Updated Jun 14, 2022 10:59 AM
Good scope rings are essential to a proper setup, and yet they often go overlooked. I’ve heard people say that you should spend twice as much on your scope as you do your rifle, but they say nothing about the scope rings. Your top-notch scope isn’t worth a cent if it isn’t mounted properly, and that requires quality scope rings.
If you don’t have the best scope rings that you can afford, you risk sacrificing performance and accuracy. This is because not all scope rings are created equal. Some of the low-quality offerings on the market don’t support the scope tube properly; they may not tighten down adequately; their heights may be slightly different; or they aren’t built to withstand the type of use you intend for your setup.
So, don’t just grab the first set you see on the shelf in the sporting goods store. For all of these reasons and more, it is essential that you give some thought about what the best scope rings will be for your purpose.
Things to Consider Before Buying Scope Rings
While there’s a lot of personal choices you get to make, there are some things that you’ll have to take into consideration that may be out of your control. Knowing those details ahead of time will save you some frustration in your search. Obviously, the final decision is up to you, but here are some of the things you should think about and double-check before deciding on the best scope rings for you.
Not all scopes are the same size, and I’m not just talking about their overall length or the diameter of the objective. It might not always be as noticeable as those other size differences, but the circumference of the scope tube varies as well. You’ve got to make sure the rings you want are available for the size of your scope tube as not all products are available in every tube size.
There are a variety of different ways to attach scope rings to your gun, but they’re not all the same. And generally, they aren’t interchangeable. Be sure you know if you’re going to be mounting to Picatinny rail, a Weaver mount, dovetail slots, or directly into a drilled and tapped receiver.
You might be tempted to spend more than you need to on a pair of scope rings. Obviously, if you’re putting together a high-end, long-range shooting rig, you’re going to want the best of the best scope rings that will cost some serious cash. However, if you’re just putting together a backyard plinker for your son or daughter’s first gun, then it might not be necessary to spend a huge amount of money to get a solid product that will do the job.
If you’re also looking for a firearm, we have plenty of advice for you. Check out our articles on the best rifles, best lever action rifles, and lightweight hunting rifles. And if you’re looking for a safe place to shoot, head over to the National Shooting Sports Foundation and use their range finder.
Best on a Budget
Why It Made the Cut
For less than $30, you can get a quality pair of scope rings from a reputable name that will work perfectly on a budget gun.
- Special design specifically for rimfire rifles
- Multiple finish choices available
- Made of lightweight aluminum
- Priced at $24.99 and $29.99
- See-thru options available to still use iron sights
- Leupold warns of overtightening due to aluminum construction
Leupold’s aluminum Rifleman scope rings are an economical alternative to steel mounts, with the most expensive option coming in around $30. Swapping out steel for aluminum isn’t just a price benefit. Aluminum brings down the overall weight of the system. It’s not unique to the Rifleman rings, as several others on this list have some sort of aluminum construction, but it’s a possible benefit for young or new shooters carrying their own rifle. These scope rings also have a sturdy cross-bolt build, and they’ll fit any Rifleman or Weaver-style base.
If you do need a base to go along with the rings Leupold also has you covered. The Rifleman two-piece bases are a perfect complement to the rings. Constructed of anodized aluminum with steel screws, they install easily on a variety of rifles and shotguns and offer lasting rigidity for reliable performance in tough environments. With a huge variety of mounting systems to pick from, in an equally large variety of heights and finishes, you’re sure to find the perfect match for your firearm and style of shooting.
Why It Made the Cut
The Vortex Precision Matched Scope Rings are serialized to one another to make sure they stay mated to one another for the best precision fit possible.
- Type III hard coat anodized finish
- 30mm, 34mm, and 1-inch options
- Built with an extremely tight tolerance of .0005 inches
- Backed by Vortex’s unmatched VIP lifetime warranty
- Will work on Weaver or Picatinny mounts
- Rings are serialized to one another to maintain perfect fit
In the highest tier of Vortex’s three tiers of scope rings come their Precision Matched Scope Rings. Machined from certified 7075 T6 billet aluminum and held to an extremely tight tolerance of .0005 inches using a precision CNC mill, the price of these rings reflects what has gone into making them. After machining, these Vortex rings are then serialized to one another to ensure that they stay mated to one another for the best precision fit possible.
Designed with no corners to snag on clothing or brush, these rings are finished with a Type III hard coat anodize to cap off their build design and quality. These rings are made in the USA, and the icing on the cake is that they are backed by Vortex’s VIP lifetime warranty, a deal that is without equal in the industry.
Best Quick Detach
Why It Made the Cut
ATN’s Quick Detach Scope Mount offers a rugged and reliable QD system for less than $100.
- Adjustable quick detach mechanism
- Rigid one-piece design
- Retain zero while swapping between guns
- Priced at just $99
- Designed for ATN’s X-Sight 4K Series, ThOR 4 Series or ThOR LT Series, but can work with other 30mm scope tubes, too
- Priced under $100
- Weighs almost half a pound
The ATN Quick Detach and Release Mount is a great addition to your system if you’re already using scopes from ATN themselves. Your X-Sight 4K, ThOR 4, or ThOR LT (which was featured as one of our best thermal scopes) will slot right in for an all ATN system.
