By Mark V. Lonsdale, STTU
As with many of you, I’ve been on public rifle ranges where some new shooter turns up with a new rifle and scope but has no tools to mount it. Or the scope is mounted incorrectly and they don’t have the tools to correct it. Or someone has a squib load but has no cleaning rod to knock the bullet back out of the bore.
Various Allen and Torx screws and bolts requiring the correct tools. Rifle is a 300 WinMag in a McMillan A6 stock
In the same vain, any time I run a precision rifle class participants are instructed, well ahead of time, to turn up with their rifles and scopes zeroed at 100 yards. Unfortunately many are not.
Reasons participants have given for not having a zeroed rifle:
- I signed up at the last minute and no one told me
- I just bought a new rifle this week
- I changed ammunition and haven’t re-zeroed
- The gun shop just installed a new scope for me
- My friend gave me some reloaded ammo for the class
- I think it’s zeroed but not sure
So needless to say, the precision rifle class turns into Rifle 101 and the first morning on the range is dedicated to zeroing rifles. But when it comes time to zero out the scope dials, invariably, all but one or two will not have the correct Allen wrenches to zero their dials. Even a gunsmith in one class had no tools.
On left, small tool with all the necessary Allen and Torx wrenches in a small Pelican case. Right is a Leupold 65 in-lb T wrench and a conventional variable torque wrench (top)
Scopes come with the Allen wrench sized for that scope dial, but most scopes use one of three basic Allens so I carry all three. So shooters should have a small pouch that carries all the tools needed to tighten any bolt or screw on their rifles. This is primarily the action bolts, the scope ring screws and nuts, and Allens for the scope dials and trigger adjustment (if running an adjustable trigger such as Timney or Jewel).
Back to the participants in precision rifle classes, often times they not only do not have the right tools, they don’t know the required torque values for their actions and scopes. An experienced shooter or gunsmith can often button up the bolts by “feel” but rookie shooters can only learn the correct feel by using torque wrenches set to the correct values. This also prevents stripping out small screws such as the scope ring-halves screws that only require 15-18 in-lbs (depending on manufacturer recommendations).
Compact set of Deluxe Fix it Sticks complete with pre-set torque wrench heads and T handle
Basic tools include:
- Allen for action/stock bolts (or screwdriver for slot screws)
- Allen for scope base
- Allen for scope ring-half screws
- 1/2” socket for the ring side nuts
- Allen for trigger adjustments
- Torque wrench
- Allen for stock butt plate adjustments
- Lens cleaning brush and soft cloth
- Tools for additional accessories such as light mounts, lasers, or bipods
Sniper tool kit complete with notebook and Kestrel wind/weather meter and spare batteries
To conclude, save the instructions that come with your rifle, scopes, scope rings, mounts, and triggers. Most of these of these have specific torque values. Next, save any tools that come with these as well. Put them in a small pouch or Pelican box, or add them to your Fix it Sticks, and keep them with the rifle or in your range bag. Lastly, since we all have several rifles, maintain a small notebook or log book for each rifle so that you have a notation of required torque values and the ammunition you used when you last zeroed the rifle.
Fix it Sticks in action on scope mounting screws and nuts