So you’ve chosen your new scope and you can’t wait to use it. But first, you need to pick a mount so you can actually attach it to your gun.
Fortunately, it doesn’t really matter which one you choose. After all, all scope mounts are basically the same, right?
Scope mounts are essential pieces of equipment and aren’t a place to take shortcuts. They’re responsible for keeping your scope securely in place, not just to prevent it from flying off the gun, but also to ensure that it keeps an accurate zero over time.
Don’t worry, though. Just because scope mounts are important doesn’t mean that buying them has to be a daunting process.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about choosing the best scope mounts from you.
First, we’ll talk about some basics, like the different types of scope mounts. Next, we’ll talk about what you need to consider to make sure that you’re choosing the right scope mount for your needs. Then we’ll go over a few of our favorite scope mounts to help you get started on your search.
You can get a preview of those mounts below, but let’s get started with those scope mount basics.
Table Of Contents
- Our Best Scope Mounts
- What Are Scope Mounts?
- What Are The Different Types Of Scope Mounts?
- How Do Scope Mounts Work?
- What Do You Look For In The Best Scope Mounts?
- Best Scope Mounts Reviewed
- Final Thoughts On Scope Mounts
Our Best Scope Mounts
- Burris Optics AR-P.E.P.R. Scope Mount (Our Top Pick)
- UTG Max Strength Picatinny Scope Rings (Best Budget)
- American Defense Manufacturing AD-RECON Scope Mounts (Best High End)
- Vortex Optics Sport Cantilever Mounts
- Leupold Rifleman Detachable Rings
What Are Scope Mounts?
At their most basic, scope mounts are a pair rings that encircle the main body tube of a scope, on top of a base that attaches to your firearm. Scope mounts ensure that your scope stays attached to your firearm and in the proper position to retain your zero.
Scope mounts can either be one-piece scope mounts or come as a two-piece scope ring set.
A one-piece scope mount has both rings on a single base. Single-piece scope mounts tend to be rigid, so they’re well suited for high-recoil firearms. The long base can get in the way on certain rifles, though, like bolt actions.
The other primary advantage of a one-piece scope mount is that the rings are always in the same position relative to one another. That means you don’t have to make sure that the rings are aligned with one another and the right distance apart.
A two-piece scope ring set has each ring attached to its own mount. Sets tend to be lighter and more affordable than one-piece mounts. They’re also better for bolt action rifles. They do require you to line the rings up yourself, but that’s not usually too much trouble.
What Are The Different Types Of Scope Mounts?
One-piece scope mounts and two-piece scope rings are the main two categories that scope mounts fall under, but there are a variety of types of mounts that can fall into either of those categories. Scope mounts can also be multiple types at the same time. Here are a couple of the most common varieties:
Cantilever mounts have rings that are offset from the base. This allows the scope to be positioned farther forward on the rifle, providing a few advantages.
For one, forward scope mounting allows you to take advantage of extended eye relief and the scope’s full field of view. It also helps center the weight on the rifle for a more balanced weapon.
Quick-detach mounts have a lever or other fast method of removing the mount from the rail. They allow you to quickly switch to backup iron sights if your scope fails or your magnification is too high.
For most of us, though, the benefit of QD-mounts is that they’re just easier to use. They make removing your mounts to pack up your scope or clean your gun far easier.
Quick-detach mounts are also sometimes called quick-release mounts.
How Do Scope Mounts Work?
Scope mounts are pretty straight forward.
The rings attach around the scope’s main body tube. Rings can be either horizontally or vertically split. Either way, they screw closed to keep them securely in place around the scope. Lapping may be recommended for an even more secure hold on the scope.
The base itself generally attaches to the scope via some kind of rail system.
Dovetail rails are the most traditional. These rails feature a flat top with a groove cut underneath on either side so they resemble something of an upside-down wedge. The mount grips into those grooves to attach to the ring.
Picatinny-style and Weaver-style rails are more common, however, especially Picatinny. These rails are derived from the dovetail, but they have perpendicular slots along the top of the rail.
The slots on Picatinny rails are evenly spaced 0.394” from the center of one slot to the center of the next. Slots in Picatinny rails are 0.206 inches wide. Slots in Weaver rails are narrower, 0.180 inches wide. Slots on Weaver rails are not necessarily evenly spaced.
Because of the width difference, not all Picatinny mounts can be used on Weaver rails, but Weaver mounts can typically be used on Picatinny rails. Most mounts are designed to be able to be used in both styles, however.
What Do You Look For In The Best Scope Mounts?
When selecting a high-quality scope mount, you need to consider the type and mounting system, but also a few other features.
Scope Ring Diameter
Obviously, the scope ring diameter needs to match the tube diameter of your scope.
A 30mm scope tube, for example, needs a riflescope mount with 30mm diameter rings.
Most popular are 1 in. and 30mm and most scope mounts are available with rings in those two diameters, but 34mm isn’t uncommon either. There are also plenty of scopes with tubes of other diameters as well.
