Riflescope Troubleshooting

Common Issues

Answers

  • I cannot dial the elevation and/or windage adjustments far enough to sight my scope in, or turning the adjustments does not move the point of impact.

Cause:

All riflescopes have a limited amount of internal adjustment that can move the rifle’s point-of-impact. The amount of adjustment required to sight in your scope is determined by how well aligned the scope is to the bore of the rifle. If the scope has less adjustment than what is needed to correct for its alignment to the rifle, you will run out of adjustment while trying to zero.

Some scopes feature mechanical stops that prevent over rotation and provide rapid return-to-zero. While the dial will hit the stop, there may be more internal adjustment within the scope. Ensure that you are not engaging the stops when sighting in.

What will this look like at the range? When you attempt make an adjustment, your point-of-impact will not change and/or the dial itself will physically stop turning.

Solution:

If you are running out of adjustment while zeroing your riflescope, the solution is to improve the physical alignment of the scope to the rifle’s bore. There are many ways of doing this, including:

  • Running out of Windage: If the internal adjustment capability has been used, the correction needs to be made with windage adjustable bases or rings. Leupold offers windage adjustable bases (STD) which have two windage screws holding the rear ring. By loosening one side and tightening the other, they shift the rear of the scope right or left for gross windage adjustment.
    Note: Some Leupold scopes feature a zero-stop, or ZeroLock windage dial that limits travel to ½ turn either direction. This allows a rapid return to zero when dialing for wind drift. If you encounter this mechanical limit in the windage while sighting in, loosen the dial set screws and turn the dial in the opposite direction ½ revolution, then re-tighten the set screws. This will allow more dial travel in the direction you wish to move. Once the desired zero has been achieved loosen the set screws again, turn the dial until the zero stop or ZeroLock is engaged, then re-tighten the set screws.


  • Running out of Elevation Up: If your bullet is impacting low and you have dialed your scope all the way up, an inclined base such as the BackCountry Cross-Slot 20MOA base may lower your point of impact far enough to sight in.


  • Running out of Elevation Down: Many Leupold scopes feature a zero-stop, or ZeroLock elevation dial that limits travel below the set zero of the firearm. This allows a rapid return to zero when dialing for bullet drop. If you encounter this mechanical limit in the downward direction while sighting in, loosen the dial set screws and turn the dial in the up direction 1-2 revolutions, then re-tighten the set screws. This will allow more dial travel in the down direction. Once the desired zero has been achieved loosen the set screws again, turn the dial until the zero stop or ZeroLock is engaged, then re-tighten the set screws.


  • Running out of Elevation Up or Down: Leupold Technical Service offers purpose-built mounting shims for vertical alignment in either direction which we will ship within the US free of charge. Please call 1-800-LEUPOLD to order.


This can be a difficult problem to diagnose and solve. If you suspect that you are running out of adjustment feel free to call us at 1-800-LEUPOLD to speak to a technician who can help.

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  • My point of impact changes unpredictably (will not hold zero).

Cause:

Shifting point of impact has many potential causes throughout the shooting system. It may be related to ammunition, optics, the rifle, the mounting system, the shooter, the shooting position, and more.

Solution:

The process of deduction is the best way to track down the source of the issue. It is always advisable to change one variable at a time and see if the problem improves or worsens:

  • Ensure that the mounting system is appropriate for the scope and rifle.
  • Check that all fasteners are properly torqued on both the rifle (action screws), and scope mount.
  • Change the ammunition being used.
  • Install the riflescope on a new rifle or vice versa.
  • Change your shooting position or rest.


The most common cause of point-of-impact shift related to the riflescope is the riflescope being run out of adjustment. When all of the adjustment on a riflescope has been used, as described in the section above, it will no longer hold zero. If you suspect that your scope is running out of internal adjustment call 1-800-LEUPOLD to speak to a technician who can help you diagnose and fix the issue. If the problem follows the riflescope on a different rifle and it is not at the end of its adjustment range, please send it in for inspection and repair under warranty.

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  • My target and/or reticle are out of focus.

