SECRETS OF CHOOSING BEST RIFLE SCOPE
Secrets of choosing the best rifle scope is an art of knowledge. You have to understand every bit of terminology and the definition of every piece of parts of a scope.
Hunting is a great hobby. It’s a thrilling game. A game of fun with lots of thrills and adventure. It’s almost 25 years as I have this hobby as my passion and profession. In this long span of time, I have seen most of the novice hunters and lovers of this game are only craving for a good rifle only. Most of them thought that a good hunter needs a good and expensive gun to make an accurate and precision shot.
I saw a lot of novice hunters doing a lot of research on the hunting rifle. They read a lot of blogs, reviews, and expert opinions on them. When they walk in the gun shop, they spend hours on watching and analyzing the rifle for their preferred game. While making the purchase decision, they are not feeling hesitation to spend thousand of bucks to buy the expensive gun with a dream that it will assist them to make a precision shot. But for their visual hunting assistance, they just chose a cheap scope like for $50 and left the shop like a winner as they win the deal.
I feel somber for them as it is like a human without eyes.
A quality rifle scope is more important than the quality of the rifle. A hunter can make a precision shot with an average rifle with a quality scope. But it ‘s hard to even with the best rifle with a poor quality scope.
Rule of Thumb: Old folks used to believe that a quality scope should cost half of your gun if you want the same quality of gun and scope.
Choosing a quality rifle scope will be a little bit confusing as there are lots of lots of varieties available in the market. Prime facts to remember that different shooting techniques need different types of rifle scopes.
For reference, you cannot choose the same scope for target shooting and deer hunting.
Let’s dig some deeper. It’s apparent that two rifles are not exactly same though the same manufacturer manufactures them as both of them has different traits. Technically, You cannot just mount the same scope on both rifles in an exact way. You need to tweak scope settings to do so.
So, you are crazy about shooting and decided to buy a quality gun scope for you. But how to choose?
Here I am to help you. If you are a newbie or seeking for more precise information on rifle optics, then you are at the right place. This article is tailored especially for you and will give you enough information to educate yourself about gun optics.
Owing a gun is a very serious decision whether it is for self-defense, hunting or target practice. Today we are going to explore about gun optics, how it can aid you target visualization, different terminologies of a rifle scope and much more.
What is a Rifle Scope?
Rifle scope is a visual aiding device. It is mounted on a rifle which enables a shooter to aim with greater accuracy. It has the same state of the art technology like other sighting devices i.e. telescope, binoculars, monocular, etc.
Scopes are well known the precision long range shooting aid by zooming the target image. It also provides a reticle (known as crosshair) which decides where the gun aims.
A scope works same like the traditional iron sight that comes up with rifles. It enhances the sighting with the help of a series of optics built-in like a telescope.
Nowadays, every gun scope comes with a marking to aid shooter for shooting assistance. Moreover, it comes up with different options like adjusting the zoom, wind, elevation, etc. to make you feeling confident for shooting. You can
Scopes are designed to play with lights. The more light it captures, the better image it will produce. A rifle scope uses the light bending technology to magnify the picture. There are a series of optical units inside the scope which are in different sizes and shapes. Those lenses take a small picture, process it and serve you a better crisp image that is large enough to see.
For more control, nowadays, scopes are also available with additional adjustments features that help the shooter to precise his accuracy. You can adjust the level of zoom to get a comfort vision of your subject; you can raise or lower the scope vertically, horizontal adjustment for adjusting the directions in line with wind speed.
History reveals that at early times rifle scope was used by military shooters only. Later on, it becomes very popular among the hunters.
But there were some critical reliability issues for rifle scope as in damp weather the optics had a tendency to fog up. Those early ages scopes were looking great, but they were not sealed well.
Nowadays, scopes are filled with nitrogen gas to get rid of fogging. It becomes so authentic & useful that now it is not manufacturing only for rifle but also for any other firearm or shooting equipment like crossbow and handgun.
At present time it is very common to see guns without traditional iron sight. This trend proves the popularity, reliability and effectiveness of the scope. Scopes are now an excellent add-on for firearm or any shooting equipment whether it is used for shooting practice or as a defense weapon or as a hunting tool.
Why Use a Rifle Scope?
It’s a sighting device; it’s about accuracy and precision.
It is very common to sell scopes on all the hunting equipment around from handguns to shotguns even in hunting crossbows. You can see almost in every shooting game i.e.big game hunting, varmint hunting, deer hunting, duck hunting, target shooting etc usage of scopes are very common.
Why? Let’s find out the answers.
It’s simple to use. If you are already using a scope whether it is red dot sight or a tubular scope, you may have the answers. But if you are willing to use then the answer is you will be able to eliminate almost 80 percent of complexity having an aim using the traditional iron sights.
When shooting using a traditional iron sight, you have to line up the back of rifle with the front to your target. But using a scope, you just need to line up the reticle with your target. It’s easier to shoot precisely using a scope rather than an iron sight.
Rifle scopes not only aid you in aiming your subject but also enable you to zoom and that’s why it’s easy to place a shot. If you have any issue with your eye vision then a scope is an excellent choice for your visual aid.
