The huge number of different styles and brands available means finding the best Scope rings, bases and all round mounting system for your rifle can often be just as difficult as trying to figure out which rifle or optics are best for your purposes. For many people, this simply leads them to choose whatever mounting system is recommended by the scope manufacturer.
On the surface, this choice seems to make plenty of sense, as it ensures that the mount will perfectly match with the scope. Nonetheless, while going this route is almost always a good choice, it still may not always be the best choice due to the many high quality aftermarket Scope Rings and bases on the market—many of which remain incredibly popular with professional competition shooters. In fact, by far the majority of the top precision rifle shooters virtually never use anything but aftermarket scope mounts from top brands like Badger, LaRue, Nightforce and Seekins.
Best Scope Rings, Mounts & Bases
NightForce ULTRALITE Titanium
30mm scope rings
Vortex Optics Precision Matched
30mm scope rings
Burris XTR 1 inch
Value for Money
Leupold QR Rings & Base
Quick release scope mount
Some other great scope mount choices:
- LaRue Tactical QD Cantilever
- Burris AR-PEPR
- Springfield Armory M1A
Just because a product is popular with professionals doesn't necessarily mean its right for everyone. So, to help you determine what will work best for you, today we'll present everything you need to know about choosing the best scope rings, mounts and bases. Before we get into reviewing the top products though, it's first necessary to provide a bit more background information on the different types of scope mounts, rings and bases, how they work and the things you'll need to consider when buying them.
The Importance of Choosing the Best Scope Mounting System
More often than not, the scope mounting system is the weakest link in the chain, as even if you have the highest quality, top-end rifle and optics, you'll still get less than perfect results if they are not paired with a quality mounting system. A tight, secure connection is key to a straight, accurate shot. If the connection is slightly loose or doesn't quite fit properly then you're likely to get inconsistent results and not achieve the tight groupings you desire.
The problem is that even an ill-fitting mount will often seem quite tight and secure, and it's not until you actually get out in the field or at the shooting range that you'll realize there's a problem. At the very least you're likely to find that the recoil causes the scope to shift slightly in the mount, thus throwing your shots off and requiring you to re-zero in the scope. On the other hand, if it happens while out hunting in the field, you could easily end up wounding an animal instead of achieving an accurate kill shot.
Therefore, it makes absolutely no sense to be cheap or lazy when it comes to scope rings and bases, as putting a bit of time into finding a high quality mounting system will go a long way towards improving your results.
Fixed vs. Detachable Scope Mounting Systems
The first choice you'll need to make is on whether you'd prefer a fixed or detachable type of mount.
Detachable mounts, including both scope rings and detachable bases, offer much more versatility, as they allow you to easily switch your scope from one rifle to another. Of course, you'll still need to re-sight the scope in any time you put it on a different rifle, but many people still enjoy the convenience of being able to put their favorite scope onto any of their rifles. As well, having a detachable scope also allows you to easily use the rifle's open sights anytime you wish.
On the other hand, if you plan on only rarely or never taking the scope off the rifle, you may want to consider a fixed mount, as they generally weigh a bit less and are slightly sturdier. For some people, this makes fixed mounts the best scope mounts, but really, the choice between a fixed or detachable mount really comes down to whether or not you plan on ever taking the scope off.
An Introduction to Scope Rings
There are two main types of scope rings; vertical split and horizontal split. The vertical split rings are generally considered to be slightly stronger, as each half of the ring directly connects to the scope base. Still, while stronger, they are also a bit more difficult to install. On the other hand the horizontal split rings are usually simple to install. The bottom half of the ring screws or clamps directly to the base to hold the scope, while the top half of the ring clamps down over the scope.
The two halves of the ring are generally connected using two to six screws. In most cases, the more screws the better, as the extra screws will ensure the scope stays secure even if one of the other screws starts to loosen. Allen-head screws are generally the most common, although you'll also find slotted screws and Torx screws. Of the three, Torx are usually the best as they are much tougher to strip.
In addition to the standard rings, more and more manufacturers are not starting to produce tactical rings, which are designed to permanently maintain zero, meaning you can even take the scope off and on without needing to re-zero it back in. Originally designed for military purposes, tactical rings are connected using a sturdy 'backbone' that makes them the strongest and sturdiest option out there, but also the heaviest. In fact, due to the added weight and size, they're really only recommended for hunting if you're using a big, heavy scope.
Scopes Mounts and Bases
Depending on the type of mounting system you choose, you may also need to pick up a scope base. Some scope rings come with integral bases attached to the bottom, whereas others require a separate base. The bases are most often a one or two-piece system, although you'll also find rifles that come with a base built directly into the receiver.
In terms of mounting methods, you'll need to make sure that the mounting system you choose is compatible with your rifle, as there are a variety of rifle scope mount types. Some of the most popular include the Picatinny rail and Weaver scope mounts. However, for added strength and stability, many professional shooters tend to go with rifles that use the classic dovetail mount.
Determining the Correct Ring Height
When buying scope rings, you'll need to consider the size of the scope you'll be using them with, as this will determine the height of the rings you need. Your scope should be mounted as close to the barrel as possible, without actually touching it. This means that larger, more powerful scopes will require taller rings to achieve the proper height.
