Leveling Scope

I turned in my IWI Tavor x95 and went with an AR15


Stag Arms>drop-in trigger Velocity 3lb> Magpul CTR Carbine Stock.


Complete Daniel Defence m4a1

I bought an LVPO scope for my AR15 Steiner p4xi 1-4x24mm p3tr. I was close to pulling the trigger to purchase the Vortex Razor HD GEN II-E, 1-6x24mm. I had to ask myself when I would ever need to use 1-6 LVPO scope? For me, i shoot max 100 meters.

I want to write how I level my scope using Aero Precision Mount. I would love feedback from the community on how they go about leveling their scope.

I am using the plumb method.

  1. Use my shooting rest bench to hold up the front of the rifle and books to hold up the back- I put a level on top of the rifle to ensure everything is level before putting on the mount and scope.
  2. Find the spot I want to install my scope -install mount on the rifle rail and Toque down the mount per instructions.
  3. Place the scope in the rings, and close rings without tightening.
  4. Check for eye relief ( moving the scope back and forth, a two-person job- One who will be shooting the rifle in their shooting position and the other “wife” moving the scope back and forth)
  5. A string tied to a fishing lead weight hanging down and screwed to a wall.
  6. Using a Flashlight, point the light in the opposite side of the scope towards the string. You will see the crosshairs> align crosshairs with the string and torque rings per instructions. ( do not over-tighten them) it is the base that holds everything in place, not the clamps holding the scope.

Thanks now I’ll be in the hobby room seeing if I can get the cross hairs to project on the wall. Lol. Have done the plumb bob thing looking through but, never shinning a light through it. Sounds legit. Thanks for the info


I use the eyeball method — if it looks level, it’s level.

I don’t expect to have a level on the gun when I’m shooting for the record, so it’s only ever going to be as flat as looks right to me from a natural hold. I have used the kitchen countertop and horizontal trim as reference planes for the gun and scope respectively. Refine my eye relief at the range. Verify that alignment still looks good when I get home. When is a dot reticle level?

Without knowing what you’re trying to hit, I would think the lower power scope will be more satisfactory out to 100m. At similar ranges, I have a fixed 4x stepped crosshairs on one and 1x 3MOA dot on others. But I’m not benchresting on gnat’s eyeballs. :wink:


Good question, would have to place a level on the turret cover. :thinking:

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I use two torpedo levels or a torpedo level and line level placed on a flat part on each.

Well, my real observation was — does it matter?
Especially if intending to shoot a .223 AR only within 100 yards, what target will require field adjustments or more than a casual hold-over/under? Not saying it couldn’t matter to somebody, but to the OP? Center is center; even for a symmetrical crosshair.

Being off plumb too much will distort windage and elevation adjustments, but I guess each shooter needs to judge how good their eyeball is for their intended purpose. One might even realize that cant could be used to make sub-MOA adjustments for a sighting system with 1MOA clicks and a symmetrical reticle (using trial & error or refamiliarization with trig functions). :wink:


So… do you agree to get plumb on a dot reticle a level on the top turret cover would give you a level, non existent, cross hair. Meaning the scope would be level with bore axis.

Yeah, I would think — if your turret or cover is flat and large enough to balance an accurate bubble — it should be pretty close to perpendicular with your elevation screw and parallel with your windage screw. Adjustments made that way should be as accurate as your bubble. A plumb line has the advantage of not relying on the quality of the level for accuracy — but I don’t have an idea how to apply that to a reticle with no plumb or horizontal reference.

No, not that. Unless I miss your meaning.

The leveling just gets the scope adjusting screws aligned with gravity. Ballistically, the bore axis is always aligned with gravity, no matter how the bore/gun might be canted. The whole project here is to get them both aligned with gravity, so sight adjustment clicks will mean what you think they mean. Then screw the reticle around until the point of aim meets the desired point of impact. The bore axis will not be level or parallel to the scope axis. They aren’t necessarily aligned laterally either — you’re just moving the reticle around until it helps place your POI as desired.

