I've got a set of Hawke Sportsmatch mounts 9-11mm.
How do you tell which is the front and back mount, or are the both the same?
Also which way round are they supposed to be? Allan keys on the left or right hand side?
The best way to mount the scope is to set the scope to its optical zero and then mount it. If it is far of target play around by swopping mounts, back to front left to right. Did a scope setup for a springer a few weeks back (with cheap mounts ) that the one mount was facing left and the other right. It looked strange but it worked and the scope was only 6 clicks off optical zero.
Optical zero aka 'optic centre' - simply means that the adjustments on the scope are set at their mid point - so the lenses witihn the scope are set as close to their mid point as possible. This gives the optimum performance of the scope.
In terms of the mounts - they should be identical and it does not matter which is used as the front or rear. Generally the mount that is fitted with an arrestor pin is normally used as the rear mount although if you are not usnig the pin it makes no difference.
In terms of which side the clamp goes this is purely personal preference.
The way the big boys do it (im not one of them so dont look at me funny), is you setup the mounts (anyway around), and then you get a 30mm/1inch (depending on the scope tube size) rod, like a filling rod, very fine, and you lie the file across the two mounts and file the insides out so you have a perfect platform that the scope rests one, what i mean is there's 100% contact of the mounts to the scope....
like i said, the big boys....