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Education / Training Why does my air rifle shoot low and to the left?The reason for adjustable scope mounts

Why does my air rifle shoot low and to the left?The reason for adjustable scope mounts

by B.B. Pelletier

I will return to the RWS Diana 34 Panther for one more longer-range test and a look at the velocity numbers, but it won’t be for several weeks. Torrential rains have swamped my regular rifle range and I have to find other things to do.

This comment came in yesterday from an anonymous reader. “Perhaps you can make a few suggestions for me. I seem to have all pellet guns shoot to the left and low. [They are] still on the target paper but not in any circle [bullseye?] and there are 10, an inch apart and the center is the tenth. I am 50 feet away [from the target]. I have the gun resting on a soft towel or the gel pad from Pyramyd… This has happened with three pellet guns. Tomorrow I am going to the range to sight in the Shadow 1000 with the BSA scope that came with the Shadow. {It is] a 3-9 scope.”

I told this reader that I thought all his guns were springers because spring piston airguns are notorious for shooting low. Shooting to the left or right isn’t as common, but it does happen frequently. What can be done about it?

Adjustable scope mounts.

What do they do?
Adjustable scope mounts allow the entire scope to be realigned as necessary so that it looks in the same direction as the bore of the barrel. There are two planes of adjustment – up and down and right to left. I have prepared some simple drawings to illustrate this.

Most spring guns have barrels that look down. This illustration is exaggerated so you can see the effect.

The adjustable scope mount has elevated the rear of the scope so it looks in the same direction as the barrel.

Adjustable mounts vs shimming
You don’t have to use adjustable scope mounts to get the required elevation. It’s possible to shim the rear mount (or the rear of the one-piece mount) so that the scope slants down. However, there are limits on the thickness of shims that can be used for this. Adjustable mounts will move more than ten times farther than a shim can move a fixed mount. However, it takes longer to mount a scope when using adjustable mounts. And, unless the job is done right, the scope can come loose after firing. A correctly installed adjustable mount is rock-solid and should remain so for many years.

Adjustments side to side
Adjustable mounts can also move the scope from side to side, to correct those alignment problems. While they don’t happen as often as barrel droop, sideways misalignments are not uncommon.

Looking down from the top, we see that the scope isn’t looking in the same direction as the barrel.

Adjustable mounts enable you to align the scope to where the barrel is pointing.

I should mention that with B-Square adjustable mounts, each ring adjusts independently of the other. So the rear can move up while the front remains stable. That is not true of the BSA adjustable mount. Any adjustments move the entire scope. That’s neither bad nor good – just a different way of doing the same thing.

The B-Square rings are on gimbals, so each is free to move independently. The scope tube will be under no strain as long as you remember to elevate both the front AND rear rings like I described yesterday.

Monday I will show you the BSA adjustable mount in detail. And if you want a look at the B-Square adjustables, you need only ask.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

85 thoughts on “Why does my air rifle shoot low and to the left?The reason for adjustable scope mounts”

  1. BB

    When a barrel droops like this do you lose some velocity? My thought behind this is that the transfer port and breech are not well sealed so some air leaks out at the breech.

    Thanks, Kyle.

  2. Droop is neither a bug or a feature, but if I had to categorize it, it would be a bug. It comes from an outdated manufacturing process that could stand to be modernized.

    If any one of the airgun manufacturers went through a Pareto analysis of their operation and instituted a quality improvment program Demming- or Juran-style, they would make such vast improvements that the rest of the airgun world might never catch up. Just look at the Motorola (six sigma) story.

    But when I talk to these people I get two kinds of responses. Either they are content with the status quo (and a company that is usually goes out of business) or they are money people who do not understand the product they produce.


  3. BB, Thank you for the very clear explanation. I agree with a comment writer, in that if there is a known problem with scope alignment/usage with airguns, I think there should be some “smart” American Manufacturer/Business that can make this an marketing opportunity with American shooters.

    I am going to get adjustable Mountsso its easier to adress this problem…

    I still have another question though, why can’t the adjustments be made with the elevation and windage knobs on the scope itself?


  4. Bernie,

    Two reasons. First, you often run out of adjustments without zeroing the gun and second, when you adjust a scope to one end of the adjustment, the tension goes out of the erector spring that opposes the adjustment knob and the erector tube floats from shot to shot. The zero changes.


