Find the Best Scope Leveling Tool for your Rifle!
Bubble and Wedge Levelers – Recommendations and How to Use them!
Most shooters realize that their scope needs to be level when it’s installed for their rifle to shoot accurately. A scope that isn’t precisely leveled can cause an array of problems that add up to missed shots. If you intend to install your own scope you should use the best scope leveling tool to do the job correctly.
If your scope is mounted with a 5° cant one side or the other you could be giving up as much as much as 0.2 to 1.3 MOA (Minute of Angle). That means you could miss your shot by 3 3⁄4″ inch at 300 yards. If you are participating in long-range precision shooting a 5 degree cant could cause you to miss a 2 MOA, 1000 yard target completely.
The only way to correct or prevent that problem is by using a tool that is designed to level your scope with your rifle receiver. There are some excellent products available, but choosing the right one can be a bit confusing. A tool that doesn’t fit your rifle and scope won’t help. And, if it’s not accurate you might actually make the alignment issue worse.
It’s always tempting to take short cuts and sometimes you can do that with good results. But in my experience, most scope alignment jobs require more time, patients, and a more elaborate leveling tool to get it right.
Do-it-Yourself with Professional Results
If you are like me and prefer to do your own scope installation there are some really helpful tools for getting it level. And if you follow some simple instructions there’s no reason why you can’t do a professional job.
Having the right tool for the job is important but using it correctly is just as important. And, how you go about leveling your scope depends on which type of scope leveling tool you choose.
Types of Scope Leveling Tools
It’s important to consider the type of leveling tool that will work with your rifle, scope, and base. There’s literally hundreds (perhaps thousands) of variations that limit the type tool you can use.
Another consideration is what you intend to use your rifle for. If you are hunting white tail in the foot hills of Pennsylvania a little bit of error probably won’t cause you to miss your 20 yard shot.
However, if you intend to hunt elk in Colorado with your long range rifle you want the most precise scope alignment possible.
I prefer to have all my rifle scopes as perfectly aligned as possible. After all, I need all the help I can get!
There are 3 Types of Scope Leveling Tools!
A small set consisting of (1) magnetized Race Way Level and (1) scope Turret Level. These sets are inexpensive and will enable you to do a decent job on many rifle and scope combinations.
Professional Leveling Kit:
A precision set of leveling instruments that includes (1) magnetized Small Base/Raceway Level and (1) Barrel Level Clamp. This type of leveling tool set is for those shooters want the most precise scope alignment possible for optimum accuracy.
This unique tool consists of 2 to 3 CNC machined aluminum parts. A right-angle scope Base Plate and a Small or Large “Wedge.” This type of leveling tool works great on some rifles with a flat top one-piece scope base including picatinny. They are especially suited for AR scope installations as well as many hunting or tactical rifles.
Wedge type leveling tools are very fast and easy to use. They can be used without the aid of a gun vise or work bench. They are ideal for making scope adjustments in the field or at the range
NOTE; Wedge Levelers are not usable for scopes with a slightly rounded turret underside.
So, What Are the Best Scope Leveling Tools?
Each of the tools recommend below I have either used or know someone who has. Each tool has different advantages and disadvantages that you should consider. I believe these are the best tools you can use for leveling your rifle scope accurately!
#1 Wheeler Engineering Scope Mounting Bubble Leveling Tool
- Versatile, works with wide variety of scope/rifle combinations
- Precise Construction insures accurate scope alignment
- Easy to Use: Simply follow step-by-step instructions
- Compact, won’t take up much space on your gun bench or drawer
- INCLUDES: (1) magnetized Action Level (1) magnetized Scope Turret Level
I own this little tool set and have used it for multiple installations. It’s very basic and I find it surprisingly accurate for some applications.
The thing I like about this tool is it enables you to establish the level of your rifle off of the receiver instead of off the top of the scope base.
Since I have a small machine shop I checked the levels for accuracy before using them. From my years of experience building plastic injection molds I am aware that the shrinkage of the plastic can distort the part. The levels in my set are dead on!
