What is Cant in Long Range Shooting?

What is Cant in Long Range Shooting?

Cant refers to the unintentional or intentional tilt or incline of a rifle scope or rail mount, either to the left or right, or down, in the context of long-range shooting. In long-range shooting, cant can significantly impact shot placement, as the bullet's point of impact may shift due to the altered alignment between the rifle's bore and the scope's reticle. For intentional cant, angled scope mounts or rails are utilized to compensate for bullet drop at extended distances.

Understanding Cant

Cant can have various effects on long-range shooting performance:

  • Unintentional Cant: Unintended cant may occur due to inconsistent shooting positions or improper scope installation. This can result in shots veering off-target horizontally, especially at longer ranges, as the rifle's bore and scope are no longer in proper alignment.
  • Cant Error: As the range to the target increases, the effect of cant becomes more pronounced. Cant error can lead to significant horizontal deviations in bullet impact, making it crucial for shooters to maintain a consistent rifle orientation during each shot.
  • Longintudinal, or Intentional Cant: In some cases, shooters may intentionally use angled scope mounts or rails to compensate for bullet drop at extreme distances. This is known as "canted scope" or "canted rail" and allows for more elevation adjustment in the scope.

Longitudinal Cant and Its Applications

Longitudinal cant refers to the intentional incline or tilt of a rifle scope or rail mount in the vertical plane, which is designed to work with the principles of ballistics to enable rifle shooters to shoot at extended distances. By angling the optic downwards, it allows the shooter to aim at the target while the rifle points upwards, ensuring the bullet follows the appropriate trajectory to hit the target at extreme ranges.

This method of applying longitudinal cant is often used in conjunction with canted scope mounts or scope bases, also known as MOA or MIL bases, which are designed with a built-in incline to provide additional elevation adjustment.

Understanding Longitudinal Cant

In long-range shooting, longitudinal cant can provide several advantages:

  • Extended Elevation Adjustment: By angling the scope downward relative to the rifle's bore, shooters can effectively increase the available elevation adjustment in their scope. This can be particularly helpful when shooting at extreme distances, where the bullet drop exceeds the scope's built-in elevation adjustment range.
  • Optimized Trajectory: Utilizing longitudinal cant allows the shooter to align the rifle's bore with the optimal bullet trajectory for the given shooting distance. This can help maintain a flatter trajectory and reduce wind drift, ultimately leading to increased accuracy and precision.
  • Customization: Longitudinal cant can be tailored to the specific needs of the shooter and the firearm. Shooters can choose from various MOA or MIL canted scope mounts or bases to match their preferred shooting distances and ballistic profiles.

Selecting and Installing a Canted Scope Mount or Base

To incorporate longitudinal cant into a rifle setup, consider the following:

  • Determine the Desired Cant: Evaluate the intended shooting distances and ballistic characteristics of the chosen caliber to determine the appropriate amount of cant required. This information can be found in ballistic calculators or manufacturer specifications.
  • Choose the Correct Mount or Base: Select a canted scope mount or base with the desired MOA or MIL incline that is compatible with the rifle and scope being used.
  • Proper Installation: Install the canted mount or base correctly, ensuring that the scope is properly aligned and leveled. Consult the manufacturer's guidelines or seek assistance from a professional gunsmith if necessary.

By incorporating longitudinal cant into a rifle setup, shooters can extend their effective shooting range and enhance overall performance in long-range shooting situations.

Managing Cant in Long Range Shooting

To minimize the impact of cant on shooting performance, consider the following:

  • Leveling the Scope: Properly install and level the rifle scope during the mounting process to ensure that the reticle is aligned with the rifle's bore. Use bubble levels or other leveling tools to assist with this process.
  • Anti-Cant Devices: Attach an anti-cant device, such as a bubble level or electronic leveling system, to the rifle or scope to help maintain a consistent rifle orientation during each shot.
  • Shooting Technique: Practice maintaining a consistent rifle orientation by using stable shooting positions, and pay attention to the rifle's cant while shooting. Regular practice can help develop muscle memory and reduce the risk of unintentional cant.


  • Cleckner, R. (2016). Long Range Shooting Handbook: A Beginner's Guide to Precision Rifle Shooting. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
  • Litz, B. (2011). Applied Ballistics for Long Range Shooting. Applied Ballistics LLC.
  • Barsness, J. (2006). The Big Book of Ballistics. Skyhorse Publishing.
  • Sweeney, P. (2010). Gunsmithing - Rifles. Gun Digest Books.
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