One of the most critical pieces of equipment on a precision rifle is the hardware that holds the optic to the receiver. If this mount is not rigid, durable and repeatable, then it doesn't matter how much money and labor has been put into the rest of the rifle. The most accurate rifle in the world will not group if the scope is moving around on top of it.
It always makes me chuckle a little bit when I watch a Hollywood feature that shows an agent opening his attache case, then assembling a Sniper Rifle from the parts inside. The barrel is screwed on by hand, then a scope is quickly snapped on top. I always wonder if the agent in question ever spent some time at the range checking to see what kind of zero shift he gets every time the weapon is broken down and re-assembled. Of course since it's Hollywood, the answer is none.
If anything is true it's that folks like to mimic what they see in the movies. If you do any searching on the internet you will come across pictures of Pelican or Starlite cases with their foam intricately cut out. At least a couple of these, you will notice that the rifle is broken down and the scope is stored off of the rifle. Rarely is there a really good reason for this. Because of this phenomena, I also often see quick release rings or mounts on a precision rifle with only one optic.
For some time now I have used and recommended standard cross-bolt rings for precision rifles. When they are installed with a torque wrench at a repeatable setting, they are consistent and return to zero well. There is rarely any issue with them coming loose. If you do not need to swap optics in the field, then there is little need for the added expense and complexity that quick detach (QD) mounts bring to the party.
Folks seem to like the fancy levers. There are a couple of good reasons for a QD mount on a precision rifle. In a military role, it allows you to carry a compact, rugged backup optic to install in case the primary optic is damaged. In an LE role, departments that cannot afford high end "clip-on" night vision devices can attach less-expensive night vision scopes after the sun sets.
No matter what your reason for a QD Mount, it has to be reliable and repeatable. There are several mounts on the market currently, but you rarely see an independent Return To Zero (RTZ) test done on them. ADM was kind enough to supply us with one of their mounts to test this aspect.
Unitized QD mounts are generally quite a bit higher than standard scope rings. They are usually seen on AR type platforms. However for this test I really wanted a platform that was easy to shoot and had razors edge accuracy. The second requirement was that the stock could be adjusted to provide the proper cheek weld so that I can take advantage of that accuracy potential. Looking into the safe, the choice was clear. We chose the AI AE MkII for this job. We have an AR10 available, but the AE MkII is capable of holding groups half as large as the AR10. You will see why this was important later.