If you want to send pure terror into the heart of the average rifle shooter, just ask him or her to mount a rifle scope on a firearm. There was a time when the claw mounts or turn key systems were the rage of the day.
I have some of these on old school Weatherby Mark V rifles scoped with turn key bases, and a few Winchester Model 70s. However, things have changed in the business of mounting a set of bases, rings and finally a scope today.
With the development of the chassis rifle design, and also some additional scope base systems tacked onto the more traditional rifles in wood stocks and standard barrel actions, tacking on a scope without the use of a smith is being regarded as quite simple.
First of all consider buying a good set of screw drivers and other screw bit types of attachments, I would suggest Wheeler tools as sold through Amazon or Brownells as a good starting point in a search for product.
You may pay for a one-time scope mount job through a local gunsmith, if one can be found nowadays. But for the price of the tools, if you're not a one-time rifle guy, it will be worth learning how to mount your own scope systems.
Modern rifle receivers all use Weaver-style rails and small block mounts, so about the only thing the individual mounting his or her own new scope needs to know is exactly which base to buy to match the pre-drilled screw holes on the receiver ring and rear of the receiver.
The correct base is not difficult to locate as most gun shops, and even internet stores, have all the information you need so that you get the correct mounting blocks or, in the case of a full rail mount design, the right pre-drilled rail mount for your rifle. Also If you mounting a scope on a rifle without a rail using scope rings can improve accuracy, allow for better customization, and enhance the overall shooting experience.
Secondly, in many cases, rifles now come with a pre-installed set of bases. If these are workable for you, half the job of mounting a scope has already been done.
When not installed or if requiring correction for special bases (long-range MOA increased systems), I will always buy Weaver short blocks pre-drilled, and after placing the mounts, haul out my Wheeler screwdriver set, find the correct lock-tight bit (temporary type) and screw down those simple but effective bases.
With the base in place, take the selected scope ring apart using the lower half only for the first phase of mounting to your new installed bases. The Weaver claw system is a very ancient but effective design, and I have had some rifles with the same mounts in place for more than 50 years that still work well.
With the claw mount locked down, because the Weaver system has the compression latch or nuts built into the system, take your scope and mark exactly where you want it placed according to the distance in eye relief you're looking for.
After obtaining the correct position, set the upper half of the split rings onto the lower and screw both down, but not tight.
Leave enough play in the two sections to allow you to turn the scope tube slightly for obtaining an exact level placement of the crosshairs, or whatever system you're using for sub-tension display (the view through the scope).
Setting the rifle on a solid, level base, look through the scope and align the horizontal sight-line level. When level, draw down the screw in the upper half of the ring set, and you're good to go regarding heading for the range and zeroing your new sighting system.
For those of you who think I will just have the sporting goods store do all this for me, be advised that is not always workable. I have found far too many clerks behind the counter do not have a clue what they are doing.
Many times I have been on my local range when a guy shows up with his freshly mounted scope and finds that he can’t hit the door if he were inside the closet, for example. Mounting a scope is not at all about just sticking it on the top of a rifle and considering it all good.
When you buy the scope and the bases and rings, you will get paperwork with detailed instructions. First and foremost, read the instructions with care.
Take your time and follow them to the letter. In most cases, save for special ultra long-range mounting systems (one-, two- or three-mile shooting) the procedure is as simple as field dirt. It is almost like riding a bike. Do it once and you're in good shape for life.
When that rifle needs new glass or an adjustment, you're not forced to run to a specialist, but rather you're now in charge of a basically simple procedure.
While special applications from screw placement and milling for special receiver fits do require the guys that do it every day, you can be in charge of the small stuff with a very small amount of basic effort.
Brands that are easy to work with include Weaver, anything in a picatinny design, American Defense Recon, AR-Stoner, and Vortex, as well as Warne 1 piece Gen 2 systems.
Most of these are the one-piece cantilever mounts and only require locking down on a Weaver-style base rail and setting the half rings onto the scope for final positioning.
These mounts allow a major level of adjustment for eye relief, are very strong in field applications, and are dead sure accurate regarding the maintaining of the scope's positioning.