One Scope, Two Rifles

By Ed Turner

After reading a member comment on the member message board asking about the idea of using one good quality scope with two rifles, allowing the extra money saved to go to a high quality scope, I began to give this concept a lot of thought. I also decided that with the arrival of a new rifle I had recently ordered I'd even give the idea a little credence with an experiment doing just that, using one scope for two rifles and see how it would actually work in practice.

There are, of course, some restrictions on how this can be made to work, without it becoming more of a bother than it would be worth. There would be some tradeoffs, as the same scope would likely not be perfect for both rifles, unless they were both used for exactly the same thing; i.e., both .22 target rifles or both used for short-range deer hunting, as examples. The important thing to remember would be that the scope sharing duties must be what would work perfectly for one of the rifles. The sharing of a scope likely would be the owner's way of putting off the purchase of a second scope into the future when he/she has saved enough for another quality sight.

I'll use the premise of a hunter using two big game rifles spanning the majority of North American game animals and sharing one scope as our example here. Two rifles capable of hunting most or all CXP2 and CXP3 game in North America. Some of the pitfalls and restrictions would be the fact that we would need to remain true to rifle type and action size. Of course, most single shot, lever and autoloaders share a common receiver for both short and long action calibers. The other important thing would be a base and ring combination that would allow us to easily move the scope from rifle to rifle. For example, I'll not consider the idea of moving a scope from a long action bolt gun with typical dovetail rings and bases to a short action lever gun with Weaver type mounts (as an example of a poor choice). That is simply not a workable system.

Instead, I'll use the idea of a hunter/shooter using a similar or exact copy of action type and size and leaving the scope in the same rings as it is switched back and forth. I see no reason why this could not work if the owner makes some good decisions in his purchases of the two rifles. I'd consider rifles with integral mounting systems as in the Ruger 77 and No. 1 rifles, Sako rifles, the new T/C Icon and also CZ rifles to be the best in theory to make this concept work, but there are also some other combinations that could  work with careful selection of a quality ring/ base combination for both rifles.

My experiment will use one set of Ruger rings moving between two short action Ruger model 77s. The same thing should be able to work, though, using Warne or Talley angle lock QD rings and Weaver type bases on two rifles. These rifles would need to use bases that were attached in exactly the same places on both rifles, meaning the rifles would need to be the same models and also both should be of either short or long action persuasion.

Some Interesting Two Rifle Batteries

As I mentioned previously, I'll look at some two rifle batteries that would make sense for use with a single scope. I do believe that any of the three I mentioned; Sako, Ruger and CZ would make excellent choices for this concept. Consider these examples of a "matching" pair of rifles and single scope combination:

1.      CZ 550 in 6.5x55 and another in 9.3x62 using a shared 3-9x scope mounted in integral rings. (Example: Kahles Helia CL 3-9x42 MZ.)

2.      Ruger No. 1A in 7x57 and No. 1B in .300 Win. Mag. with a shared 2.5-8x scope mounted in Ruger steel rings. (Example: Leupold VX-III 2.5-8x36mm)

3.      Ruger M77 MKII or Hawkeye in 7mm-08 and another in .338 Federal with a shared 2-7x scope mounted in Ruger integral rings. (Example: Kahles Helia CL MZ  2-7x36mm.)

4.      Sako 85's in .25-06 and .30-06 and a shared 3-9x scope mounted in integral Sako rings. (Example: Swarovski AV 3-9x42mm.)

5.      Browning BAR MK. II in .25-06 and .338 Win. Mag. and a 3-9x scope on a Weaver base and quality rings. (Example: Sightron SII Big Sky 3-9x42mm.)

6.      10.T/C Icons in .243 Win and .308 Win. with a 2.5-8x scope mounted in Warne QD rings on the integral Weaver mounts milled into the receiver (Example: Zeiss Conquest 2.5-8x36mm.)

7.      T/C Encore with one barrel in 6.5x55 and another in .35 Whelen topped with a reasonably compact 2-7x scope (this rifle is too compact for a large scope) in Warne rings on one-piece Weaver bases. (Example: Leupold VX-II 2-7x33mm.)

These are just a few of the endless combinations one could choose and make the one scope, two rifle concept work. I'd recommend that the original scope chosen for use on both rifles be of the exact size that suits the larger caliber, or perhaps the shorter range cartridge as the owner might find that the additional power he or she originally thought they needed for their long range caliber might not be needed after using the lower power scope for a while. Having a larger than needed scope for both would not allow for the sensible use of the system. This system might work well enough so that the owner NEVER adds a second scope.

I can already hear some voicing their concerns about the use of a Weaver type (angle loc) system in mounting the scope on both rifles rather than the very popular dovetail/turn in type many prefer. I've done a bit of reading on both these systems(as well as owning 20 or so of each) and feel (as do many experts) that the Weaver type system is the stronger of the two and I believe that by using high quality rings (Talley or Warne as examples) and bases you give up nothing in either the strength or looks department.

Another point to make here is that the chosen scope must have the eye relief needed for both calibers and additionally needs to have a very exact system for making adjustments. The older type Leopold's with 1/2" friction adjustments, for example, would not be the best type for this system. Rather, a positive click type with 1/4" adjustments would be preferable and the Kahles Helia MZ (multi zero) model with additional zero settings possible would be perfect for this use.

The Experiment

The rifles used in this experiment are the two of the ones I feel best suited for this scope sharing; a pair of like sized action Ruger Model 77 rifles using Ruger steel rings. I'll be mounting the scope and rings on the rifle that will ultimately wear this scope permanently, sighting it in and then removing scope and rings together and re-installing them onto a second model 77 and sighting it in. After sighting-in rifle #2 and noting any and all changes to the scope adjustments, I'll re-install it onto rifle #1, make exact and opposite adjustments to the scope (in theory bringing it back to the original setting on rifle #1) and then shoot another group to see how close to our initial point of impact it is now. I'll also use a boresighting instrument with a grid system type adjustment field and, noting where rifle #1 was after being sighted-in, recheck and see if we are there again prior to firing a group.

I have found the Ruger integral scope base and Ruger rings to be very sturdy and have found that with simple boresighting most of my Ruger rifles are very close on initial shooting. This tells me they have their act together in placing those dovetail cuts used  in the receivers  with this system in the right place, time after time. The scope will be mounted and then sighted in on a model 77 Hawkeye in .338 Federal and then removed and reinstalled on a model 77 RSI in .308 Win. and sighted in again. All changes made while sighting-in the RSI will be noted and remembered.

Once the RSI is shooting to the preferred point of impact the scope will be removed from the RSI and reinstalled on the Hawkeye. Opposite adjustments will be made to the windage and elevation knobs, in theory bringing it back to the original settings. A check will be made with a boresighting instrument to see if the scope is now set to the same grid location and the .338 Hawkeye will be fired again. This will allow us to see just how close to the original zero setting it has remained after being moving and readjusted.

I'm not planning on the point of impact (POI) being exactly the same, but rather it being close enough so that realigning will require only a minimum of fuss. Possibly only taking 2-4 shots. We would likely need to recheck the POI each time the scope is installed (with other than the Kahles MZ model scope, anyway), but that shouldn't be a major problem, as most of us would reconfirm a rifle's zero before each season or even each hunting trip.

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Copyright 2007 by Ed Turner. All rights reserved.