QD mounts on precision rifles featured

QD Mounts on Precision Rifles – Just Say NO!

In Blog by Rich13 Comments

I see the question of QD mounts on precision rifles come up in discussions time and time again. Just say NO! I know that sounds harsh but after you finish reading this article I think you’ll understand. My goal was to get out to the range and work on a few other topics this week but I’ve got a pretty bad head cold and it’s sucking my will to live. Since I was on the computer and saw this argument come up again I figured I would make it the topic of this week’s article. Some of it may sound harsh or controversial but that’s what good articles and ensuing discussions are all about! I won’t be offended if you disagree in the comments, promise!

QD Mount Origins

So where the hell does this idea even come from? It comes from the AR15 world. There isn’t a more modular and customizable rifle platform on the planet. There’s no shortage of accessories and aftermarket parts available. With guys mounting all kinds of crap all over their AR15s you started to see the evolution of QD mounts. This way accessories could be added and subtracted from the rifle with the throw of a lever instead of having to break out a tool kit. There’s no shortage of people that want to apply the modular principles of the AR15 to a precision rifle. The problem is that QD mounts on precision rifles don’t work so well. Rather, they work as well as on the AR15, but not well enough to maintain the kind of accuracy we expect from precision rifles.

Obviously you don’t see precision rifles with lasers and tactical flashlights mounted on them but plenty of folks want QD mounts on precision rifles for mounting optics. Just like on an AR15 with a QD mounted red dot sight, people want to use QD mounts to add and subtract optics from their precision rifles. This is where the whole idea starts to fall apart for me. I think mounting QD items on an AR15 has some merit and makes some sense. I don’t think the same is true of a precision shooting platform.

qd mounts on precision rifles rmr

In the context of an AR15, QD mounts make a lot of sense!

I have a Trijicon RMR on my AR15 that I take to work. This is a photo of my patrol rifle. Notice the QD mount on the RMR. I think it makes sense in the context of a patrol rifle for a few reasons. The biggest is damage. Work guns see a lot of rough handling. If there’s a struggle and the optic is damaged, if it’s dropped or knocked free, the optic might go down. Maybe the battery just dies. The RMR is co-witnessed with iron sights so that you can effectively see through the optic and still use the iron sights if you need them in a hurry. If I had a dead RMR in an emergency and the few extra seconds I would remove the RMR using the QD mount to give me a clear and unobstructed view of the iron sights. This way you get back in the fight with the clearest view of your sights possible.

QD Mounts on Precision Rifles

You aren’t clearing rooms efficiently with a precision rifle. I’m going to say that from the get go, even an AR10, they’re too big and heavy. You could do it but it would be far from smooth or effective. So why then do people seem to want their scope mounted in a QD mount? I know what you’re going to say. I have multiple guns or a switch barrel rifle and want to move the optic around. Well, here’s the problem. Even two guns with the same caliber, same barrel length, same everything are going to have different points of impact. It may make physically removing the scope and installing it easier but you still have to rezero. If you have a switch barrel setup that requires removing the scope to switch calibers, same problem, you’re going to have to rezero anyway.

QD mounts on precision rifles SPUHR

My idea of a good one piece mount…SPUHR! It will actually get you close to zero if removed and reinstalled, but nothing is perfect, especially QD options!

What about the truck gun? I want to take the scope off to make the rifle break down smaller. This is the whole RTZ (Return To Zero) part of the discussion. I want to be able to take the optic off, then remount it, without having to re-zero. In my experience that’s pie in the sky. You can get close enough to make it work depending on distance and accuracy requirements. For example, Badger Ordnance has a new ultra compact rifle they’re marketing. Accuracy International has a very repeatable quick change barrel system now as well. If you were planning to keep your engagement range under say 600yds and planned to engage larger, man sized targets, you can make it work.

However, I wouldn’t pull the scope off, remount it, then expect to get on target at 1000 yards without walking the shots in and having to wrestle with a less than perfect zero. Guys, you can get away with a lot on an AR15 that you just won’t be able to on precision rifles. QD Mounts on Precision Rifles sound like a good idea until you try it. I’ve had $500+ dollar mounts heralded for their ability to return to zero. You know what? I had to manually adjust the lever tension with a screw driver to get it to hold zero. When I had done that, the levers didn’t have enough travel to loosen the clamp sufficiently to remove the QD mount from the rail. So if a QD mount has to be adjusted with tools to make it hold zero, and that adjustment negates the QD abilities of the mount…what’s the point?

