How to Level a Scope: Step-by-step Guide

How To Level a Scope

Installing a scope to a rifle is a pretty straightforward process, as there is no real challenge involved in it. You just simply need to plop the scope correctly within the scope rings, give it a good twist, and secure it with the help of appropriate tools.

Well, not so fast, my friend.

You better not rush in! While getting a scope on is like a breeze, there is one thing that can discourage you – making a scope perfectly level for those crazy shots. Now, this is where the real adventure actually begins. Yeah, it is like trying to teach a cat to do algebra. Tricky? Yes. Impossible? No.

Leveling a scope is a very interesting process when you have the right tools with you. So, let’s not waste a second more and get into it!

How to Level a Riflescope

how to level a scope on a rifle

When leveling a scope, you are ensuring that the crosshairs of the scope are perfectly aligned with the horizontal lines and vertical planes. Do you see a plus sign when you look through the scope? Yes, that is exactly what a reticle is.

When that reticle is not aligned with the planes correctly, we call it a canted firearm. It refers to the act of tilting or angling a firearm or its scope away from the earth’s gravity.

When the firearm is canted, it can have a significant impact on shooting accuracy, especially at longer distances. So what do we do? We get rid of it!

I have shared a number of possible methods to level the scope, but before that, you need to stabilize the rifle on any solid surface.

Solid Foundation

First thing first, you don’t want a crooked reticle as you don’t want your bullets flying around aimlessly. So, make sure you are not setting up your shop on a crooked table.

If you think the table is acting up and not playing nice, do not be afraid to give it a confidence boost by shimming it up! If you are still skeptical about the stability of the table or any available flat surface, just switch to a gun vise.

Second Direction

If your scope has a flat bottom, you are lucky! Most modern optics have this nifty feature that assists you in how to level your rifle. This section on the underside of the scope serves as your ticket to a level scope.

Before I tell you the details, I need you to buy some tiny triangular tools that will snugly fit into the grooves of the Picatinny rails on your rifle. We call them triangle scope level.

Now, let me get you through the basic steps to let you understand how this system works. Take the triangular tool and gently slide it into the grove of your rifle’s Picatinny rail.

As you do it, you will notice that the flat underside of your scope will dearly welcome the tool without any issue. As soon as the tool slides in, it will start giving a little nudge to the scope’s flat part.

So, keep nudging until both the scope and the tool become best buddies – tight and flush. Once they are snugly pressed against each other, you know you have leveled the scope.

However, this technique might present challenges related to dimensions. Factors like the height of your scope within the mounting system can affect the process. Sometimes, the rail section might not fit between the scope base and the rail, etc.

Bubble Level Method

scope leveling

How does it work? I will explain it in detail later, but first, let us make sure that your rifle is in a safe condition. So, remove the magazine and the bolt and recheck the chamber and the action. After you are sure of its safety, eliminate the rifle’s movement by using a vise or anything else for stability.

The bubble level typically has a small air bubble inside a liquid-filled vial that helps in checking the level of the scope. Instead of using two bubble levels like we do in ‘The Wheeler Professional Reticle Leveling System,’ you need to use only one bubble level for this method of line level.

Why only one? Because only one bubble level is enough here to level the scope according to the proper plane. Just so you know, you can only use a line level if your rifle has a flat spot on it.

It guides you on the following:

  • Horizontal alignment
  • Cant correction
  • Parallax errors
  • Long-range accuracy

So, first of all, level the rifle in the vise and put the line level on the completely flat part of your gun. To level the scope of your bolt action rifles, just place the one reference level on an elevation turret cap at a 90-degree angle to the scope tube, and voila!

Plumb Bob Method

how to level a rifle scope

If you are done with setting your rifle on a flat surface, next, summon your inner physicist and hang a plumb bob across your yard or garage.

The plumb bob doesn’t have to be anything fancy; just raid the toolbox and find something of suitable weight for hanging. Make sure it is perfectly perpendicular to the ground.

Now starts the fun part. Just take a seat behind your scope and look through it. Start comparing the vertical cross-hair with the plumb bob. What’s the goal here? The goal is to get both of them perfectly aligned.

Hold on, you will get there! Just keep on making windage and elevation adjustments.

When the rifle is level, confirm eye relief, insert scope ring screws, and start tightening down everything while your setup is still level. Remember! You must not tighten the screws until you get rid of the leveling error.

The Segway Reticle Leveler

how to mount a scope level

Again, do not forget to confirm that your rifle is in a safe condition. After confirmation, install the mount base and the lower half rings. Place the scope in the lower halves and install the top half rings. Tighten the screws.

Read the given guidelines in the manual and place the brass bar of the Segway reticle Leveler on the base of the scope mount. Adjust the scope and rifle so that the bubble level on the Segway is aligned. After you are done leveling your scope, tighten the screws of the scope mount, zero the rifle, and shoot!

The Wheeler Professional Reticle Leveling System

Wheeler Precision Levels to level a rifle scope

If you are using a wheeler reticle leveling system, place the bigger reference level on the rifle’s barrel and the smaller bubble level on the action of the gun. Now, just start observing. The aim here is to level horizontal alignment first.

If the bubble is centered between the two lines or marks on the vial, it is an indication of the correct level. It means that the reticle is aligned with the same horizontal plane as your target.

However, if the bubble is not centered it means the rifle is canted or not level. So, you can fix it by adjusting the scope until the bubble level on the barrel clamp level is properly aligned.

Rifle Scope Leveling: Myths and Mistakes

Rifle Scope Leveling
  • Common but erroneous leveling tricks involve using everyday items like telephone poles or fence posts as references. While they might appear perfectly vertical, they are rarely aligned to perfection.
  • Another is that the importance of leveling errors becomes apparent when shooting at longer distances. No, Andrew, you will likely never notice if the crosshair is aligned or not at this much distance.
  • People might tell you that leveling a scope with the help of a bubble level is not enough; instead, you should use plumb bobs only.
  • Another misconception is that the bubble-level method works on all types of rifles, and it is the only proper way. Well, that is not the case, as not all rifles come with flat sections.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know there are multiple ways of leveling a scope, do yourself a favor and go with the one that suits your rifle the best.

Leveling a scope relies on precise adjustments rather than on common misconceptions that I shared in this article. For accurate shooting, use the right tools and the right method. Trust me, spending an extra 20 dollars will only bring you happiness.

Related Guide:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top