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Rings, Bases and Scopes Oh My!


by: Natchez Shooting Supplies

Having come from an extended family of hunters, I grew up shooting scoped rifles. Despite my familiarity with optics, rings and bases that mount a scope to a rifle always intimidated me. Evidently, my father was also wary as he always took our rifles the local gun shop and had their guy mount them up. I talked to my dad recently about this. He told me it always seemed like it would be too difficult which was bizarre coming from a man who once taught jet engine mechanics in the Navy. It wasn’t until I went to work in the shooting/hunting industry that I got past this fear. Once you have a grasp of the basics, it’s very easy to order the correct pieces as well as install them yourself.

Most rifle manufacturers make bolt action rifles in 2 primary action lengths, short and long. There are other action sizes like “micro-mauser”, “super-short magnum” and “medium” but these are most often a proprietary size to a particular manufacturer. For our purposes today the only thing we need to remember is that short actions are usually designed around the .308 Winchester cartridge. This means anything with an overall cartridge length of 2.80” or shorter is a short action cartridge. Long actions have traditionally been built around full sized rifle cartridges like the .30-06, and if a cartridge is longer than 2.80″, the rifle that shoots it is generally a long action gun. But are we talking about the rifle or the cartridge? The reason this is confusing is that some manufacturers don’t strictly adhere to this rule. For example, the .22-250 cartridge has been built on both short and long actions. It can be confusing. Before shopping for scope mounts you should know what action size your rifle is. Speaking in general terms the “. 308 rule” is usually accurate. This only really matters when talking about 1-piece ring mounts and integral mounts. 2-piece ring mounts bolt separately to the front and rear receiver rings and thus don’t have to match the overall length of the action.

One of the more straightforward types of mounting system is the ring mount. Many manufacturers build rifles that forgo the need for bases with receivers that are machined to accept proprietary types of ring mounts. Ruger has half moon cutouts. Sako has a tapered dovetail. Many rimfire rifles and air guns will have a 3/8” or 11mm dovetail depending on country of origin. Ring mounts are very easy to install.

The last kind of mount, and one that’s growing in popularity, is the integral mount. Incorporating the base and rings into a single rigid piece (usually made from tough aircraft grade aluminum) the integral mount is easy to use and install, but doesn’t always offer a lot of adjustability like a traditional ring/base combo does. Often this style of mount is marketed as “tactical”, with the ability to mount directly to a Picatinny rail on your favorite modern sporting rifle. DNZ offers a wide selection of integral mounts for traditional bolt actions and several of our experts have used them with excellent results.

With the diversity of scope mounts on the market, it’s easier than ever to purchase the correct hardware and install it yourself, especially if you use our ring & base finding tool. If you still find yourself in a quandary over what brand or style to purchase, never be afraid to consult an expert. You can even give us a call at 1-800-251-7839 and talk to one of our experts.


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