Rings & Bases: What To Look For

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Selecting the right setup in regards to your rings and bases is crucial for shooting success. High quality precision machine parts are going to give your scope a better fit, more elevation, and help in giving you an equal amount of left and right wind-age. The wrong setup results in a loose base, loose rings, and a loose shot.

The initial factor to consider is: What are you setting your rifle up for? Do you need it for hunting or tactical shooting? If you’re hunting you can use a tactical base system or a hunting base system. If it’s for tactical shooting, you only want to use a tactical base system. Most hunting situations are within 200 yards or less. Because of this a hunting ring/base system does not need to have an MOA (Minute of Angle) incline. Some tactical bases have a “0” MOA but this is becoming more uncommon. Most tactical bases will usually have a 20 to 40 MOA incline.

The quality of your rings and bases is a key factor in your setup. You don’t want cheap cast aluminum or poorly machined rings/bases. Whether you’re a hunter or tactical shooter, you want them made of billet aluminum or high quality steel that are well machined.

Leupold makes good quality rings/bases and, in my opinion, Badger and Nightforce bases perform slightly better. Badger and Nightforce bases both have a recoil lug. When you’re firing, the recoil is absorbed through the lug instead of directly on the screws that are attaching the base to the receiver of the action. Thus, the recoil lugs prevent damage to the screws. Leupold’s bases have no recoil lug, but are made of quality steel. Leupold and Badger have been making rings/bases for a long time. Nightforce is fairly new to rings/bases but are high quality nonetheless. You can mix high quality bases and rings (i.e. Nightforce and Badger) but mixing a cheap base with quality rings defeats the purpose of paying more for quality rings or vice versa.

For tactical shooting, you want to have a true military spec ring/base system. I prefer a one-piece base. For example, when they drill and tap the action (where the base sits) on a Remington 700, the tapped holes can be slightly off-centered, but off-centered enough for a two-piece base to end up out of alignment. This creates an unnecessary tension to the tube of the scope, which can lead to other issues. A one-piece base only has one center axis. A two-piece base has two possible center lines because they are two separate entities. When you have a one-piece base with a single centerline, it doesn’t matter if the tapped holes on the action are off-center or not. The one-piece base will keep it true down the receiver. Now, when you attach the rings, the base is absorbing the imperfections of the action and not transferring tension to the ring system (which would ultimately transfer to your scope).

I also prefer to use aluminum rings because most scopes are aluminum. When you have aluminum on aluminum, both materials will expand and shrink at the same rate under extreme temperature. Steel expands and shrinks at a different rate than the aluminum which can cause slight issues when it comes to the fit. In most environments this is not going to be a factor. Only in extreme cold or hot climates does this become a consideration.

If you use steel rings, I recommend removing the scope from the rings every two years to clean the surface of the rings. Corrosion begins when moisture gets between the steel rings and the scope’s tube. This is the main reason that I prefer aluminum rings.

Last but not least, I prefer using a steel base. Simply put, the rails of a steel base are more difficult to damage than the rails of an aluminum base.

These are just some of the basics to selecting the right rings and bases. In our next article, we’ll cover the question of “What MOA Base Should I Choose?”

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