Picking a Scope for A Survival Rifle

Scopes definitely have a place on a survival rifle.  They allow you to hunt later in the evening, way past time that you would not be a able to see your target with iron sights.  The same is true for early morning.  You would be able to see your target through a scope earlier than with iron sights.

A scope is essential to those of us whose vision is not what it used to be.  

The downside to scopes is that they are more fragile than iron sights.  You must have iron sights for backup.  Redundancy is the name of the game in survival preparations and could save your life in a survival situation.

Easy off mounts can be a solution for this problem.  Take the scope off of the rifle and carry it in your pack.  Wrap it with something soft and cushioning such as clothes.  The scope should not change zero when it is reattached.

The first consideration is what type of base or rings are on the rifle.  Some .22 rifles have a groove in the top of the receiver.  These guns use what is called a 3/8” tip-off mount.  Rings are available to mate a 1” rifle scope to these rails.  It is imperative to mark a line where the ring attaches to the rail.  This will allow you to reattach the scope in the same position each time.  Unlike the Weaver or picatinny  rail, there are no cross channels into which the rings sit to position them.

There are adaptors made to convert the grooved receiver into a weaver base.  We do not recommend them for the following reasons:

  • Very expensive - cost more than the rings
  • Add height
  • Add weight
  • Add complexity - more screws to  work loose

Since rings are available to attach directly to the receiver groove, why add another part that could come loose?

3/8" Tip-Off Mounts for grooved receiver

Scopes are classified by the diameter of the main tube.  1 inch and 30mm are the two common diameters for center fire rifles.  There is a third size that is made specifically for grooved receivers.  These long, skinny diameter scopes are what is commonly used in a  “.22 rifle-scope combo”  package.  These are so cheap and useless we will not discuss them here.  They sell for less than $15 most places and do not allow enough light through to make them any better than iron sights at dusk.

A scope for a survival rifle should have the following attributes:

  • Light weight
  • Dependable
  • Small size
  • Good light gathering ability

A lot of scopes available today are too bid and heavy for use on a .22 rifle.  The scope will hit the iron sight on the barrel if it is too long.  You will have to use extremely high rings to compensate for this which may raise the eyepiece too high for comfortable and accurate use.  This is the same reason  that I do not recommend “see through” scope mounts.  They raise the scope too high to get a good cheek weld on the stock.  A shorter scope will allow you to place the scope lower and closer to the bore.  The height difference between the crosshairs and the bore has to be factored in for accurate shooting.  This is especially important for small targets.

The 30mm scopes are too big for consideration on a survival rifle.  The 1” tubes are the ideal compromise.   The rings that you buy should place the objective lens (the large portion on the front of the scope) as close to the barrel as possible without touching it.  

The next choice is fixed or variable power.  Each has its advantages and also its liabilities.  Cheaply made variable power scopes have a habit of changing point of impact when changing powers.  This change could be the difference between a hit or a miss.  Range testing is the only way to determine if there is a problem.  

Parallax can also be a problem on cheap variable power scopes.  To check for this set the scope on the lowest power and adjust the parallax for the clearest image.  Keep looking through the scope and slowly turn the scope up to the highest power.  Does the image get fuzzy and out of focus as you increase power?  If it does find another scope.

An inexpensive fixed power scope may be a better choice than a cheap variable power scope.  Fixed power scopes are usually sturdier and more reliable than the variables.  Also, if the rifle does not shoot where you are aiming each time, it is not worth carrying.

Short Fixed 4 Power Rifle Scope

Remember to use Loc-Tite on all of the screws when mounting the scope.  If you are mounting a base on your rifle sand the blueing off the bottom of the base and the top of  the  barrel where it meets the base.  Apply some epoxy to this area and attach the screws with Loc-Tite.  

Make sure that you carry the tools needed to remove the scope if you do not have quick detachable mounts.  A Leatherman Tool or one of the clones would be useful for this.

Good luck.