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Your Complete Guide to Choosing a Rifle Scope

How To Choose a Scope

Getting a scope for your rifle makes your shot more reliable and accurate, especially in a long-distance shooting. However, there’s a long list of considerations when choosing a scope, so our team decided to make things easier for you.

Here’s our take on how to choose a scope for your firearm.

Yes. Getting scopes for your firearm is an excellent option for you to be more confident and accurate when engaging a target. It is widely used for target shooting, hunting, home defense, and military work.

A scope is composed of a tube with a lens on both ends for magnification. It is used to see clearly at a longer distance than a naked eye can reach.

A shooter with a normal and healthy 20/20 vision can only see clearly at 20 feet away in the naked eye [1]. It comes with crosshairs or an illuminated reticle to help you aim with a scope and hit the target accurately.  

What Is A Scope

Why Should You Invest In A High-Quality Scope?

Investing in high-quality scopes creates significant improvement in your shooting skills. When in long-range shooting, a high-quality scope gives a wide-range view of the surroundings and the target. 

High-quality scopes also allow you to have a better aim and give a high rate of success. It enhances your ability to aim and ensures effortless precision.

6 Steps to Follow When Choosing A Scope

6 Steps on Choosing A Scope

1. Decide What Scope You Want To Buy

The first step in choosing a scope is deciding on what you will buy. With all the scopes available on the market, getting the right one that fits your rifle can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. You can narrow down your options if you start on what type of scope you would like to buy. 

2. Determine The Purpose of Your Desired Scope

Scopes can be different depending on their use, and it’s compatibility with your firearm. Almost every major rifle has scopes that can be universal. However, the right rifle scope that serves its purpose is more efficient to use. 

3. Find The Best Magnification 

Fixed Power Scope

A fixed power scope is magnifications that have a specific power. It aims faster and provides a higher quality view of the target in close range. However, fixed power means it only uses one magnification, so you can only shoot at a specific range, unlike the variable power.  

To cite an example and explain it further, the 1×25 in a fixed power means 1x magnification, and 25mm is the size of the objective lens. It is always best to determine how much magnification you want for your scopes. 

Variable Power Scope

The variable scopes, on the other hand, are intended for shooting at different distances. Unlike fixed power scopes, variable scope costs more because of its adjustable magnification range. A variable powered scope can be slower to operate compared to fixed powered scope but is more versatile. 

The 3-9x40mm scope means the 40mm objective lens has a magnification power that can range from 3x to 9x of the true magnification.

4. Choose The Scope Reticles

  • Duplex

The duplex reticle is the default scope crosshair in most rifle scopes. This crosshair is the fastest and easiest type of scope reticle you can use.

Beginners commonly use duplex because of its simple crosshair pattern. In addition, the duplex is ideal for target shooting and hunting.

Choose The Scope Reticles
  • BDC

The BDC scope reticles can predict the bullet’s fall when you fire the bullet. The BDC reticle is insanely useful for a long-range shooter because the reticle estimates bullet drop and holdover. It has a specific pattern and aiming point stacked under the main crosshair. 

  • Mil-Dot

It is a reticle that can estimate the distance of the target. It is almost similar to the duplex; however, the dots on the reticle provide the target’s distance which is beneficial for life and death situations. The rifle scope with this reticle is commonly used by military and law enforcement.

5. Consider The Features of A Good Scope

Consider The Features of A Good Scope

Parallax

When choosing a scope, the parallax must be considered because it can affect the accuracy of your shots aside from eye relief. Parallax can be seen when you move your head and eyes, leading to blurriness and fuzziness. If your scope is for hunting, parallax must be dealt with, or it might result in missed shots.  

Fortunately, some scopes can correct parallax using factory-set, adjustable objective, or parallax adjustment turret. In addition, the proper eye relief on the ocular lens will help in parallax. 

Objective Lens

The objective lens is the lens you can find at the end of your scope. As we’ve mentioned earlier regarding the magnification, in 1×25 and 3-9x40mm, the 25 and 40 are sizes of the objective lens. 

A more objective lens can be clearer and brighter. However, too much objective lens can be heavier. It may get away from your position due to its reflection, even with excellent eye relief. If you wonder how much objective lens you should need, you can base it on your preferred range. 

