Low vs Medium vs High scope rings - PROS/CONS?


May 26, 2011, 02:48 AM
Hello everyone. Just wanted to know what the pros and cons are of having a low, medium, or high mounted scope using specific rings. Thanks in advance!

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General Geoff
May 26, 2011, 03:41 AM
Generally speaking, use the lowest rings that allow a given scope to clear the receiver/barrel of the rifle.

May 26, 2011, 04:19 AM
If the rings are too low, you won't be able to mount the scope.

If the rings are too high, you'll have to take your face off the cheekpiece, which is bad for consistency.

Generally speaking, use the lowest rings that allow a given scope to clear the receiver/barrel of the rifle.


May 26, 2011, 06:51 AM
Generally the lower the easier it is to get a good sight picture and I like the front objective as close to the barrel as possible. But you also have to consider the stock shape. With some guns with a very high comb you may need to mount little higher in order to see through the scope.

I don't recommend objectives larger than 40mm because they must be mounted higher to clear the barrel. Another thing to consider, especially on heavy recoiling rifles, the higher a scope is mounted the more torque it will recieve during recoil. This will put more strain on the scope and mounts.

May 26, 2011, 09:01 AM
agree with the general...low as you can go and still clear the barrel..or the handguards depending on what rifle you are talking about. I know with some AR manufacturers they require the extra high rings to clear.

May 26, 2011, 09:28 AM
Probably shouldn't ask but, what rifle specificly?

May 26, 2011, 10:31 AM
Probably shouldn't ask but, what rifle specificly?
I think that's a great question.

Lower is better, because you'll shoot flater between near and far zero, but the main thing is making sure the scope fits you and the rifle. The scope has to clear the barrel and also take into account the operation of the bolt, your optics should not hinder bolt operation at all. If you close your eyes and shoulder the rifle like you're preparing to fire, when you open your eyes, the scope should be right there. If not, adjust the scope / mounts.
Also, ring height will be affected by how you're mounting them. With a bolt gun, are you mounting rings to reciever or installing a rail.

May 26, 2011, 11:09 AM
There is an advantage to mounting the scope high, though it may be small. When mounted higher, your point blank range increases allowing for a longer shot with a dead center hold. Also, in benchrest, where many competitive shooters prefer to not touch the rifle at all, having a very high mount (4"-6") allows you to get off the rifle easier, though that is the opposite of what most others are looking for. I would suggest you get the highest rings that give you a good cheek weld for anything outside of a dedicated competition bench rifle.

May 26, 2011, 11:40 AM
As low as you can go will help in faster and more accurate shots due to a more natural spot for your cheek on the stock.


Zak Smith
May 27, 2011, 01:10 AM
Here is an excellent thread about SOB distance and its effects on trajectory and point-blank distance


May 27, 2011, 02:42 AM
Probably shouldn't ask but, what rifle specificly?

It's for a Ruger 10/22 (black synthetic carbine).

May 27, 2011, 04:43 AM
Compact fixed 4x, low rings, more power than you can use with 22 anyway,
low power, low mount, smaller objective and ocular lense = lower.
and unless you replace the trigger you wont need a target scope. Not dogging your gun, dogging my last 4. Bushnell or Simmons

I dont mean to sound like this is only plan. Weaver fixed 3x was best compromise for me, everythings a tradeoff , there is not so much a case of pro or con scope mount height.The way you want to look at it, Is 1st cartridge cabability, 2nd best compromise between field of view/and magnification that matches cartridge capability. Once you determine that ,you just pick the lowest mounts that allow low mounting. (And bolt clearance)
Because believe it or not, the closer you can get line of sight(through scope)to line of bore(through barrel) the better.
This is often debated, not as often agreed on.

Also the closer scope to rifle, less balance of rig is affected, higher scope, higher center of gravity, more ungainley.
I don't know what post 8 is saying. Run that mounting higher increases, point blank range by again.
Scope adjusts for windage and Elevation.

Example 4x12 scope has 3 1/2 " diameter objective(target end)Radius of 1 3/4" you have added a half inch to height,and maybe 2 lbs of weight, for Magnification you can't use.

Another way to look at it is use. If you hope to pick up running game wider field of view will help in speed of picking up game.
If your hoping to squirrel hunt with it, wide field of view, look thru scope see whole tree, wouldn't be as useful as enough magnification to tell critters head from a walnut.
Wether you can hit it with a 1022s trigger? a whole nuther thing.

Back to magnification/field of view tradeoff, at any given range, the more magnification the less field of view, and the tradeoff isn't proportional.

see other thread on parallax. I don't even want to try that one, I cant answer it better than post#2 anyway. My opinion, will check in tommorow to see how I'm wrong.

May 27, 2011, 05:05 AM
you want to be just clear of the barrel when mounting the scope, you gotta take into consideration that there will be some barrel vibration, but for consistency and ease of use, you need to mount the scope low enough that you can keep your cheek on the rifle

but all that was already covered

May 27, 2011, 05:42 AM
What part of the cheek specifically? Any images I can examine?

May 27, 2011, 06:23 AM
Benzy2, referencing post 8

I'm trying to get this. Rate bullet falls after shot constant. Further out you sight in for. The more to a point you increase mid range trajectory.I mean its still going to have the same rate of fall right. I have always understood point blank range, to be distance you can hold dead on target,and not have bullet too high mid range, or too low at target. to miss target with dead on hold.

Or are you saying, by mounting scope higher, you decrease the distance between the 2 points where trajectory crosses, or intersects with line of sight.
Cause if your saying, the second convergence, LOS and trajectory is point blank range, I've been wrong for about 40yrs. Not that, that couldn't be possible.I was wrong another time.

