I'll align the scope so that the scope bubble level and the bubble level on the chassis match. I adjust buttpad cant on the chassis to make it comfortable.
    With my Manners stock I just cant the stock a few degrees so the buttpad fits my shoulder nicely and so that the scope bubble level is level when I get behind the rifle in a natural position.

    Key thing to remember... the only leveling error that really matters is when you pull the trigger the scope should be level to gravity. If you're dialing for elevation level scope means the erector travel path. If you're holding over level scope means a level reticle. Rifle cant underneath is a non-issue in comparison.
     

    Mute

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    I do a tall target test and then check my turret's accuracy at varying distances. If everything is kosher I'm done. I don't care how it feels or looks if I know it dials and holds correctly. Shoot your gun and do your testing. If everything lines up, just go about your business. I know a lot of precision shooters tend to be OCD about quite a few things but if it shoots properly that's all that matters and it's better to spend your time practicing than tinkering around with your gear.
     

    SmokyJoe

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    Whatever technique you use, if your ‘plumb’ reticle does not bisect your bore, you will have compromised precision at distances other than your zero. IOW, a canted rifle with a plumb reticle is technically less precise at extended distances than a non-canted rifle with a plumb reticle.
     

    Sheldon N

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    Whatever technique you use, if your ‘plumb’ reticle does not bisect your bore, you will have compromised precision at distances other than your zero. IOW, a canted rifle with a plumb reticle is technically less precise at extended distances than a non-canted rifle with a plumb reticle.

    Totally wrong. It's the other way around. And the magnitude of the difference between the two is on the order of something like 5 to 1 or more.
     

    SmokyJoe

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    Run the trig with a rifle canted 45 degrees and you’ll see what I mean. 45 deg is an exagerration, but it proves the point. Your reticle and your bore and gravitational pull all should be in the same plane.
     

    Sheldon N

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    Run the trig with a rifle canted 45 degrees and you’ll see what I mean. 45 deg is an exagerration, but it proves the point. Your reticle and your bore and gravitational pull all should be in the same plane.

    I hate the math debates on stuff like this. Math often skips the logic underlying the issue.

    If you cant the rifle under the scope, but then re-level the scope, all you've done is create a horizontal offset. Barrel no longer sits underneath the scope. Gun gets zeroed at 100 yards, but that left/right error reappears when you shoot farther than 100 yards. At 200 yards the left/right error will be exactly the amount of horizontal offset from bore to scope, then for every extra 100 yards you shoot it adds another equal amount of offset. It's a linear problem - no trig involved because the scope is level to gravity, the erector travel you dialed for a come up is level to gravity, and the arc of the bullet is level to gravity. There's no canting of the ballistics happening, just a left/right offset.

    Now when you cant the scope what happens is you are moving two points relative to each other... the 100 yard zero starting point and then the new dialed elevation for distance. at 1000 yards those two points might be 30 feet apart from each other on target. If those two points on target no longer align vertically with each other what you've done is create a cant in your ballistic solution. You've sent the bullet on an arc that doesn't match up with gravity and what the bullet is actually going to do. That's why scope cant matters so much and the system is so sensitive to it, you are moving two points that are quite a distance apart from each other at the target plane. In terms of the effect, at 1000 yards just 1 degree of cant can create a 6 inch drift of the bullet impact. You'd need the barrel to be offset under the scope by over half an inch to match the same error.

     

    BigJohn141

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    I bought this tool off amazon, it’s basically the same as the sphur. I mounted my Vortex amg in a set of ARC M10 rings in under 5 minutes and it appears perfectly straight to me. I also checked it with a couple of levels and they show dead on.
     

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    lash

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    Run the trig with a rifle canted 45 degrees and you’ll see what I mean. 45 deg is an exagerration, but it proves the point. Your reticle and your bore and gravitational pull all should be in the same plane.

    No, you do the trig and a provide a full explanation with drawings trying to prove your point. We've already been through this and know the answer.

    Let me ask you, how do you propose to keep your rifle 100% plumb all the time when you are not shooting off of a bench or prone? The concept of level perpendicular to gravity is all well and good until you go out into the real world where the rifle isn't on a flat surface and is held by your two hands and a shoulder pocket. In other words, your idea is what a lot of people do and if all they ever do is shoot prone, bench, or something like F-class, then they will never realize any limitation. Take that same setup and shoot from standing, sitting, kneeling, or other compromised position and try to hold that rifle perfectly perpendicular while still maintaining proper npa. Unless you have a completely adjustable butt plate, it isn't happening.

    FWIW, Frank had a pretty neat little illustration with the math all done for you that he posted a few years back, but that was on one of the other iterations of SH, so I cannot lead you to it.

    And, as you already know, the cant being discussed is usually somewhere around 2 degrees and not 45. We all know the math we have to do when shooting with the rifle extremely canted. It's a different beast than what we are discussing, so don't use that as your example.