Lens Coating

Another feature that you should consider when choosing a scope is the lens coating on glass surfaces. The rifle scope lens coatings can vary from coated, full-coated, multi-coated, and fully multi-coated. 

The basic lens coat is called coated with at least one surface and a layer of coating. You can get a fully coated one if you prefer a single layer of coating for the whole external glass surface. A multi-coated lens covers at least one surface with several layers, while a fully multi-coated lens covers all external glass in several layers.  

Scope Mounts, Rings, and Bases

To secure the scope, you must consider the mount, ring, and bases. You may need to secure the scope during gun recoil, so getting a sturdy scope mount would be beneficial. 

By finding how much objective lens you will need, you can determine the size of the rings. In addition, a sturdy base should be taken into consideration if needed because it will carry the scope.

Windage & Elevation Turrets

A reliable windage and elevation turret is needed when it comes to choosing a scope. The windage is located on the side of the scope that helps your scope in horizontal adjustments. On the other hand, turrets are responsible for the scope’s vertical adjustments. 

If the windage and elevation turrets will not work, there is no way you can zero your scope properly. When working with turrets, it should produce a click sound when adjusting. 

Light Transmission

The objective lens and the lens coat are responsible for the illumination transmission. High-end scopes offer higher illumination transmission and better eye relief, which makes the image brighter and clearer. 

While you have more magnification in a fully multi-coated lens, less light is transmitted to your eyepiece. 

Glass Quality

Another feature to consider when choosing is the quality of your optic glass. The glass surfaces must be thick enough to withstand the gun recoil. High-quality glass can be expensive; however, it provides bright images with crisp and clear quality. 

Our team recommends getting an extra-low dispersion glass with excellent eye relief for better image quality.

Focusing Mechanism

The focusing mechanism is important when choosing a good rifle scope, especially a target shooter. Aside from the scope’s magnification and the quality, the scope must focus quickly to acquire the target faster. 

The minute of angle (MOA), red dot sight, reflex sight, and prism sight could help you if you have a hard time with the focusing mechanism. If you are hunting at a long distance, a slow focusing mechanism may ruin your hunting experience. 

Focal Planes

First Focal Plane

In the first focal plane FFP reticle, the crosshair’s size adjusts as you adjust your magnification. Long-range shooters that use more than one magnification find the first focal plane beneficial and efficient to use. When you increase the magnification, the scope reticle size adjusts, which makes shooting more easier. 

Second Focal Plane

The second focal plane (SFP) reticle remains in size regardless of how much magnification you adjust. Shooters commonly use the second focal plane in rifle scope with only one magnification. It is also ideal for hunting and target shooting because it does not obscure the view.

6. Determine Your Budget Range

Now that you know the technical aspects when choosing a scope, you can find one that can fit your budget. The cost of scope is dependent on its capabilities and purpose. 

The higher cost may offer premium features; however, low power scope can still be of good quality.

Most scopes features may not be necessary, especially if you are a skilled shooter. It is wise to get a scope that will not break your bank.

Determine Your Budget Range

FAQS

The best scope magnification for hunting is 3-12x. The high power scope is very handy for a long-range shooter because it can cover the optimal power range for most hunting scenarios. In addition, the magnification is widely available on the market in 30mm, which helps with mobility when hunting.

You should spend roughly $200 or lower when it comes to getting a scope. However, there are different parts that you may need to upgrade if you want to level up your game, so spend your money wisely.

Yes, expensive scopes can be better than cheap scopes. Expensive scopes may cover a multitude of premium features that can make the scopes more efficient. However, that does not mean you cannot find a scope at a lower price.

Final Thoughts

They say that looking for the right scope is like searching for a needle in the haystack. However, with the right scopes, your shot will be more accurate and reliable, exactly what every gun enthusiast aims for.  

Remember that before getting a new scope, you must decide first on what you want so you can narrow down your choices. As much as possible, get into details of the features if it fits your purpose. Avoid spending too much on the scope or reflex sight upgrades because you might want to upgrade different parts. 

References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-far-can-the-human-eye-see#brightness

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