The rifle scope mount is important components for a rifle platform, and in this guide, we are going to break down the 10 types of rifle scope mounts available on the market today, and talk about what each one of them are good for.
Picking a good mount with quality machining is important for accuracy even if it's just a fraction of a millimeter difference will throw off your aim and result in a miss.
Most shooters spend tons of money on scopes, barrels, trigger upgrades, chasis, but the scope mount is usually the last thing people pay attention to.
The mounting system you pick is the crucial link between your firearm and your optic, and for anyone building custom precision rifles for long range shooting, this guide will lead you the way.
Let's check it out...
Leupold STD Mount
What's Unique About It - The Leupold STD precision machine steel engineered mount is one of Leupold's most popular scope mount, which consists of a base and a ring combination.
The rear ring is secured by windage adjustment screws, allowing the scope's internal adjustments to be reserved for precise sight-in. Additionally, shims can be used for gross elevation adjustment, reserving the scope's elevation adjustment for bullet drop compensation dial applications.
It's unique in a way that the ring twist and locks into position. However, unlike the Weaver style rings, the Leupold rings cannot be easily detached and put on another gun.
Hand fitting required - A scope ring tool is needed to go in between the pieces to gain leverage, turning the ring into the base. This requires a press fit, and it can't be done with just bare hands.
How it secures in place - The rear ring is placed right on top of the mount, and It locks in place by two opposing screws that are tightened into the ring’s base (22 in/lbs for the 6-48 screws and 28 in/lbs for the 8-40 screws).
The screws are turned in the opposite direction to fit into a single ring between them tightly. The shooter can tighten the screw on one side after loosening the one on the opposite side to move the ring laterally on the base.
Mount heights & size offered - Leupold STD mounting system offers ring size and heights of the following:
- Tube Size: 1" and 30mm
- Ring heights: Super low, Low, Medium and High
- Finishes: Gloss, Matte Black and Silver
What rifle uses it - Even though the Leupold STD is a popular mounting system for mostly bolt action rifles like the Remington 700, but it's a old system that requires alot of hand fitting and scope lapping to perfectly align the scope.
If you want to quickly detach and swap the scope in the field, we highly recommend checking out precision machined quick detach scope mounts.
What's Unique About It - The weaver style scope mount is the most commonly used type of rifle mount, and it provided a much easier scope mounting compared to the ones like the Leupold STD mount, which requires a lot of fitting.
Weaver Mounts are excellent. They hold well, most are detachable, are strong and inexpensive. However, Weaver base mounts are standardized
How it secures in place - The Weaver scope rings and the base fit together securely, similar to a jigsaw that prevents movement in the coil when you use Weaver style rifle scope mounts.
It's very common to see the use of Weaver style mount on bolt action rifles and hunting shotguns, and they work very well and it's very easy to attach or remove weaver scope rings off the base without a significant loss of zero, but we highly recommend re-zeroing your scope every time when the scope is taken off then back on the rifle.
Is Weaver mount any good? - Weaver style scope mount does work, however the weaver style base usually have limited mounting spots on the rifle for more flexible scope positioning, which can limit scope eye relief distance adjustment.
In today's shooting world, many newer sporting rifles and precision rifles are using picatinny mounting system, which is more standardized in dimension and offers more mounting slots for flexible scope mount positions.
Please do not get confused between Weaver Style mount vs. the company Weaver. The company Weaver also makes other modern optic mounts.
Picatinny Base Mount
What's Unique About This - The Picatinny rail is an upgrade to the Weaver style mount, and it's designed by Picatinny Arsenal back in the day to standardize the mounting platform for the military to accept various of accessories including optics.
Three main areas where this mount base differs from the weaver style design are the slot placement, number, and dimensions.
What are shooters' experiencing using this mount - Many shooters prefer the Picatinny base to mount a rifle scope because of there are plenty of surface area mount the scope.
It's great for repositioning the scope rings or scope mount to the desired level of eye relief on the rifle.
Another major advantage of Picatinny rails is that you can use a 20 MOA base for shooting at a very long range for compensating scopes that may run out of elevation adjustment clicks.
Learn more about 20 MOA scope base here to understand when you need one and when not to use it.
Dovetail Scope Rings
What's unique about this type of mount - The dovetail mounting system is very sturdy, similar to the Picatinny, while still allowing users to easily replace Dovetail rings of different sizes on the gun without affecting the base of the dovetail system.
Dovetails come in several different types and sizes depending on manufacturer, but the most common are:
- 11 mm
- 3/8 inch
Some other less known, but currently commercially available dovetail mounts, are 12, 13, 13.5, 14, 14.5, 16, 16.5, 17 and 19 mm.
If you're buying scope rings to go on a rifle with dovetail, please be sure to know the dimension before the purchase.
European Standard vs. US Standard
The Dovetail rings mounting base has an oblong hole built into it with bevels on the inside that are perpendicular to the bore.
The dovetail scope mounting system separates the base from the scope rings while offering a standardized way for the rings to attach to the base of the dovetail style system.
Besides mounting large profile scope on a rifle with dovetail mount, dovetail mount can also be found on many handgun slides as a way to install iron sights or red dot sight adapter plates.
Tip-Off Scope Mounts
What's special about Tip-off scope mounts - Tip off scope mount is a claw type of mount that directly attached to the grooves built into a rifle receiver. They come in different sizes and varieties, initially introduced by American gun maker O. F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc.
These types of mounts were quite popular mostly in .22 rifles, and it almost look like the scope is held by two pieces of bend sheet metal. The scopes can be attached and replaced on rifles easily, even without a tool. In way it's very similar to dovetail mount
The mounts do not allow attachment of more advanced scoping systems or other accessories on the rifle. However, they can be useful for medium-range shooting on a secondary rifle.
