Rifles and optics are typically married to each other; once a scope is mounted and zeroed, that is where it is supposed to stay, right? Sure, it is a nice idea, and it does work quite well.
What about swapping one scope between rifles? Is it blasphemous? Is it even effective or a smart thing to do?
There are certainly pros and cons when looking at it objectively, but the traditional mindset is that this is blasphemous, that a mounted scope needs to be a long-term affair with the rifle it is married to.
I believe this idea has come from some old-school scope mounts that were not friendly to being mounted and remounted over and over. However, modern tactical scope mounts are not so fragile and are actually quite friendly to gun swapping.
Why I Do It?
The reason I like the idea of switching scopes is primarily to stay within a certain budget. I own multiple long guns, and most shooters do.
Outfitting them all with scopes is possible, but my options are to spend a ton of money on outfitting them all with quality scopes or spend a reasonable amount of money to outfit them all with cheap scopes.
I can’t afford to slap an ACOG on every rifle I own, and I’m not looking to purchase Chinese junk and hope it works.
The third option, however, is to buy maybe one of two excellent optics and move them from weapon to weapon as the need arises.
This allows me to justify the purchase of that thousand-dollar Trijicon Accupoint and move it from my AR to my Ruger American or to my 300 Blackout H&R Handi rifle.
You may notice a running theme with those three rifles. They are all relatively small and lightweight and chambered in an intermediate cartridge, specifically the 300 Blackout.
The rifles may be complete opposites in terms of operational procedures and their design. However, they have similar barrel lengths, similar mounting methods, and of course, calibers.
3 Recommendations For Scope Swapping
1. If you are looking to use one scope for several rifles, it does help if they are all somewhat similar. They do not have to be identical in most cases.
For example, the 5.56 mm and 300 Blackout are quite similar, both are intermediate cartridges, and both are popular in the AR platform and multiple bolt guns.
The same could said for rounds like the 270, the 308, and the 30-06. One should not expect much success transitioning an optic off of a 50 caliber Barrett to a 5.56 AR 15. It’s simple, like works with like.
2. The next step is how you are going to mount the optic. The mounting method needs to be consistent between rifles.
The AR flat top upper is common but is quite different from the AK side mounting system, so keep that in mind.
3. Next is your actual scope mounting hardware. If you are looking to change the scope from weapon to weapon, I suggest something with a quick detach or QD mount. The LaRue Tactical single-piece mount is an excellent example.
If rings are more your style, the Warne Quick detach scope rings are brilliant. The quick detach levers apply the same amount or lock down every time they are used. This gives the scope more consistency when being moved between weapons. Of course, quick detach also makes it easier to swap scopes around.
Cons To Keep In Mind
There are of course, a few downsides to this. First off is zeroing procedures. Even when changing scopes between weapons with similar barrel lengths and in similar calibers, you need to re-zero the weapon and optic.
You’ll need to do this to guarantee precision. Luckily if the barrel lengths and calibers are similar more than likely, this will be a quick affair with just a few different adjustments.
Another problem is when a scope is specifically designed for a particular rifle and particular cartridge.
For example, there are tons of different Trijicon ACOGs because they are built for a certain barrel length and a certain bullet weight and cartridge velocity.
The same could be said for scopes like the Nikon P300, a scope designed for the 300 Blackout, specifically the 115 grain 300 Blackout load, at 2280 feet per second from a sixteen-inch barrel.
As you can imagine using a different caliber or barrel length is likely to be less precise.
Wrapping It All Up
Anyone who owns multiple guns and is looking to purchase optics but keeps to a budget could definitely benefit from swapping scopes between rifles. Always remember, like goes with like, and to always re-zero your weapon.
Rezeroing costs ammo, but any self-respecting shooter will check their zero before an event, regardless.
Remember to use scopes that are designed for multiple rifles and calibers and not one specifically designed for a certain caliber or barrel length.
Swapping scopes is not blasphemy as long as a quality optic is used and you follow a few common sense procedures.