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When you really need a scope: IMP rovised optics mounting: matthews shows two different ways to scope an uzi. his methods can be used for many different guns that don't naturally accept a scope.

If you have just quickly glanced at the pictures in this article you may assume that the subject is about gun-smithing Uzis. You would, however, only be partially correct. While I used an Uzi as an example, today's subject is improvising optics mounts for unusual firearms.

Like a lot of older shooters, I find my eyes are not what they used to be. Even with glasses, I have a hard time focusing on the front sight, rear sight and target all at once. If one is in focus, the other is blurry.

In principle, the solution is simple: mount and use optics. With scopes, red dots and other optical sights all three features can be in focus simultaneously, and that lets shooters with poor eyesight fire much more accurately than they can with open sights.

It looks easy enough, but real-world problems can quickly complicate matters. Like many collectors. I specialize in military firearms of the 20th century. Mounting optics on modern sporting firearms is relatively easy, since there are a lot of optical accessories made for commercial guns. The same cannot be said for a lot of classic military arms. Have you ever tried to find a scope mount for a RPD belt-ted gun. a Browning 1919 or .50 BMG. a PPS43 subgun, an Uzi subgun, a VZ-58 or a host of other less common military arms? If by some stroke of luck you could find a mount, it likely would be very expensive.

Now. mounting optics on collectable military arms will grate on hardcore collectors, but shooters like me simply have to have optics if they arc going to hit their targets. This is where hobby gunsmithing can come to the rescue.

I decided recently I wanted to mount optical sights on two semi-auto Uzi carbines I had built from BATFE-approved semi-auto receivers and military surplus submachine gun parts kits. For those wanting more information on how to build semi auto Uzi style firearms I have covered the process in past SON articles that will appear in an updated edition of SGN Guavatithing Projects that will appear this fall.

The open sights on this firearm leave a lot to be desired. The sight radius is very short, plus the sights are just basic military sights that are not particularly accurate or easy to adjust.

A quick search of the internet revealed that while Uzi scope mounts were available, they were expensive. Prices ranged from as little as $50 and went all the way to $150. When I looked at the mounts, I thought that this was a lot of money, considering how they were constructed.

As a fairly skilled hobbyist gunsmith, I figured 1 could design and make a mount for a lot less money. possibly for only a few dollars. This was a lot better than $150! Since I'm on disability and don't have a lot of spare cash, I would have to build the parts myself or simply go without.

I made two different mounts for two different Uzis. While the Uzi is the subject here, the principles used to build the mounts can be adapted to many guns if you use your imagination.

Mount design in its most basic form is very simple. You are just making a stable platform on your gun to which you will attach optics. The mount must, however, be made precisely, and it must allow the optics to be aligned parallel to the barrel.

Optics have only a limited range of adjustment to compensate for misalignment and bullet drop. If your optics are mounted out of parallel with the barrel by only .015" in 6 inches, it might not seem like much misalignment.

Unfortunately, that .015" is multiplied every 6 inches all the way to the target. In this case .015" is .030" per foot. At 25 yards (75 feet) this equates to 2.25". At 100 yards it equals 9 inches and at 200 yards it equals 18 inches.

The dimensional accuracy required for your optics mount will depend on you specific application. If you're building a mount for a 25-yard plinking gun. the accuracy required is not as great as if you were trying to make a mount for a 300-yard target gun.

It's not enough to consider the strength and precision of your self-made mount; you have to keep in mind strength and precision of what is supporting it. For short range (2550 yards) informal target shooting. you can attach a mount to a tight-fitting removable barrel shroud or top cover.

For long range target shooting, you will want to attach your mount to a non-removable strong and secure surface like the receiver or barrel. Just keep in mind that your mount is only as strong as the surface to which you are attaching it.

This time, I will be designing and making my own mounts. I will not be making the scope bases. You just can't make a scope base for a reasonable expenditure of labor or money. For less than $10, you can buy several inches of one-piece Weaver scope base that can be used as raw material.

You can download an application chart from the BrowneIls website (http://www.brownells.comLaspx/lid=11214/GunTechdetaiUW-R-Weaver-Company-Mount-Base-Specifications). This Weaver base chart lists all the important characteristics of the bases: are they flat or rounded on the bottom, one or two piece, what diameter the rounded bases fit, lengths, and what gun they were originally designed to fit. This makes finding a base much easier than just looking through dozens of bases in a base display at a gun show or shop.

If you prefer a Picatinny style base, they can also be obtained from Brownells. They carry bulk Picatinny base stock that can be cut to whatever length you need. One way of getting a base for your projects is to purchase a model-specific base and adapt it to your needs.

