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Scope ring lapping?

This is a discussion on Scope ring lapping? within the Ruger Bolt Action forums, part of the Rifle & Shotgun Forum category; So I've been shooting scoped rifles for 30+ years and never lapped the scope rings. I typically shoot .30 caliber and magnums, and never had ...


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Old March 28th, 2019, 03:45 PM   #1
 
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Scope ring lapping?

So I've been shooting scoped rifles for 30+ years and never lapped the scope rings. I typically shoot .30 caliber and magnums, and never had a scope "come loose". My buddy has me all spun on lapping the rings on my .338 win mag, even though I've shot it with unlapped rings no problem. I'm changing from a 1" tube to 30mm Leupold VX-6, and am wondering if there's any downside to lapping the new rings (Warne fixed rings, weaver style). My buddy has the lapping kit, so no cost to me really. Thanks in advance for your advice.



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Old March 28th, 2019, 04:11 PM   #2
 
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To me lapping is not about preventing scope movement, although it should help, but rather about the scope performing properly without external stresses on the body.

I lap when installing a scope unless I can use Burris Signature Zee rings with the poly inserts. Then I use liquid electrical tape on the rings, let it set, and install the scope. This has worked well for me.
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Old March 28th, 2019, 04:25 PM   #3
 
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Like the OP I have never lapped the rings on my rifles. Lapping will fix any misalignment in the installation of bases or defects in manufacturing of the rings. I have been fortunate not to have had any issues, but don't see any downside to the process. Since you are mounting a great optic, and have access to a lapping kit, you should do it. I look forward to seeing a range report when you get done.
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Old March 28th, 2019, 05:41 PM   #4
 
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It depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Lapping rings will get everything settled in where it would like to be but if your base isn’t trued with the action, then why worry about it?
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Old March 28th, 2019, 05:43 PM   #5
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Lapping rings dates back to the 60's when scopes started getting popular. The typical scope at the time was a steel body Weaver mounted in a two piece Maynard P. Buehler bayonet base. At the time, very few guns were drilled and tapped at the factory so you were at the mercy of your local gunsmith (or yourself) to try to get the holes drilled straight to match the mount alignment. More times than not, the front ring didn't align perfectly with the rear ring so if you tightened the rings, you could easily damage the scope. The only way to correct for front to back alignment was to use a solid 1" diameter steel bar to force alignment then finish the job by lapping the rings to perfection. I have mounted many scopes and haven't had to lap a single ring when the mounting system was done at the factory

Modern rifles or handguns with factory drilled and tapped receivers, grooved receivers, or proprietary mounts (like most Ruger, SAKO, and Tikka rifles) do not need to have the rings lapped. That's because factory alignment along with today's better rings make it unnecessary. That said, if you like to play musical scopes (swapping them frequently like I do), an excellent tool to have is a 1" diameter 1 foot section of steel rod or a 30mm rod if you prefer 30mm tubes. As many people have found out, it is not hard to screw up when installing a scope and fail to get things squared up before you tighten the ring screws. To start, the rings are loosely mounted on the base then the 1" or 30mm rod is tightened in the rings. This will force alignment with the base so you can now tighten the base screws. Once the base screws are tight, remove the rod and install the scope. It should drop right in the lower half of the rings perfectly. Place the top halves of the rings in place and tighten the ring screws.

Many people (including myself) prefer to use steel one piece bayonet type bases and rings on some guns such as a Remington 700 or Winchester 70. The front ring bayonets in the base and the rear ring has two cupped screws used to position the scope straight with the bore line. I always start with the scope's reticule (cross hairs) centered vertically and horizontally and the scope ring screws loose. With a laser bore sighter installed in the muzzle, you can use your 1" or 30mm bar to pivot the front ring and snug down the cup screws until the scope's position is where the cross hair is directly on the laser dot about 25 feet away at the same time as when the scope tube fits the bottom ring half perfectly. This little trick helps you see directly through the center of the lens elements which makes eye relief and focus less fussy, plus it does wonders for parallax correction.
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Old March 28th, 2019, 07:15 PM   #6
 
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If you have access to the kit at least check it to see how true the rings are. I was prepared to lap the Vortex Precision Rings on my RPR but found it wasn’t necessary.

I wouldn’t spend the money on it for a one time install but if your buddy has the kit at least check it. I see no down side.
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Old March 28th, 2019, 07:35 PM   #7
 
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Something else to keep in mind involves Talley brand vertically split rings, their
factory warranty specifically says that if you do, you void the warranty then and
there, the similarly constructed Warne vertical rings don't have that concern that
I know of. Luckily I had a test kit that showed that the Talleys I had didn't need
fine tuning.
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Old March 28th, 2019, 08:06 PM   #8
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I have a lapping kit and I use it when necessary but I prefer to use one piece rings and base when possible. When the rings and base are machined from a single piece of metal it eliminates any alignment errors that add stress to a scope. My favorite is DNZ.
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Old March 28th, 2019, 08:49 PM   #9
 
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Quote:
Modern rifles or handguns with factory drilled and tapped receivers, grooved receivers, or proprietary mounts (like most Ruger, SAKO, and Tikka rifles) do not need to have the rings lapped. That's because factory alignment along with today's better rings make it unnecessary. That said, if you like to play musical scopes (swapping them frequently like I do), an excellent tool to have is a 1" diameter 1 foot section of steel rod or a 30mm rod if you prefer 30mm tubes. As many people have found out, it is not hard to screw up when installing a scope and fail to get things squared up before you tighten the ring screws. To start, the rings are loosely mounted on the base then the 1" or 30mm rod is tightened in the rings. This will force alignment with the base so you can now tighten the base screws. Once the base screws are tight, remove the rod and install the scope. It should drop right in the lower half of the rings perfectly. Place the top halves of the rings in place and tighten the ring screws.
I use the method Iowegan says, with the added step of lapping to about %90 material removed from the scope rings. Could be superstition but I feel like it gives the best chance at having the crosshairs running true to the scope tube.. (least amount of potential parallax and clearest sight picture) I find I make the least amount of windage and elevation adjustments for zero using this method. Also, I feel better about giving that last bit of torque down onto the rings since the tube should be running about as true as it can while still providing a good friction fit.

