Best Way to Determine Scope Ring Height

A Sure Fire Method of How to Determine Correct Scope Ring Height!

Before ordering scope rings for your rifle it’s necessary to determine the correct height. In this article I will show you exactly how to determine scope ring height for your rifle and eliminate any guessing orshep trial and error.

Over the course of my career as a Marine Scout Sniper, Federal Officer, and Certified Shooting Instructor I have installed more rifle scopes than I can recall. Determining the correct height to order your rings has always been a confusing task because of the inconsistencies between Scope Ring manufactures.

I have devised a simple fool proof method that makes determining scope ring height both accurate and easy.

Shep’s Easy and Accurate Method for Determining the Correct Scope Ring Height for your Rifle!

Step #1 The first step is to install your scope Mount on your rifle. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Before you install your scope mount make sure to degrease all male and female threads thoroughly. Now, carefully torque each screw to recommended spec using a high quality Torque Wrench graduated in Inch lbs. I prefer the Vortex Optics Torque Wrench because it is accurate and comes with a Calibration Certificate.

I also highly recommend that you use some BLUE Loctite 242 on each male thread. This will eliminate your scope mount coming loose. A little dab with do ya!

Step #2 Using washers, shims, coins, etc., create two equal stacks on top of the scope mount, approximately where your rings would be. Check the height of the stacks by placing your scope on top of the stacks. Adjust the height of the stacks by adding or removing spacers, insuring that you keep enough height for scope covers and to clear operation of the bolt, if applicable.rcbs dial caliper for measuring scope ring height

Step #3 Measure the height of your spacer stack, preferably with a dial calipers.  If you don’t already own a reliable Dial Caliper they are a good investment, especially if you are going to work on your onw firearms (SEE: Best Dial Caliper for Reloading).  They come in handy for lots of different projects. I use mine constantly. If you do not own calipers, the average penny is .0593” thick.

This measurement will give you the desired “saddle height”, which is the measurement from the top of the scope rail/mount to the bottom of the scope tube. In the illustration below, the saddle height is labeled “B”.

Ordering Your Scope Rings

When ordering rings, make sure you read the heights carefully. Do not go by Low, Medium, etc. This is an arbitrary term and varies greatly from one manufacturer to the next. Also, some companies list their ring heights by using saddle height (“B”) and some use a measurement from the top of the scope rail to the center of the ring. In the below illustration, that is labeled as “A”.

shop now at Optics Planet for Vortex riflescope mounts rings and basesIf you are looking at rings that are measured by the “A” height, you need to add the below figures to your “B” measurement.scope ring drawing

  • Add .5″ for a 1″ scope tube
  • Add .59055″ for a 30mm scope tube
  • Add .66929″ for a 34mm scope tube
  • Add .688975″ for a 35mm scope tube

Of course, you could also subtract those numbers from the “A” height of the scope rings, that would also give you the “B” height.
Once you have purchased the proper rings, it’s time to install them and mount your scope.
If you follow these instructions you should end up with scope rings that are the correct height for your rifle scope.

Still Not Sure About Scope Ring Height?

If you are still unsure of the correct scope ring height for your rifle there is a viable alternative to get you up and running. WestHunter Optics has developed a unique adjustable scope ring design that gives you ¼” inch range of adjustment for scopes with 1” and 30mm tubes. And, it will accommodate optics up to a 75mm outer objective.WestHunter Optics Adjustable Height Picatinny Scope Rings

The WestHunter Optics Adjustable Height Picatinny Scope Rings are not a make-shift solution, these are high quality precision CNC machined parts crafted from 6061 T6 Aircraft Grade aluminum. And, once installed correctly they will provide a rock solid permanent mounting solution for your rifle scope.

As the name implies these scope rings are designed to fit a standard “PICATINNY” scope ring mount which has a Military specified groove width of .206” (These rings will NOT fit Weaver-type mounts).

A Secure Scope Mounting Solution for Most Rifles!

Although I haven’t tested these rings with high recoil cartridges they will easily secure your optics on a rifle chambered in 30-06.

