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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
As some of you may know, I recently "won" an auction on Gunbroker for a new Savage 110 Timberline in 6.5 Creedmoor. I must admit that I am not really much of a Savage fan. I have owned one of their centerfire rifles in the past, and still own two of their rimfire rifles. All have shot well, but the centerfire actions leave more than a little room for improvement. Nevertheless;

My goal of this is to just show how I get a rifle ready to shoot, and especially hunt. I am not a professional hunter, or long range benchrest shooter. I do have a bit of experience shooting Service Rifle competitions though, and do practice with my rifles out at distance from time to time. I purchased this rifle with the intent on giving it to my Father-in-Law (FIL) as a hunting rig. I highly doubt he will ever attempt a shot past 200 yards anywhere on the ranch or house property, but there is always an opportunity to see deer in excess of 500 yards. For general limitations/expectations though, I want to hand him a turnkey setup capable of 1 MOA off of a rest at 100 yards (routinely, not a cherry-picked group), and capable of keeping a group within a six inch target at 400 yards.

I also want to note that I am trying to do this without spending a lot of money. There are a ton of excellent tools/gadgets out there that make the shooting process easier...but since money is tight for many of us, let's try to save along the way!

I really look forward to input on how other shooters get their rifles setup. There is always more than one right way to do things...and more than one way to do them wrong too. If any of you have input on how I can tweak things to possibly make my setup better, please share them with me.

First, I'll cover how I mount and prepare my optics:

The Scope - The optic that I am going to be using is an older Trijicon Accupower 4-16x50 that was sourced off of my .223 trainer bolt action rifle. This scope has a good balance of lighter weight, decent glass, and fairly rugged construction. Plus it has a track record of working for me. As much as I like my FIL, I am not buying him a new scope too.

Setting the diopter - One of the first things I do, is set the diopter to my eyes. I have 20/30 vision in my right eye, and 20/50 in my left. As a right handed shooter, I frequently forego the glasses and therefore the diopter is usually set a bit differently for me. Setting the diopter allows for a crisp reticle, as well as a clear background on the correct parallax setting. The way that I do it is before I ever mount the scope, but you can do it with the scope at any point in time. I simply point the scope at a solid background (wall across the room, sky etc...) and look through it for no more than a second or so. Looking through the scope longer allows your eye to naturally focus on the reticle and 'cheat', making the crosshairs appear clear. What I am looking for during this flash presentation is for a clear reticle. If it isn't, then I'll turn the adjustment left/right and repeat this process until I get a perfectly clear reticle when I bring the scope up. Most modern scopes have a diopter ring at the rear of the ocular housing.

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Please excuse the kitchen tablecloth.

Installing the scope base - My next step is to install the scope base. For this particular rifle, I chose some rather inexpensive Talley lightweight two-piece mounts with rings. Most of my rifles have a one piece picatinny base, and separate rings. The Talley unit that I chose is made out of aluminum, and has the 8-40 screws (the Savage Timberline comes tapped for 8-40s). This is about as straight forward as you can get with mounting. You line up the bases over the holes in the receiver, and torque the screws into place. I should note here that these Talley bases didn't come with instructions on which direction to mount them, but since the screw holes were evenly apart, I adjusted to fit the scope within them without issue. With aluminum, you have to be more careful...If you don't have a torque wrench, I would suggest never tightening down harder than you can do with just a thumb and two fingers (i.e. don't grab the driver in the palm of your hand and strangle the screw into place). Steel rings and bases you can get away with ham-fisting. I always use blue Loctite on all of my base and ring screws.

Setting the eye relief - After the base is secured to the receiver, I loosely mount the scope and start adjusting it on its highest magnification setting to ensure proper eye relief in the position I will most likely be shooting from. Your eye relief is going to change from sitting, to standing, to prone, so I do this according to how I am going to use the rifle. In this case with my FIL and the Savage, there are spacers included to adjust length of pull. I have some wiggle room for error. I actually have the length of pull reduced to 13 inches right now as my FIL is a bit smaller than the average man. I also do this on the highest magnification as most adjustable scopes get more generous with their eye relief as the magnification is lowered. Another key note here: If you are doing this in the summer, you need to account for that extra 1/2 - 1 inch of layering that you are going to be wearing when it is 30 degrees out. Give yourself a little wiggle room now so you don't strain your neck on Thanksgiving weekend. Once proper eye relief is determined, I mark the scope with a witness mark where it meets the ring with a mechanical pencil. This simplifies the process when you are leveling.

