By Gus Norcross
Generally, the final step when accurizing rifles or pistols is test-firing to verify accuracy before we ship the firearm back to its owner. There was a time when I could shoot Master-level scores with iron sights in NRA high power matches, but I had the eyes of a younger man then and now I need bifocals to read comfortably.
Whenever possible, I rely on optics to reduce human error. Attaching a temporary scope mount to ARs or M1As is no problem because they are magazine-fed and optics can be mounted directly over the action. The Garand, loaded through the top of the action with en bloc clips, is a special case.
Over the years, I have tried various offset mounting systems that put the scope on the left side of the receiver like the old military issue M1D sniper rifles but I was never satisfied with the unconventional cheek weld required to make them work.
The scout-type mounts that locate the optic forward of the receiver over the bore centerline are a better solution. These mounts replace the rear handguard and clamp to the barrel, providing 6 to 9 inches of rail for mounting a long eye relief scope. Installation requires no permanent modification of the rifle.
Two caveats to remember when using these mounts: They will only fit G.I. profile barrels since the clamps are not designed for heavier match profiles, and you must use a scope that has roughly 12 inches of eye relief at maximum power. That being said, let's look at the mounts.
The first mount I tested is manufactured in the USA by Amega Ranges in Plano, Texas, and is available from Brownells with a retail price of $149.99. Machined entirely from aluminum with a nice black anodized finish, it provides a full 8 inches of rail and is attached to the barrel using a sheet metal clamping system secured with 10 button-head screws to the bottom of the barrel.
Further support is provided by a barrel key and Allen head set screws from the top. The manufacturer claims this mounting system stiffens the barrel to control barrel harmonics, and I don't doubt that claim. I have fired some terrific sub-MOA groups from my old H&R Garand using this mount.
A scope mount that not only provides a solid platform for optics but also enhances accuracy: How cool is that? I would also like to thank Amega Ranges for great customer service. When I purchased this product through Brownells, the barrel key was missing from the package for whatever reason and I placed a call to Texas. They mailed a key right out, no questions asked.
The second mount I tested is also manufactured in the USA by UltiMAK of Moscow, Idaho. An aluminum mount, it is lower profile than the Amega product with a simpler mounting system. Two machined aluminum clamps secured with four socket head cap screws attach it to the barrel and the screws are accessible from the top of the mount. The UltiMAK mount is available from Brownells with a retail price is $185.
I would rate the Amega mount as more of a semi-permanent setup for a dedicated scoped rifle and the UltiMAK as handier if the mount is being installed/removed often for rifle testing. Both mounts are well made. No difficulty was encountered with either system.
For scopes, I used a Burris 2-7x handgun scope that had the correct eye relief for this application, and a Hi-Lux 2-7x32 scope that only offered about 9 inches of eye relief at 7x. The Hi-Lux was useable if power level was reduced to 5 or 6x, but not really suited for this role. Remember to look for scopes with 12 inches or more of eye relief when scoping the Garand.
If you like shooting your Garand but your eyes aren't what they used to be, consider scoping it.
The military M1D sniper rifle offset the scope to the left to allow normal loading and ejection of fired cases. Getting a cheek weld here? Not easy.
The UltiMAK Mount
The UltiMAK mount prior to installation. It replaces the rear handguard, and Norcross says it's the choice if you want to remove and replace it often.
The Ultimak unit (top) is easier to install than the Amega, which uses a total of 10 screws to clamp onto the barrel. It's better for permanent installations.
The UltiMAK (top) is more streamlined than the Amega, but the latter incorporates a barrel-stiffening feature that Norcross thinks improves accuracy.
Firmer Cheek Weld
The UltiMAK mount (top) places the scope noticeably lower than does the the Amega, making for a firmer cheek weld — an important thing with a Garand.
The Hi-Lux Scope
The Hi-Lux scope had to be mounted farther to the rear due to its shorter eye relief, mandating single-loading the rifle — not a big problem for range testing.