By Trampas Swanson
With the massive popularity of the AR-15 platform, especially over the past twenty years, it has managed to easily transcend its original military application. Today, target shooters and hunters alike enjoy using the AR-15 in a variety of different calibers by attaching a wide array of fixed and variable optics. While the flat top of the M4 design offers a great unobstructed surface for mounting optics, it does pose an issue with a lot of traditional scope rings by seating the optic too low. This week, we look at a great system for attaching a 1” diameter scope to an AR using the Mark 2 AR Integral Mounting System from the folks at Leupold.
Leupold Mark 2 AR Mount Basics
Leupold’s Mark 2 mounting system is just one in a series of one-piece precision scope mounts that offers stable, easy to use scope rings for various size scope tube diameters. The model sent for T&E fit common size hunting scopes with a 1” diameter tube size. To test the unit, I used it to secure a Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm scope to my 10” barred AR-15 chambered in .300 BLK featuring a T-3 .30 cal suppressor from Torrent Suppressors. This little rifle / suppressor combination has been a favorite of mine over the past year for whitetail deer and wild hogs within a 100 – 150 yard max distances using Hornady Black 208 grain AMAX ammunition.
Using a set of torque limiters from Fix-It-Sticks, getting the mount and scope set on the rifle with all the screws set to factory recommended tension was relatively quick and easy. This is an often over looked detail by many when mounting a scope. Over tightening can lead to damage to both the mount and optic over time. Not having enough tension can quickly affect accuracy if the screws work loose under recoil. With the torque limiters, you simply find the socket preset to the tension break you need and tighten down the screws. Almost every scope mount manufacturer will at least have recommended torque ft/lbs. for their products online if it does come packaged with the product as well.
- Ring Diameter: 1”
- Weight 6.4 oz
- Finish Matte Black
- Turrets Capped
- MSRP $159.99
As with most products, testing would be done at our private secret squirrel training grounds location affectionately known as “The Swamp” near my home in north east Florida. Despite a bit of rain and unusually cold weather, I meet with fellow Swanson Media Group writer, Clint Steele for a morning of shooting with the new scope / mount set up. Thanks to my BullGator Camo jacket and pants I wear every time I hit the woods hunting, I stayed dry. Why wear it for it for testing a new hunting rig on a rifle? Because I believe in training like I fight or in this case, hunt. I have never liked climbing into a tree stand and discovering that something I dial in while wearing shorts and a t-shirt is now too cumbersome to properly manipulate while in my hunting attire. If readers learn nothing else from this article, that key tip should be number one as it can be the difference between a clean kill and losing a wounded animal after the shot.
When I shouldered the rifle, the scope mount was low enough to the bore not to have to break my cheek wield from the stock to look through it. The previous two mounts I had been sent during that time were either so low that the scope’s 40mm bell would not clear the top of the barrel or the scope was too high to see through without coming off the stock and craning my neck to see. In addition, the cantilever design set the scope out over the barrel far enough to get a solid eye relief with the ocular lens without having to hold my head too far back on the stock. Leupold Optics mated this scope and mount combination perfectly for the task rifle they were both intended to be used with.
After approximately 100 rounds down range, I double checked the screws along the base of the mount as well as the rings. Everything was still torqued down and tight as a drum. In comparison to many others I have had to end up using blue Loctite on to get them to hold, I was very impressed by the Leupold Mark 2 mount. I must admit, I was originally concerned about the scope rings only having two screws per ring to connect them, but this overall package was specifically designed for the softer recoiling actions of the AR-15 platform and performed without issue.
A key factor in using a one-piece design like the Mark 2 is to give the scope the proper height in relations to the handguard of the rifle. This mount was specifically designed to place a 1” diameter scope in the perfect position on an AR-15. Despite its small stature, the one-piece design offers a significant advantage in strength over a two-piece ring design. There is also a better chance of ring alignment being true by using a one-piece mount that is checked by the factory’s quality control before shipping. With individual rings, this chore can often involve alignment rods and tools to make sure there is a proper fit, and uneven pressure on the main tube which could easily damage the optic. Often the argument between one- and two-piece designs is the weight factor being the only “plus” for using two individual rings on an AR style platform, but with the Mark 2 mount only weighing in at 6.4 oz, that argument is hardly valid compared to the advantages it has to offer.
Overall, I really liked the Mark 2 Integral Mounting System from Leupold. I felt it offered a rock-solid platform for my optic without a lot of hassle in mounting it. This mount is a very straight forward, what you see is what you get type product. There were no fancy quick detach levers most shooters never use any way, leveling bubbles or wild colors to take away from what the mount does. Simply, it is very well constructed and does its damn job. Don’t you wish you could say that about everything you purchase?