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Sorry, I actually completed all of these steps before I started writing this.

Leveling the scope - I remove the scope and ring tops and move the rifle to a secure location (eg. vice or stable rest). I need to ensure that the rifle isn't going to move unless I want it to. Typically for me, a couple of sandbag rests do the trick. As long as you are careful there isn't much chance that you are going to knock something off. Even if you do, you can always start over. For rifles with a one piece base I place a bubble level on the base between the two rings, and level the rifle. From there; I carefully move the level, and install the scope where the witness mark from the pencil is even with the ring. Ensuring that any elevation scope cap is securely tightened; I place the level on the top of the elevation turret and simply *carefully adjust it to where it is level. As long as you didn't disturb your rifle in this process the scope is now reasonably level with the base/rifle, and I would expect a margin of error to be less than one percent. If your rifle has two piece bases like this Savage does, I use two levels to make sure that the bases are level with each other before mounting and leveling the scope in the exact same way.

One piece base demonstration:

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For demonstration purposes (on a one piece base) this is how I do two-piece bases:

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I would like to note here that anytime I mount a cross-slot type of scope ring to a base, I always ensure that the rings are pushed against the mount in the direction of the muzzle before tightening down

And an AR for demonstration: Just be sure that your handguard is level to your upper receiver, or you may see some error. Also, make sure that your mount is level to your upper receiver.

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Securing the scope - Once the scope is level and has been adjusted for proper eye relief, I lightly torque the screws down to where the scope will not move. From that point, I will do my best to try to get an even gap on each side. Good luck with that, it is harder than you think. However, in this case I purchased a ring top with bubble level. Evening that gap was easily accomplished by placing a level on top of the scope and applying torque to the screws until the ring level was even and tight.

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Securing the scope (cont'd) - From there; I simply pull out one screw at a time in a star pattern, apply a bit of blue Loctite, and secure the screw back. Once all the screws have received Loctite and are back in I will continue the star pattern until I am sure that they are snug. If you have a ring level, this means you keep the bubble level on the elevation turret for the duration of this part. These screws do not need to be installed by the Hulk. You get no extra points for giving them crappy tire shop ugga duggas.

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At this point, I give it a day to dry and then I am good to go. I've done it this way for probably a dozen rifles, and haven't run into any issues so far.

I would also like to note here that I have run into a few 'irritants' with this particular setup: The scope ring level is not a good idea. I've never used a level this style before, and I never will again. It is very difficult to see with the non-shooting eye. Compound that with the illumination knob on the top of the scope and I just about have to move my head off of the rifle to see it. This will be fine for shooting from a rest during load development, but I do not see a lot of use to it in the field. My primary hunting rifle has a Vortex level that attaches to the scope body and sits to the left of the scope...a much better idea. Another bothersome point is that the magnification ring protrusion of the Trijicon gets extremely close to the bolt handle as you run the action. There is maybe 1/8 inch clearance when the scope is on 16 power. It works, and the simple work around is to move the magnification to 14 power, but it is irksome. If this was my dedicated primary hunting rifle, I would have to change the optic. Obviously, rifles with 60 degree throws or even swept bolts reduce the chances of running into a problem like this.

Hopefully I didn't miss something glaring.
 

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I just stopped setting up my reloading bench for 15 minutes to read that. Worth every moment of the read. Great write up!! Keep’m coming. Now back to my new project.
 

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Great write up and good info. A little extra preparation at this stage of the rifle set up pays big dividends out in the field.
 

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Could start filming it and make a YouTube video of it as well.
 