The injection molding is good quality and the levels are easy to read. The magnetized Action Level fits the race ways of a Remington 700 as well as many other popular models.
The main problem I have with this type of tool is that the reference level is a bit difficult to see when adjusting the scope. I use it as a secondary level along with the more elaborate scope leveling system.
This tool is a good option if you are installing a scope on an AR, hunting rifle, or a tactical rifle. It’s small and very inexpensive.
#2 GHHJX Gunsmith Magnetic Scope Leveling Tool Set
- Easy to Read bubble shell contains viscous fluid
- Compact Size for easy use and storage
- Solid Construction for long life
- Accurate leveling
- Versatile Design can be used on most rifle/scope installations
- INCLUDES: (1) Magnetic Race Way Level (1) Magnetic Turret Level
Almost identical to the Wheeler set, this leveling tool lets you establish the level of your rifle off of the receiver which is the preferred method.
The quality of this product is good even though they are made from injection molded plastic.
If this set of tools is used correctly you can level your scope accurately enough for many shooting scenarios. It’s ideal for hunting rifles used where shots are less than 150 yards.
The Receiver Level fits Remington 700 raceways as well as many other popular bolt action rifles.
#3 Tough Tactical Tools Professional Scope Leveling System
- Precision CNC Machined Aluminum construction
- Barrel Level clamp fits all barrels including shot gun O/U
- Protective Padding prevents marring barrel
- Reference Level has strong embedded magnet for stability
- Designed for Professional use
- Includes: (1) Reference Level and (1) Barrel Level, (1) Molded Storage Case
When it comes to pin point accuracy this tool set will let you line up your scope precisely level with the receiver.
This is the set I own and use for setting up scopes on my Remington 700 long range rifles and other rifles as well. I try to address every issue that can affect my accuracy so I want my scopes to be as perfectly aligned as possible.
What I like about this tool set is the quality of the machining and overall construction. The level apparatuses are more like precision measuring instruments than tools. The workmanship is excellent and the hardware is made from stainless steel so I don’t have to worry about rusting. I don’t like to take things for granted so I checked the Reference Level just to be sure. It is dead nuts on accurate.
The set comes in a good quality molded plastic storage case with cut-out foam.
Oh yea, another thing I like is the blue anodized finish – but that’s just me!
I highly recommend this leveling tool set for serious shooters who want the best possible scope alignment.
#4 Wheeler Engineering Professional Reticle Leveling System
- High Precision: Each level is CNC precision machined from aluminum with an integrated bubble for precise leveling
- Stability: Reference has magnetized base for additional stability
- Versatility: Barrel clamp can be adjusted to fit around large diameter barrels
- Durable: Industrial components and anodized finish
- Non-Marring: Barrel clamp level has pads to protect firearm from marring at contact points
- INCLUDES: (1) calibrated Reference Level, (1) Barrel Clamp Level, (1) Foam-molded Storage Case
If you are a professional gunsmith or competition shooter the Wheeler Engineering Professional Reticle Leveling System is the most precision way to align your scope.
The quality of this set of measuring instruments is clearly evident the moment you open the molded storage case. Each item is beautifully machined and has an anodized finish.
The Barrel Clamp Level is hinged on one side with a knurled adjustment knob on the opposite side. The spread between the threaded rods is sufficient to straddle even the largest barrel you are likely to encounter. The hardware on the barrel clamp is black anodized to prevent rusting.
One of the features that sets the Wheeler Engineering Professional Reticle Leveling System apart from similar tools is the Reference Level can be re-calibrated if necessary. It comes precisely calibrated from the factory but just in case it gets dropped you have the means to be able to adjust it until it is perfectly accurate again.
This leveling tool set is slightly more expensive than similar sets but I believe the difference is worth it. I believe this is the best professional scope leveling tool set currently available. The only thing I don’t like about this tool is it isn’t blue!