Wait if you only use 1 bullet weight, and you say with 200 yd zero, at 100yd, midrange, distance above line of sight is 4", optimum scope height would be 2 ", Half of 4, 2" over LOS, 2" under LOS will still be point blank range for that bullet. Right. I'm getting a headache.

It seems like in my mind I am seeing with scope mounted as low as possible, the closer, to muzzle,, first LOS and trajectory converge, the second convergence, LOS and trajectory would be further away. actually increasing distance between the two points. And maybe PBR
Plus different bullet weights would be closer to having the same trajectory.

I'm just about to not care anymore, and if your already there, sorry.

Did I just say the same thing 3 different ways. I might need a picture for this.:what:

Shawn Dodson
May 27, 2011, 08:26 AM
The scope must not only clear the barrel but you should also be able to operate the bolt handle (on a bolt gun) without it colliding with or riding against the scope. This may not be evident until after the scope and been mounted and adjusted in the rings to allow for proper eye relief.

May 27, 2011, 08:35 AM
I've found over the years I prefer a high mount(mostly bench shooting) I call it the big head syndrome.:D Works for me if stock needs little height I add a pad. I never noticed any disadvantage(accuracy wise)in using high rings.

May 27, 2011, 08:56 AM
RugerMcMarlin, go to any online ballistics calculator (I like JBM) and put in your load data. Set it to zero to point blank. Put the scope center at 1" above the bore, 1.5" above the bore, and 2" above the bore. You will see that point blank distance increases as the scope is higher off the bore. A bullet arcs. It isn't a laser. Getting higher off the bore plays into this and extends your point blank range. We have the same definition of point blank range. The only area where this may not hold true is within the first 5 yards or so. Outside of the VERY close distances, the higher the scope, the further the point blank.

May 27, 2011, 09:23 AM
Make mine as low as possible, for the reasons already stated...


May 27, 2011, 09:29 AM
How much do you have to raise elevation to use the gain. Seems like the more you raised the scope the more you would have to raise elevation to make any use of point blank gain.I mean exactly like you said its an arch. wont you end up with the reverse of midrange trajectory. wont you reach a point where the whole trajectory is below LOS?

I don't shoot off a bench longer than it takes to sight in a hunting rifle. Maybe thats the difference. I can't see the practical benefit in a hunting situation. But I'll check it out.

Zak Smith
May 27, 2011, 01:07 PM
I posted ballistics charts to the other thread, but for a centerfire.

May 27, 2011, 08:47 PM
The benefits depend on what you're doing. I think you see them most when shooting in the field and have to have the first shot hit with proper elevation. I'll take a longer point blank range (distance that the bullet travels without ever traveling X" above or below the crosshairs). Taking this from JBM online calculator, changing only sight height above bore, here is what it shows. (picked a 150gr SMK running at 2850fps with standard settings on the rest, 3" above or below the crosshairs as definition for point blank range).

A sight height of 1" above the bore gave a 275 yard point blank range. With a sight 2" above the bore, point blank range is 287 yards. Not a huge difference, but this grows the flatter a round shoots and the bigger the animal's vitals happen to be. For most, the difference won't be a deal breaker, but if I can get a good cheek weld with either, I'll take the higher mount to gain the extra yards. I still put cheek weld as the first priority and would match rings to it, but if you can get a good weld either way, be it an adjustable cheek piece or an added pad, I'd take 10-25 yards of extra point blank range over not. Zak's graphs in the link he posted above visually show it well.

May 27, 2011, 09:25 PM
The difference between low and high rings is not nearly as much as some people think.

With Leupold PRW or Millet Angle-lock rings, high is .25" higher than low. Burris Zee rings, the difference is .32" between low and extra-high. The difference between low and medium is often about 1/8 inch.

As far as scope center height above bore center, with common hunting-rifle rings, the scope is usually going to end up 1.4" to 1.8" high.

There is a difference. High rings will extend point-blank range, but probably only by 6 or 8 yards. Some low rings will be too low to be comfortable for some people on some rifles.

Use what you like. If you don't know, try medium.

May 27, 2011, 11:22 PM
Sorry I took so long to respond I was trying to wrap my head around Parallax.
on another thread. I have 2 Lyman allweather Alaskans 2 1/2 power, part of what I like about them is built on 7/8" tube. I have been under the impression the closer LOS is to LOB the better. the rings I have for them are really low.

Was this advantage imagined because I've never seen another height of 7/8" rings.

May 27, 2011, 11:59 PM
I would bet it's more to allow good cheek weld for a stock with a low comb than anything else. The first priority as far as I have known is cheek weld. From there you take what you can get. I don't try to mount a scope as low as possible, though I typically won't mount it out in outer space either. If I have to add padding or a riser to the stock to get good cheek weld I have no problem with that on most rifles as well. A while ago I was under the impression that you wanted to get the scope as low as possible. After I questioned why that would be, the only answer I could find it to make sure you get good cheek weld on a stock meant more for low iron sights. Other than that, I haven't seen much info to show it beneficial in any other way.

As for parallax, this may help as I like a visual:
I'm terrible at explaining it over the internet. It's one of those that when you see it, you'll get it but until then it seems like voodoo, at least it was for me.

May 28, 2011, 12:08 AM
Along with Shawn Dodson who says The scope must not only clear the barrel but you should also be able to operate the bolt handle (on a bolt gun) without it colliding with or riding against the scope. This may not be evident until after the scope and been mounted and adjusted in the rings to allow for proper eye relief.I found another issue with low rings, and that is, low rings increase the chance of scope bite to the top of the eyebrow. If you have to tilt your forehead too far forward to get the eye down onto the optical axis of the scope, your eyebrow gets closer to the top of the eyepiece bell. Head posture should be as upright, front-to-back, as reasonably possible to avoid this (some forward tilt of head is OK).

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