Only 6 inches of your target is covered by a traditional iron sight at 100 yards distance which limits your bullet placement as larger coverage area. But a quality scope will cover 1/8 inch at 100 yards which ensure the ultimate accuracy and you will be able to place your shot precisely without wasting cartridges.
A scope with your firearm also collect more light to increase your shooting accuracy in low light condition. Nowadays, night vision technology is also available with rifle optics.
Things to remember that a better quality scope will not help you become a better shooter as it needs a lot of practice. Skill and practice cannot be replaced by the scope vision.
Anatomy of Rifle Scope
For a beginner, an optical sighting device is just a tube with couple of lens at each end and inside to see through. But believe me; it’s more complex than that. It has not only the lenses but also have the magnifier and the tuning capabilities to ensure the accurate positioning of reticle.
If you are going to make your first scope purchase, then I will strongly recommend you to get familiarize with all the basic parts of a rifle scope. Even if you are not a beginner, I also recommend you to get knowledge about the parts of a scope that you are not familiarizing yet.
There are several hundreds of rifle scope model available in the market currently. But all have the same basic characteristics. In this article we are going to discuss all those basic parts of a scope that you need to familiar before going to make any purchase decision to evaluate your rifle scope capabilities.
Ocular lens is the closest piece of glass in a scope that faces towards the shooter. It is used to see the image which is enlarged by the scope. Normally, it is smaller than the objective lens or the front lens. This ocular lens focuses on all the lights gathered by the objective lens and serve to the eye of the shooter. In modern high tech rifle scope may have coating which helps to prevent water and focuses on more light transmission. But certainly you cannot expect this coating on budget scopes or entry level scopes.
The eyepiece is the last part of a scope that holds the ocular lens and connects it with eye-bell. Some scope model has adjustable eyepiece that allows adjusting the reticle focus to ensure the crisper image of your target.
Power Ring / Magnification Ring / Zoom Ring
Variable power scopes are coming up with a power ring that is used to adjust the magnification level. By rotating the power ring to the right or left, the shooter can zoom in or out on the target.
The level of magnifications depends on the specification of the scope. You can easily find the power of the scope as the first number of any scopes. Such as 2-12x, means the scope has a variable magnification level. If you set the lens at its lowest power then the scope can magnify the image 2x times closer than the naked eye. If you dial the maximum magnification, the subject will appear 12x times closer. You can set the power ring anywhere between 2-12 magnification level.
Things to remember, not all the scopes in the market have variable power. Some also come with fixed magnification level such as 9x. In fixed power scopes there is only one magnification level which cannot be adjusted. So, you will not find any power ring on fixed power scope.
Scope tube connects the objective and ocular lens. It acts as a bridge between both. The construction of the scope tube is metal.
Normally, typical rifle scope has two tubes. The tube we see from the outside is the outer tube that holds & protects the internal parts. Lenses are actually installed on an inner tube that can be moved freely to adjust with magnification level.
02 different diameter scope tubes are available in the market: 30mm and 1 inch. Most tubes come in 1-inch diameter.
Usually, outer scope tube is the place that is used to attach to the firearm by using scope ring or bases in order to keep them steady in place. So, it has a direct impact on the size of rings you should purchase for your scope.
Important note: 30 mm scope tubes can only use with 30mm rings and 1-inch tubes can only use with 1-inch rings. You may damage you scope if you forgot to remember this rule of thumb.
Windage turret located on the right side of a rifle scope. It allows the user to adjust the reticle in horizontal alignment. The adjustment can be made in small increments.
Some scope models allow you to adjust the turret by hand while other needs to use screwdriver or coin to rotate the knob. Windage turret adjustments are measured in either MOA (Minutes of Angle) or MRAD (Milliradian) [we will discuss details on MOA and MRAD later on this article].
Like windage turret, the elevation turret allows the user to adjust the reticle in vertical alignment. This turret is located on the top of a rifle scope.
The interesting fact of both turret i.e. windage and elevation is the increment ratio for the both is same in any scope model.
Parallax Error Adjustment
Not all but certain scope also equipped with the third knob called Parallax Error Adjustment Turret. It is located on the left side of scope across from windage turret. Normally this turret is useful to adjust the parallax error for long range shooting.
Generally, most firearm scopes are zeroed at 100 yards. But if you zoom in further then it seems like the position of the reticle is moving with your eyes movement. This mirage called parallax error.
You will be sure that your scope doesn’t have parallax error when reticle position is locked and your target is focused even eye position changed.
As parallax error is a complex term, we will discuss the parallax error later in this article.
Objective BellThe furthest end for shooter eye is called objective bell. It holds the objective lens in place of the scope. This objective bell is the light collecting part for the scope.
The objective lens is the front end big lens of a scope. It collects light to the scope. Normally, Objective Lens is larger than the ocular lens.
The objective lens is measured in mm (millimeter). You can easily read the size of the objective lens just by reading the scope specs. The size of objective lens come after “x” i.e. 2-10x 35mm means 35mm scope. The minimum diameter of an objective lens is 20 mm as some are as much large as 50-60mm. The larger the objective lens is, the more light it collects to the ocular lens. But the larger the lens is, bigger and heavier a scope will be. Quality rifle scope’s objective bell is often coated by several finishes to gather more light and resist water.