This whole business of precision leveling of a scope to eliminate cant effects will only be worth anything in shooting if the bubble level or plumb line is also used at the range when adjusting zero. And that will only mean anything if the shooter will be holding that level when firing for effect. If one habitually shoots with a few degrees of cant in their hold, I think they would get more from doing zero with the sight plumb to that cant than with the sight perfectly plumb. I just don’t think it matters for a casual offhand or position shooter within 100yd.

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To get my rifle and cross hairs in alignment, I first level (plumb) my rifle in my gun vice by placing a small level across the upper receiver (on the picatinny) and rotating the rifle to center the bubble. At this point the rifle should be plumb and level.

It’s important to get your buttstock and receiver in alignment, so in the end, the scope, crosshair, and receiver should be in vertical alignment. With an adjustable stock, sometimes it can be canted to the receiver when tightening the castle nut on the buffer tube. It’s an easy fix to square up the buttstock.

With the scope loosely clamped in the rings and adjusted for eye relief, I place the small level across the vertical adjustment cap on the scope and rotate the scope until it’s level. Now the receiver and the scope should be squared and level with each other. Tighten the rings while checking that the scope remains level and periodically check your receiver to assure the plumb of the receiver hasn’t been altered.

The final test is to shoulder the rifle as you would when shooting and see the crosshairs vertical and horizontal. Sighting at objects like buildings (with vertical and horizontal lines) will affirm good alignment.

This method not only checks out to be aligned by using a level, but also it must feel and look right to your body. The human eye is remarkable when it comes to picking up misalignments, and you’ll see if you’re shouldering your rifle correctly or leaning to one side.

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I think we are in agreement.


That is actually my first test. And then I’m done. Because…

So why all the other messing around?

Some people can’t easily see those misalignments, and they should use a mechanical method. Same if you’re putting guns together for others — “true” is kind of a nice place for a non-custom product to end up. But for personal use, if I naturally shoulder any particular long arm with a bit of a roll, do I really need to contort my hold to please a plumb bob? Am I not at a more consistent place to just roll the sight to plumb at my natural angle of hold? I think there is no gauge for that — just gotta trust that remarkable human eye. :wink:

Chuck the rifle in a vice with a level on the bridge rail (picatinny) and ensure it is level left to right using the bricks on the guy across the street’s house for horizontal. Dial up 30 and make sure I am on the same mortar line, dial down 60 to ensure the same and then dial back 30 to ensure I land where I started.

Repeat for horizontal.

On guns that I can see down the bore and down the scope I use the chamber and the muzzle to form 2 perfect “O”'s within each other. From there I adjust the scope or irons to the same point of aim. Slip the turrets to zero and take it to the range. @Johnnyq60 can attest to how well this works and @Bruno this is probably what you were looking for.

On the range I will dial for (four) corners to determine what my scope is actually doing.

Get a solid POA/POI at 100 MEASURED yards as in with a tape measure 100 yards.

Put up a new BLANK target with a Diamond aiming point in the middle or you can draw an “X” from corner to corner.

Lay your level across it about 3" from the top, get it level and draw a line from one side to the other.

Ensure your target is big enough to handle 40 Minutes or Mils or IPHY of adjustment, worst case 40 “clicks”. If needed to, reduce the length of fire to 50 or 25 MEASURED yards from THE TURRET of your scope. Remember you will need to multiply your results to find out what you are doing at 100 yards.

Dial 20 right: Bang!
Dial 20 up: Bang!
Dial 20 left: Bang!
Dial 20 more left: Bang!
Dial 20 down: Bang!
Dial 20 more down: Bang!
Dial 20 right: Bang!
Dial 20 more right: Bang!
Dial 20 up: Bang!
Dial 20 left: Bang!
Dial 2 up: Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!
Dial 2 Down Bang!

