How To Level a Scope On A Rifle (Rifle Scope Guide)

After buying a brand new rifle scope, the first thing you need to do is get it mounted using scope rings. Then you dial in your windage and elevation settings and get ready to shoot…right? Not exactly. You still need to level your rifle scope or you’re bound to have accuracy issues. In this post, we’ll show you exactly how to level a scope on a rifle with 4 different techniques so that you can shoot like a pro.

What Is Gun Scope Leveling?

Gun scope leveling refers to the process of ensuring that a rifle scope is mounted in perfect alignment with the rifle’s barrel axis, both horizontally and vertically. This precision alignment is crucial for the accuracy of long-range shooting, as even slight misalignments can result in significant point-of-impact discrepancies at longer distances.

The importance of gun scope leveling lies in its direct impact on shooting accuracy and consistency. Properly leveled scopes ensure that the reticle’s crosshairs are perfectly horizontal and vertical relative to the rifle, preventing canting errors where the rifle might be tilted to one side. This precision ensures that shooters can reliably predict bullet trajectory and impact points, enhancing the effectiveness of each shot. Without accurate scope leveling, shooters may find it challenging to achieve consistent accuracy, particularly at longer ranges where even minor errors can lead to large misses.

Our Goal

A shooter, our goal is to have calibrated equipment that gives us the best chance of hitting four target from a certain distance. In order to do this, we need to level our rifle scopes properly. Even the very best 450 bushmaster optic will need to be leveled.


Without a level scope, your shots will be off, and you’ll never hit your target. So if you want to be a top-notch marksman, make sure you take the time to level your scope.

When in comes to sighting in your scope properly, the relationship between the level of the rifle scope tube and the rifle bore is critical. You can make all the scope adjustments to your windage and elevation turret that you want, but if your scope is not level your accuracy will suffer.

Create A Level Foundation

Before we get into the different techniques for leveling the scope, we need to first create a solid foundation. If your foundation is not level, then you are not going to be able to accurately level and adjust the scope.

It all starts with the types of scope rings being used. If your new scope rings are sitting on a tilted or unlevel table, you’re going to have a tough time getting your scope level. For example, just because you purchased the best 30mm scope rings or even the best 34mm scope mount does not mean you don’t have to level them.

4 Best Ways To Level Your Scope

Here are the 4 best scope leveling techniques.

  1. Wheeler Leveling System
  2. Using A Segway Reticle Leveler
  3. How to Mount a Bubble Level on a Rifle Scope
  4. How to Level a Scope on a Rifle Without a Scope Leveler

1) Wheeler Leveling System

Step #1: Get Your Rifle Leveled

Use your Wheeler kit’s vice or cradle to ensure your scope is level. This means your scope aligns both vertically and horizontally. If you find your scope crosshairs rotated use this tool. Make sure that the reference level is placed on a flat surface on your scope.

Step #2: Use the Barrel Level

Now it’s time to attach the Barrel level to your rifle and tighten it down with the reference level attached. Once your have them lined up, tighten them down so nothing can move.

Step #3: Install the Rifle Scope

Next, install the scope with the bottom half rings first. Then place the top half rings and tighten them down. We have a list of the best 34mm scope rings if you’re interested. Remember, don’t tighten the rights too much or later adjustments will be difficult.

Step #4: Install the reference Level on the Scope.

Finally, you need to place the reference level onto the top turret cap. Slowly move the scope within the rings until the reference level is in line. When you have both the reference level and barrel level in a good position, you can tighten the rings down to the final torque. No matter if you’re zeroing a night vision scope or traditional scope, you must first ensure it is level!

2) Using A Segway Reticle Leveler

Step #1: Get Your Rifle Scope and Mounts Installed

This is a method I used on my new Ozark Armament LPVO scope. Start by getting your scope rings and scope installed. Place the scope inside the bottom half rings on the rifle. Then attach the top half rings and tighten the screws appropriately. Do NOT overtighten at this point in the process or it will be difficult to adjust the scope.

Step #2: Install the Segway Reticle leveler

Now it’s time to install your Segway reticle leveler on the base of the scope mount. Keep it in place using your preferred method (I use rubber bands).

Step #3: Ensure the Rifle is Level

Now, you want to ensure your rifle is level by using the Bubble level on your Segway reticle leveler. Do a final check by looking through your scope and make sure the horizontal lines on the reticle are level.

Step #4: Secure your Riflescope

If you are happy with your scope rings and scope positioning, then its time to lock it in place. Tighten the ring screws to the final torque settings & enjoy your leveled scope!

3) How to Mount a Bubble Level on a Rifle Scope

Step #1: Base Installation & Bottom Ring Halves

Probably the most popular way to level a rifle scope is with a bubble level. Start by installing your preferred scope mount or base & the bottom ring halves. Of course, you should read through your manufacturers instructions so that you’re aware of torque wrench requirements and other important steps.

Step #2: Verify Level & Finish Scope Installation

Verify that your scope is level on the table, vise, or sandbags. Again, if your rifle is not on a level and flat surface, the follow steps will be ineffective.

Finish the scope installation and place the scope onto the bottom rings. Then, attach the top ring halves and tighten the scope ring screws.

Step #3: Finish Scope Leveling

Now place the level on the scope turrets and verify that the scope is level. If its not, make small adjustments to the scope withing the rings.

Step #4: Tighten Rings

If you’re happy with your scope set up then you should tighten the ring screws. Make sure not to overtighten the screws or you will have a very tough time making adjustments at a later date. For instance, I noticed during my Pinty scope review that it was difficult to remove the scope from my AR because I over tightened!

4) How to Level a Scope on a Rifle Without a Scope Leveler

leveling rifle scope without using a level

The only way that I know how to level a scope without a scope leveler is with triangular leveling tools. These leveling tools are compatible with most Picatinny rail designs.

Here are the steps:

  1. Attach the base to the grooves of your rifle Picatinny rails.
  2. Push the triangle tool into the groove.
  3. This will push against your scope until the tool is tight and flush.

FAQs – Scope Leveling

Does a rifle scope have to be perfectly level?

Your rifle scope needs to be level in order to shoot accurately. You do not need fancy equipment, a simple scope level will do. Leveling your rifle scope is especially important when shooting from medium to long range. If you only shoot from close distances, you can get away with more leveling inconsistencies. But I would still recommend that you level your rifle scope.

Are scope levels necessary?

In my opinion, scope levels are necessary for medium to long-range shots. When taking a shot at a target that is further away, it's important to have the crosshairs of the scope level with the target in order to ensure accuracy. If the crosshairs are not level, the shot will not be accurate.

Do you need a gun vise to mount a scope?

No, it is not 100% necessary to use a gun vise while mounting a scope, but it definitely makes things easier. If you don't have one, you can use a piece of wood or metal to clamp the gun in place while you work, but it's definitely more difficult.

How tight should a scope base be?

There's no one definitive answer to this question, because different scopes and mounting systems will require different levels of torque. But a good rule of thumb is to tighten the base screws to about 15-18in. lbs. This should provide a good, snug fit without overtightening and causing damage. If you're not sure how much torque to apply, I always find it best to err on the side of caution and start with a lower setting.

The Bottom Line

Getting your scope level and making adjustments to your scope is very important. Without a level scope, you will never be able to shoot accurately. Now you know 4 different ways to ensure your rifle scope is level. We even taught you one way without using a level at all! Use these tips and techniques to get your scope dialed in before your next range session or hunting trip!

About the author

Patrick Howard

I have been working as a gunsmith for 20 years. Rain, fog, moisture, high temperature, or even snow are all the things a product must withstand in order to be recommended by me.

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