Generally, if the scope is mounted too high, you won't be able to see through it properly with your cheek tight to the gun, causing your accuracy to suffer. On the other hand, if you buy rings that are too low, your scope will hit the barrel before it is secured in the rings.
In order to determine the proper ring height, it's first necessary to measure the scope height. To do this, it's best to measure from one edge of the scope body to the other across the front of the objective lens. Then, divide this number in half to find the scope height, which is the minimum height that the centerline of your scope needs to be above the barrel.
Scope Body (across objective lens) / 2 = Minimum height scope needs to be above the barrel
Once you've determined your scope height, you know basically about what size of rings you'll need for proper clearance. For instance, if the scope height is one inch, you can use any combination of base and rings that is at least one inch. Keep in mind though that some manufacturers measure their rings in millimeters while others use inches, so you may need to do the conversion.
In most cases, the ring height will be the most important factor, as often you'll only find one base for your chosen type of rings that will fit your rifle's mount. However, make sure you pay attention to the size of the base, as this will contribute to the overall height so it's important to take it into account. As well, it's also important to look at the actual clearance of the rings, as many manufacturers use slightly different measurement standards.
Although the actual size may vary slightly based on the contour of your rifle barrel and the make and model of your scope, the following should serve as a good rule of thumb for deciding the proper ring height:
- Low Rings: Usually fits scopes 40mm and under on a standard barrel
- Medium Rings: 42-50mm scopes on a standard barrel
- High Rings: 50mm+ scopes on a standard barrel
- Extra High Rings: 55-60mm+ scopes on a standard barrel, or 50mm+ scopes on a heavy barrel rifle
Choosing Your Materials
When buying scope rings and bases, you've got a number of choices of materials, including a variety of steel, aluminum and alloys. Other options include zinc-alloy and sintered steel rings, both of which are cast and then machined to the proper specification. As they require less machining, both are generally less expensive than steel or aluminum. Of course, price isn't everything, as they're also not quite as strong.
High-grade alloy, solid steel and aluminum rings and bases are machined to provide a higher quality product. Although solid steel was often the go-to choice for many people due to its ultra-strong nature, you can now find some high-grade aluminum and titanium alloy rings that are almost equally as strong while weight quite a bit less than steel.
Scope Rings & Bases Reviews
Now that we've covered the basics, it's finally time to look at the products themselves. As the market is absolutely flooded with rings, bases and mounts nowadays, you can easily find a ton of outstanding products in every price range. That being said, all of the following models come highly recommended and are definitely amongst the best out there.
Best 30mm Scope Rings:
Nightforce ULTRALITE 30mm Titanium Scope Rings
Lightweight and ultra-strong thanks to their titanium-alloy construction, the awesome Nightforce ULTRALITE rings are quickly becoming a favorite amongst hunters and professional precision shooters. Although these rings may be at the higher end of the price range, there's no doubt that they're well worth it. Like all other Nightforce products, these rings are truly top of the line.
Vortex Optics Precision Matched Scope Rings
Vortex Optics is another high-end brand that comes recommended by the pros, and after checking out these Precision Matched rings, you'll definitely see why. The rings are made from a lightweight, super-strong aluminum alloy and CNC machined for a perfect, secure fit. As well, the hex head screws are easy to tighten and should resist stripping which just adds to an already outstanding product. Keep in mind though that these rings will only work with a Picatinny rail, not a Weaver-style rail.
Best Scope Rings for the Money
Burris XTR 1-inch Scope Rings
Burris XTR or extreme tactical rings offer excellent strength and durability, while also being incredibly affordable. Sure, you could always pick up a set of rings for ten bucks, you do get what you pay for, so why not spend just a bit more to pick up these outstanding rings. Although they're made from aluminum, these rings aren't quite as strong as aluminum-alloy, but should still be able to stand up to years of strong recoil.
Best Quick Release Scope Mount
Leupold QR Rings & Base
Quick release mounts are becoming more popular, especially for anyone who frequently takes their scope off, and among the many options, the Leupold QR Rings and QR base remain the best. Not only are they incredibly reasonably priced, but the sturdy steel construction ensures a strong and secure fit. Leupold scope mounts are some of the most respected for a reason, just like this is the most popular quick release mounting system for a very good reason.
Best of the Rest
LaRue Tactical QD Cantilever Scope Mount
If full tactical rings are what you're after, this is definitely amongst the best out there. Like other tactical rings, you can easily take your scope off and on without having to worry about re-zeroing it back in. Still, what makes this one really special is the quick detachment mechanism, as the cantilever makes it super easy to take on and off, making it amongst the best QD scope mount on the market.
If you're looking for an excellent mounting system for your AR, the specially-designed Burris AR-P.E.P.R. more than fits the bill. With a quick-detachment system and top rings for both Picatinny rail and flat top, it's easy to mount, versatile and strong enough to stand up to almost anything.
Springfield Armory M1A Scope Mount
We thought we'd throw this one in just for fun, in case anyone is looking for the best M1A scope mount. While there are numerous other options out there, if you've got a Springfield M1A, virtually nothing beats the manufacturer's original, both in terms of price and quality.
At the end of the day, finding the best scope rings and bases does take a bit of work, as you'll need to put some thought into all of the various options to determine what's most important to you, whether that be strength, price, versatility, etc. Hopefully by now you at least have a better idea of where to start your search.
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