Some of the best model specific Picatinny bases are made by Evolution Gun Works ( These are available from BrowneIls and are extremely well made. I recently got some and I was very impressed with the quality. I will be using them on some of my future gunsmithing projects. Picatinny bases are more expensive than Weaver bases, but they have the advantage of being more adaptable since the bases feature multiple evenly-spaced slots on the top that allow for a lot of flexibility when mounting optics.

An easy way of getting, very inexpensive Picatinny style base stock is to purchase imported Picatinny style risers from SGN advertises such as CDNN Sports or Centerfire Systems. I keep many of these on hand for my gunsmith-ing projects.

They are available in several heights, lengths and offsets. A basic 3- to 5-inch riser with a rise of 1/2" to 1 inch can be bought for as little as $10. Offset styles can be bought for $15-$20. These styles of risers are especially helpful when you need to raise your optics to certain heights.

On my first project I wanted to mount an inexpensive compact scope on top of my .40 S&W caliber Uzi semi-auto carbine. I bought a 4X Aim brand compact scope on sale for $17 from CDNN Sports. I have used this incredibly inexpensive compact scope on several gunsmithing projects when I needed inexpensive yet good performing optics.

Granted, a $17 scope isn't going to perform like a $200 scope, but for shooting tin cans and paper targets, it is more than adequate. The optical performance on this budget priced scope goes well beyond its low $17 cost.

Since this gun would be a short-range plinking gun. I decided some type of top cover mount would be adequate. The problem with top cover mounts is the loose fit of the top cover. To offer adequate accuracy, the cover must fit on the gun very tightly so that the cover does not move during shooting. It also must go back on exactly in the same position each time it is removed and reinstalled.

I bent the top cover sides inward so that the cover fit very tight. Fortunately, the cover had no forward to back or up and down looseness to be tightened up. If you are designing your own top cover mount, be sure to eliminate any looseness in all directions. Remember a few thousandths of top cover movement can mean several inches of error at target distances.

My first idea was to simply mount a piece of Weaver scope base on the top cover behind the charging handle slot. Unfortunately, this would result in a very short base, thanks to the charging handle slot's length. I also had some concerns about clearance of the nuts on the scope rings when the scope was mounted that low.

So I decided to make a bridge mount that would extend over the top cover and also over the charging handle slot. This would allow for a longer base, plus the charging handle slot cover could pass under the mount.

I decided to fabricate a U-shaped piece of steel 31/4 inches long to serve as a mounting surface for a Weaver scope base or Picatinny rail.

Remember that all you need is a flat and parallel surface for secure mounting. The shape and style can be whatever your imagination can devise, as long as it works.

While I could have taken a piece of flat steel and bent it to shape to form my bridge, I got lucky when I took some preliminary measurements. My top cover width was almost exactly 15/1% (1.625) inches. I found that I had a piece of scrap 2x2x3/16 square steel tubing that had the same inside width.

All I had to do was to cut out a section of this square tube to create a bridge that would tightly fit the top cover. Rather than just leaving it as a straight chunk of steel. I cut some reliefs in it to give it some styling features.

I left four legs on the sides to allow it to be attached to the top cover. The 3/16" thick legs were thinned down to 1/8" so they wouldn't look so bulky.

There are several options for attaching mounts to top covers. You can clamp them on, attach them with screws or rivets, or weld, braze or solder them in place. I decided to rivet my mount to my top cover. You might ask why I decided to use something as old-fashioned as rivets. Rivets are just as suitable for holding parts together today as they have been for centuries. Some of the strongest and most durable firearms (such as the M1919 and .50 caliber Browning machine guns. the AK-47. FN MAG. and others) feature riveted construction.

Rivets are economical, strong and permanent fasteners. They have one huge advantage over screws; they never vibrate loose under hard usage like screws do. I drilled holes in each of the legs on my mount for 1/8" shank diameter rivets.

To position and align my mount with my top cover, I placed fiat pieces of steel between the top cover and mount, then clamped them together. This would securely hold the mount parallel to the top cover while I drilled the holes in the top cover sides.

Using the existing holes in the mount legs as drill guides eliminated the need to plot out the hole locations precisely on the top cover.

The only problem I had with drilling my holes was the hardness of the top cover steel. It was heat treated so hard that the drill bit would not even scratch the surface.

I had to anneal the drill locations with a torch to soften it enough to drill. Unfortunately this burned off the nice GunKote finish that was on the top cover. After all work was done. I would have to refinish the top covers.

After I had the rivet holes drilled. I cut countersinks on the inside portion of the holes. This would allow me to form the rivets into the countersinks and make the rivet heads flush with the top cover sides. Any head extending above the surface will be ground off flush with the cover.