    EDIT: I was interrupted and took too long to reply. Sheldon did an admirable job of saying it correctly.
     

    scudzuki

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    If it's only off a little, it is far more important that you fire the rifle with the turret or the reticle plumb (depending on whether you're dialing or holding your elevation corrections, and with your Gen 2 the reticle is likely perfectly aligned with the turret) than if the vertical stadia intersects the barrel bore centerline exactly.
     
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    SmokyJoe

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    Man I hate eatin’ crow. But, lash and Sheldon et al, you’re right, plumb reticle is more important than plumb rifle. Technically, I’m right, but in practical terms, and for most shooters, I’m wrong. OP, sorry to have dropped an impractical ideal into your thread.
     
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    super_poot

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    So why don't they just put the level in the damn scope, then they can make sure the level matches the reticle and the elevation travel. Makes this process much easier.

    Maybe I''m missing something?
     

    goosed

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    So why don't they just put the level in the damn scope, then they can make sure the level matches the reticle and the elevation travel. Makes this process much easier.

    Maybe I''m missing something?
    Honest question...

    How much more would you be willing to pay for a scope with an internal level vs the same model without?

    Sent from my SM-G930P using Tapatalk

     

    super_poot

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    Honest question...

    How much more would you be willing to pay for a scope with an internal level vs the same model without?

    Sent from my SM-G930P using Tapatalk

    Guess it just depends, if I'm purchasing a top tier scope for $3k+ I would really have no problem paying a couple hundred bucks to add an internal level. On an el cheapo, why even bother. All I'm really asking is why not? Is there a real reason. You can't tell me there is no market for it or it would cost to much. The S&B guy just said it wasn't simple. You are telling be that most people would rather dick around with a $30 POS level on their $2500 scope. Come on S&B, Nightforce, Vortex, Minox etc. put the damn thing in the scope, so I don't have to screw around with it for a weekend only to break the POS off on the first barricade I shove my rifle through.
     

    alwaywatchyoursix

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    Guess it just depends, if I'm purchasing a top tier scope for $3k+ I would really have no problem paying a couple hundred bucks to add an internal level. On an el cheapo, why even bother. All I'm really asking is why not? Is there a real reason. You can't tell me there is no market for it or it would cost to much. The S&B guy just said it wasn't simple. You are telling be that most people would rather dick around with a $30 POS level on their $2500 scope. Come on S&B, Nightforce, Vortex, Minox etc. put the damn thing in the scope, so I don't have to screw around with it for a weekend only to break the POS off on the first barricade I shove my rifle through.

    Sig 2nd Gen scopes have a feature called LevelPlex or something that is an internal level. No idea how it is implemented because I don't own one.
     

    wrasseman

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    USO used to have an option for an internal bubble level in the scope. Check their website and if you don't see it call them, they may be able to help.
     

    spife7980

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    Guess it just depends, if I'm purchasing a top tier scope for $3k+ I would really have no problem paying a couple hundred bucks to add an internal level. On an el cheapo, why even bother. All I'm really asking is why not? Is there a real reason. You can't tell me there is no market for it or it would cost to much. The S&B guy just said it wasn't simple. You are telling be that most people would rather dick around with a $30 POS level on their $2500 scope. Come on S&B, Nightforce, Vortex, Minox etc. put the damn thing in the scope, so I don't have to screw around with it for a weekend only to break the POS off on the first barricade I shove my rifle through.


    Sure its easy to stick a level in the scope. Whats difficult is to get that level in perfect accordance with true level. I mean hell, look at the differences in level between the reticle and erector on some scopes. Thats exactly why we tall target/tracking test our gear as has already been discussed. Its easy enough to get it close, you can do that with your bare eyes.

    But if you get a level inside a $3k dollar scope and it isnt level then youre going to raise absolute hell, wont you? No manufacturer is going to sign up for that as the SB rep has eluded to. Not to mention that some of those bubble levels arent any more accurate than your brains natural understanding of whats level.
     

    SlimySquirrel

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    Anyone tried the Arisaka Scope Leveler ?

    Looks a good little tool and easy to carry. Doesn't depend on plumb lines or level benches....
     

    EDDK9

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    Anyone tried the Arisaka Scope Leveler ?

    Looks a good little tool and easy to carry. Doesn't depend on plumb lines or level benches....

    Yes, it works good if you have a mount with plenty of clearance between the base and scope. Feeler gauges do the exact same thing, just a bit more involved getting the correct “stack”. However, it works better for tighter clearances.

     

    FourT6and2

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    You can get the same thing as the Arisaka tool (and other brands) at McMaster Carr. For half the price. But a set of feeler gauges or playing cards work well too. Like someone above said, the Arisaka-type levels only work if your scope is super high off your rail or mount. I have the smaller one and it doesn't really fit under a typical 5-25x scope.
     

    BravoSierra

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    I always had this problem and I swear the reticle is always canted. Probably because i had a scope that actually had a canted reticle and im just paranoid now. But to maintain my sanity I have been using the Arisaka, then following up the plumb bob. Its a tiny bit of pain, but not as much as constantly readjusting the scope.