  5. Bernie, my guess would be you can if its not so severe to go beyond the scopes ability to adjust. *But* if you think about it, you are adding a second factor to elevation that will agravate your holdover at any given distance. So if you sight in at 20 yards, the point of impact at 30 and 10 yards will be not only affected by pellet rise/drop but also the angle difference between the scope and barrel. If you shoot at only one distance it would not matter much.

    Thats my theory and I’m sticking with it 😉

  6. BB/Mark,
    I now understand, as a matter of fact I did run into the problem you mention. I ran out of elevation adjustment range with the Sierra Pro I had. That gun had a good variable scope, but the mount was not adjustable. I could never get the gun to get to the right elevation so I compensated with my aim.

    I am wondering whether I should go to the range to sight the Shadow in with the scope I have(it doesn’t have the adjustable mount) and it does shoot way too low. I don’t want to mess with the elevation knob as I did with the sierra pro now that I know a little more, thanx to you guys…. I guess I could take the scope off. There is a 10, 15, and 25 yrd range.


  7. B.B.,
    A while back when the B-square adjustables were in short supply I did a poor man’s version by putting an inexpensive one-piece Accushot base in a vise and carefully filing a long flat taper off the bottom. It was trial and error, and I ended up taking a full .040 off the front end of the mount to get the scope to its optical center. It worked great and didn’t impart any distortion into the scope tube. However, it did skew the windage a tiny bit away from the fixed side of the scope mount, though. But I can now take the scope and mount assembly (with stop pin) on and off the gun, and get very good repeatability. Probably an old trick to most of you.

  8. bb i have read on sites where people have enlarged their transfer ports or shimmed their springs, or lightened their pistons in their spring piston air rifles although i am not interested in increasing the power in my air rifles i would like to know how their theory works.

  9. B.B.
    Barrel droop is not always bad.
    When I was a kid, my friend had an old springer that ended up with “reverse droop”……..
    There was so much wear that the barrel pointed upward. A gunsmith fixed it up with elevated sights, and that worked for a while. Finally became tipped high enough that it could no longer be aimed even with the elevated sights.
    Must have gone through a zillion pellets at that point, but still fired.


  10. I’m confused again,

    Is the Bsquare 17101 a “permanent” solution to the Diana scope mount rail. Or does it evently slide backwards, and also gouge (sp?) a trail from the shallow scope mount hole?


  11. The idea of playing with the transfer port is to allow the air to flow from the compression chamber into the barrel (where it propels the pellet) with less restriction.

    I’ve played with it some on Gamo’s and their pseudo-copies (B19, Crosman Quest). The original transfer port is about 1/8″ (regardless of caliber), and I’ve tried opening it up a bit.

    On .177 rifles, I never got any improvement. But on .22’s, I was able to pick up a definite 20fps or so on both a B19 and a Shadow by enlargening the port to 5/32″. Going further to 3/16″ really didn’t do any more. 1/8″ to 5/32″ might not sound like much, but it does increase the cross-sectional area by well over 50%.

    Needless to say, by doing so you completely void any warranties!

  12. Modifier,

    You have asked enough questions for a whole week of blogs. Have you read Tom Gaylord’s R1 book? Everything you want to know about is addressed there.

    Please ask your question again, only this time put a limit on it – like “What can be done to increase the power in a spring piston airgun?”


  13. TwoTalon,

    Good point. Perhaps wear was something the designers were tring to solve. But a good Pareto analysis could have come up with a different solution than droop.

    If that were not true, Harley Davidson frames would still weigh 150 lbs.


  14. BB,i had my rapid 7 barrel reground and a new crown to finish it of as well, it shot tight groups for about 500 hundred shots, then the pellets started flying all over the place again, back to the drawing board, i cleaned the barrel agian and still had flyers,i got it reground again, but this time i dident have the crown redone, i have now put over a 1000 pellets without any problems, as i said before i went through all the possible problems that might cause the pellets to spray around, but if people clean there barrles with metal rods iam sure over time this problem i had will surface,and how meney will blame the scopes or the guns and how meney guns could bennifit from haveing the muzzle regrond to get the accurcy back, or how meney new cheaper guns could bennifit from this , its certainly opened my eyes!

