Help Customers Improve Accuracy With These Simple Tips

When customers shake their heads about accuracy issues with optics, help them get on the mark with these proven tips.

Help Customers Improve Accuracy With These Simple Tips

Proper torque and precision construction from top tier materials and a $120 price has made the Seekins rings a go-to ring for premium optics customers. (Photo: Max Archer)

With modern performance of the new factory precision firearms on the market, poor accuracy is likely not the fault of the firearms. Too often customers buy a great firearm then are disappointed with the performance due to not selecting the right optic and are also riddled via the perils of low quality optics mounts.

These two suggested accuracy upgrades can generate higher margins, more repeat business and happier customers, however, they are less typical recommendations for most dealers. 

Premium Optics

I talked with Burris, Bushnell, EoTech, Riton, SIG Optics, Trijicon and Vortex industry leaders about how optics can help improve accuracy. According to all the optics manufacturers referenced, dealers have a huge opportunity to sell into the rising sales surge of premium optics, but believe many dealers are still selling them incorrectly.

These industry leaders also agreed that optic clarity was more important than magnification as it delivers more visual acuity at longer distances than higher power, blurry magnification. There is also a concern that most customers are purchasing based on magnification instead of clarity, and ultimately buying too high of magnification. 

“The explosion of competitive precision rifle matches is doing same thing for premium high magnification optics as 3-gun did for the development and sales of 1-4x optics," said Dennis Phillips from Steiner and Burris. Customers are now asking for higher and higher tiers of optics like our XTRII and our new XTRIII line to reach out at longer distances with more precision.

"Precise shots just are not possible if you cannot see the target, but with $1,000-plus optics, the glass quality delivers the clarity to see the target details and really tighten up groups," he added. "Better optics can make you a better shot, but dealers need to help customers understand the advantages of the premium optics category and offer real world optic demos outside the store.”

Jacob Edson, optics manager for Bushnell, used the new Bushnell XRSII as example of demoing optic clarity.

“When you have a class-leading $2,350 optic like the XRSII 4.5-30X50, you are not going to sell its true feature, which is optical clarity, inside a 2,000 square-foot store,” Edson said. “You need to get outside. The dealer has to take the time to get the eyepiece adjusted for a crisp reticle focus, adjust the objective to the appropriate distance and then walk the customer outside to see the clarity the optic can deliver at distances they will actually shoot.

"The simple demo of ‘look at that object 1,000 yards away with this versus that optic’ is a turning point in the sales process. We recommend pre-spotting some landmarks at 300, 500, 1,000 and 1,500 yards. Once customers clearly see small details at 500 to 1,000 yards, it sells the quality of these premium optics and also instills a huge amount of confidence for longer shots."

Edson said merely holding the optic and looking at targets isn't a good idea.

"Dealers should also think about some type of reliable optic support for high magnification optics since a hand hold will not deliver the visual stability needed for a 30X magnification scope," he said. "Side-by-side demos of mid-tier and premium-tier optics can really showcase the clarity and features differences, but these premium optics show their abilities at distances well beyond the confines of a store.”

Testing Premium Optic Upgrades

Testing the clarity theory, I used a PWS AR pistol with a 10.3-inch Ballistac Advantage Hasen barrel chambered in .223 Wylde to compare a quite old, used $35 3-9x Simmons scope to a new SIG Whiskey5 1-5x24 with nearly half the magnification.

Though the SIG only offered a 5x maximum magnification it consistently improved 100-yard groups by an average of 43 percent compared to the higher power legacy Simmons optic maxed out at 9x. The best 5-round 100-yard group measured a tight 0.75-inch with the Whiskey5. The observation was that the large jump in clarity with the Whiskey5 afforded a higher level of detail and ultimately more accuracy. There is obviously a huge jump between a used $35 1990s Simmons and a modern $500 optic. However it certainly proves the point that clarity can trump magnification. 

A similar experiment was repeated with a custom Remington 700 rifle at 400 yards by swapping between an older Bushnell Elite and the new Bushnell XRSII of the same magnification. Similarly, average group size shrank by just over 30 percent with the updated cutting edge XRSII, which afforded a significant upgrade in visual definition of target details. 

Premium Optic Rings, Mounts

Accuracy and precision with optics must involve rings and mounts, of course.

“Rings are the critical connection between the rifle and scope — two precision pieces of equipment that should be connected with high precision rings," said Mark Boardman from Vortex Optics. "Using a quality precision ring and mounting the scope correctly and to the proper torque specs will ensure optimal performance of the entire system. This can save the shooter potentially hours of troubleshooting headaches.”

