Mounting a scope on a rifle without a rail can be a daunting challenge, especially for those new to the world of firearms.
But it’s not impossible to do it yourself.
With this step-by-step guide, you’ll be mounting your optic on a rifle with no problems and reliably shooting targets accurately.
- Ensure the right mount type is chosen for your specific rifle
- Consult a professional gunsmith for significant modifications
- Familiarize yourself with scope rails, rings, and factory-drilled holes for a successful DIY project
And once you’re done, our guide to the best scopes for the 6.5 Creedmoor is ideal for those looking for a new optic.
What to Know Before You Start
So, the process requires knowledge of the various types of scope mounts, including rings, bases, and other mounting options.
It’s crucial to select the appropriate mount for your specific rifle to ensure accuracy and safety during use.
For serious modifications to your rifle, including adding a scope, consider having it done by a professional gunsmith. However, for those interested in learning the process for DIY scope mounting, this article will give you the guidance you need.
With the proper materials, an understanding of scope rails and rings, and knowledge of factory-drilled holes, mounting a scope on a rifle without a rail can be straightforward.
Warning: Use a Gunsmith If Making Modifications
When considering mounting a scope on a rifle without a rail, consulting a professional gunsmith can be the ideal step you would want to take. A gunsmith is a trained professional who can help with all aspects of firearms, including attaching a scope.
As a responsible gun owner, safety should be the top priority. You could easily damage your rifle or the scope if you attempt to modify your gun without the proper knowledge and equipment.
A gunsmith will not only ensure that the job is done correctly, but they’ll also be able to assess your rifle for any potential issues you might not notice. Additionally, an improper modification can negatively affect the accuracy of your shots, defeating the purpose of mounting a scope in the first place.
By visiting a gunsmith, you can avoid complications, protect your investment, and ultimately, increase the performance and safety of your rifle. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind and professional quality work regarding firearm modifications.
That said, if you want to learn to do it yourself and get your rifle sorted without heading out to the gunsmith, the steps below will be what you’re looking for.
DIY Scope Mounting Step by Step Guide
1. Drill The Holes
Before starting, ensure you have all the necessary tools and equipment, such as a vise, calipers, high-carbon drill bits, and thread taps.
Carefully measure and mark the receiver for hole placement using the calipers and jig. Then, take your time drilling the holes, ensuring they’re straight and debris-free.
2. Install the Base Plate
Next, attach the base plate to the drilled receiver using the thread taps. Make sure it’s secured tightly and aligned properly with the receiver. It’s essential to double-check this step, as any misalignment or looseness could cause issues when mounting the rail and scope.
3. Mount the Rail
Now, proceed to mount the rail, applying a bit of Loctite on the scope base before doing so to keep moisture out and mitigate rust from developing. Apply Loctite to the fasteners as well before tightening them down.
Though many modern rifles come pre-drilled or with easy-to-use jig setups, ensure you have the correct tools and accessories for your specific rifle.
4. Install the Rings and Scope
With the rail mounted securely, install the rings onto it, taking care to choose the correct size for your scope. Place the scope into the rings, then tighten them snugly, ensuring the eye relief is correct and the optic is level with a bubble level.
5. Sight in Your Scope
Finally, use a bore sighter or laser bore sighter to sight in your scope. This helpful device allows you to accurately align your scope with the rifle’s bore, making the sighting-in process much more straightforward.
Once completed, test out your newly mounted scope at the range for accuracy and make any necessary adjustments.
Necessary Materials to Mount the Scope
First off, have your rifle ready to install the mounting setup. Check to make sure it’s unloaded and compatible with the scope and rings you’ve chosen.
Scope and Rings
Next, you’ll need a riflescope and a set of compatible rings. The rings should be the correct size to fit your rifle and scope, ensuring a secure attachment.
Here are the tools you’ll need:
- A torque wrench to tighten the screws and prevent over-tightening, which can damage the scope or rifle
- Some Loctite to keep your screws in place after they’re tightened
- A screwdriver or Allen wrench for tightening screws, depending on what your rings require
- A vise to keep the receiver in place
- Calipers to precisely measure out the holes that’ll be drilled
- High-carbon drill bits and thread taps to drill and tap the receiver
Remember, using the right tools and securing materials will make mounting your scope much easier and more secure.