  15. this question probably only applies to springers, since they have that whole lubrication thing going on in the piston, but for “long storage intervals” is it better for the rifle to stand on end, or on its side, or doesn’t really matter? chime in if co2’s, pcps, or others care…


  16. BB,

    I bought an R1 in .20 second-hand (it was originally bought in 2001). It has been accurate (i.e., no spraying of shots) from the day I got it, but I noticed that it was shooting low and right pretty regularly, even after adjusting the scope (Simmons 4×12-40) that way. After really paying attention and trying to break down my shooting process, I noticed that with each pull of the trigger (I am right handed), the action of my finger pulling against the trigger was bringing the gun just slightly down and right.

    Hooray for finding (what I think is) the issue, but no matter what I do to correct it, I can’t seem to stop it from doing that. I tried to shift my grip a little to ensure I was squeezing, not pulling the trigger — no change, the gun still moves down/right. I turned the screw behind the trigger to lighten the pull weight of the second stage, but still no luck (I am afraid to make it too light, and don’t have the means to measure the current or previous pull weight).

    After all the accolades the Rekord trigger has earned I expected it to break light and crisp such that this sort of thing wouldn’t be an issue. I’m not saying the trigger isn’t great, but I certainly haven’t coaxed great performance out if it yet. I never had these issues with my Gamo 440, which is more perplexing still.

    I am by no means an aged veteran of shooting (spring guns or other) but I was pleased with the accuracy I could get from the ol’ Gamo. Any thoughts on what I might be doing wrong, or might do to remedy the situation with the R1?

  17. Thanks for the comment about the scope mount mod. I feel like there is so much to learn and I really appreciate the general tone of your blog where you make everyone feel comfortable and not afraid to ask questions, even if you’ve answered them 20 times before. Not so in other places. I think you are responsible for me sticking with this hobby/sport. Got another one hooked, eh? But maybe that’s your plan. 🙂
    I got my.22 B40 from Pyramyd today with a half dozen different pellets to try!! Beautiful. Nice fit and finish and not a speck of filler on the stock. Nice straight grain. Have only fired a half dozen shots and am really too keyed up (and basically unknowledgeable) to evaluate it objectively just yet. I’ll go slow. But I am surprised at how quiet and recoil-free it is. I was vacillating between this and the TX200, but I knew that I’d eventually want to tinker with the insides, and based on many of your comments, thought that might be sinful with the TX at this stage. Guess I need Tom Gaylord’s book that you mentioned today. I see a fun weekend coming.
    Thanks again,

  18. “Interesting! Probably more pertainent to pneumatics and gas guns than springers, because when a pellet leaves a springer’s muzzle, the air behind it has lost a lot of its pressure.”

    Could this be the reason springer manufactures are able to sell non-choked barrels that exhibit reasonable accuracy?

  19. B.B. Would you recommend 3 scopes for my beeman RX-1? I’m looking for 1. most economical 2. the most bang for the buck 3. Damn the cost. It needs to be a full size (I have a short neck and need the scope to come to me) A.O. With the most amount of magnification adjustibility. Maybe along the lines of a 1X6 or 2X10. Your thoughts?

  20. Just to confuse matters… think the BSA adjustable we get here in the UK are the same as the B-Squares you describe…. certainly their front and back ring mountings are adjustable in all directions independent of each other.

  21. anyone,

    does the hw90 come with a rekord trigger? im looking into some good break barrels to make my airgun collection have more kick ass veriety, and this one is on the list…depending on the trigger. also, if anyone has one, or used one, and has good/bad things to say about it, feel free.


  22. Long-term storage,

    I don’t think the position of the gun matters that much. But if the temperature in the storage area cycles over a large range, that probably does matter. Especially if the gun gets very hot (over 100 degrees F for a long time).


  23. Kodiak,

    I suspect you are not using the tip of your trigger finger. Are you?

    By squeezing straight back with the tip of the finger only, the rifle should not move.

    Many shooters use the first crease of their finger on the trigger, and that pulls the rifle in the direction of whichever hand is pulling the trigger.