All the while NEVER moving off my aiming point. If you and the ammo and the gun do their parts you should have a reasonable square and ONE hole in the center.




I believe the technique that @Craig6 is talking about is bore sighting. He did it on my M&P 15 sport 2 A.R. 15 and it was right on point when I first shot it. It was a simple technique but it sure worked. I have always been a small arms guy but this was something I learned when it came to my first rifle. Thanks brother.


On all my rifles I have I use thermal fot the most part and the earlier scopes I have a clip on thermal that clips on the front of the scope,the other scopes are Day/nite scopes and I also have the green dot on demand laser on the rifles and i use a bore sight to tune the laser to the barrel and then tune in the cross hairs to where the laser is lit up,and the range is at different distances as to what weapon, when I was growing up we didn’t have scopes back then we used Kentucky windage and Tennessee elevation,LOL that was old school to use


I think I’m kind of missing what the project is here.

I see the bore sighting — which is one way to get on the paper, if your gun allows a look down the bore. Mine do not, so I just take a shot close in to figure how to move from “on the paper” to “on the target”.

Then I see squaring the scope — which verifies the adjusting increments and repeatability of adjustments (to the extent that gun, ammo, and shooter are perfect). This is important if scope adjustments will be made in the field to account for range and wind. If the gun is simply sighted and left with a “point blank” aim, then repeatability doesn’t really matter as long as the scope holds the zero you set. With a .223, I’m using a 4" point blank zero (2" up & 2" down) from muzzle to a bit over 225yd, and don’t expect to need more precision or more range than that in my use.

What I don’t see is moving from the bore sight to actually zero the scope. Maybe skipped over that, being relatively simple? It is a hurdle some shooters have a hard time getting over — I know I did once upon a time, but now I can’t remember what had me stumped. :roll_eyes:

The project @Buddha-In-The-Sun was working on seemed like just mounting new rings and scope so the scope would be square with the gun. The description was a tedious precision method to get the scope screwed on right. But that project was over and done without getting as far as to actually sight/zero the gun.


Correct, i feel having my mount and scope level is import for me before i Zero my scope.


Yes. Whether by “micrometer” method or by guess and by golly, that is definitely the correct order to end up reliably on the mark. Have fun with it!


@techs I think the fundamental difference in why I do what I do and most other folks is that I actually use my optic as designed I turn the knobs. In my smaller cartridge rifles I generally go for a 100 yard zero, in thew bigger more dedicated stuff it may be 500 or 1000 yards. Whatever I decide, I run it through my card making ballistics program and push PRINT. Bang - dope cards.

On to scopes if I go from 100 to 1K I need 44.25 IPHY (Inch per Hundred Yards) UP. I dial that on, if needed I dial wind but generally prefer to hold it (which means I also calibrate the reticle). The minuscule amount of difference between MOA and IPHY and the REAL value of the scope adjustments means something when you are clicking that dial 288 times (or just turning it full round twice).

Zeroing the scope: All the above is a culmination of a boolit through the aiming point on the first shot. Advice to anyone who shoots “groups” DON’T SHOOT WHAT YOU ARE AIMING AT. Turn the knobs and take yourself off the aiming point and make a group, then put it back and test it, ONCE. If you keep blowing up what you are aiming at then your point of aim starts to wander because you can no longer tell where it was because there’s holes in it.



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Yeah, I understand what you’re doing with the scope. I just wasn’t clear whether the descriptions of bore sighting and squaring had something to do with the OP query about leveling.

I also use my optics as designed — I figure out the ballistic arc which will suit my needs, adjust the scope, screw on the caps, and go about my business. Bang, indeed. :grin:

I have no idea how often open turrets are helpful to most shooters, and how often they are just fashionable lumps on what could be a more streamlined optic . I see how they are useful in extreme precision/range shooting. Don’t seem that important in my line of work, so they have not gotten into my wallet.


There are those that know their sticks and those that use them.