Mechanics of a Rifle Cant Teaser


HMFIC of this Shit
Staff member
Apr 12, 2001
Base of the Rockies
Online Training Lesson: Mechanics of a Rifle Cant

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Canting your Rifle

A lot people have read my article on setting up your precision rifle with a small amount cant built in based on the shooter. This serves several purposes, the main is to protect from subconsciously canting the rifle. The body has a natural hold, it will always attempt to default to this natural position which, in many cases induces rifle cant without the shooters knowledge. Because the brain wants the rifle held this way, you will ignore it until the effects compound to an unnatural point. Then you see the shooter correct it, and straighten out the rifle.

(Link to Leveling your Scope Article )

Here you can see a small amount of rifle cant with this shooter during a recent precision rifle class. It’s pretty common to see a shooter being slightly canted. The use of levels has made this even easier to see as most don’t pay any attention to them. They look once, straighten the rifle out, go back to lining up the shot, move and never see it.

Most guys would rather dial in .2 mils left and call it spindrift, true story. [IMG2=JSON]{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","src":"https:\/\/\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/08\/SH_HD_CANTLESSON-1-1600x900.jpg"}[/IMG2]Canting the rifle
When you level the scope and reticle to the rifle and then cant it, you compound the error vs using your natural hold to the brain’s advantage. Levels vs Vestibular System


So what is more accurate, the $6 level placed in a $100 wrapper or your inner ear ?

The vestibular system is there to maintain your proper equilibrium. It also works to coordinate the position of the head and it’s relationship to the eyes. So in other words, we have a system within our body to maintain level based on what we see, and the position our head is in. For the shooter you have a more accurate level built into your head. It’s even liquid based.


Thomas Haugland of the LongRange Norway Vlog has an excellent video comparing this against a highly accurate electronic level. He shows the small vial levels are only about .8 degrees accurate versus the inner which was closer to .2 degrees. Not sure about this, here:

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Training Tools vs Shooting Aid

I view a level as a training tool versus a shooting aid. We don’t do well trying to watch two things at once, honestly about 90% of the people out there with levels don’t use them at all or correctly. By putting it in the “training” category, you pick up on the clues it is handing you. Clue number one, if every time you do reference the level you are off center, that is a clue telling you to adjust your system to fit you. If you find looking at your level it’s off, your body will subconsciously move it as soon as your attention goes somewhere else like the target.

For the guys who talk uneven terrain, horizon lines, etc, if your systems is set up to your body, your natural hold, none of that matters. When shooting a target like this, where is my horizon line anyway? The terrain is not only uneven, the horizon is not visible in the scope. The targets do not have straight lines to reference. [IMG2=JSON]{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","src":"https:\/\/\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/08\/2014-05-21-15.20.04-3-1600x900.jpg"}[/IMG2]Reticle leveled to the target
The goal should be to quarter the target, our attention goes to the reticle as that is where our bullet is expected to go. Consider how many people know the shot will be bad before it breaks, this is common. You see the reticle drift off but you fire anyway, the mind says, “Well how bad can it be“… Sniper’s Hide Online Training


This video is only a small part of our Online Training Lessons located in the Sniper’s Hide Forum. We offer new lessons every month, this month, we did a 10 minute lesson on canting the rifle. The training lessons are not intended to replace a competent instructor, rather they are there to help educate the long range shooter. Our online training section is a private forum, so only guys who want to be there are participating.

Established in 2009, we have a host of videos on a wide range of topics. We also take specific requests for lessons. Deliberate Canting Data

The article about leveling your scope to gravity gets referenced a lot, so I want to includes the instructional slides we have to demonstrate the difference between a deliberate cant vs. accidentally canting the rifle as most do. I want to state this set of slides talks about a 2 degree cant, but most shooter’s natural hold is far less than 2 degrees.






This is just a small piece of the puzzle there is so much more to explore.

Muzzle Velocity Variations, Prone vs Bench

Scope Buying Advice


Damn Bubblehead
Mar 3, 2009
Harrisburg, PA
A long time ago I learned to set up a rifle without a cant adjustment in the buttplate and when mounting the scope, set level on the bench and when you get to the range and find a good NPOA (get into position, cycle the bolt, close eyes and open, etc), check the vertical on the reticle against a downrange vertical reference (the 4ft level at 100yds). Have a buddy loosen the rings and move the scope until the reticle is parallel to the reference. This is meant to keep your adjustments vertical and horizontal, instead of at an angle. No need to do this if you have a cant-adjustable butt on your rifle, just check against the down range level and adjust the buttplate. Differences in position are the complicating factor and smallbore shooters mark buttstocks for different positions.

So in line with your conclusion, as long a a shooter maintains a CONSISTENT position, canting the scope in relation to the rifle, any adjustments should not have a significant error, where if the scope/rifle are level to each other and the shooter maintains that same cant, he must know the value of his cant and adjust accordingly (i.e. - 0.X mil for every 1.0 mil of vertical or his adjustments will leave him with the horizontal error you describe above.

So the $64,000 question is, what is the most successful method you have seen CONSISTENTLY applied? Is it up to the individual and his/her state of mind and what works best for that individual?


Nov 19, 2012
I filmed some more today. Cant was inside about 0,3 degrees (extreme spread), it was more consistent as I have been focusing on fundamentals this season.

Also, I tried decreasing to LESS than 0,3 degrees by using the digital level as a guide (as you would with a bubble) and the result was slightly more wobble/cant. The digital gauge has 0,1 degree resolution vs 1 degree bubble.

I didn't have the mental prescence to film whilst trying to level with the bubble in the scopemount.

Dec 23, 2008
Thomas, test your results and repeatability going to weak side.

the whole cant thing to me falls apart leveling your rifle to you when you induce weak side into the equation. we have had this discussion over the years frank and I get your disdain for a bubble level as a crutch but getting on the rifle weak side ruins the leveling the rifle to you. I know, you might say how many times or how often in a match or scenario would you need to go weak side. my answer, doesn't time is enough. those weak side shots matter just as much as any strong side shot. points add up just the same, animals or bodies drop just the same.

I will keep my rifles straight up and use my crutch level when necessary.


HMFIC of this Shit
Staff member
Apr 12, 2001
Base of the Rockies
The cant is really so small the minor shots taken weak side are not effected.

If you consider your personal danger space is 600m, you really won't see a problem and you can easily eyeball the reticle level and it as accurate as guys who normally cant the rifle right and just pretend it's spin drift

if you practice, you can probably dial in the offset of your cant for that particular shot and be okay