  24. Hi BB

    i am looking for a very accurate rifle for target shooting only and the range is 20m. almost all proper target rifles seem to be for 10m, and have a muzzle speed of 450fps to 550fps. I assume (maybe wrongly) that though these rifles are awsome over 10, they may lack the power to be super accurate of 20m. Is this the case? If so, what kind of fps (in .177) would i need to allow the rifle the accuracy im looking for? I am aware that fps is not all that relevent, but ALL the target rifles ive seen are very similar in fps an i believe thats fairly low, because after 10m, it really isnt important for them to keep pushing that pellet!!!

    Thanks in advance

  25. Thanks for that fast reply BB.
    so are you saying that for the best accuracy at 20m i should be looking at a 10m target rifle? Its for my wife so she wants a co2 or pre-charged rifle and as light and small as possible. I may be mistaken, but one of my rifles (850 air magnum) is a 10 joules rifle but i find beyond 30 meters its accuracy is very poor compared to my more powerful springers. BUT at 20 meters it beats all of the springers (well, ok, i only have 2 lol). So what am i missing here? surely the 10 meter target rifles must have a fairly short ranged drop off point for accuracy?

  26. Hi BB,

    I really enjoy your column and have a lot of respect for your experience and advice. Keep up the good work!

    My own 2 cents on Barrel Droop- Drooped barrels are BS. Nothing but poor manufacturing practices. Anything more than .020″ off of the centerline of the receiver is unacceptable. I’ve worked as a production machinist and welder and 20 thousandths is a more than generous tolerance. Especially in a fixed barrel gun. The droop in most air guns is even evident in the pictures on the dealer’s websites. The droop I see there is likely over a 1/4” (.250″). Manufacturers only need to rework their jigs and fixtures to make straight guns that don’t need “special” (read BS) scope mounts. I suppose that’s too much to ask before paying hundreds of dollars for a product in this day and age though…. Just my opinion and we all know what they say about them.

    Another /Dave

  27. bb,

    i was at my friends house today, and he showed me his old red ryder…he said it was purchased in the 60’s. it is very hard to cock, it kicks hard, and when you shoot it, it smokes….what should he do for it?


  28. BB, a couple of things…

    First, I just bought a refurb CFX. Twangy, but not a bad rifle at all… it seems to be a bit more consistent and less hold sensitive than the breakbarrels.

    Second – even though it was a refurb it came with literature describing a lifetime warranty. You recently mentioned that Gamo has been reducing their warranties… was that on all guns? And do you have any indication that they are not honoring the longer warranties of the older guns?

  29. B.B.

    Ok, no one else asked so I will. Please break down the B-Square adjustables for us.

    I just got mine and am still working on understanding them. Seem to have corrected my elevation problems but now windage issues have reared up. It doesn’t help when B-Square’s instructions state “To move impact left, loosen the right windage Screw on the front ring and tighten the right Windage screw”. Huh? I’m sure I’ll figure it out but there may be some other things I should be aware of.

    Springer John

  30. 20 meter guy,

    I found the accuracy of the 850 AirMagnum to be mediocre. At 20 meters everything looks good, but at 50 yards it spreads too much.

    As for springers it cannot beat when the right technique is used, try the TX 200 and the BAM B40.

    10 meter target guns have no dropoff point for accuracy. They do have a pronounced trajectory, which makes them challenging for really long shots, but not for 22 yards. The Tau 200 /Air Arms S200 sounds ideal for your wife.


  31. Another Dave,

    I agree on the futility of the drooped barrel. It is obvious that gunmakers are doing it on purpose, which is why I suggested a full Pareto analysis of their designs/operations, but I haven’t found one yet who even knew what a quality improvement program was.


  32. Dave,

    Your friend’s Red Ryder sounds abused. It probably has rust in the mechanism that makes it hard to cock. The piston seal is also probably worn out which makes it recoil hard.

    A new gun is the cheapest fix.


  33. B.B.,
    You sound like a Manufacturing or Q.A. engineer who would make the most of an opportunity to get one manufacturer on the track to continuous improvement, and take their products that last 10% of the way. Some serious value engineering. You could have your own signature line. That would be pretty neat.

