Stop Scope Damage By Lapping Your Scope Rings

Don’t damage your scope tube with out of round or crooked rings! Brownells Ring Alignment Lap will help you align your rings and remove the material needed to improve contact with your scope and ensure that the rings have no high spots.

Many thanks to Brownells for sponsoring our Modification Minute videos. The products and tools used are:



Patrick R

Patrick is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Co-Director for TFBTV. He is a verified gun nerd. With a lifelong passion for shooting, he has a love for all types of firearms, especially overly modified plastic handguns, precision rifles, and AR based things. You can follow Patrick on Instagram @tfbpatrick, Facebook, or contact him by email at TFBpatrick@gmail.com.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • Mayor McCheese

    So that’s how leprechauns do it? Magic!

    • Rooftop Voter

      2:16, jacking off a mountain lion? Another video shows the lapping bar being rolled from side to side. Confused now.

  • mrsatyre

    Is this really a common enough problem? I’m currently budgeting for my first scope, and this actually surprised me.

    • PK

      Common… not with properly installed rings on properly located bases mounted to properly located/drilled/tapped holes.

      Basically, not too common for factory mounting, but it happens. Aftermarket modifications, however, it’s pretty common especially with less expensive rings. A lot of people don’t see the point of buying bases/rings that have tight tolerances, and it can and does damage scopes.

      All of that in mind, unless you have a large amount of scopes to mount, it’s cheaper to leave this to a gunsmith who already has tooling on hand. My scope ring reamer set cost a few hundred bucks, for example.

    • ExMachina1

      Probably pretty common. That said most people never check. Still, a scope lapping kit (~$50 for a Sinclair kit from Brownells) seems like cheap insurance when mounting an expensive piece of glass. Better scope-to-ring contact not only protect the scope body but holds a better zero.

    • micmac80

      Scopes fail much more than people realise ,most don’t even know scope went down the drain till something realy obvious happens.Lots of paralax filiures are due to scope rings made vorse due to relatively soft scope tube walls on cheaper scopes

    • Quasimofo

      It might depend on your intended use, mounting setup, OCDness, etc. I’ve only mounted a handful of scopes, and only for hunting implements, and I didn’t think to lap them at the time. This works fine for my purposes, but I have gotten some ring scuffs and I use Warne bases and sintered rings on factory tappings. Maybe, at a minimum, I’d suggest deburring ring edges (a scotch pad or Dremel might be enough) and using a proper torque wrench to avoid overtightening.

      • Quasimofo

        I should add the Warne does not recommend lapping their vertically split Maxima rings (what I use), nor do they think it is necessary. They offer an explanation for that on their web site.

    • Flounder

      Don’t even worry about it for your first scope. Tell everyone to bugger off until you buy one and shoot it a lot.

      If you have problems then start to look into the finer points. But don’t start there. You will just get overwhelmed and it probably won’t be necessary for you.

      And it doesn’t need to be even a third as expensive as this.

  • USMC03Vet

    These mod minute videos are hilariously expensive.

  • m-dasher

    for what you are going to spend on a lapping kit…you can just buy your self a high quality set of rings that dont need to be lapped……Badger, Seekins, Nightforce….

    • ExMachina1

      And yet a quick google search reveals numerous postings who say that those very same “high quality” rings should be lapped too. Who should I believe?

      • Higher end rings are typically sold in matched pairs. As long as you are using a quality rail/base they shouldn’t need to be lapped.

        In fact some report that some companies will even void the warranty if the rings are lapped. Though I find that hard to believe as most of the higher end companies typically have good customer service, so I think that unless the lapping caused the issue they should still cover the product.

      • Mark

        It’s important to understand why, though. It is true that high quality rings are generally more consistent. However, they can only be as straight as the action you mount it to. Lapping rings isn’t simply to make sure they are round, it’s to make sure that they are in line with the action too. That is why you should always lap your rings on the rifle you intend to use it on. At the same time, you can’t take a set of lapped rings and stick it in a different rifle and expect it to be straight. This is why many long range shooters lap their high quality rings. Also, with a set of quality rings, you need not lap the top halves (unless you suspect high spots) as the top halves will always self-centre around the radius of the tube. Simply put, if you buy cheap rings, and worry about high spots, then lapping is a good way to ensure they are good and round, high quality rings generally are already round and machined to tight tolerances, the only thing then is to make sure that the rings are straight when mounted to the action.

      • CavScout

        Buy high quality craddle mounts, not rings. That’ll give you already aligned rings without pressure points.

    • 7mm Reloader

      You would be surprised at how many top brands are out of alignment including Warne. Ever wonder why you can’t get tight groups…try looking at your rings and scope alignment.

  • Flounder

    Dude… I like the brownells modification minute… But you spent HOW MUCH!!!!

    I mean seriously. Brownells has a great deal of things, but the best price is sadly never in stock.