Wrapping Up

An off the rack AR15 is probably a 2-4 MOA weapon. You can get away with a lot in terms of optics and accuracy on a gun that will only do between 2″-4″ groups at a hundred yards. Who even shoots an AR15 that far? Most carbine classes focus more on man on man scenarios. How to defend yourself and your family at around 50 yards or less. They don’t spend a lot of time shooting for small group sizes at 100+ yards. You can still get hits on man sized targets with a 2-4 MOA gun and a red dot out to 350 yards without a lot of trouble. I promise you though, those are bigger groups than what you see with a precision rifle. Here’s another tip, nothing stops you from loosening the bolts on your scope rings and removing the scope and rings as one unit. It will get you pretty close when you reinstall without having to do much to get rezeroed and it costs a lot less than the fancy QD mounts you see out there.

QD mounts on precision rifles rings

Just loosening the bottom cross bolts and removing the scope and rings as one unit works pretty damn well

The point is you’re unlikely to keep the accuracy component of a precision rifle as tight as what you’re used to while introducing a QD component to the mount. QD Mounts on Precision Rifles just don’t work out all that great. Since you’re unlikely to toss the scope aside and use a bolt gun to protect yourself with back up sights, what do you even really gain with a QD mount? It just doesn’t have all that much practical function for precision shooting. Every match I’ve gone to has provided an opportunity to check your zero so why wouldn’t you do so? Disagree? Let’s discuss it in the comments below!

Owner and Proprietor of AccuracyTech, LLC. Rich is a Firearms Enthusiast, Precision Rifle Competitor, and Writer. He is committed to bringing readers quality reviews and articles related to the Precision Shooting Sports. If you have any questions for him, please use the contact form on the site.


  1. Sorry, but I disagree, particularly after listening to Todd Hodnett speak on this topic. It sounds like you have had bad luck with the QD mount that you tried (requiring a tool to tighten, etc.). On the other hand, I have experienced quite good RTZ with a LaRue QD mount.

    In my case, I can’t afford high quality glass for each of my precision rifles, so I move the same scope between rifles. Since I have recorded the relative zero for each rifle, I can quickly adjust and confirm zero at 100 yards before shooting longer distances.

    I like your idea of removing the scope and rings together. That’s essentially what a QD mount does, just without tools. However, if I were going to move from a LaRue mount, I would be looking at something like the Spuhr ISMS. That’s a lot more bolts to remove each time.

    1. Author

      It’s only four bolts, Jason! It’s not THAT bad

      I’m not a big fan of Larue QD because the one I tried would gouge and marr my rail pretty bad!

  2. I agree with you. I use American Defense QD mounts and have used LaRue also. An absolute return to zero is no guarantee. I still use the A.D. on my precision AR, that I RARELY remove, but I think that your full-on mid to long range gun should keep the scope on at all times. Only removed when necessary and confirm the zero after reattaching. I like Todd’s teachings and hope someday to be half the shooter that he is, but I do disagree with him on this point and I don’t love the the TReMOR reticle either, yes I have one. I do keep a spare Tactical scope in QD’s as well to throw on various AR’s to check their accuracy. But like you said, even regular mounts can be removed and reattached with minimal impact shift. But minimal at true long range is unacceptable in my opinion.

    1. Author

      I think you’ve grasped the point, Jeremy. There’s a shift no matter what and if switching to a different rifle like Jason, you need to rezero anyway.

      I just don’t see the benefit. I like ADM, I think it’s a good mount that’s adjustable. I haven’t tried one on a scope or what the RTZ looks like…but then again I haven’t really had the desire to do so either!

      1. The value in ADM is that you can tighten it enough to hold a zero but without tools. It is still faster than regular rings of loosen and remove. Their claim is it has such a wide area of contact with your rail that it doesn’t need to be as tight as other types of QD mounts.

        1. Author

          I’ve not tested the return to zero on an ADM but agree their adjustable clamp is nice. It’s my preferred mount for anything I’m mounting as far as a red dot. Just mounted up a Trijicon MRO on my AR pistol with an ADM.

  3. My opinion will be unpopular. It took me a few years to work out a reasonable return to zero system, and the answer was economical. When I first started out, more than 40 years ago, keeping rifles in cases with the scope mounted, there was nothing but disaster always, even in hard case a scope will wind up out of zero if kept on a rifle…The scope gets bent in very small amounts in transport when mounted, it doesn’t take that much.

    Anyway I use weaver bases and rings, 1 or 2 piece bases, and when mounting the scope I work out the best place where I have to have the cross grooves in the base for best eye relief in all field positions, I often have to cut 1 or 2 new cross grooves in the weaver bases, with a small circular Swiss file, mount the ring bases on the rifle base, so they are a snug fit, pressing against the front edge of the groove for the front ring, and the back end of the groove for the back ring., lap the rings, mount the scope, sight it in in good conditions, and take the scope off when I pack up for the day.

