How To Shim a Rifle Scope in 5 Simple Steps?

Shimming is something which you may hear with respect to construction, but do you know you can shim a rifle scope as well? Not everyone considers it as a good practice but it can temporarily help you fix the scope if your scope gets severely knocked out of alignment in the middle of a hunt.

In this blog, I will be guiding you on how to shim a rifle scope in 5 easy steps. Before going into the steps, let’s know what exactly shimming is. Just for the people who are new to hunting and scopes, this will help as an introductory chapter.

What is Shimming?

Shimming is a technique to fix your scope elevation by placing a thin piece of material between the scope and the rear scope ring which you can’t adjust with the scope adjustments for better scope alignment. This is a simple yet effective technique to position your scope in a better position.

Just follow the below simple steps on how to shim a rifle scope and you’ll be done doing it in the next 5 minutes.


Some Things You Will Need

Mounted Rifle Scope

Shimming is an emergency or temporary fix, so you must be having a scope mounted to your rifle if you are going to use this shimming technique. Or the second option to fix an elevation alignment problem is by using adjustable scope rings or a special elevated mounted base.

Let me be very clear as shimming can damage your scope as well, I don’t consider it as a long term option.


Hex Wrenches –  It is required to remove the scope from the scope rings, if you are carrying it then it can be an advantage for you in any kind of emergency situation during hunting.


Very Thin, Sturdy Material – You need to have some thin materials which will work in a pinch for shimming, It can be anything like business cards, thin laminated card or anything similar. Material types that are preferred are thin aluminum, paper, or plastic.

Scissors –You will need scissors to cut the material to fix it in between your scope and scope rings.

Small Level – The last thing you required is a small level, it can also be an advantage for you if you carry it in your bag. This is just to check that the scope is re-mounted properly after you’ve done shimming.


How To Shim A Rifle Scope In 5 Easy Steps?

Note: This is only a temporary fix in case of emergency situations. I don’t recommend it for long term use.

Let’s get started on how to shim your rifle scope, before getting started I would like to tell you that having too many shim layers can cause severe damage to your scope and can even make it unstable, I recommend it to have a maximum of 1-2 shim layers and that too with a reduced shim size to better cradle the scope.

Step 1. Select And Cut Your Shims

It’s all on you to choose the best material for the shimming work, I recommend and use the aluminum pop cans, as they work great and connect with the scope rings easily.  You can cut them easily into smaller pieces so as for the perfect fit. Make it small enough to fit snugly into the bottom portion of the back of the scope ring.

In case of using more them one, cut them a little smaller each time so that they will line up together when layered and will cause minimum damage to your scope.


Step 2. Remove Scope From Scope Rings

In the next step, you just have to remove your rifle bolt and then use your hex wrenches to remove your scope from the rings, make sure to keep the bottom portion of the rings attached to the rifle.


Step 3. Place Shims

In this step, you just have to place your shims with the largest inside the rear scope ring and then the other layers attached to it. You will be required only one or two shims, if you need more kindly do it carefully otherwise your scope can be unstable.


Step 4. Re-mount The Scope

Now you just have to place your scope back onto the rings and then carefully tighten it back, do it carefully. Also, do it slowly so that you will not be damaging your scope during shimming.

Tighten it so that the scope is mounted well and doesn’t move around during recoil.


Step 5. Check For Level

Make sure that the scope is mounted properly by double-checking it with your level, also keep in mind that both sides should be tightened equally if you want a better experience.


Step 6 – Sight-in

You’re done. Just sight into your scope and check whether it’s working fine or not.

Shimming is not a permanent fix, it just a temporary fix to use your scope while hunting in case of emergency situations, be careful while shimming your rifle scope otherwise you will end up damaging your scope.


Common Questions

Why would I need to shim my scope?

You will find your scope knocked very far out of alignment sometimes, fixing it in a middle of a trip or hunting can be very hard so to make things easy, shimming can be considered as a good temporary fix for your rifle scope. The other reason can be barrel droop on an air rifle when the barrel droops and points in a different direction from the reticle.


How many shims do I need?

It depends upon the material you choose for shimming and the thickness of the material, I recommend using the pop can shim which can be used to add up to 3-4 inches per 100-yard per shim.



Shimming can sometimes help you a lot, just a temporary fix but can save you in very sensitive situations. I will not recommend you to shim your rifle multiple times, this way you will only damage your rifle.

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