How To Disassemble A Rifle Scope

When most people clean a rifle, they immediately think of the steps to disassemble the rifle to give it a good thorough cleaning. So what if you want to do a thorough cleaning of your scope? This guide will cover how to disassemble a rifle scope, how far you actually want to take disassembly, and the proper steps.

how to disassemble a rifle scope

Complete Disassembly

To completely disassemble your rifle scope involves taking all pieces apart. There are many reasons why you would not want to do this. First and foremost, many modern rifle scopes are gasket sealed and purged with a gas to remove all of the oxygen inside the tube. This makes your scope waterproof and fog proof, which are invaluable qualities for a good hunting scope. If you take it apart, you ruin the seal and release the gas, and your scope will no longer be waterproof and fog proof.

Second is that you could seriously screw up some of the inner components of the scope, or lose them. Not all scopes are the same, and some have complex electronic reticles and prism based sights that need to be placed a certain direction within the tube. If you are wanting to take apart an old scope to see how the pieces fit or work together, that’s understandable, as long as you realize you may be sacrificing a scope.

If you are just looking to see how far you need to go for cleaning, reset or light maintenance, then follow these super easy steps.

Some Things You Will Need

Scope – Self-explanatory. You got to have your scope, or you can’t disassemble it.

Hex Wrenches – You will need these to remove the scope from the rifle and free it from the scope rings. This is really the only thing you’re going to want to take apart, as the rest of the scope is pretty much self contained.

Microfiber Cloth – The microfiber cloth is for wiping down the scope and doing a quick clean off. Microfiber is very gentle and the fabric lines up differently than cotton, so there’s less chance of scratching the lenses.

You may want to have some other cleaning supplies on hand if doing a cleaning job on your scope is what you’re going for, but if you’re just looking at disassembly and inspection, then the microfiber cloth should be enough.

How To Disassemble A Rifle Scope

There are lots of little parts and pieces to a rifle scope, but as stated earlier, you probably don’t want to totally take it apart at risk of ruining your scope. For the sake of this guide, we are going to focus on the easiest and most common method of disassembly, and that’s simply to remove the scope from the rifle and scope rings.

In the case that your scope has been knocked out of alignment or is out of focus, we will also go over how to reset your optic back to the factory setting. It’s a very simple and straight-forward process.

Step 1 – Remove From Rifle

Use your hex wrenches to unscrew the scope rings from the mounting base on the rifle. This is easiest when the rifle is laid on its side. Once you have unscrewed the rings and freed them from the rifle base, you’re pretty much done. Removing the rings is optional.

Step 2 – Remove Rings

You can remove the scope rings from the scope if you want to clean the body beneath them, if you want to paint the whole scope and not the rings, or if you are replacing the scope rings. Most of the time this is not a necessary part of the disassembly process and the scope rings can stay where they are. You’re pretty much done once the scope has been removed from the rifle.

Step 3 – Reset

Sometimes if your scope has been knocked out of alignment, or if you’re going to sell it, you would want to reset the scope back to the factory settings. To do this you must turn the eyepiece clockwise until it won’t turn anymore. That’s it. Your scope has been reset!

Step 4 – Wipe Down

The final step it to just wipe your scope down real good with your microfiber cloth. You want to wipe gently and in a circular motion to clear as much dust and other particles away from your lenses as you can without scratching the lenses. I would use separate cloths for the lenses and body, but if that’s not an option, then start with the sensitive lenses and worry about the tough body afterward. That way, you will not pick up anything from the body of your scope that may then scratch the lens surfaces.

Common Questions

I have a simple, inexpensive scope. Should I try to take it apart to repair it? – You can. Pay attention to your break down. There are lots of little parts that are included and can’t be lost or your scope won’t work right. But if you know how to repair a broken scope yourself by breaking it completely down, then it can’t hurt to try.

What do I do if my scope has condensation build up in it? – If the gas seal has been compromised you should replace your scope. Hopefully, your scope comes with a warranty and the manufacturer will replace or repair it for you. Keep in mind, if you have a warranty and try to repair the scope by doing a self break-down, you may void your warranty.


Hopefully, this guide has been helpful to you in learning how to disassemble a rifle scope and how far you should take your disassembly in order to not actually cause more harm. Scopes are technical, fragile, and can be quite an expensive piece of equipment. Really, the less invasive you can get and just use it as intended or instructed is the best way to care for it.

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