    I answered my own question. You spent 344.91 + tax + shipping in order to lap some cheap (probably good no offense vortex) rings. I mean… HOW are you justifying that to yourself! Forget if you have a wife or kids or other hobbies! Idk. I would like to see some justification or alternative methods. Like a small torque wrench with an adapter to standard drill bits. Sure having a dozen purpose built torque wrenches is nice. But it is just silly for almost everyone who reads this.

    • To be fair the better the rings are the less likely they need to be lapped when mounted to a good base.

      • Flounder

        That isnt what i am saying.

        Lapping will always have some effect. You will never ever find perfect rings mounted perfectly. But then again is it ever necessary to do? I mean absolutely required to avoid damage. That is actually something i dont know and outside this articles scope. Pun not intended. Your post is also firmly down that rabbit hole. Like getting good rings reduces the need, you could have it done, or you could do it muuuuch cheaper.

        All i am saying is the cost of this thing is HIDEOUSLY too high. Like you could buy the gun for that much and have money left over!!!

        And there is no justification of costs or even what costs what! He doesnt say the names of anything in the video. Its stupid. But you can figure out costs if you follow all the links. I particularly like how he used a 130$ kit to tighten just the top screws.

        Lapping also requires you to commit to that scope on that mount on that rifle. Or you need to do it again.

        I actually had not realized scope lapping was a thing until this year. As in it was something actually good and sometimes required. Some people explained it poorly or had no understanding of what it was, and passed ignorance on as knowledge. Maybe TFB should cover why you would lap a scope and why you wouldn’t.

        • It really depends on why you are lapping. If you are lapping to ensure that the rings are reasonable even on the base to prevent physical damage to the scope. A good set of rings on a quality base will not need to be lapped.

          You mount say a set of Badger rings, on a Badger base, and in excess of 99 out of 100 times they will be perfectly even. Why because they are checked as a pair, and fixed if needed before they are blued.

          And in that rare time that they aren’t even, Badger is the one that is going to fix it unless it is super urgent.

          For any other reason, it is a “Whatever floats your boat” decision to me. I don’t see the need, but I understand if they want to do it.

    • Reedin

      More and more, this blog seems to be doing little more than telling us to spend more money.

      • Flounder

        This is a sponsored post… we should just expect it now.

    • Cymond

      $344 in tools, to lap the rings on a 10/22…

      • Flounder

        It was just the rifle he had handy. I’ve considered lapping the rings on my 300 win mag… but i havent found a reasonably priced option. I will probably just make one on the lathe later.

        Once i buy the lathe. XD lol

    • BattleshipGrey

      I will probably never know if my scope is damaged from the installation because I can’t afford to switch scopes out every time a new wizbang one comes out. I bought the scopes to match to the rifles that needed them and that’s where they’ll stay. My two scopes are each about $350 and on a small family budget that was a lot of money. Can’t imagine spending that much on a kit just to I install them.

      • Flounder

        I bought some really cheap scopes in the past. And some free scopes. And now a days i usually get it right the first time but sometimes you just realize you want something different or better. And i can sell off my older scopes so there is that.

  • Raptor Fred
  • Gun Fu Guru

    Or just buy a set of connected rings that don’t need to be lapped.

  • Gary Kirk

    So.. You’re pretty much saying, “don’t buy vortex rings, or whatever mount that is cause somethin ain’t true”..

  • RickH

    Burris Signature rings……

  • Herp

    I lapped a scope for the first time a couple of months ago. I used 3 hole 30mm Burris rings on a factory FNAR to mount a Leupold VX-3 6.5-20 varmint scope. The kit was from wheeler engineering.

    Even with pretty good parts the wheeler alignment bars were a few mm off. I’ll never skip lapping again.

  • iksnilol

    Because 10/22s are sooo brutal on scopes.

    • mosinman

      .22LR manstopper bullets put a hurt on even the toughest optics

  • Klaus Von Schmitto

    I’ve always “felt” that lapping my scope rings would provide a near perfect contact surface match that allows the scope to be held tighter to the rings with less torque applied to the screws. I have no data to back that up but I do it for every scope. Total investment was less than a hundred bucks and takes about half an hour. The worst part is cleaning up the greasy, gritty lapping compound.

  • Bill

    I’d clean up that crappy stock-receiver juncture before I worried about lapping scope rings, but that’s just me.

  • jonp

    Am I just lucky that I’ve never had to do this?

  • Sgt Fish

    Liked the video a lot. Just maybe could have used a normal speed part when you started the actual lapping so that we could see how you were working the tool. Otherwise it’s great and I learned a lot

  • teesquare

    BURRIS SIGNATURE ZEE rings….ZERO lapping…BETTER grip on scope….NO damage to scope or finish.
    I will NEVER use anything else. ( And…I will never have to lap another scope ring.

  • Pistolero

    Aside from the cost issue, what about rust? Are those steel rings? Seems like the lapping has removed the bluing or other finish and left the steel exposed. Wouldn’t you have to cold blue or do something else to the exposed steel to prevent rust after lapping?

  • CavScout

    Buy craddle mounts, not rings. Then they’re already basically lapped in alignment.