How To Mount A Scope Without Rails

In the worst-case situation… What will you do if you have a classic rifle with no drilling or rails for mounting? What are you going to do with your scope? If you’ve just pulled out the rifle, drilled it, and begun mounting the sight, it can be a daunting process. Not only would your attempts be futile, but there is a good chance that you may also damage the rifle and sight.

several rifle mounting systems employ the Weaver / Picatinny base rail and this appears that any other sight systems have just vanished. For many years, most sports mounting methods used a basic taped and screwed-down base plate with auxiliary scope rings.

Of course, finding a weapon without a rail is not impossible. Exceptions include systems like the one seen on Ruger guns. Ruger has created an attachment system that combines a unitized base and sight ring arrangement and is polished to match the distinctive Ruger processing on both handgun rails and rifle receivers.

In many situations, both contemporary and antique rifles used pre-tapped and pre-drilled holes as standard for sight bases. These were industry standard sizes, and scope base makers were able to adapt base and ring designs to match these various brands while still working with almost the same pre-drilled thread designs.

When purchasing bases for these factory sight systems, all that is necessary is to consult the manufacturer’s chart and choose the precise base plate number set stated for the rifles you intend to mount the scope on. If you’re searching for a more durable attachment and plan on handling the installation yourself, you’ll need a full shop of the equipment you’ll need.

So, how do you attach a sight on a rifle that doesn’t have a rail? Well, there are a few specialist instruments as well as good guidance to employ to avoid any risk of error. So, in this post, we will list all of the tools and their intended uses, followed by an explanation of how to mount a scope on a rifle without a rail. So, let’s get started!

How To Mount A Scope Without Rails

Things You’ll Require

  1. Your Gun – Obviously, you’ll need the rifle on which you would like the scope attached.
  1. Scope of Your Preference – You should have the scope of your preference on the pistol. You could mount the pistol with rails for future prospects, and it never hurts to check everything with the scope.
  1. Scope Attaching Rings – Of course, this is required for mounting the sight and maintaining it steady. There’s no getting around it; you must have them.
  1. Instruments Required – Some people seem to be able to tap and drill their personal rifles with the necessary tools, but at the risk of damaging your weapon, most people will not. A gunsmith would then have to drill and tap for a fresh base plate, then mount the plate and rail, followed by the scope. They would require maximum accuracy to ensure everything that lines up straight so that they don’t have to drill extra holes in the cannon because the base plate doesn’t fit properly or is off-center.
  1. Boresighter – Once it has been properly placed, the smith will be using a boresighter to ensure that everything lines up perfectly and points true.

The Do-It-Yourself Option

If you wish to mount a scope metal plate and scope rings with your own, here’s how to mount a scope on a weapon without a rail. First and foremost, you’ll need a decent drill press.

Then get a set of high carbon drill bits as well as extremely high-quality thread taps, since receiver steel doesn’t pot metal, and drilling it is a difficult operation. Make sure you’ve got precise pair of calipers and associated measuring instruments with your drilling and tapping tools.

With the particular jig set up to appropriately hold the receiver in line, you can now mark the hold points with the required base brand and type. Remember that any error will result in the receiver being scrapped immediately away.

The Expert Route

Start your search for a reputable gunsmith early if you wish to attach a scope. These men are hard to come by in this throw-away world of stuff.

If you need to send your gun out for drilling and tapping, trust me when I say it’s worth the additional money to pay for a professional gunsmith rather than taking the budget approach with your optic needs.

Installation Of A Rifle Scope

Step 1:

 If you wish to mount a scope, you must have a scope base connected to your rifle. There is no other way around it. The simplest method to accomplish this is to bring your pistol and sight to a gunsmith.

Step 2: 

The gunsmith will clamp your receiver in a vice. He will then set a special jig on top with holes pre-drilled in a precise line that the smith will just need to drill through into the receiver of your rifle. This guarantees that the holes are drilled exactly in line with one another and are not offset in any way.

If you already had drill holes in your cannon but no base plate, Then your first step begins here, at stage 3

Step 3: 

The base plate must now be installed. This connects the rail to the receivers and is fairly self-explanatory. When screwing down the base plate, use some Loctite to ensure that moisture does not penetrate below the mount and for a more durable adhesion.

Step 4: 

Now you may connect the rail to the base plate. Depending on the sort of rail you install, this will also become a semi-permanent fixture. A Picatinny rail is the most versatile.

Step 5:

Now that the rail is secure, it’s time to attach the scope and its rings. This is essentially the last stage. Yay, you’ve got a scope! The last step is just to double-check everything.

Step 6: 

Once the scope has been properly mounted and adjusted, it is time to boresight. Simply insert a laser bore sighter into the barrel and test the scope to ensure it is correctly aligned and set.

Try It Out

Utilize it like you would any other new pistol with a new sight. Give it a precise bore sighting using a laser bore sighter and a firm rest, and then perform a fast box test to ensure that the tracking on your windage and elevation adjustments is correct.

Simply get out there and shoot it, making sure everything is properly fastened and in the appropriate position, then adjust as required until you obtain the precision you want.

Other Factors to Consider

Another factor to consider when mounting an optic on a rifle that wasn’t designed for it is that the ergonomics of the gun may not give a satisfactory shooting performance even if everything is correctly drilled and tapped by a professional. What may be an excellent gun while shooting with irons may become a nightmare when attempting to find a comfortable firing position, obtain sufficient eye relief, achieve the proper angle of vision for your reticle, and so on.

Is it necessary to drill my rifle to mount a scope?

Yes. To install a solid, sturdy mount that will not damage your scope, it must be properly fastened, which implies drilled and tapped.

How much would it cost to drill and tap?

This answer varies since some blacksmiths charge a set amount per hole whereas others charge an hourly rate. This task usually doesn’t take long. However, it is also dependent on the type of weapon and all other operations that the smith will perform on the rifle.

What exactly does “drill and tap” mean?

Even though they lack a base plate, some guns are already drilled. Drilling is merely constructing a hole in the metal to allow screws to pass through, whereas tapping involves creating threads inside the bore for the screws to grip.


Rails, on the other hand, are a must-have tool in any case. You must obtain them at any cost since mounting a scope without a rail is technically impossible. It was all in the past when installing a scope on a rail-less rifle was a difficult process, because you now understand how to put a scope on a rifle without a rail. 

We are certain that all of the information offered in this post, was straightforward for you. So, acquire your tools and start modifying your rifle to fit the sight precisely.

You now understand how to attach a sight on a rifle that does not have a rail. The best method is to leave it to a gunsmith and simply enjoy the completed product. Yes, holes must be bored into your antique rifle, but if you want the sight, you must change the weapon.

The next stage is to take it outside and shoot it! Use the scope to ensure that everything is correctly installed, and then have pleasure with it.

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