#5 Tough Tactical Wedge Leveling Tool Combo for Rifle Scope Mounting
- Easy to Use: Simply insert unit between scope base and bottom turret and reticle will be level
- Wide Range: Can be use on scope/base scenarios with clearance as low as 0.175” up to 1.1”
- Fool Proof: Both leveling wedges are clearly market at the Right Angle to avoid wrong direction
- Quality Construction: Made of 6061-T6 aluminum with Type III hard coat anodized for durability
- INCLUDES: (1) Large Leveler (Max clearance is 1.1”), (1) Small Leveler (Max clearance is 0.51′‘), (1) Base Plate
Talk about easy, this cleverly designed leveling tool combination is about as simple as you can get. The Tough Tactical Wedge Leveling was designed for leveling scopes mounted on One-Piece Mounts or Scope Rings.
To set up your rifle scope place the Base Plate on top of the scope base until the flange is up against the edge. Insert either the small or large “Wedge” in the angled grove in the Base Plate (Make certain the 90° angle mark is UP). Then gently press it toward the scope until the bottom of the scope turret is flat against the top of the Wedge. Wa la! Your scope is now level.
Not only is this tool easy to use it is top quality the way it is made. Each of the three components is precision CNC machined to exacting standards. The hard anodized finish prevents the pieces from galling when pushed against each other.
This Wedge set comes with both a small and large size leveling Wedge to cover base/scope clearances from 0.175” all the way up to 1.1”. And yes, it can be used on picatinny scope bases, preferably machined instead of cast.
No Gun Vise or Work Bench Necessary!
My buddy Shep uses this tool on his AR rifle builds and on some of his Tactical Rifles. He loves it because it’s fast and easy to use. Plus, he can carry it along in his tool box in case one of his student’s rifles isn’t properly aligned. That’s another great feature of this type of leveling tool – you don’t need a gun vise or work bench to use it.
A word of CAUTION, although this tool is easy to use you can still mess up and install job. Be certain to follow the INSTRUCTIONS included in this article to avoid mistakes.
This is a great product although it doesn’t completely replace the Bubble Leveling Systems. If you are using a solid, One-Piece mount this tool will let you align your scope very accurately, quickly, and inexpensively.
The only thing I don’t like about this type of leveling tool is that I din’t think of it first!
#6 TXTactical Scope Leveling Wedge Tool
- Easy-to-Use: Simply insert wedge/base combo, adjust the scope and your scope is level
- Efficient: Can be used without a gun vise for field or range scope adjustments
- Quality Made: Machined from 6061 w/ gray anodized metallic finish
- Wide Range: Two Wedges cover base/scope gaps from 0.175” to 1.09”
- Fool Proof: Wedges are clearly etched at 90° angle
- Includes: Large Wedge (Max clearance is 1.1”), (1) Small Wedge (Max clearance is 0.51”), (1) Base Plate
The TXTactical Scope Leveling Wedge Tool is basically identical to the Tough Tactical Wedge Combo Set.
Its operation is exactly the same and the quality is just as good. The prices are also almost identical. The only real difference is the finish.
As I mentioned above, these Wedge-type leveling tools are great for certain applications where a One-Piece scope base is used and a Scope with a flat bottom directly underneath the elevation turret.
Just as long as you follow the INSTRUCTIONS provided in this article you can level your scope as well as with a bubble-type leveler.
This tool combo set is a great way to level scopes for AR installations or for any other application where a one-piece base is used.
How to Level a Rifle Scope
Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Align your Scope for Optimum Accuracy!
Before starting this project lets take moment to think about our objective. What we are trying to accomplish is to align the vertical cross hair of the scope reticle so if it were extended downward it would pass through the exact center of the bore.
Rifle scopes are precision optical instruments (the good ones). They are designed so that the top of the elevation turret (cap) is exactly parallel with the horizontal cross hair. Also, the bottom of the scope directly beneath the turret is also usually flat and parallel to the horizontal cross hair.
A few scopes have semi-rounded caps and the underside of the turret. In that case, the next best thing is to use the top of the scope mounting base if it happens to be flat.
If we adjust the rifle so the race way is level and then adjust the scope so the top of the turret is also level we will have accomplished our goal. That way we know that the vertical cross hair of the reticle will be perfectly aligned with the center of the bore.