Last edited by Iowegan; March 28th, 2019 at 10:06 PM.
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Old March 28th, 2019, 09:02 PM   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 45flattop View Post
Something else to keep in mind involves Talley brand vertically split rings, their
factory warranty specifically says that if you do, you void the warranty then and
there, the similarly constructed Warne vertical rings don't have that concern that
I know of. Luckily I had a test kit that showed that the Talleys I had didn't need
fine tuning.
Good point flattop and thanks to everyone for the constructive advice. I am using the Warne maxima vertical split rings. I will use my buddy’s alignment tool, but I dont think I’m going to need to lap these rings. I will help him lap his if thats what he wants. I am mounting two scopes on two rifles and wont lap the leupold dual dovetail ones either. The Leupolds specifically say on the package, ‘grooved, so no lapping is necessary’.
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Old March 28th, 2019, 10:16 PM   #11
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Somethings to note …. higher quality rings fit a 1" (or 30mm) tube perfectly. If you lap the rings, now they will be slightly larger in diameter than the scope tube. This could cause just as much damage to the scope tube as misaligned rings. If you use cheap Chinese rings, good luck with or without lapping.

I do not like vertical rings …. never have, never will. Some people love them so I guess there are products to keep everyone happy.
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Old March 29th, 2019, 01:12 PM   #12
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iowegan View Post
Somethings to note …. higher quality rings fit a 1" (or 30mm) tube perfectly. If you lap the rings, now they will be slightly larger in diameter than the scope tube.
There’s no doubt that they fit the tube perfectly. Three of us run the Vortex Precision Matched rings on our rigs, (Vortex says they stay together as a set from start to finish throughout the process, but who knows, right). All three of us were prepared to lap, but it wasn’t necessary. On these particular rings you could lap some, not much, and still get a good fit. Ring gap from base to top half is probably 1/16”per side, still that’s not but something to work with.

Bottom line is you get what you pay for. Your higher end rings probably won’t need lapping and with the cheaper ones it probably won’t help.
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Old November 6th, 2019, 03:42 PM   #13
 
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I lap all my rings especially the Ruger proprietary rings as the finish is pretty shocking. It may or may not make a noticeable difference but better safe than sorry.
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Old November 6th, 2019, 05:08 PM   #14
 
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High quality rings should not need lapped.

However, this assumes two things:

1) The term “high quality” is sufficiently satisfied

And

2) The receiver and base are properly mated

Lapping rings should not be a solution to improper receiver-to-base fit, but many folks fall into a trap of believing their rings are misaligned or have poor contact because they installed the rings without stress-free bedding the optic rail to the receiver - so they end up lapping. If you’re bending a ring base to make it fit a receiver, then what should have been perfectly aligned rings will appear to be misaligned. Even with “high quality” brand names on the package, it’s pretty common for rails to mis-fit receivers by up to 1/8” gap. Doesn’t really matter which company slipped the spec, if you’re sitting there with a rifle and a base, the same answer applies - bed the rail.

Equally, it’s very common for folks to tell me, “but they’re Leupold rings, they ARE high quality.” I’ve also heard this a lot about common AR optic mounts like Burris PEPR mounts, Nikon M-223 mounts, and Vortex cantilever mounts. Great brand names on the side of relative junk products, in some cases. Even bedded, most Leupold rings will need lapping for alignment and contact, and I’ve never seen, out of about 30 of them crossing my bench in recent years, a Nikon AR mount or P series ring set which didn’t need extensive lapping (less than 20% surface contact out of the box).

When the rail is stress-free bedded to the receiver, I have never needed to lap Seekins (or Vortex PMR labeled Seekins rings), Nightforce, Warne, Badger, Hawkins, or Spuhr rings. Obviously Burris Signature and XTR Zee rings do not need be lapped either. Everything else on the market, anything in a blister pack at your local Cabela’s, will likely need attention, or lack-thereof for their misalignment and poor contact. For these rings, if you’re planning to do a lot of rifles in your life, then an inexpensive mandrel and alignment spindles are a good investment, and can save a lot of money by correcting lower cost rings. If you’re just throwing a $200 Nikon scope on top of your $400 blasting AR, lapping a $60 unimount isn’t very critical.

Last edited by Reticlelife; November 6th, 2019 at 05:11 PM.
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Old November 6th, 2019, 05:53 PM   #15
 
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I have a lapping kit and have lapped some rings with it. As previously mentioned "high quality" a term used without any reference to what constitutes high quality. I have used the lapping tool with Leupold, Burris and a couple Ruger factory rings. One thing I have observed is that more often than not the rings do not completely bear evenly on the scope as sold as evidenced by the lapping showing high and low spots. Does this matter? In most cases it does not IMO as the rings grip the scope body enough to prevent movement. I rarely get my lapping kit out these days. I have encountered rings that were out of whack enough to stress the scope tube. I also think a lot of scope problems are caused by people overtightening the ring screws. IMO this really can exert stress on the tube. You are not tightening the lug nuts on a semi here. I have used all kinds of mounting setups in my long years of shooting. If my rifles do not have factory rings as in the Rugers or Tikka I only use Leupold dual dovetail or Burris Signature rings with the inserts. It is a free country so use whatever you like.
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