  34. What is the quietest air gun available. It must be able to roll a rat/mouse at 60 feet/20 yrds…I am trying not to anger/upset A curious neighbor. My old crosman BB gun can’t seem to do the job.

  35. BB and mouse hunter,

    Would an IZH 61 work on mice or rats at 20 yards?

    Rats are killed VERY easily. A flick of a finger could snap a rats back (maybe). Squirrels on the other hand are as tough as nails.


  36. Hi BB

    Would a fixed barrel like my CFX also suffer from droop or is this a break barrel problem?

    Thanks for the hint to pull the trigger with the tip of your finger as opposed to the first joint. I have been finding that that with a 5 shot group I have been tending to have 4 grouping and one flyer a bit wide of late, so I will give this a try.

    Sorry, I think I also put this under your June 28th topic.


  37. BB

    Let me bring this back under the correct topic.

    I have never come across such a thing as droop before, so when you discussed adjustable mounts previously it did not mean anything to me, but I am please to hear that the Gamo CFX does not have all that much droop. I will have to put that down to a lucky buy because I knew jack about air rifles when I bought it. I basically bought it because it was the only under lever that they had in the shop and it didn’t make sense to me for the scope to be attached to something that wasn’t fixed to the barrel. Science!

    I have got a Gamo adjustable focus scope on my CFX with the non adjustable mounts that it came with. To date I don’t seem to have had any problem adjusting it hit what I am aiming at but I am interested to know how you measure droop so as to get you scope in line with your barrel when you are mounting it and is it worth me looking into this on my rifle?


  38. Ken,

    Barrel droop isn’t a thing most people measure. They either have it or they don’t. Believe me when I say, if you had a bad case of droop, you’d know it! You would adjust your scope as high as it would go and your pellet would still impact the target one to six inches below the aim point.


  39. Sure enough, the mount you know as “B-Square” is sold in Britain as the “BSA Scopemaster 1 Piece Double Screw Fully adjustable”.

    I have two of them, one on a BSA Superstar the other on a BSA Lightning XL, because one of the three sizing options fits BSA’s 14mm rail.

    Can be a bit of a fiddle (understatement!) to adjust in the first place what with the locking grubscrews etc, but they’re very good and rock solid once done.

    First time I’ve seen the BSA model you show – think if I had one I might just drill and tap a slip-arresting pin onto it.

  40. Brit Visitor,

    Several other readers have indicated that they also drilled and tapped a scope stop pin, as you mention. And one has said that he changed the location of the rear grub screw so he doesn’t have to move the mount to adjust the elevation.


  41. BB, I installed the adjustable mount on my shadow, and without making any adjustments shot a few 3 round groups.Wow, I am now only 1 inch low and 1 inch left. Much to my surprise I discovered that the tightning screws were all loose. Geez! the BSA adjustable mount did not come with directions and before I knew what I had done I moved the windage knob 2 clicks to the left.I think I messed up cause when I went to shoot another group of 3, I was another 3/4 inch to the left,so now I was 1 3/4 inches to the left of the center,still 1 inch low. I then tightened both tiny screws to hold the current setting before I did more damage. I called pyramyd ans was told to adjust the current settings witht eh scope not the adjustable mounts. I thought I would ask you before I did anythuing else. I was told that if I am only off 1 or so inches the scope itself can be used for the final adjustments.I am shooting at 50 feet. To move the pellet to the center,(its now 1 3/4 inches to the left) do I adjust the scope to the right a few clicks? and shoot a group to see if that does the trick. If I want to move the strike point to the right do I move thje scope to the right or the left, I am sorry fpor this dumb question…..

  42. BSA scope mount,

    You are pretty close to where you want to be. Loosen the front setscrew and click the adjustment knob 6 clicks to the right. Note that the arrow on the knob is pointing towards the left, so turn the knob in the opposite direction, which is counter-clockwise.

    Then shoot a group. If you are not exactly in line with the 10-ring, adjust some more until you are. You don’t have to tighten the setscrew while uyuo are doing this testing, but when you are centered, tighten it. Then shoot a confirmation group to see if you are still centered..

    As far as elevation goes, I agree with Pyramyd AIR – use the scope knobs. 50 feet is close to 20 yards, which is where you want the pellet to strike the point of aim (and remember this – it will never always be exact).