Bubble Level Instructions:
To level your scope’s horizontal cross hair using the Bubble Level method.
- Clamp your rifle in a solid gun vise. Then install the Base to the receiver of the rifle and the lower Scope Ring halves to the base according to manufactures instructions. Lay the scope in the rings and adjust back or forth for the right eye relief. Now, install the upper scope ring halves and finger tighten the screws just enough so the scope can be rotated with only slight effort.
- Make sure the barrel is horizontal by using the magnetized Reference Level that comes with your tool set. Place it lengthwise on top of the barrel and adjust the rifle until the barrel is level.
- Place the Race Way Level on top of the machined flat surfaces inside the receiver.
(In scenarios where the small Level won’t fit on the raceway it can be placed on top of the scope mount. If the clearance between the bottom of the scope and top of the base is too close you will need to use a Professional Leveling Set. SEE Below)
- Adjust your gun vise until the bubble in the Race Way Level is exactly midway between the two lines. (NOTE: It’s a good idea to use a small tactical LED flashlight to make sure you are seeing the bubble alignment correctly.)
- Place the Turret Level on top of the scope elevation turret 90 DEGREES to the bore. Gently rotate the scope clockwise or counter clockwise until the bubble lines up exactly with the two lines. (NOTE: Double check the Race Way Level bubble to make sure the rifle hasn’t moved in the gun vise.
- Begin gently tightening the scope ring screws, alternating diagonally side to side to keep the two halves equally spaced while checking the Turret Level bubble. (NOTE: Each time you tighten a screw it will rotate the scope slightly out of level. That’s why it’s necessary to tighten each screw about 1 / 4 turn and then the diagonally opposing screw until the scope is secured.
- Once there is ample clamping pressure on the scope to keep it from rotating begin torquing the scope ring screws to manufacture’s specs using the diagonal alternating technique.
Professional Leveling Kit Instructions:
The professional scope leveling kits are designed for more precise scope installations and for a broader range of firearm/scope scenarios. So follow these instructions closely!
- First, complete steps (1) thru (3) under the Bubble Level Instructions ABOVE. (NOTE: If the small magnetized level is placed on the top of the scope base and the clearance between the scope and base is too tight remove the top half rings and scope.)
- Install the Clamping Apparatus on the barrel approx. midway between the fore grip and the muzzle.
- Adjust the Clamping Apparatus until the bubble is exactly centered between the two lines and agrees with the Small Level on top of the raceway or base.
- Place the Small magnetized level on top of the scope elevation turret.
- (NOTE: If the scope was removed as suggested in step (3) install the scope and finger-tighten the ring screws.) With the scope installed in rings, gently rotate the scope clockwise or counter clockwise until the bubble is precisely between the two lines. Double check to make sure the small level on top of the scope turret agrees with the level on the barrel.
- Complete steps (5) thru (6) noted above, grab some ammo and head to the range!
Wedge Leveler Instructions:
- Install the mount on the receiver and tighten the screws to recommended torque setting.
- Install the scope in the rings but don’t tighten the screws. Leave them just loose enough so the scope can be rotated easily.
- Place the Base Plate of the set on the flat top of the scope base with the flange tight up against the edge of the scope base.
- Insert the proper size Wedge in the Base slot with the 90° corner UP. While exerting pressure on the large end of the Wedge, pushing it toward the scope.
- Gently rotate the scope clockwise or counter clockwise until the flat bottom of the turret is flat against the top of the Wedge. Make certain the top of the wedge and the bottom of the scope turret match precisely.
- Begin tightening scope ring screws using a diagonal alternating pattern making sure the gap between the upper and lower scope ring is equal. Don’t try and tighten screws to torque value all a once. Just tighten each screw about 1 / 3 turn each until they bottom out. Now, gently remove the WEDGE making certain the scope HAS NOT MOVED.
- Tighten each scope screws to recommended Torque value using and alternating diagonal pattern, swapping back and forth from front to rear ring.
- Re-Insert the Wedge/Base into the gap once again to check that the scope hasn’t moved out of alignment.