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.
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.
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?
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.
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!