July 6, 2022


David Freeman shooting a scoped Rossi lever action rifle from a bench rest

I’ve never actually scoped my own deer rifle, rather I have bought package deals with the scope already mounted and sighted in. I did this once with a Mossberg Patriot .308 and another time with a Savage 110 Axis in .243 Winchester. I’ve owned a Rossi Rio Grande .30-30 for several years and have stored it on a wall rack where I see it every time I sit in the recliner in my office.

Recently, I started thinking that having a perfectly good deer or hog gun hanging on my gun rack without a scope was a situation that needed correcting. There are several optics companies here in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. It did not take long for me to decide to buy a scope for the Rossi from a local manufacturer.

Sniper scope mounted on a Rossi .30-30 lever-action rifle
The scope the author chose for his Rossi is a Sniper scope that is an illuminated, second focal plane 4-16×50 scope, fully coated, shockproof and waterproof.

Scope Selection

For this project, I picked a Sniper Brand scope from Texas Precision Optics. I had planned to buy a 3-9×40 scope, similar to what’s on my other two rifles. I don’t conceive of needing to shoot anything beyond 100 yards with this gun. I expected to pay somewhere around $150 for the optic.

The Sniper scope that fell within that range was an illuminated, second focal plane 4-16×50 scope, fully coated, shockproof and waterproof. The model number is NT4-16X50AOGL. I couldn’t pass that by. Even though it was more scope than I needed, I figured I’d learn something by putting a scope like that to work.

The scope weighs 24.3 ounces and is 14.53 inches long with a 1-inch diameter tube. With a magnification range of 4 to 16 times actual, the field of view at 100 yards is 24–6 feet. The click value on the turrets is ¼ M.O.A. The eye relief is from 4.3–3.9 inches. The crosshairs are illuminated with a choice of colors being red, green, or blue. The blue, to my eyes, looks a little more like purple.

The user manual that came with the scope indicated the battery should be removed when the scope is not in use, or it will be drained. Some of the experts would say I violated the “more is not better” rule of scoping your rifle. The scope I chose should be good for hunting out to 300 yards, and I can’t imagine shooting at a deer, pig, or coyote more than 100 yards away. It does look like a lot of scope once I got it mounted on the .30-30 lever-action. I figured, it’s a serious rifle, so it might as well have a serious scope.

Mounting the Scope

The gunsmithing course I took a couple of decades ago had a module regarding scope mounting that consumed a significant portion of the course. If the rifle had holes predrilled for a scope mount, that was great and all that was needed was to locate the correct mounts. If the holes weren’t there, a gunsmith could drill and tap them.

Parallax adjustment on the sniper scope
The Sniper scope has a parallax adjustment that allows the shooter to adjust the focus of the target and the crosshairs at any range.

Front and rear alignment was critical and had to be checked each step of the way, as rings were added to the scope and those rings fastened to the mounts. On my Rossi Rio Grande, that process was eliminated because a Picatinny rail is attached to the top of the action. The scope came with rings that double as mounts ready to fasten to the Picatinny rail. Because of this setup, the actual process of mounting the scope to the Rossi was a five-minute affair which resulted in everything being aligned perfectly. That’s progress.

Zeroing

Once the scope was mounted, it had to be zeroed in. Although you can do this in the field, I’m more comfortable doing the first part at home using a laser bore sighter. When I owned a gun shop, we did this part for our clients from time to time, so I’m familiar with the process.

I set up a small table 25 yards away from the gardening tool shed in my backyard. After stapling a paper target to the side of the shed, I mounted the rifle on the table using a CTK Precision shooting rest. I inserted a red LaserLyte bore sighter in the barrel and began adjusting the parallax. This is a new step for me, as my previous scopes have not had a parallax adjustment. There is a graded rotational adjustment on the front of the scope for this.

shooter's perspective of a rifle scope pointed at a 25-yard target
The author set up a small table 25 yards away from a target in his backyard and used a laser bore sight to make initial adjustments to the scope before going to the range with the Rossi Rio Grande.

Simply rotate the adjustment until both the target and the crosshairs are in focus. The adjustment ring has increments measured in yards which will help you get close before doing the fine adjustments. The parallax adjustment I used at home for 25 yards would not work for 100 yards when it came time to zero the scope at that yardage. But it’s such an easy adjustment that there would be no problem making the change at that point.

Looking through the scope at the laser, the crosshairs indicated the bullet would impact down about 4 inches low and to the left. First, I did the windage adjustment using the turret on the side of the scope. To adjust the windage, you simply pull the outer section of the turret out to rotate it. It took just a few clicks to move the crosshairs in line with the laser beam and the horizontal center of the target. When satisfied with the windage adjustment, I pushed the outer section of the turret in to lock it.

To adjust the elevation, I followed the same process using the scope’s top turret to bring the crosshairs directly over the laser beam. When satisfied both windage and elevation were adjusted correctly for the range at which I was working, there was one more step to lock down the zero points. An Allen screw holds the outer section of the turret on. By removing that Allen screw, I could lift the turret shell off and put it back on with the zero mark on the turret aligned with the zero mark on the scope. Any adjustments in the field would be from that zero mark.

David Freeman shooting a scoped Rossi .30-30 lever-action rifle from a bench rest
Once the 100-yard adjustments were made, the author fired three confirming shots into a clean target from the Rossi Rio Grande.

At the Range

A couple of days later, my son, grandson, and I took the lever-action rifle to our range in the country. We set up on the bench that was 100 yards from the target backstop. We put a few orange-colored diamond targets on the backstop and fired the rifle through the scope at one of the targets. The bullet impacted approximately 10 inches below the point of aim.

The process here was slightly different from aligning the sight using the laser bore sighter. Starting with the crosshairs on the bullet’s point of impact, we adjusted the windage and elevation turrets to move the crosshairs to the center of the target. With that accomplished, we fired one round to see where it hit. That bullet impacted within the small white circle that was the target’s bullseye.

Delighted that we had accomplished the task of getting the Rossi Rio Grande .30-30 on target at 100 yards, we fired two more rounds to confirm the alignment. The shots impacted close to the first hole. Each of us selected a target and fired three rounds into our selected target.

The results were gratifying. Since we were shooting from a rest, the gun was steady, and our rounds impacted close enough that we could call each target, with a series of three shots grouped within one inch of each other. The Rossi showed its mettle, and the scope did its job as well.

If you handle a scoped rifle carefully, it should do its job year after year, but hunters and target shooters alike will find it beneficial to check their scope’s alignment each year. Also, be careful when handling the rifle not to knock the scope in its mount when transporting it.

Three-shot group on a grid style sight in target
This 100-yard target is the result of selecting and mounting the right scope then taking the time to zero it in properly.

I have three scoped rifles in my gun safe. I store them in front of the other guns using Gun Storage Solutions Gun Rack Rifle Rods. The rods secure the rifles vertically rather than trying to get the rifles with scopes to fit in the notched storage areas around the back and sides of the safe.

How do you mount and sight-in a scope on a rifle? Have you mounted a scope to a lever-action rifle? Share your answers in the comment section.



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