A Brief History of Scope Rails and Rings
Scope rails and rings have come a long way since their inception.
In the early days, scope rings were the primary method to mount a scope to a rifle. The rings would be attached directly to the rifle’s base mount, creating a firm connection between the scope and the firearm. This system dominated the market for quite some time.
As rifles evolved and became more versatile, new mounting systems were needed. That’s when scope rails were introduced. They were a game changer, providing more flexibility regarding scope placement and eye relief.
There are now two popular scope rails: Picatinny and Weaver. The more recent of the two, Picatinny rails feature wider, evenly spaced slots, while the Weaver rails have narrower slots with varied spacing. Both of these options offer more stability and customization compared to the older methods of mounting scopes.
These advancements have allowed shooters to customize their rifles to their exact preferences, making using the right scope for different situations easier. With the various mounting options available today, it’s become less challenging to mount a scope on a rifle without a rail.
Factory Drilled Holes
I recently mounted a scope on my rifle without a rail, and one method I used was taking advantage of the factory-drilled holes.
My rifle came with pre-drilled holes, which saved me a lot of time and effort. I simply had to align these holes with the ones on my scope and attach it with screws.
When you don’t have a rail, factory-drilled holes can be the next best thing when you don’t have a rail. First, you need to find where these holes are located on your rifle. Most rifles will have them on the top of the receiver. Do a quick check to ensure the scope and the holes are compatible.
Remove the plugs in the receiver and use a degreaser or acetone to degrease the receiver mounting holes (a pipe cleaner comes in handy here) and the fasteners for the rail. Dry the holes and the fasteners out, then mount the rail (or rings) with Loctite, like in step 3.
Always use the proper screw size and torque to prevent damage. It ensures that your scope is mounted securely and your shots are accurate.
During the mounting process, be sure to adjust the scope to be perfectly level with the rifle.
A quick tip: use a bubble level to determine the perfect level before tightening the screws. Such a tool helps to achieve precise alignment without any guesswork.
In summary, using factory-drilled holes is a practical, straightforward method to mount a scope without a rail. With the right tools and patience, you’ll have a secure and accurate setup in no time.
Different Types of Scope Rails and Rings
One of the crucial aspects to understand when mounting a scope on a rifle without a rail is learning about the different types of scope rails and rings. Here I’ll cover three popular types of rails: Picatinny, Weaver, and Dovetail.
The Picatinny rail is very popular among gun enthusiasts. Its versatility comes from the evenly spaced slots that offer many mounting options.
Over the years of working with these rails, I’ve found they work well with most scope bases. Picatinny rails are durable and designed to withstand heavy recoil, which keeps your scope secure even in tough situations.
Another rail option I frequently encounter is the Weaver rail. While similar to the Picatinny rail, its main difference is the narrower slots.
When it comes to scope bases, most Weaver-compatible bases can fit on a Picatinny rail, but not the other way around. That’s a crucial distinction you should keep in mind.
Now, let’s talk about the Dovetail rail. I noticed these rails are more prevalent in air rifles and rimfire rifles. The unique feature is the angled edges that create a tight fit for the scope rings.
This design choice makes for a very secure mount, a detail I always appreciate. Be aware that Dovetail rails come in various sizes, so picking the right scope rings is essential.
Do you need a rail to mount a scope?
No, you don’t necessarily need a rail to mount a scope on a rail-less rifle. There are other options, like using specialized scope rings or adapter mounts.
Can you mount a scope on any rifle?
You can mount a scope on most rifles, but it may require additional hardware or modifications. It’s essential to ensure compatibility between the rifle and the mounting system.
Do I need a Picatinny rail?
You do not need a Picatinny rail, but it’s a popular choice due to its versatility. Alternatives like Weaver rails or direct-to-receiver mountings can also work for mounting a scope.
Dakota Potts is a gunsmith, armorer, and gun rights advocate with nearly 10 years of experience. He is well respected in the industry and his work has appeared on various industry leading firearm publications. He enjoys learning about firearm history and technology. You can follow Dakota Potts on Youtube or see his Facebook.