Scope Is Level But Crosshairs Are Off [How To Fix Canted Reticle]

If you have owned a rifle for long enough, chances are you have experienced a situation where your scope is level but crosshairs are off. This is called a canted reticle and it is a common issue faced by many shooters.

When a shooter experiences a reticle misalignment it can be a frustrating issue and really hurt your accuracy. In this article, we will discuss the causes of canted reticles and provide practical steps on how to fix this issue.

How To Fix A Canted Reticle

picture comparing a canted and un-canted reticle

It can be frustrating trying to learn how to fix a scope that won’t adjust properly! There are 3 main ways to fix canted reticles. Take a look at each option and see what makes the most sense for your specific situation.

1) Plum Bob Method

The most popular technique is called the plum bob technique. Just like it sounds, this method involves the use of a plum bob to fix the issue. I have personally used this method on my LPVO optic when I had issues a few months back.

FYI – A plum bob is a weight on a string that uses gravity to hang vertically when suspended. You can also use dental floss if you don’t have a string.


Follow these steps:

  1. First, mount your long-range scopes on your rifle and lock it in place.
  2. Secure your weapon by placing it in a stable, upright position. I recommend using a gun vise to make it easy.
  3. Suspend the plum bob from a hook or other support above the rifle, so that it hangs vertically in front of the scope.
  4. Now, observe the position of the plum bob as viewed through your scope. If you see the reticle is canted, the plum bob will appear to be tilted in relation to the crosshairs of the scope.
  5. Adjust the windage and elevation turrets on the scope until the plum bob appears straight and aligned with the reticle.
  6. Repeat the process until everything is aligned.

2) Get A Better Scope Mount

If you are experiencing issues with a canted reticle, one option you may consider is getting a better scope mount. For example, if you buy a 450 Bushmaster rifle scope it will come with generic scope rings. Try buying upgraded 30mm scope rings to fix the issue.

A poor-quality or improperly installed scope mount can cause the scope to become misaligned and result in a canted reticle. Spending a few extra bucks on a high-quality scope mount can produce much better accuracy!

3) See A Professional

Of course, there is always the option to just go see a professional for help. I recommend this one last because it costs money! And if you’re anything like me, you want to explore all your options before shoveling out your hard-earned cash.

What Causes A Canted Reticle?

Now you know exactly how to fix a canted reticle. But what can cause a canted reticle in the first place? It turns out there are a few different ways this can happen to your elk hunting rifle scopes.

  1. Human Error – The first thing to consider is your alignment. Your cross hairs can appear to be canted if you do not align properly behind your scope. Set your preferred eye relief and ensure you are aligned completely behind your scope body. This is a quick fix that applies to both a new or old scope.
  2. Shooting Environment – You also have to consider the elevation of your target and your shooting surface. If you or your target are on uneven or un-level ground it may cause a reticle to appear misaligned. Monitor your scope mount and make sure it is properly installed. You can take a few steps to level your scope if necessary. So pay close attention to your shooting platform and the position of your target in relation to the background.
  3. Turret Caps – To ensure a scope mount and scope tube are level, many shooters place a level on their turret caps. However, if the turret caps are not properly installed, it can create the appearance of a canted crosshair. This holds true for both an old and new scope.
  4. Manufacturing Error – The most common causes of canted scope recticles is defects in manufacturing. There is not much you can do about this. But just like every product, there will be a handful of manufacturing issues that are out of the customers control.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a canted reticle?

A canted reticle is a misalignment of the reticle, or crosshairs, within a scope. This can cause the reticle to appear angled or tilted, which can affect the accuracy of your shots. This is an issue regardless if you are a left or right-handed shooter. Canted reticles can be caused by a variety of factors, including manufacturing defects, improper installation, or damage to the scope.

Do scopes need to be perfectly level?

In general, it is important for a scope to be level to ensure accurate shots. For casual shooters, it does not need to be 100% accurate. But a canted reticle can throw off your aim and cause your shots to miss their target.

What happens if scope is not level?

If your scope is not level it will be very difficult to shoot with better accuracy. If you want to verify your scope mount is level, consider using the plum bob level.

Why does my scope lose zero?

There are two basic reasons a scope could lose it's zero. The biggest issue is that the scope mount and scope rings were not installed properly. If you do not tighten your scope rings to the proper torque, they will slide around. Also, rifle shots are powerful and produce strong vibrations. Every few years you need to verify zero as the vibration can cause and old scope to lose zero.

What happens if you over-tighten your scope rings?

If you over-tighten your scope rings it could potentially damage your scope tube. Also, it can be very difficult to remove your scope from the weapon if you over torque the scope rings.

The Bottom Line

As you already know, a canted reticle is a common issue faced by many shooters. If your 350 Legend scope is not aligned properly there is very little chance you can shoot accurately. Now you know the causes of canted reticles and some practical steps on how to fix this issue. Remember to regularly check and adjust the alignment of your scope’s reticle to avoid this issue altogether!

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.

Leave a Comment