There is an enormous difference between precision rings and the plethora of inexpensive cast and mass produced rings on the market that have out-of-spec rings and tiny screws. I spoke with Geissele, Seekins, APA and ADM about what makes a premium optic ring. Both optics and optic ring manufacturers noted several key features to look for including virgin steel or aluminum materials, precision CNC-milled rings from billet stock with tolerances held to 1/1,000 of an inch or tighter, large high-grade torque fasteners, radiused edges, matched serialized sets, and tight fit of the rings and Picatinny retainer wedge. 

Higher quality mount manufacturers typically publish torque limits on the product packaging or on their sites. Dealers and customers should be wary of rings that do not provide torque recommendation information or rings that require additional ring friction tape. High quality rings should fit the diameter of the scope perfectly and not require any shimming or friction tape.

“Even at the $80 price range we still see a lot of cast rings, which we cringe when we see them on premium $1,000-plus optics,” said Jered Joplin of APA. “The quality of precision, materials and parts just cannot be offered in that price range. A poor-quality ring mount set will introduce performance degrading stresses on an optic and potentially damage these beautiful optics. Customers have invested a lot of money into an optic so there should be no hesitation for a dealer to recommend a $100 to $300 ring set that is precision milled to exacting tolerances with top tier fasteners. If the scope rings are not extremely precise, those variances can deliver huge variances as the ranges increase.”

Precision is key of every component on the ring.

“With firearm rails and optics there are really just one or two critical mounting dimensions, however even the most simple rings have a complex set of at least nine components per ring, each with critical tolerances, and all directly impacting the performance,” said Glen Seekins of Seekins Precision. “If the internal dimensions are wrong or not uniform, the scope tube gets crushed or it torques or cants the optic in the mount.  If the screws are not tight toleranced high grade, they will strip and the torque and ring pressures will be inconsistent and the rings will loosen. If the retaining mount is not made to lock up with the same precision each time, that can damage an optic and have a cascading impact on performance. For the extra $50 to upgrade the rings, the risk is not worth it with any quality optic.” 

Brian Deal, VP Marketing Aero Precision adds, “Precision should not have to be at the cost of weight. We engineered our AR-format billet scope mounts to deliver premium mount performance in something that was lightweight and easy for customers to install. We use aerospace-grade manufacturing machines, processes and techniques to assure each and every ring set is perfectly true. For around $100, a customer can get a precision billet scope mount without cant or runout between the rings. We focused on one-piece bases to assure the wide variance of quality in today’s top AR rails will not impact the critical optic alignment between the rings.”

American Defense Manufacturing’s John Bailey noted, “The purchase and investment cycle for customers is a bit backward and we need dealers to help educate the public. We all get excited over the firearm first, however the reality is an incredible optic in an equally high quality mount should be the first investment as it can move to any current or future firearm. Mounting an optic should not be an exercise in how much torque and Loctite can be used just to keep the screws from falling out. In fact, like most precision optic mount manufacturers, we recommend against thread lock and recommend only 15 to 20 in./lbs. of torque to secure the rings. Quality optic mounts should not require thread lock compound to securely retain the optic.” 

All of the manufacturers I spoke with recommended against the use of thread-lock compounds, recommended only 15 to 20 in./lbs. of torque for the ring screws, and 20 to 40 in./lbs. for the receiver screws using a precision torque tool.


Unfortunately, early in my writing career I damaged at least one optic due to low-quality mounts and have seen many others over the years. An inexpensive set of un-true cast ring mounts applied uneven pressure and crushed a Trijicon optic Accupower 1-4x tube when torqued appropriately. The scope survives today, but the ugly dents are a reminder of what cheap rings can do to an optic.

Recently I evaluated a Sig Tango6 4-24x in various mid- and high-quality premium mounts on an Aero Precision-based .308 build. The results of that evaluation were an inability for any of the available cast and non-billet rings to return to zero.

Conversely, the premium rings from Seekins, Sig, ADM, Geissele and APA all maintained a similar zero and retained an MOA or better zero after removal and reinstallation. The catalyst for this article was during a recent coyote hunt when a set of name-brand mid-quality rings failed catastrophically with stripped screws.

As of the writing of this article, the only rings I own are from the companies listed in this article. Our industry optics experts hope this information can help you have happier customers.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.