    With a half minute of angle rifle (no big deal if your reload yourself for precision ), when I remount the scope, I won’t be more than a quarter of an inch out at 50 yards with my Anschutz rimfires, or a half inch out at 100 yards with my Rem 700 Varmint in .222 or my matching 308 Rem varmint.

    Now given that no two days are identical, with wind, temperature, minute changes in dimensions of steel and aluminum due to temperature variation, barometric pressure, humidity, light, changes in bedding cause of wood stock movement, even though I bed by hogging out enough wood to make a full receiver length Devcon Aluminum bedding block, because wood moves, and pillar bedding and a thin glassed receiver bedding are not sufficient to resist wood warping though humidity changes. The poured block goes far enough forward to support the first inch or so of the barrel. I don’t leave a lot of wood where I bed, The wood becomes a skin covering the Devcon, and I reinforce the stock in various ways.

    Given all the variables, including myself, I can’t be sure if any 1/2 moa variation of group centers at 100 yards from one outing to the next is due to issues of scope remounting. Shooting at least weekly at the range for many years, the system doesn’t fail, for target shooting 1 to 2 clicks is all I need to be on for the day. For hunting this system also work perfectly whether for brain shots on cotton tails, or heart shots on medium game.

    Every gun has it’s own scope. Even with guns that go out seldom, for hunting, my system works. Any take down guns I have, I equip with barrel mounted bases, no take down rifle where the take down is
    at the barrel, shoots well or with repeated take down and reassembly when the scope mounts on the receiver.

    As everybody knows weaver bases and rings are economical, and have served basically unchanged for almost 3 generations. The way the Weaver rings tighten on the bases means there is no lateral side to side variation. If you make sure the fit is reasonably snug when cross bolt fits into groove, with no fore and aft slop, you have cheap excellent return to zero scope mounts.

    Mounting the scope only when you are ready to shoot, at the bench, or when you go out for the day’s hunting, is a lot safer for your scopes. For a hunting trip, always have a spare scope, handy, set up for the rifle, even if it’s a Tasco or Bushnell. If you damage your Leupold, or Zeiss scope in a fall, you can be ready to shoot again in 2-3 minutes. Though I have all Leupolds Vari 111s, for hunting it’s overkill in money spent. Cheaper decent scopes will do

    Sneer if you like, this relatively cheap system works well, for return to zero scope remounting.

  4. What I learned from here is that QD works well for hunting, or shooting less than 500 yards, but not for competition.

  5. I agree with some of what was said regarding QD mounts. Anything mechanical in nature that is designed to go ON something, also has a propensity to come off, in this case by design. Therefore, only design and machining tolerances offer resistance to that propensity, with NO tolerances, and NO design being able to eliminate 100% of it. This then becomes a matter of a machinists or engineers “acceptable” tolerances and a designers competence and talent. All of this, of course applies to both QD mounts and non-QD mounts. While my belief is that there are a greater number of non-QD mount designs that are better machined and designed than their QD counterparts, it is obvious to me that there are numerous exceptions, and even more obvious that the very best designed and machined QD mounts return to zero much better and more consistently than the worst of the non QD mounts, and likely somewhat better than some of the good non QD mounts. If one buys into the basic and fundamental manufacturing principles I have brought up, then I caution anyone reading this against developing any sort of bias against QD mounts, at least without testing, experience, education, and/or experimentation to the contrary. Done right, they can be just as good or better than non QD mounts. This is what a shooters’ experience, the experience of other shooters (reviews), and experimentation (there are numerous online resources documenting experiments about these) is for. ALL QD mounts aren’t worse than non QD. I can personally assure you that ALL “off the shelf” AR’s don’t shoot 2-4 MOA. Oh, and ALL LEUPOLD scopes are CERTAINLY not better than their BUSHNELL counterparts. Inferring these things may lead some readers to question the credibility, expertise, or motives of the author. Just saying… – Mark

  6. …great article, great responses, great info for someone who is just solving this problem, thanks guys – and one question, please, do you have any experience with Aadmount double lug rings? Or is there any better solution (non QD mount) for a bolt rifle with a 30 mm scope..?

  7. Its dark half the time. Yes you can have dedicated night and day rifles but this gets cumbersome. The stop gap of a ir laser works well enough for 2-300 yards as then the nv optic doesn’t need to be solid only the laser and they are small. Part of the problem is aluminum picatinny rails. You cant expect aluminum to provide a reliable datum. Picatinny may well need to be abandoned also, while superior to older mounting systems it is not designed for reliable datum points. A ar-10 may not be designed for cqb but until i can get a 10.5″ to fit in my pocket…

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.