Lapping Scope Rings


September 6, 2011, 02:47 PM
Why would you want to lap your scope rings? Have you ever looked at the way the bottom half of your rings look after mounting on the rifle and base? You might be shocked or suprised at what you see. I found out a few years back (more than I'll admit) after installling a muzzle break, the customer came back from the range with his back ring 1/2'" off the base. After checking everything found the rings were not fitting the scope properly. Adding the muzzlebreak which causes the rifle to come back more on the horizantal plane the rings would not take the recoil. Have checked the fit ever since. And to my surprise found NONE of the fit good, now lapp them all. You can see what it does to the scope tube by hitting them a couple of stroke with a lapping bar and compound. It's mind over matter, if you don't mind it don't matter.

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September 6, 2011, 03:42 PM
Muzzle breaks lessen the recoil, and I've never lapped rings, and never had them slip....So take that!:D

If your working with a flat, 1 piece base, that has not been torqued down to an off plane reciever, the rings should not need lapping. 2 piece bases are a little harder to check, but if the scope doesn't rise out of the rear ring saddle when you lightly tighten the front, or vise-versa, you should be good. I prefer to bed my 1 piece bases, for stress free scope mounting.

September 6, 2011, 03:52 PM
I have found that most inexpensive rings are greatly improved with just a few minutes of time spent lapping them. The keyword is "inexpensive"..
Higher priced rings, especially steel, don't seem to need lapping. One of the most appreciated and inexpensive (tool) purchases I've made was a ring-lapper, it will keep your scope tube in better shape too

September 6, 2011, 04:34 PM
obviously, the optimal situation is where your rings are perfectly round and aligned and touch your scope at all points around with no gaps.

the lapping process is not a precise one, since you're just moving your hand back and forth with varying pressure.

so the question is... can you make the rings better with your hand?

imho, you will probably make crappy factory rings better.
you will probably make precision cut rings worse.

so lap the cheap ones, and don't wallow out the expensive ones.

September 6, 2011, 07:09 PM
I've cheched anhd installed wings from Weaver thru Talley and found all and in-between to need lapping unless you are using a Tasco or Bushnell scope. If you have a good scope then check your rings. And thats all I have to say about that!!!!!!!

September 6, 2011, 08:16 PM
Use better rings. Rub a little red threadlock on the rings inside to kinda "bed" it to the scope body and it won't go anywhere. Even if a ring bolt or two falls out LOLz.

At least that's what I've been told, and I have seen it work well when someones ring bolts backed out. Lost the bolts, not the ring top.

September 7, 2011, 08:40 AM
I got a buddy who uses threadlocker on the rings where contact is made with the scope.
Works for him but I'm always movin' scopes around. Probably too much ..LOL

September 7, 2011, 10:13 AM
Or you can use Burris Signature Zee rings which eliminate the rings for lapping. In 90% of the cases out there, these rings are the way to go imo.

September 7, 2011, 11:33 AM
I didn't say muzzlebreaks didn't lessen felt recoil, what I said was they cause a more rearward shearing effect which causes the scope rings to let the scope slip forward on heavy recoiling rifles. Since the barrel rise is eliminated the rifle comes backward and puts stress on the rings. Have see cases where base screws were broken and had to go to 8x40 screws. The scopes keep getting heavier and heavier and the stresss is getting greater than what the 6x48 screws, and bad fitting rings can handle. Been in the business a long time, just trying to get info. to people about what I've seen.

September 7, 2011, 03:59 PM
unless you are using a Tasco or Bushnell scope.
I have used Leupolds, Weavers, Bushnells....All excellent scopes.... you saying that my Bushnell will work good with bad rings, but my more expensive Leupold needs better rings?

September 7, 2011, 05:44 PM
NO!! what I'm trying to tell everyone is what I have experienced over the last couple of years. I have probably put on more scopes, rings and bases than the common everyday shooter will in his lifetime. Have been in the gunsmithing business for a long time and have seen it all. I don't care if you have an expensive scope or a cheap one, I don't own any expensive scopes myself. I have one Leupold, about 40 yrs. old an old Redfield about 40yrs. old and three Burris Fullfield II B/P mil-dot and just ordered another last week. No matter what you prefer check the rings, Nightforce, Warne, Leupold, Redfield, whatever. It only takes a few minutes to do and may save your scope.

September 7, 2011, 05:47 PM
doesn't your tongue hurt from so much lapping?

September 7, 2011, 05:54 PM
And by the way I have been designing' making' and installing muzzlebreaks for over 15 years and know how they work. Nuff said?

September 7, 2011, 06:02 PM
And by the way I have been designing' making' and installing muzzlebreaks for over 15 years and know how they work. Nuff said?

nuff said.

