Warne Rings: Are they any good?

The Dark Horse of Mounting Systems

There was a time in Canada in recent memory where scope rings were almost completely restricted to two brands: Leupold and Weaver. Sure there were other outliers (ECW etc) but they weren’t easy to locate and so for the most part you were looking at either a turn-in or a set of bases and rings.That’s of course not the case now, with the popularization of black guns (it’s been a good time, not a long time) came the Picatinny base and then firearm manufacturers started building mounting systems right on to their guns and we were introduced to the one piece mount systems.

Warne has been at the forefront of the one piece system offering a clamping system combined, where possible, with a recoil lug to grip right on the receivers where possible. But with these new rings naturally come suspicious glances and cocked eyebrows as to whether these will have the same durability and reliability of the tried and true systems we all grew up on. Warne Standard RingsSince we are one of the largest retailers of Warne in Canada, naturally you can expect some bias here but the rings make a pretty good case for themselves regardless so I thought I would take a minute to explain their strengths, weaknesses and even some criticisms I’ve encountered in my eight years of selling them.

Steel vs Aluminum

 This argument is about as old as Beatles vs Elvis and just as contentious with hardliners on both sides screaming at each other regarding strength vs weight vs quality and nobody gets out of these conversations any better off for the most part. The bottom line in my opinion is that steel is heavier than aluminum but comes in stronger for the price. This doesn’t mean there aren’t incredibly strong and reliable aluminum rings; there are but they come at a price and the vast majority of aluminum rings in and around the $100 mark are not those. Warne for better or worse has made a name for themselves with their steel Maxima rings and generally when they are brought up, those are the rings people are thinking of. However, they do offer aluminum rings as well with both their lower end rimfire “Vapor” rings and their higher end “Mountain Tech” and we’ve had absolutely zero returns for either of their aluminum offerings. The biggest rule to keep in mind is not to mix metals. If your base or receiver are aluminum, please don’t put steel on them and vis versa. But beyond that, pick your preferred metal and go from there; Warne doesn’t care.

One Piece vs Picatinny vs Weaver vs Turn-in vs …

 I’m unsure if one of the final projects for every mechanical engineer in every post-secondary college or university is to reinvent the scope mount but it sure seems like everyone has an idea here. Some of the designs are downright abysmal (I remember seeing a set of turn-offs that required the scope to be removed from the rings in order for these “Time savers” to come off the rifle). Eventually though it seems that we’ve settled on three approaches: the screw-on, the base/ring combo and the one piece. I suppose the

Leupold Turn In Rings and BasesLeupold should also get a mention though it feels largely outpaced in the last decade or so. Screw-ons such as DNZ are a good answer to anyone who want a one scope, one gun approach. But for anyone intending on swapping out scopes occasionally or are looking for that flexibility, you are looking at one of the other two.

Warne again is largely known for where they started, with the one piece ring. These rings have clamps on them that make them almost indistinguishable from a Weaver or Picatinny ring at a glance. However one piece designs don’t have the hidden bar that those two have that locks in with the base to ensure there’s no movement during recoil. Instead, one-piece cater to the whims of the manufacturer providing the dovetails or divots on their receiver. For the most part, the recoil problem is solved using a recoil lug that is attached to the bottom of the ring and fits in a hole or score in the receiver.

Warne Picatinny Rail

Warne also manufactures standard Picatinny spec rings. The big draw for these rings is that they are machined in the very small crossover between the Picatinny spec and the Weaver spec that allows the same rings to fit on either type of base. So if you’re after something that is going to fit on the majority of bases, they’re definitely worth a look.

 The question though, is “which is best?” and just so you don’t think I’m going to give you the standard “it depends” answer, I’m going to tell you right upfront that the question is wrong, not the answer and the question should be “Which is best for what I need.” This is because if the question is just “What is best?” the answer is “Get a one-piece that screws right into your tap holes.” No points of weakness and no wear between surfaces and we can all go home now. In fact, they should really just start cranking out receivers with the bottom half of a 1” ring formed right in the mold to the top of the receiver. It’s the “but” that follows this that gets us into the weeds. You’re swapping scopes. Or you prefer a certain look. Or you’re working on a budget. These various deciders are too numerous for me to get into here, but may warrant its own article in the future. But if the answer sees you eyeing up a one piece clamp solution or a picatinny rail, what Warne does it does well. The only pause I’ve ever had was for their rimfire rings that fit on a standard dovetail. The 1” are fine but the 30mm look a bit ridiculous (as will the majority of 30mm scopes you put on your plinker) and the small clamp seems ill fitted to handle such a big scope. It’s not rocky or insecure but it just doesn’t feel great.

 Made in the USA

 There’s a certain pride to be felt when you’re purchasing something made by your countrymen. And for that reason, “Made in the USA” gets plastered on everything. Up here in Canada we don’t have that same reaction but there are certain assurances that come with that label even for us northerners. The first is that the material is going to be of a certain calibre. Recycled Chinese cars and circuits boards are not going to make it into US steel, not because there’s an eye to quality, but just that metals are so abundant in North America that making good steel is easier than recycling to make bad steel. The second factor is that you know that your rings were made by adults getting paid a more or less liveable wage. There’s a reason North American factories don’t have suicide nets around their base and that’s at least worth a consideration. And those “Made in the USA” labels are all over Warne product.

Reliability and Warranty

There is a reason that I’ve carried Warne for as long as I have: I hate doing returns. They always cost me money with shipping and packaging and half the time the items I get back are unsaleable and getting credit from manufacturers can be a nightmare. We’ve had a few returns, mostly in the early days because a ring top would be mismatched with the bottom or the card was incorrect. But those issues have largely been ironed out. Last year while speaking with my Warne contact I was told to “Just ensure the customer is happy” and they would credit me. So with the warranty coming through me, I get all the returns and I have had exactly one set of rings be returned that weren’t obviously user error. And that was a bubble that had caused the finish on a ring to flake off. That was it. Sure, they offer a lifetime warranty but it’s completely a waste because you’re never going to use it.