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How to Fix a Scope That Won’t Adjust [Step By Step]

Dakota Potts | Updated February 26, 2024 | Why You Should Trust Us | How We Earn Money
Person looking through a scope mounted on a gun

The point of getting an adjustable scope is to modify the settings to suit your needs. So, if your scope doesn’t adjust, you might as well not have one. 

However, just because your scope won’t adjust doesn’t mean it’s unusable. Here I’ll dive into how to rectify the situation.

For more reading on scope see our post on the best scopes for 30-06 rifles.

Steps to Fix a Scope That Doesn’t Adjust

Here are the steps to take if your scope doesn’t adjust:

  1. Check if the scope is firmly mounted on the rifle and for signs of corrosion or damage. If it’s loose, tighten it to ensure it’s securely attached to the rifle.
  2. Turn the turret caps to see if they are loose. They might need tightening
  3. Inspect the reticle through the scope to ensure it’s in focus. If not, you’ll need to turn the reticle focus knob and make sure it’s in focus.
  4. Adjust the windage and elevation knobs to see if they move freely.  
  5. You should also check if the scope rings are loose or too tight. Loose scope rings prevent you from making accurate adjustments, while tight rings can make it hard to adjust the scope and can even damage it.

My Scope Won’t Adjust Left Enough

Close-up of the ocular housing of a scope

If your scope won’t adjust left enough, the most apparent cause is the scope mount. 

Ensure that the scope is mounted properly, securely, and aligned with the rifle’s bore axis. A loose or incorrectly aligned scope will affect the adjustment range, causing the scope to be unable to adjust left enough.

Now, the next possible issue that might be the problem if your scope adjustment is already maxed out is that your scope has a limited adjustment range. Your scope may have fewer internal adjustment capabilities than what is required to ensure it’s aligned correctly, whether to the left or right, to meet your needs. 

However, you can fix the issue by improving the physical alignment of your scope to the bore. In such cases, most people get windage adjustable bases that rectify any imperfections on scope mounts.

Lastly, ensure you aren’t using a defective scope, as that can also limit the adjustment range. If you get another scope and can adjust it without any issues, then your previous scope was the problem.

If you’ve run across scope turret problems, check out this video explaining the possible reasons why they aren’t working as they should:

Scope Elevation Adjustment Maxed Out

It’s common to run out of elevation adjustment on your scope. If you’re compensating for barrel droop or zeroing at long distances, you might require more elevation adjustment than what your scope can deliver.

That’s why you’ll hear someone say their scope elevation topped out, meaning the scope is at a maximum on the elevation knob. Such an issue is especially common when using a high-magnification scope with less turret adjustment.  

If the scope won’t adjust left enough, it’s more of a mounting issue rather than a defective scope. But for a scope elevation issue, consider getting height-adjustable mounts to shim the base.

Another option to correct scope adjustment problems is using mount inserts. They tip the scope lines safely and accurately, allowing you to keep using your current mounts. These inserts come in pairs so that you have one for the front mount and the other one for the rear mount.

Common Scope Adjustment Problems

Here are the most common scope adjustment problems you might come across:

  • Incorrect mounting: If a scope isn’t assembled correctly, it won’t function accurately. In fact, if your scope can’t adjust left enough, the main reason could be incorrect assembly.
  • Lack of lubrication: Scopes are already lubricated when you purchase them. But with time, the lubrication dries out as the scope is exposed to dirt, water, and dust. When that happens, the moving parts won’t move correctly, making it impossible to adjust the scope.
  • Damaged parts: Another reason the scope will refuse to adjust is if certain parts are damaged or loose.
  • Defective Scope: Lastly, if any part of your scope is defective, the scope won’t adjust properly.
Rifle scope set on a table

If your scope won’t adjust, don’t worry, as there are steps you can take to rectify the situation. Here’s how to fix a scope that won’t adjust because of the common problems above:

The first thing you should do is check whether the scope is mounted on the rifle properly. You can tell your scope isn’t mounted correctly by checking the reticle alignment. Do this by adjusting the reticle focus and looking through the scope at a flat surface.

The reticle should be perfectly aligned and centered on the surface. If it appears skewed or off-center, your scope isn’t mounted correctly.

Another way to fix a scope that won’t adjust is by checking the adjustment screws. These screws control the movement of the reticle. If they’re loose or stripped, they interfere with scope adjustment. So, check if they need tightening or replacing.

If the issue persists and you can’t find the root cause of the problem, contact the manufacturer or the store that sold you the scope. Explain the measures you’ve taken and see if they can help you fix it or give you a refund.

If all fails, then you may want to consider replacing the scope. Although we all have different budgets, you can’t deny that cheaper scopes come with more issues, such as poor-quality adjustment turrets that lead to problems in the field.

So, consider getting a quality scope to avoid running into such issues. You’ll thank yourself later for it.

How to Prevent a Scope From Getting Stuck

A scope contains moving parts, which means you have to properly maintain it to prevent it from getting stuck. Just like any other tool, regularly inspect the scope for signs of damage. If it’s something that can be fixed, then fix it immediately instead of waiting for the issue to worsen.

Aside from that, keep the scope clean and lubricate it once in a while. This will keep the parts moving smoothly and free of dirt.

Lastly, keep the scope in a climate-controlled room to prevent moisture buildup or condensation.

For more reading see our guide to the highest magnification scope.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why won’t my rifle scope adjust? 

Your rifle scope won’t adjust because of incorrect mounting. If the scope isn’t mounted correctly to the firearm, it will refuse to adjust.

What causes a scope to run out of adjustment?

Many things can cause the scope to run out of adjustment, including improper zeroing of your scope, a loose mounting system, and if the scope is jarred or bumped. 

Why won’t my scope stay sighted in?

Your scope won’t stay sighted in because of the wrong scope rings. If they fit poorly or aren’t tightened, your scope won’t be able to hold zero.

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