(but you means muzzle brakes, right?)

September 7, 2011, 06:10 PM
Just funnin with ya man......Ease up:D

September 7, 2011, 06:14 PM
lol, ya, we're just yanking your chain. :D

i should actually look into it because i use the cheapest rings known to man.

September 7, 2011, 11:05 PM
What brg2014 said about lapping rings.

i also install a lot of scopes, mounts and rings. This summer a man bought his old Remington custom shop model 700 by when he could,'t get the scope to zero. A local gun butcher installed a Kahles scope along with new Leupold rings and mounts. The guy bent the scope when he didn't lap the rings.

Many of the cheap made in China rings are really bad. i won't install them because it takes too long to lap them.

September 8, 2011, 05:18 AM
^^^About the butcher^^^ If he would have watched the scope as he started lightly tightening the rings, he would have seen the scope rise up, or torque out of plane. Should have sent up a red warning flag! Same goes with torquing down bases, ya gotta check stuff as you go, and not assume anything is straight. Not saying you shouldnt lap rings if thats what you like to do, but I've never needed to myself, as the problem usually stems from a bent base, warped reciever-action, things you check before taking it out on the rings.

September 8, 2011, 05:44 AM
I lap my rings. Is it always 100% necessary? I think it depends on what kind of accuracy you desire out of the rifle. For most hunting purposes its probably not a big deal. For target shooting I would definitely consider it. Almost no receiver, rings and bases (yes even the most expensive, well made brands) are completely aligned. Asking a receiver made by one company to match up with rings and bases from another and make 100% contact with a scope possibly made by a third company is asking a lot. A few months ago I mounted a Leupold Mk 4 scope using Mk4 4 rings and bases and yes the inside of the rings were not 100% true. Did this mean my rifle would shoot terribly? No. Would I feel confident that it would hold zero for 100's of rounds? Probably not.

Friendly, Don't Fire!
September 8, 2011, 05:53 AM
I have never lapped them and I also have never had any issue with scope slippage, even with the scope on a .454 Casull and on a .460 Weatherby Magnum!

I use Leupold scopes and Leupold Rings and bases and everything is Loctited into place.

Nothing moves anywhere unless I accidentally drive over my rifle with my truck (which I HAVE YET TO DO)! :eek:

September 8, 2011, 06:21 AM
I used the wheeler engineering lapping kit and I really do think that most people would be surprised by what it reveals. It can't hurt to throw the alignment bars in the rings, torque everything to spec and see what you get. If its 100% true then you don't need to lap anything. I'm be willing to bet that most would be off though. It's not uncommon to see 1/1000th of an inch variance in the holes of many receivers and depending on how picky you are this can make a difference. My Leupold rings and bases weren't terribly misaligned but they weren't perfect by any means. I'm certain that the rifle would have remained accurate enough if all I wanted was to take game at 200-300 yards. I bought this setup for target shooting purposes however and I don't want my zero to shift even the smallest amount over time so that's why I lapped mine.

September 8, 2011, 08:39 PM
If the rings are so bad they need lapping, I pitch em and buy something else. I have had cheap rings that are true, and better rings that were not. The pricier ones have consistently been very good. I use a tool to line them up, but have never lapped any.

September 9, 2011, 01:58 AM
First of all, if the rings and bases are properely tightened to spec, there is no way they will slip or change position. I shoot high recoil rilfes and handguns with optics and have not had one that changed position or slipped. I did have one scope that slipped but it wasn't because of the rings needing lapping, but because I needed better rings. That problem was on a Marlin model 60, 22 ca. rifle. You get what you pay for.
And muzzle breaks reduce recoil which is going to minimize any stress to the optics mounting system.
Lapping rings is something that shouldn't be necessary under normal circumstances. I did need to lightly lap a set of rings recently, but not because of a manufacturer flaw. I dropped them when I took them out of the packaging and dinged the edge enough to need lapping to prevent damaging the the VX-III Leupold tube.

September 9, 2011, 11:57 AM
Well shucks guys you are making me feel a little like BUBBA. I just removed a Badger Ord. 20 moa base from my long shooter and am installing Warne 2pc. bases. I am going to use the Warne rings that I previously used on the 20moa base and they were lapped on that base. So do you think I should lap them on the new bases? You can bet the farm I will check them. LOL

Zak Smith
September 9, 2011, 12:15 PM

I don't get quite what you're saying with,

the lapping process is not a precise one, since you're just moving your hand back and forth with varying pressure.

so the question is... can you make the rings better with your hand?
I use a 34mm lapping bar that we made on a CNC lathe. It's about a foot long. Once my base/rings are on the rifle, I run the lapping bar back and forth with some compound. I only lap the bottom ring halves. The way it's set up, there's nothing I can misalign with my hands-- the bar is bottomed out and it increases the contact between the ring bottoms and the scope tube. In bad cases, it might fix axis misalignment of the two rings. On my .338 using the AI unified base, the scope would move a little bit until I lapped the bottom (and cranked down the cap screws tighter than spec).

