This is the package that you will see at the big box stores and online retailers. Midway has them for $39.95 this week, but it probably won’t last.
First you set the small level on your sight base, or on top of your lower half rings. Level the rifle on pillows or in some sort of cleanings station.
Then clamp the other part of the kit to your barrel. I used a .50 cal bull barrel for this so you can see just how versatile this kit is. You don’t have to get the course adjustment perfect, because the fine adjustment will bring you into true.
When both levels look exactly the same, your front, locked level is true to your sight plane, gravity, and we hope your bore axis if the rail is mounted correctly.
Mount your scope loosely in the rings, and then put that small level on your turret cap and turn it to match your locked front level.
$39.99 at Midway through 11/26:
Scope alignment is something that most of us take for granted. If you don’t plan to shoot a rifle at more than 100 yards or so, it’s not such a big deal, but at long distances it can make a big difference to make sure that your scope reticle is perfectly aligned with gravity. Gravity pulls straight down for the most part (Coriolis effect is far outside our purview of this article), and your drop calculations are only going to work straight down from the bore axis if your scope reticle is perfectly straight up and down and perpendicular to your bore axis. At 300 plus yards, if your reticle isn’t perfectly aligned, your shots are going to hook somewhat, like a golfball, from where you think they are going to go. That is the purpose of this “Professional Reticle Leveling System” from Wheeler Engineering. It gives you two levels that reference each other to your bore axis and gravity, so you can make sure that your scope is aligned to the exact same shooting plane as your bore. If you have invested a lot into an extremely precision made and accurate rifle, this MSRP $54.99 kit is a cheap insurance policy to make sure that your scope is lined up properly for long range and extreme long range shooting.
The kit works very simply, though I couldn’t figure it out intuitively without reading the directions. It is kind of a head slap moment when you realize just how simple it is. First you use the small, magnetic level to set the rifle sighting plane at level to gravity. Then you match the bubble on that level to a second level which you lock to the barrel, then you mount your scope loosely, and go back to using the little level , placing it on your scope cap. This will true up the scope reticle (which we have to assume is trued to the flat of the cap) to the axis of your sighting plane and gravity. It sounds complicated but it isn’t.
The rifle you see here is a LAR Grizzly .50 Cal. bullpup rifle we are shooting for upcoming review, and the same Vortex Razor HD first focal plane 24x sniper scope. The LAR has a weaver base bolted to the top, and this is our shooting plane, which we are also forced to assume is aligned at the factory with the bore. As you can see, you set the gun in some kind of rifle holding station so that you can maintain a level position. This is an old Midway gun cleaning station you see here. Adjust the rifle in whatever holding station you choose so the bubble is perfectly in the center, resting on top of your rail, or your attached scope bases. Then adjust the other leveling system, the one with the adjusting system, to your rifle barrel. It has both a course and fine adjusting system, so you don’t have to attach it to the gun perfectly level using the attaching bolts.
After you have the barrel level mounted, matched to your sight plane level, you now have a level that is locked to your sight plane, even if you jar or move the gun from its level position. Mount the scope loosely in your scope rings, and re-adjust the rifle so that the front barrel level is back in the middle. Then put the small level on top of your turret and true the scope to the bore alignment. Then of course lock down the scope, being careful to apply even pressure so that the mounts have the same gaps on all four sides. If you plan to use Loc-Tite or Gun-Tite on your scope screws, you would apply that at this time as well.
I would not say that this system is perfect. The directions actually tell you to get your rings lapped before doing this process, but most people won’t do that. The bubbles themselves are imprecise, but eyeballing them you can get pretty close to perfect, depending on how exacting you want to be. This is a $50 kit that you can sometimes get for $40, so I think it is safe to assume that these are decent quality levels. The whole thing comes in a nice little plastic case that should protect for a lifetime of use. Depending on how much you swap out scopes on different rifles, this is a worthwhile little tool that a group of shooters could invest in together, or you could be the nice guy or girl and buy it for you and your peeps. I don’t know what classifies as a “professional,” but as a Christmas gift the Wheeler Professional Reticle Leveling System is a no brainer for any shooting enthusiast who shoots more than one rifle, and for a long range shooter, it is an indispensable tool.