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Should I Loctite my scope bases?

If you’re putting together a rifle for the first time, or you’ve just bought a package deal that was loosely thrown together, you may not be aware of the intricacies involved in proper scope mounting. One of the questions often debated in forums all over the internet is whether or not to apply Loctite to scope base screws, and if so, which colour to use?

Well, I made the rookie mistake of driving three and a half hours to do some target shooting after reassembling a rifle I had coated with a nice new finish. I completely forget to Loctite to the scope bases. I sent a few factory rounds down range to foul the barrel, and got a group size under 2 inches at 100 yards. Sounds about right.

I then painstakingly went through shooting 3-shot groups with my reloaded ammo (I was working up a new load), and watched in absolute horror as my groups opened up to 3 or 4 inches. Thinking I may have overheated the barrel, I gave the old shooting iron a rest and threw some lead downrange with a few other toys while it cooled off.

Taking up the prone position again I looked forward to drilling some really expensive Sierra Matchkings into ragged little holes 100 yards away. No such luck. I was shooting groups that opened up to 7 inches. What the…? I could not figure out how I had screwed up this batch of reloads so badly. Until I adjusted the scope settings for a friend of mine to shoot at 50 yards. Wait – was that a bit of wiggle in the scope mounting? Indeed it was. I had managed to get about $50 worth of ammo down range with no particular success before I realised that my loads were fine – the scope bases had come loose.

Don’t make my mistake

Frustratingly, after driving home for three and a half hours I noticed the blue bottle of Loctite sitting on my gun bench, like a big fat “I told you so” from the universe.

In short, don’t make my mistake – Loctite your scope base screws. I took a perfectly good 1-inch shooter and turned it into a minute-of-dinner-plate loser by forgetting this simple step. And I’m sure my scope didn’t appreciate flopping around like that either.

Make sure your threads are completely clear of debris or grease when you do this. And while some people say red Loctite is okay to use, I prefer to use blue – I find it is much easier to remove. While you may not take your scope bases off regularly, if you want to upgrade or change to a 35 MOA rail, or whatever, you’ll wish you had used the blue variant.


Geoff is a shooting and reloading enthusiast who would rather be at the range, but is content to write about it. He is a member of Waiuku Pistol Club, and shoots rifle, pistol and shotgun in various disciplines, occasionally, managing to get out for a hunt.

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