The more energy the caliber, the more secure your scope mount needs to be. With scope for a little .22 rifle, like the Ruger 10/22, you can get away with a much less sturdy scope mount than you need for a scope for .338 Lapua Magnum on a Remington 700.
A secure grip to the rail prevents the scope from shifting so you have to re-zero it and ensures your shots stay accurate. Of course, it also makes sure the scope actually stays attached to the rifle so it doesn’t become loose and end up damaged.
Generally, a scope mount should hold your scope as close to the barrel as possible without the scope hitting the gun. That means that the larger the objective lens on the scope, the taller your scope mount needs to be.
There are additional considerations, though.
If you plan on co-witnessing your scope and iron sights, you’ll want mounts for each that allow them to line up properly.
If you’d like to use both a scope and iron sights, but not co-witness the two, you may want to look for a see-through mount. These mounts hold the scope higher and leave the area underneath open for viewing and using iron sights.
Best Scope Mounts Reviewed
Now that you know the basics, let’s talk about some of the top scope mounts on the market.
Burris Optics AR-P.E.P.R. Scope Mount (Our Top Pick)
Our top pick is the AR-P.E.P.R., which stands for “Proper Eye Position Ready.”
This one-piece cantilever scope mount allows for up to 2 inches of forward positioning for better eye relief and full field of view. That makes it a great option for ARs.
This mount comes in 1 in., 30mm, and 34mm diameter versions. There are also QD versions of the 1 in. and 30mm diameter versions.
- Comes with both smooth and Picatinny ring tops
- Variety of options available
- 34mm diameter version has 20 MOA of cant
- Heavier than other mounts
UTG Max Strength Picatinny Scope Rings (Best Budget)
Drain your budget on your scope and not have much left for a mount? Then UTG Max Strength Picatinny Scope Rings are perfect for you. This two-piece ring set includes the best scope rings for shoppers on a budget.
These scope rings are available in high, medium, and low profile versions, each with 1 in. and 30mm diameter options available. Each of those styles is also available in a QD ring version in addition to the standard twist-lock design.
All styles are made from aircraft-grade aluminum alloy and have a steel locking plate.
- High and medium versions have a see-through tunnel
- Very lightweight
- Protective tape inside of the rings
- Don’t attach as securely as other riflescope rings
American Defense Manufacturing AD-RECON Scope Mounts (Best High End)
These high-end one-piece mounts have more configurations than you’d have thought possible.
For one, they’re available in 1 in., 30mm, 32mm, 34mm, 35mm, and 40mm ring diameters.
By default, they have a 2-inch offset and can accommodate scopes with objective housings up to 56mm wide. However, there are also non-cantilever and 3-inch cantilever versions, as well as taller and shorter versions.
All of the above are available in a Black or Flat Dark Earth hard anodized finish and with your choice of standard or tactical QD levers.
These mounts feature vertical split rings and are made from 6061-T6 aluminum.
- Adjustable to fit different rail systems
- QD lever system that can be configured for front or rear locking
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Tricky to tighten
Vortex Optics Sport Cantilever Mounts
Vortex Optics Sport Cantilever Mounts are another great option if you’re in the market for one-piece cantilever mounts.
These scope mounts are available in 30mm and 1-inch diameters and in 2-inch and 3-inch cantilever versions. Either way you go, the cantilever allows for forward positioning for mounting on flat top ARs.
They’re durable and attach securely to either Picatinny or Weaver rails. However, thanks to their aluminum construction, they’re lightweight compared to other one-piece cantilever mounts, just 6.7 ounces.
- 1.59-inch center scope height
- Forward positioning helps extend eye relief
- Attaches to Picatinny or Weaver rails
- No QD version
Leupold Rifleman Detachable Rings
Last up is Leupold Rifleman Detachable Rings. These rings aren’t as sturdy as some other options and we wouldn’t recommend them for serious shooting, but they’re still a solid choice for plinking if you’re shopping on a budget.
The 1” diameter rings are available in medium and high options, while the 30mm diameter rings are available in low, medium, and high options. Most of those configurations have horizontal splits, but some are available with vertical split rings. Certain configurations are available with a silver finish in addition to the standard matte black.
- See-through design allows use with iron sights
- Lifetime guarantee
- Precision-machined aircraft-grade aluminum
- Quality control is not on par with other Leupold products
Final Thoughts On Scope Mounts
Whether you’re looking for a scope mount for long-range shooting, your hunting rifle, or something else, one of the above options should have you covered.
However, if you do want to do some more looking, brands like Warne, Nikon, Rock Solid, Ruger, Seekins, and Talley are some more great places to start.
One last thing I want to note: scope mounts are really only used for telescopic sights. Other types of optics, like red dots, may have integrated mounts or will use a mount specific to that type of optic.
If that’s what you’re looking for, many of the brands we’ve mentioned above also make excellent mounts for other optics.