Cause:

All Leupold riflescopes have a diopter focus on the eyepiece, and many also have an Adjustable Objective (AO) or Side Focus (SF), which is used to eliminate parallax. If these are not used properly and in the correct order, it may result in an out of focus image, reticle, or excessive parallax.

Solution:

Follow the below instructions to focus your riflescope.

If your scope has an Adjustable Objective or Side Focus:

  • Secure the scope and firearm in a rest, and make sure the firearm is unloaded. Safely point the scope at a light colored background with nothing for your eye to focus on. A piece of white paper or a clear blue sky work well.
  • Rotate the eyepiece until the reticle is sharp. Look away every so often to relax your eye between focus checks.
  • Now that your eyepiece/diopter focus is set, it should not be changed again unless a different shooter is using the scope.
  • Now that the reticle is in focus, the AO or SF can be used to clarify the target image, and eliminate any observed parallax.


    If your scope does not have an Adjustable Objective or Side Focus:

    • Secure the scope and firearm in a rest. Safely point the scope at a light colored background with nothing for your eye to focus on. A piece of white paper or a clear blue sky work well.
    • Rotate the eyepiece until the reticle is sharp. Look away every so often to relax your eye between focus checks.
    • Now that your eyepiece/diopter focus is set, it should not be changed again unless a different shooter is using the scope.
    • Now that the reticle is in focus, a target at 150 yards should also be in perfect focus. Note: this range may be different for some riflescopes. 60 yards for Rimfire scopes, 100 yards for Handgun scopes.) Targets at long ranges (beyond 500 yards) or very close ranges (within 75 yards) may appear out of focus. This effect can be reduced by turning down your magnification. If the focus problem persists after following these steps, please call 1-800-LEUPOLD to speak to a technician, or return your scope for service and repair.

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    • When I adjust my riflescope, it goes backwards

    Cause:

    This problem is almost always due to confusion about what should be moving, and in which direction, when the adjustment dial is being turned.

    Solution:

    The directions engraved on your Leupold riflescope’s adjustments (Up, Down, Left, Right) describe the direction that the Point-of-Impact (bullet hole in target) will move. When you look through your riflescope while dialing, the image of the target will move in the direction you dial. The reticle will appear to move in the opposite direction.

    For example: if you look through your scope while dialing down, the image of the target will appear to move down while the reticle will appear to move up. This will result in a point-of-impact movement in the down direction.

    The same thing holds true while boresighting. The grid of an optical boresighter or the dot of a laser boresighter will move in the direction indicated on the dial, while the reticle will appear to move in the opposite direction.

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    • When I'm comfortable on my rifle, I see a black ring blocking the field-of-view of my riflescope.

    Cause:

    All riflescopes are designed with an optimum eye-relief distance for the best performance. Typically, this is 3-4 inches from the eyepiece lens depending on the riflescope model. If you are seeing a black ring around the image in the scope, you are either too close or too far from the scope when looking through it.

    Solution:

    It is very important, especially on high magnification riflescopes, to pay attention to eye-relief when mounting the scope. Do not let someone else mount your scope without you being present to confirm eye-relief.

    To set eye-relief properly:

      • Turn the scope up to its maximum magnification, where eye relief is usually at its shortest and most critical.
      • Shoulder the rifle in the position you will shoot in the most. If you shoot prone, do this in prone, etc.
      • Move the scope back and forth in the ring bottoms until it is as far away from your eye as possible while still having a full field of view.
      • Tighten down the ring tops with the scope in this position or mark the tube of your scope with a pencil against a ring for later reference.

      If your rings and mounts do not allow you to move the scope forward or backward enough to get proper eye-relief, other mounts may be needed. Call us at 1-800-LEUPOLD to speak to a technician for recommendations.

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      • I'm missing adjustment covers, battery caps, or other external parts for my Leupold riflescope.

      Our Technical Service team can mail out any user-installable parts for your Leupold riflescope. Give us a call at 1-800-LEUPOLD to speak to a technician and place your order. Internal and integral parts such as lenses are not user-serviceable and cannot be mailed out. If your scope has damaged integral parts, please return your scope for service and repair.

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