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Great information!
The most difficult part of mounting a scope for me is getting the crosshairs squared.
I use the Tipton Best Gun Vice mounted on a solid base and leveled.
No matter the pattern the scope screws are tightened, the scope is always off when shouldered to me.
Possibly because of the method I shoulder the rifle even though it may not be correct for others.
Always end up “tuning” it for me so the crosshairs are optically square to my eye.
The test to check this is shooting squares at 100 yds to see if the scope is tracking which hasn’t been done and should be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Great information!
The most difficult part of mounting a scope for me is getting the crosshairs squared.
I use the Tipton Best Gun Vice mounted on a solid base and leveled.
No matter the pattern the scope screws are tightened, the scope is always off when shouldered to me.
Possibly because of the method I shoulder the rifle even though it may not be correct for others.
Always end up “tuning” it for me so the crosshairs are optically square to my eye.
The test to check this is shooting squares at 100 yds to see if the scope is tracking which hasn’t been done and should be.
I too see a cant when I shoulder a rifle level. Mine is particularly bad...probably a good five degrees.

Adjusting cant into a scope to correct to your vision isn't going to hurt you at 100, even 200 yards. However for me, who likes to dial elevation out well beyond that, it can have you thinking you busted your wind calls pretty quickly.

Scope bubble levels are the saving grace here.

Most people won't see the results of a five degree cant even if they did a 10 MOA box test on a piece of paper...unless they were using a benchrest rifle.

Good point.
 

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Well, first of all, I have to say that you have written an excellent manual on setting up firearms.
Secondly, I must admit that you are very well versed in this and all your advice and comments are very accurate. Even photos with correct markings are very cool. Thank you for sharing this helpful information.
I'm not very good at weapons, at the amateur level. Everything I know, I read in the forums or looked at YouTube. I learned how to adjust the rifle thanks to YouTube videos. Still, I have a lot to learn. Now I have an excellent guide, kindly provided by you.

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Isn’t it funny how bad it pisses your buddy off when he shows you his new rig and you pick it up and tell him his scope is crooked.
But on another note I finally got to shoot my most recent 6.5 Creedmor AR build since deer weren’t moving at the lease. It has a PSA lower, aero upper, Odin Gun works low profile adjustable gas block, Faxon 20” barrel, Sig BDX 4.5x14 scope, Radical 30 cal suppressor. I did initial sight in/function test with Sellier & Bellot ammo. Zero malfunctions. After setting it 1” high at 100 I paired the scope with the range Finder. I ranged our 500 yard target I shot just over with first shot. Made minor adjustment and fired again. Hit. Ranged 660 yard target. Fired. Hit. Ranged 1000 yard target. Fired 2x. 2 hits. Very happy. Although I hate the stock that’s on it. I waiting for the release of the Magpul Prs lite to put on it.



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Isn’t it funny how bad it pisses your buddy off when he shows you his new rig and you pick it up and tell him his scope is crooked.
But on another note I finally got to shoot my most recent 6.5 Creedmor AR build since deer weren’t moving at the lease. It has a PSA lower, aero upper, Odin Gun works low profile adjustable gas block, Faxon 20” barrel, Sig BDX 4.5x14 scope, Radical 30 cal suppressor. I did initial sight in/function test with Sellier & Bellot ammo. Zero malfunctions. After setting it 1” high at 100 I paired the scope with the range Finder. I ranged our 500 yard target I shot just over with first shot. Made minor adjustment and fired again. Hit. Ranged 660 yard target. Fired. Hit. Ranged 1000 yard target. Fired 2x. 2 hits. Very happy. Although I hate the stock that’s on it. I waiting for the release of the Magpul Prs lite to put on it.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Nice combination to build the rifle! Impressed with the long range accuracy.
 
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Well, first of all, I have to say that you have written an excellent manual on setting up firearms.
Secondly, I must admit that you are very well versed in this and all your advice and comments are very accurate. Even photos with correct markings are very cool. Thank you for sharing this helpful information.
I'm not very good at weapons, at the amateur level. Everything I know, I read in the forums or looked at YouTube. I learned how to adjust the rifle thanks to YouTube videos. Still, I have a lot to learn. Now I have an excellent guide, kindly provided by you.

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We all have to start at the basics and learn.
Next time just make a new reply. No need to edit your first and only post.
I also removed the link you added with your edit since you make no reference to said items in that link.

I hear they have relaxed some of the gun laws in Australia, is that true?
 
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