I installed my mount and rivets on the top cover with the round heads on the outside, then clamped the assembly tightly. When forming rivets, the parts must stay tightly clamped together during all forming, otherwise the rivets will not be tight after head forming.

I ground off the excess rivet length so that when I started forming my countersunk rivet heads, 1 would have just the right amount of material to form a head. While you can buy expensive rivet forming tools, the job can be done with nothing more than common workshop tools.

I placed the round rivet head against a thick piece of steel backup plate and then used a long punch and hammer to smash the exposed rivet shank into the countersink. Squishing rivets with a big hammer and punch may sound low tech, but that is one of their chief benefits: simplicity of installation. It is crude, but it has worked for centuries!

Once all heads were formed into the countersunk portion of the hole, I ground off the excess head so it was flush. If installed correctly, your rivets will be tight and never come loose, just what you need on an optics mounting base.

Now that I had the mount secured to the top cover, I needed to install a scope base to it. I used a short piece of generic Picatinny rail that I had left over from some past gunsmithine project, although you could also use a piece of Weaver base.

While you could plot out the holes and scribe their locations on the mount. followed by drilling and tapping all the holes at once. I have an easier way.

I scribed a line down the very center of the mount, then marked it for the location of the front hole. My Picatin-ny base was already drilled and countersunk for installing with four 8/32 flat head Allen screws, so I drilled and tapped the first screw hole for that size. I installed the base to the mount and tightened the single front. screw down very tight so the base would not move around easily.

I then slightly moved the base so that it was perfectly straight on the mount. The important issue here is that the base is parallel to the sides of the top cover. It won't matter much if the base is Off' center a few thousandths, as lone as it is parallel to the top cover and barrel.

Once I had it straight, I clamped the unsecured end with a pair of vise grips to secure the base in position for drilling. I used the holes in the base as guides for locating the remaining three holes in the mount.

To locate the remaining hole centers, you could use a fine point scribe to scribe around the edges of the holes, use transfer punches or use the existing holes as drill guides. I took a drill bit just a thousandth or two under the base hole size and drilled a shallow dimple through the existing holes in the mount to indicate a drilling location.

I then switched to the proper size drill for an 8/32 tap hole and then tapped for the 8/32 Allen screws. I installed my remaining 'screws and checked to see if my alignment was still correct. It was still within .003" of parallel, so that was good enough for this project.

Keep in mind when drilling and tapping that you must keep the holes centered. if the holes are off center, the angled screw heads and angled countersunk holes in the base will push the base off center when you tighten them.

After I checked my alignment I removed the screws, cleaned the screws and holes and then applied some permanent Loctite #271 thread locker to help keep the screws forever tight. 1 followed with reinstallation of the base and screws.

To add some styling features to my mount, 1 drilled a series of holes in each side of the mount. After adding the holes I abrasive blasted the top cover and new mount. I finished it with BrowneIls Gun Kote in the color of matte black.

GunKote is an incredibly durable gun finish that can be applied by the hobbyist gunsmith. For those wanting more information on how to apply this firearms finish the subject was covered in the 400 plus page IMO specialty publication SHOTGUN NEWS Gunsrnithing Projects that is available at the store section of

After finishing, I installed my AIM 4X compact scope. I used a set of inexpensive ($6.99 and available in several heights) imported rings that I had gotten in the past from CDNN Sports to mount the scope at my preferred height.

With the scope installed on my 40 S+W Uzi I could shoot it much more accurately. I now could see my sights and target simultaneously in focus, which made accurate shooting much easier. The best part of this project was its low cost.

My materials for the mount were scrap and leftover parts which cost almost nothing. The only actual out-of-pocket expenses were the price of the scope, rings, screws and GunKote. I figure I had about $25 in the whole project. Even if you had to buy everything. I can't see the cost being much more than $40. Improvised hobby gunsmith-ing can be a huge cost saver!

For my 9mm Uzi carbine I decided to mount a Barska red dot sight that I had picked up at a local garage sale for the bargain price of $15. The very small size of the Barska sight meant I had more mounting options. The mounting flange on the bottom was only a little over 2 inches in length. This meant that my scope base and mount could be very short.

Since I only needed about 2 inches of mount, I decided to use the 2-3 inches of flat open space on the top cover behind the charging handle slot. I set my sight up on the top cover and found that it would fit there as lone as I raised it up high enough to clear the protective ears of the rear sight.

Since the mount could be very small, I decided to eliminate any separate mount and just install a 2-inch piece of scope base directly to the cover. Unfortunately, neither a thin Weaver scope base nor a thin Picatinny rail would not place the red dot high enough to clear the rear sight. A look through my pile of scope bases revealed the solution to my problem.