These are beautifully made scope rings and look great on any rifle. The are available in 6 Colors to match almost any rifle finish.

How to Install WestHunter Optics Adjustable Height Picatinny Scope Rings

Installing the WestHunter Optics Adjustable Height Picatinny Scope Rings is pretty much straight forward. (NOTE: Although the listing description states a “20MOA adjustment” it is not recommended because it would impart uneven pressure on your scope tube and possible cause extensive damage. If your scope requires 20MOA you WestHunter Optics Adjustable Height Picatinny Scope Rings adjustment specificationsshould purchase a base with it built-in.)

Step #1: Double check to make sure your rifle is unloaded!

Step #2: Once you have installed your Picatinny Rail Mount place the forward scope ring loosely on the scope tube just behind the taper and the rear ring just ahead of the eye piece. Check to see if the rings will engage the picatinny rail without the objective lens touching the barrel.

If necessary, loosen the Cross Bolts on each ring and adjust up or down until there is adequate clearance. Most experienced shooters will advise you to mount your scope with the outer objective lens as close to the barrel as possible without touching. (Be sure and allow enough gap for your scope cap to fit without touching)

Step #3:  Once you have made a preliminary adjustment of the scope ring height now its time to adjust the position of the rings to engage the grooves on the rail. While resting your rifle on a bag, box, or pillow hold the scope over picatinny rail and move it forward or back until you have obtained a comfortable eye relief. Now, slide the scope rings forward or back to line up with the closest groove in the picatinny rail and finger-tighten the rail mounting bolts. The front ring should be as far forward as possible and the rear one should be as far back as possible to provide the most rigid install possible. At this point your scope should be securely mounted on your rifle with the screws and bolts only finger tight.

Pro Tip: Before torqueing your scope ring cross bolts, point your rifle to the floor (while unloaded) and apply pressure to the scope from the rear and then torque the cross bolts to the recommended value (65 Inch Lbs.) This important step assures that any slack (looseness) between the cross bolts and picatinny rail is eliminated to prevent shifting from the rifle recoil.

Step #4:  The next step is to adjust the scope so it’s horizontal cross hair of the reticle is perfectly level with the bolt raceway. The reason for this is to make certain your scope is not canted to the right or left which will adversely affect your POA (point of aim) and POI (point of impact). It’s a good idea to install a good rifle scope Anti-Cant device for the best shot-to-shot accuracy. (SEE Instructions: “How to Install a Rifle Scope Anti-Cant Device” )

Step #5:  Once you have adjusted the scope by rotating it clockwise or counterclockwise it’s time to torque the scope ring screws to proper torque value. WestHunter Optics specifies 2 NM (Newton-meters) which converts to 17.7 Inch Pounds. SEE: “Best Torque Wrench for Mounting Rifle Scopes

Its a good idea to go back and double check each screw and bolt before heading to the range.

Professional Firearm Training

shep giving one on one shooting instructionInstalling scopes is just one of the many topics I cover in some of my Firearm Training Courses.

Our certified instructors are highly experienced shooters who have trained with some of the most prestigious military units and law enforcement agencies in the world.

If you, or somebody you know wants professional instruction in a variety of shooting disciplines check us out at Precision Applications, LLC.


6 thoughts on “Best Way to Determine Scope Ring Height

  • Zeke Zilka

    Thanks for the great info! You just saved me a headache ?! I’m kind of new at this.
    Thanks again Zeke

  • Douglas Brooks

    thank you great advice, have a new encore rifle barrel on the way, this should take the guess work out of ring height for the scope I’m purchasing

    • Will Hangfire

      Hey Doug, that’s great news! Encore makes some great barrels. Thanks

  • ted berris


    Step #1 The first step is to install your scope Mount on your rifle.
    euhh,dit i miss something?
    thought that before you install em,you should determinate the height?

    • Will Hangfire

      Ah yea, you did miss something. If you go back and read the article the title is Best Way to Determine SCOPE RING Height. To do that you first need to install the SCOPE MOUNT as instructed in Step #1. The scope mount figures into the overall ring height needed to mount the scope so the outer diameter of the objective lens clears the barrel.

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