This is the first of a series of shorter articles we’re hoping to post more frequently here. We plan on basing these shorter articles on common questions that come up on the Internet with regard to precision shooting. This first question we’ll address is that of torque values with regard to components on a precision rifle. Obviously, repeatability and consistency are key factors in the precision shooting world. So when and where possible, use a torque wrench to fasten any of your components. Most component manufacturers include instructions with their components, and you should follow them whenever possible. That said, sometimes those are misplaced, and sometimes guys don’t remember the values given.
Myself, I have a small sheet from Nightforce with their recommended values pasted on my reloading bench. Nightforce recommends 21 inch pounds for the ring caps and 68 inch pounds for the cross bolts. In my experience this is a pretty decent set of torque specs to follow. You can use the 21 inch pounds torque spec for ring caps, mounting a base to an action, accessories to a set of rings or a unified mount like a SPUHR, etc. 65 inch pounds is a pretty standard torque spec for the cross bolts on rings and mounts, that is, the bolts that attach the rings and mounts to the picatinny rail. 65 inch pounds also is a standard torque spec for mounting an action to a chassis or stock. You can fudge it by a few inch pounds here and there, if your wrench does 65 instead of 68 inch pounds I don’t think anything is lost using one in place of the other. Don’t get too crazy though or you can over-torque a bolt and strip it.
If you are in the market for a torque wrench, they can be found at Sears, Home Depot, Auto Parts stores, you name it. I recommend you have a large wrench at home for work at the bench if you plan to do a lot of work on your own, and another more compact model to toss in your bag to take with you to the range or to matches so you have one handy. If you want something compact, well made, and very handy, check out the torque wrenches produced by Borka Tools. They are excellent.