September 9, 2011, 02:14 PM
I only lap the bottom ring halves.

Why not lap the tops too?

Zak Smith
September 9, 2011, 03:01 PM
Several reasons in combination: they are somewhat self-aligning; the ones I use are not fully rigid; and it's a lot harder to do, and harder to keep them straight while lapping.

September 9, 2011, 06:00 PM
I've mounted scopes both ways. Careful lapping has improved contact surface. I lap to remove undue and uneven pressure on the scope tube.
But I've not lapped and seemed like everything worked pretty well both ways. I think the key is to just pay attention to detail and become familiar with the things you are working with.

September 9, 2011, 06:25 PM
zak, because whether you push down or a little left or a little right as you are moving the bar back and forth can't be consistently done. it's likely you will remove more material from one side or the other regardless of alignment.

think of it this way: would 1 stroke be sufficient? no? would the scope fit perfectly after 10,000 strokes? how do you know if you need 30 strokes or 50? does it matter? with every pass you're still removing material from the rings. it's not like it magically stops removing material when they become perfectly round and smooth and aligned. you can easily keep removing material past that point where they become no longer perfectly round and aligned.

it's an art. with a hand tool.

September 9, 2011, 08:43 PM
Lapping just makes sense and I have found it to be useful and I will continue to do it. I use the Wheeler kit.

September 9, 2011, 09:19 PM
Boy did I get everyone thinking with this question!! Got my Warne bases today got them mounted but didn't use my Warne rings, but checked them they didn't need to be lapped. Used the Burris Signature Zee rings that were already on the scope, which have the pivoting inner inserts and they self align. Now back to the range to get it sighted in. Some of you may not be familar with the Zee rings, you can get the inserts to lower the front and raise the rear or vise-versa of the scope, for long range shooting or position it any where you want, wish I had known about them before I spent the money for the 20 moa base I've been using. They come with + and - 5, 10 and 15 inserts, don't know if the numbers relate to m.o.a. or not.

September 9, 2011, 09:29 PM
think of it this way: would 1 stroke be sufficient? no? would the scope fit perfectly after 10,000 strokes? how do you know if you need 30 strokes or 50?

You lap until the alignment bars that come with the kit line up when everything is torqued to spec. If you are lapping without alignment bars then you are doing it blindly. Lap a little, check alignment, repeat as necessary till alignment is achieved. It's irrelevant as to how many strokes it takes you. And yes, you will be removing more material from one side then the other. That's the point because the whole reason you are doing this is to correct rings that are not true. Once again you need alignment bars to do this, so if you aren't using them you can't really know whether your scope is true or not. I really think most people who are saying their rings are true haven't checked them with quality alignment bars. Whether or not it matters for everyone's shooting purposes is obviously debatable.

September 10, 2011, 12:23 AM
I'm very surprised at some of the responses in this thread. I check every set of rings with alignment bars before mounting a scope and lap as necessary. I install one-piece mounts or two-piece rings and torque the mounting screws to the required specification. I then use alignment bars to see if the rings are out of alignment. If the rings are off either horizontally or vertically, the bearing surface between the scope tube and the rings is at an absolute minimum. That means you'll have a lot of force over a small area which can result in a damaged scope tube and an increased chance of scope movement under recoil. I want the absolute maximum ring to tube contact to support the scope, decrease the psi on the tube and increase the friction between the tube and rings. Here's an example of a set of rings that was out of alignment before lapping but nicely aligned after lapping. The rings are Leupold Mark 4 30mm steel rings mounted to Leupold Mark 4 steel Picatinny bases on a Remington receiver.

Like Zak, I lap the lower rings first so that they're very close to being aligned, but I then fit the upper rings and lap those as well to complete the process.

Side view - before (top), after (bottom):

Top view - before (top), after (bottom):

Zak Smith
September 10, 2011, 12:58 AM
Nah, there's no play in my lapping bar setup. I can go as much as I want provided the rings halves don't meet before the scope is tight.

September 10, 2011, 01:24 AM
I can go as much as I want provided the rings halves don't meet before the scope is tight.

And even if they do meet, it'd be no big deal to run the ring flats over a file/paper to open the gap up a little. I've done that on a set of Talley rings that were installed on a defective Savage receiver. The rings needed so much lapping that the rear ring halves closed up before the rings were aligned. It was an easy fix though.

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