Who uses tip-off mount? - The tip-off type mounting is popular on rimfire rifles, but it's not suitable for most centerfire rifles due to recoil.
The lateral tension alone of the tip-off ring claws is typically not great enough to reliably prevent movement under repeated recoil heavier than that experienced with .22 (and now .17) rimfires.
Tip-off rings and grooved receivers were practical when scopes weren’t as reliable or inexpensive as they are now.
In today's firearm technology, Tip-off scope mounts are less desirable on modern firearms.
Integral Optic Mount
What's cool about it - Integral optic mount usually goes with red dot and holographic optics for STD mil-spec picatinny rail, in another word, a built-in mount like the EOTECH, ELCAN SpecterDR, Leupold LCO and other similar optics.
Some come with adjustable quick detach lever, and some come with cantilever keeper nuts that give the shooter the ability to tighten the optic to specific torque value for accuracy retention.
The Advantage is that the optic already features a mount, so the user doesn't have to buy any mount for it. This can be handy when you are traveling on the road without carrying too many tools or too much effort to swap optics.
The Disadvantage is that if for some reason the integral mount is damaged beyond repair, then you have to buy a brand new optic.
Two-Piece Scope Rings
Why use 2-piece scope rings while one-piece scope mount is available - Two piece scope rings are popular for bolt action rifles for maximizing the clearance area for loading and unloading around the chamber area.
Hunters and precision shooters who wear gloves can easily work their fingers around the chamber area with more room.
Currently there are vertical split and horizontal split scope rings available for scope tube sizes:
Assuming the rifle is properly setup with the optic mount base, a two-piece scope ring setup is just as good as any other mounts. However, on some rifles, scope lapping is required for a perfect alignment.
For rifles like the M1 Garand, M14 and M1A a 2 piece scope rings are recommended.
One-Piece Scope Mount [QD & Cantilever]
Why people love one piece scope mounts - They're the most popular and most sold scope mounts in the firearm industries. The one-peice design has the highest rigidity to handle stress, and it eliminates the frustration of scope lapping for a perfect alignment and scope tube surface contact.
Available for scope tube sizes:
In addition, one-piece scope mount is much easier to mount a scope and it provides effortless scope alignment when attaching it to a rifle.
One-piece quick detach mount also allows the shooter to quickly detach the scope from the rifle and re-attach with a high confidence of repeatable zero.
How does it mount securely? - A one piece scope mount comes with either cantilever keeper nut mounting or QD systems like the Geissele Super Precision ,LaRue Tactical, Spuhr ISMS, Scalarworks, MDT and more.
For older rifles where the gunsmith drills hole on the top of the receiver with just a bit of imperfection, an one piece scope mount base makes sure the two built-in scope rings are aligned.
Precision machined scope mounts have very tight tolerance to ensure perfect scope axis alignment and uniform inner circular gripping surface for full scope tube contact, to retain zero and precision under heavy recoil or drop.
If you have ever done scope lapping with scope rings, you may have noticed uneven contact surface between the scope tube and the scope rings, and that causes accuracy issue down range.
20 MOA Scope Mount
Why use 20 MOA scope base mount? - For long range precision shooters that need a bit of cant from the scope base, 20 MOA scope mount is needed for shooting beyond 600 yards when click adjustment tends to run out in a standard rifle scope.
20 MOA base is canted down to the front of the rifle barrel, and this allows for more usable elevation
So the 20 MOA slight tilt of the mount helps compensate the elevation that is wasted.
To learn more about the difference between 0 and 20 MOA, please click here to read more.
Offset Optic Mount
Why use offset optic mount - Offset optic mount provides tremendous tactical advantage when combining a magnified optic with a 1X red dot sight, which allows the shooter to transition between the two optics simply by tilting the rifle.
There are many different offset optic mounts available on the market today. The most common ones are 30 and 45 degree cant picatianny mount, and some are specifically made for optics like the Holosun 507C, Trijicon RMR, Leupold DeltaPoint Pro, and others.
Just recently, a new offset mount called Valhalla Tactical RUKH is released , which allows the shooter to adjust the pitch of the mount for better transition speed and cheek weld positioning, aka adjustable angle to better align with the rifle bore for better point of aim and point of impact accuracy.
Who uses this type of mount - People who use offset red dot mounts are military, 3 gun competition shooters and other tactical related shooting activities. The concept is to have CQB and mid range aiming capabilities combined on one gun.
It works on pistol caliber carbines, centerfire sporting rifles, tactical carbines, DMRs and other magnified optic ready rifle platforms.
In most cases, you see 3 gun shooters use offset mount a lot on the competition stages, which gives them more flexibility when shooting around corners and covers simply by tilting their rifle to get on target fast.
To browse through the best offset red dot mounts here.
Weaver vs. Picatinny Scope Mount
The main difference between a weaver style and a Picatinny scope mount is in the dimensions of recoil grooves. The grooves on Picatinny rails are .206” wide. Their center-to-center width is .394”.
Accessories for guns that are made for a Weaver system will fit on a Picatinny rail with ease, however, Picatinny accessories will not fit on a weaver system because of the bigger groove size.
Picatinny Rail - The grooves for Picatinny rings are made to military standard specifications, which allows different scope mounting systems to be mounted at the top of the gun with no concern for compatibility. In addition, picatinny mounting platform is also used for attaching handguard accessories.
Weaver Rail - The weaver rail is originally made in two pieces, one at the front of the receiver and the other at the rear. The bolt opening left the space for magazines on the firearm to be exposed and easy to reload.
The Weaver rail has a recoil groove length of .180” in order to be considered a Weaver.