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Gunsmiths don’t use a torque wrench?!

Buckyranger42

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Jan 16, 2020
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99
Location
Wisconsin
I kept getting fliers dialing in a new rifle I recently had ”tuned” by my gunsmith, including mounting my scope. I finally questioned the in/lbs the scope rings were tightened to and called my gunsmith to ask what they tightened them to. “We just hand tighten them.” WHAT?! I adjusted them myself and had a sub moa grouping out of the gate with a good day at the range.

Should I trust the manual approach, or push to remove any human error? It’s probably a rhetorical question...
 

Jbotto

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Apr 12, 2019
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177
Location
Big Horn Basin, WY
Before I got the wheeler Fat Wrench I had good results with a simple Allen wrench and lock tight. Garb the small end of the Allen wrench and tighten with one hand until you can’t tighten it anymore. The long end of an Allen wrench is supposed to provide more torque to loosen anything stuck. Don’t know where I picked it up or if it’s common sense to some, but that worked for years for me. Even on a lightweight Savage .30-06 that got downright ornery when the trigger was pulled.
 

Woodrow F Call

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Jan 7, 2017
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247
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Red Stick, Louisiana
I really hesitate to provide my input because my experience and yours or everyone else's is different.

In reality, a properly designed/sized scope ring/scope/mounting system probably shouldn't be affected by having "just the exact right torque." Having too little torque is definitely a problem. Bolts need stretch to provide proper clamping load without becoming loose. If the design is worth owning, it shouldn't distort because of those little bitty screws being "over" torqued.

The torque of a bolt/screw is in actuality, a sloppy approximation with a range in order to estimate how much the fastener has stretched. Oil, loctite, dry, or whatever will affect the amount of stretch applied when using a "torque" wrench. If you look at the mounting instructions for rings, they generally don't specify what to use. My guess is they have a wide range of being OK.

So, too little, it'll get loose. Way too much, the fastener will go into the "plastic" zone and never hold a good clamping force. Can someone who does this all the time or maybe turns a lot of wrenches get it to where it'll work fine without using a torque wrench? For a joint like this, that is properly designed, yes, they can.

I didn't use a torque wrench on my last scope mount. The rifle has for over a year of shooting (about 200-250 rounds) held zero and will put 10 rounds cold to hot in under an inch. It wouldn't do that if I really screwed up the torque. If it doesn't get loose, it'll be good.


Also, here is a pretty good write up on scope mounting. It's really good and he does specify torque values, but he shows him using an torx key to do it. :D I should probably ask if he actually used a torque wrench, but I'm guessing not. He shoots probably more than all of us on this site put together and has a clue about how to shoot. The nail polish is actually a pretty good trick, it'll tell you if they get loose. Also, oil/lubrication is the enemy here.

 

Woodrow F Call

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Jan 7, 2017
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Red Stick, Louisiana
Kept getting fliers = wasted time / ammo at the range.

Torque wrench is your answer. Over tightening will cause issues as well.
Honestly, over torquing (short of over stretching the screw), shouldn't affect anything as far as the scope mounting. If it does, something is wrong with one of your components anyways.
 

Woodrow F Call

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Jan 7, 2017
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Red Stick, Louisiana
That’s pretty much the protocol I use. I don’t have a torque wrench. I just degrease and then Loctite everything.
To be honest, if you don't do a bunch of mechanical stuff and have a feel for under/over tightening, a torque wrench can be a real comfort. I've broken enough bolts/screws that I do feel pretty comfortable with it. (Edit - For small screws to about a 3/8" bolt that isn't part of a rotating assembly)

I'm just saying, there is plenty of margin and someone can get away with it just fine if you shoot enough to understand if the gun is doing what it is supposed to.
 
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ElkFever2

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Mar 4, 2019
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2,291
Location
Iowa
I got my scope mounted and the tech asked me to come back behind the counter to the workbench and watch him do the job with a torque screwdriver. He explained that his employer banned locktite from the business. I’ve been a locktite believer for a long time, but I admit I was impressed by what I saw. Not saying I’ll be tossing out my locktite anytime soon...but I will be buying the tool he used and trying out his method, as it seemed cleaner, more precise, and more efficient than my method.

Edit: tech also said the work was guaranteed, and to bring it back if there were any issues. This business mounts any scope at no cost, even if you don’t make a purchase, and they do a high volume of scope mounts.
 

MITCHMO

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May 19, 2016
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341
Location
Traverse city
I wish someone would start making nordlock washers for scope mount screws. They are the greatest thing I have ever used. Just not sure they are practical for something so small with such a fine pitch. They straight up just don’t ever loosen up.
 

Buckyranger42

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Jan 16, 2020
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99
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Wisconsin
Honestly, over torquing (short of over stretching the screw), shouldn't affect anything as far as the scope mounting. If it does, something is wrong with one of your components anyways.
It‘s my understanding over torquing can cause inaccurate elevation and windage adjustments. After learning my rings were tightened without confirming the torque I loosened them and then used a torque wrench to accurately tighten the ring screws. Even if that wasn’t the cause for error, gives me peace of mind they are set to spec.
 

belshawelk

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Aug 27, 2015
Messages
645
Location
Oregon
Last few guns I have bought were either custom or high end from a gunsmith and bought with a new scope and had them mount. I did recently buy new a torque wrench ( Midway USA under $50). I hadn't done a scope mount for a while, but enjoyed doing my latest gun myself with the mount, bore sight a range time. When I was done my gun was 6" off high, 1 " to right. Last week mounted a new scope for my buddy. Unless I am buying my gun from a high end dealer/manufacture its hard for me to trust the "guys" behind the counter, since I know more than they do abut the guns they sell.
 

huntin24/7

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Jul 25, 2010
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637
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Eastern Montana
I’ve got the wheeler kit and love it. I replaced the trigger on my 700 CDL this winter and when I shot the other day, I noticed poor grouping. I check the free float and noticed the barrel was tightly touching the stock after torque to Remington specs. I had to loosen it a fair bit to relieve that. It’s still solid but there is free float now so headed to the range to try again.
 

thomas89

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Apr 9, 2015
Messages
244
Had a Vortex scope that had a nice little jangle to it first day of the antelope season. Vortex was convinced I over torqued the rings, although I had competently mounted many scopes (non-Vortex) prior. I did buy a torque wrench kit from Wheeler to alleviate any operator error in the future.

I am convinced they just took a crap in a box and marked it guaranteed.
 

noharleyyet

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TEXAS
I've always assumed smiths using proper tools and torque specs to be an intuitively obvious condition of their training.
 

Dougfirtree

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Jul 27, 2016
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814
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Adirondacks
I use a torque wrench and like it. I've also had good luck doing it by hand.

The real issue here, in my opinion, is that a gunsmith left your rings loose... In my experience, a good gunsmith is a rare find and something to treasure. I wonder if you need to keep looking...?
 
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