    Give that a try and tell me how it went.


  43. Thanx BB, I will do that….

    I bought the REX xs 3×9-40 AO and am not sure how to make the adjustments yet. The info they send is so general that I am not sure its for my scope….


  44. What is it that you don’t understand? How to adjust the scope?

    All you do is turn the adjustment knobs in the direction you want the pellet to move. For example, if you are hitting too far to the right, turn the knob to the left (there will be some direction with an arrow on the knob – in this case the knob that’s on the right side of the scope). How many clicks you go depends on how far to the right you are shooting and how close the target is, but a lot of clicks for a very little movement.


  45. BB, Thanx, I understand that but what I am confused about is the following;
    There are 2 set screws on both knobs, windage and elevation. DO I loosen these before I make adjustments or are these used to reset the position AFTER i SIGHT THE SCOPE IN? There is a ring with finger indentations(I think for easy turning) on each knob. Does this ring come off before I turn the knob for adjustments or is it to actually make the adjustments with. My other scope had a protector ring that had to come off before I could make adjustments.

    I am sorry for such basic questions

    Again,if I want the pellet to move to the right I turn the mount adjustment knob to the left? Vice Versa to move the pellet to the left, that is, I adjust the knob to the right to move the pellet to the left?

  46. Don’t loosen the setscrews. Just turn the knobs. Some scopes have protector caps that cover the knobs, but your current scope doesn’t.

    The setscrews disconnect the knob from its shaft, so the zero indices can be reset.

    To move the pellet to the right, turn the SCOPE adjustment knob to the RIGHT. On the BSA adjusttable scope MOUNT, do the opposite.


  47. BB, thanx for all the help and insight. I am now within 1/2 inch of center. This is probably me but I will continue now using the scope adjustments……

    BTW: how did you hold the Duct Seal in the frame? I bought 10 lbs, the electrical store salesman suggested I may have trouble holding the seal in the frame. I am going to use an old metal cover from a desktop PC as the backing. This may be too heavy?

  48. Sorry if this is a duplicate, but I’m slowly figuring this out. Anyway, I was looking at the Beeman® SS1000S Dual Caliber Air Rifle Combo. I am a new hunter, but will go out on occasion with my son. Will changing the barrels have an adverse affect on the guns performance and what is your overall opinion of this product? I am looking to stay round $150. Thanks.

  49. New Hunter,

    I am scheduled to test this riule soon, but at this price I don’t hold out a lot of hope. I recommend a Benjamin 392 for hunting and general shooting. One caliber and you have to pump, but it’s a good all-around rifle.


  50. I haven’t tested it myself, but I did talk to someone who had. The results were comparable to the Tau 200, which is to say better than a human can hold.

    This is a CO2 rifle, so the accuracy depends on constant temperatures. And the trigger will have a tiny bit of creep, compared to the Olympic models.


  51. Does the Tau 200 Senior have an ambidextrous stock as I am a south paw. Also it shows no sights in the picture. Does it come with sights or are they aftermarket? I do not want to scope it.

  52. The Tau 200 Senior isn’t perfectly ambidextrous, because the grip is sculpted for right-hand shooters. Other than that, it will work for lefties. I am saying that the grip will not be as comfortable for you and it will for a rightie.

    It DOES NOT come with a rear diopter sight, but there are several to choose from on this site.


  53. B.B.
    Does the Gamo Varmint Hunter Have much Barrel Droop? Also Do you recommend that i purchase the adjustable mounts if i am still shooting low after adjusting the elevation on my centerpoint 4x16x40 all the way up? Thanks Chris

  54. my daisy 880s barrel is bent upward, to get any scope to zero i have to completely remove the elevation screw out of the scope, lucky for me when i took out the elevation screws on both my cheap 4x scopes it was perfect ele. zero (at least with bb's, but bb's arent really good scope ammo, a better scope and quality pellets are coming soon 😀 )

  55. If you have removed the elevation screw, then your 880 shoots low, not high. The erector tube spring pushes the elevation up as the screw is loosened.

    An 880 has no good reason to shoot either high or low, as the barrel is fixed. So the problem is in the alignment inside the receiver of the gun.

    You may need to get a scope mount that adjusts for elevation to correct the problem.


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