But ATN’s Quick Detach is really just an all-around great QD mount for other 30mm scopes. Made of a hardened aluminum alloy, this one-piece mount offers rugged and secure mounting, easy swapping, and rounded corners to prevent snagging or marring of gear. Of course, the best part of the ATN Quick Detach and Release Mount is that you can retain your zero when moving from one gun to the next. That is a huge time saver.
Best for Long-Range Shooting
Why It Made the Cut
Burris XTR Signature Rings use shims that are designed to offset your scope’s minor misalignment or build a custom MOA base for long-range applications.
- Self-centering dual steel clamps
- Up to 40 MOA adjustment in the scope mount
- Pos-Align inserts easily correct off-center receiver holes or bases
- No need for expensive tapered bases or shimming for 1,000-yard shooting
- Pol-Align inserts are nylon, so they won’t place stress on your scope tube
- Fits all Picatinny and most Weaver rails
- While available in 1”, 30mm, and 34mm sizes, not all heights are available for each one
The Burris XTR Signature Rings are a game-changer for long-range shooters. Built of strong yet lightweight aluminum, these rings mount with self-centering dual steep clamps for a rock-solid grip to your gun’s Weaver or Picatinny rail.
By far, though, the best part of the XTR Signature rings are the Pos-Align inserts. Each ring set includes one set of the +/- 0 MOA concentric, one set each of the +/-5 MOA and +/-10 MOA, and two sets of the +/-20 MOA. With these inserts, it is possible to make 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 or 40 MOA of cant adjustments in the scope mount. Picking the right combination of inserts lets you easily adjust for unusual ring/mount/barrel alignments or to provide additional elevation or windage adjustment if necessary.
Best for the Money
Why It Made the Cut
The Talley Fixed Scope Ring System was designed to require no lapping for perfect mounting with your scope and give you rock solid performance with even the heaviest of magnum calibers.
- Strong double recoil shoulder base for magnum calibers
- Available in four different heights for all setup configurations
- Sleek profiled vertical split
- Only two screws needed to provide solid lock up
- All four different height options (low, medium, high, and extra high) are available in 1” or 30mm tube diameters
- Choose from five different finishes to match your rifle: gloss, matte, satin, stainless steel, and color case hardened
- Talley’s quick-detach levers are not available for vertical split rings
The Talley Fixed Scope Ring System uses a sleek profile non-detachable vertically split ring with larger screws and no moving parts. As you’d expect with no screws or moving parts, this makes for a scope ring system that is as rigid and rock solid as it looks. You can’t get much more solid with a two-piece mount. Choose from a variety of heights and tube diameters to mount just about any scope on any rifle.
Utilizing the same double recoil shoulder base as their detachable scope rings, these will also stand up to the most brutal of magnum cartridges. So, whether you’re putting these on a beautiful color case hardened lever-action rifle (with color case hardened rings to match, of course) or a lightweight hunting rifle, these rings will be up to the challenge.
How I Made My Picks
I have a number of scoped rifles in my collection, and none of them utilize the same kind of scope rings. This is because I truly believe that there is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to mounting a scope. Some of my personal guns have scopes that are mounted with fairly inexpensive scope rings, while others are mounted in rings that cost considerably more than the average .22 rifle. When it comes down to picking the right ones for a particular setup, I evaluate scope rings using the following criteria:
- Build Quality: Are these scope rings built well? Will they stand up to the type of use and/or abuse that I’m going to subject them to?
- Purpose: How will I be using these scope rings? Are they going on a no-frills budget build, or a high-end long-range setup?
- Cost: Are these scope rings a good value for the price? Are they providing enough benefits/features to justify what I’m going to spend on them? That is to say, can I save a few bucks on the scope rings based on their build quality and my intended purpose, or do I need to go all out?
Q: How much do scope rings cost?
Scope rings vary widely in price from as little as $20 to more than $200. Of course, spending 10x more on scope rings may not be necessary, depending on how you plan on using your scope and rifle combination. For example, you probably don’t need $200 scope rings on an entry-level .22 caliber rifle.
Q: Does the height of scope rings matter?
Yes, the height of the scope rings most definitely matters. Not only is the height of scope rings important to ensure proper clearance between your scope’s bell and the barrel, but they also dictate the positioning of your cheek on the gun in order to properly see through the scope. If your rings are unnecessarily high, it may be difficult to get a good cheek weld.
Q: Do scope rings affect accuracy?
Yes, scope rings can affect accuracy. If your rings are not properly tightened, then your scope will move around and not hold a consistent zero, thereby affecting your accuracy. Moreover, if your scope rings are not matched properly, are poorly aligned with one another, or are overtightened on your scope tube, then the overall alignment of your scope on your rifle will be off and your accuracy will suffer.
As I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t matter how great your rifle or scope are if the scope rings aren’t providing a solid connection between the two. You can put a $2,000 scope on a $5,000 rifle and still miss the broad side of a barn if your scope rings aren’t up to the challenge. Make sure that you give careful consideration to your rifle, your scope, and your intended purpose before parting with your hard-earned cash.