How to Mount a Thermal Scope: All You Need To Know

Cover photo of how to mount a thermal scope

You may not know this, but many people are pretty intimidated by installing a thermal scope themselves. While some rifles come with pre-installed mounting areas, there’s no guarantee they will suit your needs. 

Just like buying a new car, you don’t just use the factory settings on your mirrors and seat. Instead, you make adjustments to optimize your driving experience; the same goes for thermal scopes.

If you’re looking to mount your brand-new thermal scope but don’t want to pay a gunsmith, the good news is that you can do it yourself with a bit of patience, the right equipment, and know-how.

How to Mount a Thermal Scope

Below, we’ll guide you step-by-step on how to mount your thermal scope properly. 

For this task, you’ll need to ensure you have the proper Allen key, Torx wrench, or Allen wrench compatible with the screws being used in your mounting system. We also recommend using a reticle leveler and a sturdy rest. And while a gun vice would be handy, it’s not necessary. 

So, before mounting, clean all contact surfaces, screw holes, rings, screws, and bases using a reliable degreaser such as Brakleen or Acetone. Important note: make sure to wear eye protection and gloves when handling harsh solvents.

Mounting on a Picatinny Rail

For mounting your thermal scope to a Picatinny rail, follow these steps below:

So, the first step is confirming compatibility. You want to ensure you have a Picatinny rail rather than another type of rail, such as a weaver. But, even if you have a Picatinny, double-check to ensure the mount or scope rings are compatible with your rail, and also ensure you have the correct ring size for your scope, typically 30mm or 1-inch.

If installing a scope with a large objective lens, check that your rig is tall enough to prevent the bell from resting or touching the barrel.

Most scope rings attach to a Picatinny rail primarily by fitting them over the rail at their base and tightening the screws with a tool. However, some rings have a quick-release lever you hand tighten instead. 

To better position the rings, you can use your scope as a reference, but once you start to tighten, make sure it’s not in your way. 

Also, if the scope will be on your rifle long-term, you can use blue Loctite to create a stronger bond between the screws and the mount.

Now, after the rings are mounted, mount your scope onto the rings, which should open at the top and bottom halves.

Once the scope is on, tighten lightly before looking through the area while the rifle is level, not leaning, and pointed straight. This part is where a gun vice could come in handy. However, if you don’t plan on switching scopes more than once or twice, you may not want to make that investment.

After you’re satisfied with the scope’s alignment, tighten the ring screws with about 15 to 18 pounds of torque, and once again, use blue Loctite for a better bond. (2)

Can You Mount a Thermal Monocular on a Rifle?

image of a thermal scope Monocular

Yes, you can mount a thermal monocular to your rifle if you already have a scope installed. Here are a couple of simple steps:

In Front of Your Scope

First, perform a safety check on your weapon, ensure it’s clear, and ensure the device is fully charged and turned on. Be sure to carefully handle the thermal monocular while removing and installing it to your scope. It’s very possible it can be rendered useless if it’s damaged or dropped.

Now, have the other pieces laid out and ready for you. In your case, there should be various pieces, such as:

  • Mounts
  • Adapters
  • Clean anti-static cloth
  • And with some models, a remote control

If your scope has an adapter installed on its end, you need to remove it. After, take your thermal monocular and remove its rubber eyepiece adapter.

Next, connect the bayonet fitting on the mounting adapter to your thermal monocular. The other end of your adapter should push and twist into the scope using the fitting.

Finally, aim the weapon downrange and target what you wish to see in detail. Place your eye into the thermal monocular eyepiece and manipulate the focus to find the optimal image enhancement setting. You can also use the magnification on the monocular to bring out more of your target’s details. (1)

Behind Your Scope

For this, also follow the first step mentioned above. After that, collect the fittings and ring screws that come with your thermal monocular.

Following that, ensure you clean the weapon and thermal monocular base, removing any dirt or grease with a clean cloth. (This would also be an opportune time to apply a tiny drop of rust-preventative oil or material to your base.)

Now, mount the base’s bottom half onto your rifle, locating the pre-drilled holes in the thermal monocular’s back and front upper halves.

Ensure that you make any necessary adjustments needed to align the holes properly. Then, using the ring screws, tighten the monocular to the mounting system. (As an option, you can apply a semi-permanent thread-freezing compound to ensure a tight fit.)

Double-check your aim and alignment by looking through the monocular and scope. And finally, tighten down your screws, but don’t over-tighten.

How To Zero In a Thermal Optic

Once you have successfully mounted your thermal scope, you’ll need to sight it. Make sure to check out our full article on how to zero in a thermal optic where we go over the process step by step.

How To Use a Thermal Scope

To see what to do next, check out our article on how to use a thermal scope where we go over proper targets, shooting distances and more to consider while using IR optics.

References

  1. How To Properly Mount a Riflescope, Retrieved From: https://vortexoptics.com/blog/how-to-properly-mount-a-riflescope.html
  2. Ashley McGee, The Firearm Industry Trade Association, Retrieved From: https://www.nssf.org/articles/set-your-sights-on-thermal-optics/

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