If you love guns, odds are good that you often find a need to have optics mounted on your rifles, pistols, or shotguns. Sure, you can run down to the nearest gun shop each time, but you can also learn to do it yourself and do it well. There are two top-of-the-line kits out there on the market making the mounting process a snap: Weaver’s Deluxe Mounting Kit and Wheeler’s Ultra Scope Mounting Kit. We put them through the test to see which is best.
Weaver and Wheeler
Before we delve directly into the kits, let’s take a brief look at the companies. The longstanding optics company Weaver is a holding of Vista Outdoor Inc, parent company of over 30 others, including Savage, Bushnell, RCBS, and Hoppes. The parent company is headquartered in Utah, but has a presence in 10 states and multiple countries while the mailing address for Weaver is Anoka, Minnesota. Customer service at Weaver is easy to reach and they are there to help.
Wheeler Engineering falls under the holdings of Battenfeld Technologies, Inc, parent company of some of the most innovative firearm accessory companies like Caldwell, Tipton, Frankford Arsenal, and Golden Rod. Interestingly, Smith & Wesson began the acquisition process of BTi in early 2015. Wheeler’s mailing address is right at BTi’s 145,000 square foot facility in Columbia, Missouri.
Wheeler ULTRA Scope Mounting Kit
This kit puts all the necessities for swapping and mounting optics in one hard case. There’s the essential F.A.T torque wrench with 9 hardened S2 bits, a socket, and a bit holder. The Professional green Laser Boresighter, with included battery, makes getting on target a snap. Wheeler even includes a 10ml bottle of purple removable-strength thread locker so screws won’t work loose. A Professional Reticle Leveling System ensures that crosshairs are perfectly perpendicular.
While this is Wheeler’s top-of-the-line kit, there is no included alignment or lapping tools. Though Wheeler is an American company, the kit itself is sadly marked as being Made in China.
Weaver Deluxe Scope Mounting Kit
Weaver includes a quality Torque Wrench with 10 hex bits. There’s a basic Modular Level System for reticle leveling. Like the Wheeler kit, Weaver includes thread locker with a .34 fluid ounce bottle of green SureThread. In a thoughtful move, Weaver includes lapping tools in their main kit. It comes with a Lapping Bar and Handle for 1” rings, as well as Alignment pins for 1” rings.
Though there’s no concession for 30mm optics, those kits can be purchased on the side. While Weaver does not include a boresighter, they do send along a nice Scope Mounting Instructional DVD. For what it’s worth, Weaver’s sticker is marked as Made in USA, China, & Taiwan.
Hits and misses
Hit: While both kits include a leveling system, the edge goes to Wheeler. Their Professional Reticle Leveling Sytem is CNC machined of anodized aluminum with factory calibrated set screws. It includes a barrel clamp level and a smaller level that attaches to the scope base. While Weaver gets the job done with their included plastic levels, the cool, quality, and ultimate accuracy factors are not quite there.
Miss: Wheeler makes a superior scope mounting kit, but does not include lapping tools, or more importantly, alignment pins. I appreciate the savings in money, but should you need these, they must be purchased additionally and wipe out any cost savings.
Wheeler does, however, make a very nice set that includes both 1-inch and 30mm tools for $89.99 retail.
Hit: Weaver includes lapping in their kit, but only the 1-inch bars and alignment pins. Of course, 1-inch is still the most common and the inclusion is a big boon. As the benefits of 30mm optics are quickly becoming known however, another purchase of 30mm specific tools would be needed, which Weaver offers for $66.45 retail.
Miss: Weaver does not account for boresighting in their kit, a feature I consider essential to any scope mounting kit. You can, however, purchase Weaver’s magnetic boresighter separately for $45. It’s easy to use, but it’s not a laser, and in real-world testing, not quite as accurate, but definitely gets you on the paper.
Hit: Wheeler includes an excellent Professional Laser Boresighter in their kit. It does the job very well, is easy to use, and includes the battery.
Hit: Weaver includes a nice instructional DVD featuring North American Hunter’s Bill Miller. If you’re new to optics mounting, this can prove invaluable, and even if you’re experienced, old dogs really do learn new tricks once in awhile.
Miss: While it’s a minor qualm, Weaver does not include any lens cleaning accessories, while Wheeler has the Lens Pen. Though it’s a small item, it’s nice to have at hand.
Hit: Both kits include quality torque wrenches. The F.A.T. wrench from Wheeler is perhaps better known and recognized by brand and color, but Weaver has the higher adjustment range. Where the Weaver wrench adjusts up to 80 inch pounds, Wheelers does 10 inch pounds to 65 inch pounds. Both get the job done. I’ve seen too many people overtighten their optics screws, which can be both damaging and detrimental to accuracy.
Hit: Customer service is right on the mark at both companies. In all my contacts with each, I’ve never had a problem talking to a person quickly either by email or phone. Both seem eager to please, a quality worth its weight in gold these days.
While Wheeler has the edge in most areas of the scope mounting kit head to head, Weaver holds their own as well, especially with lapping tools. Either kit makes a ready addition to any bench. It all comes down to what kinds of tools you will need and how much you have to spend. Take some time, learn or hone the scope mounting skills, be the envy of your friends, and keep yourself right on target.