Several months back I had bought several various sizes of Picatinny style scope risers from SGN advertiser Cen-terfire Systems ( I had sevcral lengths and heights available that had cost me from $10-$15. One was 1/2" tall, and it would raise the red dot to a comfortable height. At that height. I could not, however, still use the original sights as a backup sight if the red dot batteries went dead.

The 1-inch tall Picatinny riser had a large opening through the middle that would allow me to use the riser as a "see through" optics mount and allow me to utilize the original Uzi sights if needed. While it did place the red dot higher than what I would have preferred, I decided to use it since it allowed for secondary use of the Uzi sights.

Before moving on to attaching the base to the top cover I tightened up the fit of the cover just as I had with the previous cover.

Now that I had the general idea of what I needed to fabricate, I cut the 1-inch tall Picatinny riser down to 2% inches long. Since I needed a base with a flat bottom. I cut the mounting clamp portion off the riser and smoothed it up so that it was flat all the way across the bottom.

With this done, all I needed to do was to attach the base to the top cover. This was easily done with three 8/32 round head Allen screws. The Uzi top cover features reinforcing rails formed into the top. These rails were thick enough to allow the screw heads to fit between the rails with only a little filing required to allow the bolt to pass under the screws without dragging.

Before I could drill my holes in the top cover I had to anneal the drilling locations to soften the steel enough to drill easily. This again ruined my finish, requiring refinishing later. After annealing, I scribed a line down the very center of the top cover and also the bottom of the Picatinny riser.

I drilled three equally spaced clearance holes (only .001-.003 over screw shank size) in the top cover. I drilled and tapped the front hole only in the riser for 8/32 threads. 1 then installed the riser on the top cover and tightened the single screw down tight.

The riser was then moved slightly to make it perfectly parallel to the top cover sides. As before, the riser can be a little off-center as long as it is parallel to the cover sides (or barrel).

Once the riser was aligned. I clamped it in place so it would maintain alignment during the drilling of the remaining holes. To eliminate a lot of hole location plotting. I used the existing holes in the top cover as drill guides. I used a top cover hole sized drill bit through the exiting holes to form a shallow dimple in the bottom of the riser. This will create a starting point for drilling with the smaller tap drill.

I then drilled the tap holes and followed by tapping the riser right through the top cover holes. After the holes were tapped. I installed the remaining screws and removed the clamps. Once I checked to verify that the riser was still aligned right, I removed one screw at a time, *** cleaned the screw and hole, and followed by reinstalling the screws with an application of Loctite #271 thread locker. The top cover was refinished with Brownells GunKote in the color of matte black.

After the top cover and new mount were refinished, I installed my red dot. Even before any adjustment, I found that the sight view between the red dot and the original open sights was within a few inches, which indicated that I got things aligned pretty close.

Some simple red dot adjustment brought the gun right on target. The best part about the red dot sight set up I made for my Uzi was its cost. I had in it $15 for the red dot sight, $15 for the riser, a few dollars for GunKote, and a few cents for the screws plus my low cost labor resulted in a very economical sighting system that really improved my shooting accuracy. This is why I like hobby gunsmithing; it allows me to have things I want at incredibly low cost.

The principles I used to make optics mounts for my Uzi carbines can be adapted to just about any type or firearm you may have. Your projects may feature different shaped surfaces and require different types of mounts, but the principles remain the same.

All you need to do is to use your imagination to create a flat and parallel surface for mounting your optics. Creating economical solutions to your optics problems can allow you to stretch your firearms collecting dollars.

Every dollar you save by making parts (or even complete guns) yourself gives you a dollar for something you can't make yourself. That's how a poor SOB like me has built a gun collection that is well beyond my meager income level. If saving money so you can expand your gun collecting hobby sounds good to you then why not give hobby gunsmithing a try?

Caption: Here, Matthews demonstrates an alternative method by mounting an inexpensive red dot sight to a 9mm Uzi by utilizing a Picatinny style riser block.

Caption: The riser bottom was cut away to create a flat bottom that can be attached to a flat section of the top cover. It will be shortened to a little over 2 inches.


BrowneIls, 200 S. Front St., Montezuma, IA 50171, 1-800-741-0015,

CDNN Sports, PO Box 6514, Abilene, TX 79608, 1-800-588-9500,

Centerf ire Systems, 102 Fieldview Dr., Versailles, KY 40383, 1-800-950-1231,
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Author:Matthews, Steven
Publication:Shotgun News
Date:Jan 10, 2015
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