Important Terms of Rifle Scope
The optical coating is an expensive modern technology which is used to reduce the loss of light and glare due to reflection. It also makes the lens fog proof and waterproof and scratch resistance as well.
Coated lenses are expensive. There are various numbers of types and quality coating lenses available nowadays. It can be single layered coated lens or multilayered. It is true that single layered quality coated lenses can significantly outperform multi-coated lenses. But remember quality is costly.
As previously discussed, coating reduces glares, loss of light due to reflection. This means a quality coated lens can carry more light than an uncoated lens which means the better light transmission and good contrast.
Each optical parts of a scope absorb light but not all the light passes through. Because of reflection, a small proportion of light cannot pass throughout the optics. It is called reflective loss. The loss of light amount differs between 4 to 6 percent per surface. Considerably small, right? But the fact is, the modern high-tech optical instrument have around 10 – 16 surfaces. So, the net loss of light for reflection can be around 50 percent. This will make it difficult to see through the scope in low light conditions.
That’s not all. Those lights from reflection loss are not just disappearing. They leave a dimmer image inside the scope and create scattered light. That scattered light is called flare or non-image forming light or ghost image. Those flares create haziness which reduces the contrast of the actual image.
Different types of coating
Single Layer Anti-Reflection Coating
This type of coating consists a very thin transparent film which is formed by using Magnesium Fluoride (MgF2) on the lens. The film’s thickness is 1/4th of a wavelength of light (1/4th of a wavelength of light is equal to 1/6,000,000 inch. This microscopically thin film is a very complex process and done in vacuum chambers.
Single Layer Anti-Reflection coating reduces the reflective light loss around 1.5 – 2 percent which increases the light transmission. If the lens is fully coated, the light transmission rate is around 70 percent then uncoated lens. This reduces the non-image forming light and give a share view image.
Multi-Layer Anti-Reflection Coatings
Single layer anti-reflection coating works well on a wavelength of light where the thickness of lens coating is equal to 1/4th of the wavelength. This deficiency leads to the innovation of multilayer anti-reflection coatings. It which can reduce the reflective light loss for a wide range of wavelength and in reduce the flare to 1/5th of 1 percent at each air to the glass surface.
Phase Correction (P) Coating
P coating or phase correction coating was invented in 1988 by Carl Zeiss. This Coating is developed to eliminate the destructive phase shifts in roof prism instruments.
Mirror like coating mostly used in sports optics. For example, red dot sight uses a specific light wavelength coating to reflect the dot image to shooter’s eye.
This coating is used as water repellent to the scope. Hydrophobic coating eliminated the fog/water engagement on the scope lens and enables the shooter to have a clear view even in rainy or cold weather.
Abrasion Resistant Coating
Anti-Reflection coatings are soft and can get scratches easily. To resist the scratching on the lens surface, tougher and durable coating known as scratch resistant coating are used.
Following coating, terms are used by the manufacturer to explain the extent of AR coating to their instruments.
Coated Optics (C) – At least one surface of one or more lenses are coated.
Fully Coated (FC) – All air to glass surfaces is coated by single layer anti-reflection coating.
Multicoated (MC) – At least one surface of one or more lenses are coated by several AR coating layers.
Fully Multicoated (FMC) – All air to glass surfaces are coated with multiple layers of AR coatings.
For rifle scope, the click is known as the unit of adjustment for windage or elevation. Per unit, the click is measured in MOA. Single click on turret makes an impact on scope point for ¼ MOA for 100 yards. This is standard. Some scope has the ability to set 1/8 or ½ MOA on per click.
Eye relief is the measurement of the distance of the eye from the ocular lens where still you are able to get a full FOV (Field of View). The standard measurement of eye relief should be 3.5 inches or above. This is the safe distance for not to get hurt on eyes or forehead by the impact vibration of the rifle after making a shot.
You will see a small bright circle in the center of eyepiece if you hold the scope at your arm’s length and pointed the objective lens against bright light. That is called exit pupil of the scope.
Exit pupil emits the light gathered by the objective lens. The larger diameter of the exit pupil, the brighter view of the image, will be. It is the most important factor while choosing rifle scope for your game.
Exit pupil is the most significant factor in line with low light hunting condition where you need enough light to see the image like the naked eye. It is the virtual aperture for the gun optical system.
How to calculate the exit pupil for your scope?
Some rifle has mentioned the exit pupil size on its specification or its featured description. But If it is missing, or you are unable to find it then no need to worry. It is a very simple math to calculate the exit pupil size of a rifle scope by its given optical magnification range and objective lens diameter data. The following formula is used to calculate the exit pupil size of a lens
Exit Pupil = Objective lens diameter ÷Magnification
Example 1: What is the exit pupil size for an 8x42mm fixed power scope?
Exit Pupil = 42 ÷ 8 =5.30. So, an 8x power scope with 42mm lens will give you an exit pupil for 5.30mm diameter.
Example 2: What is the exit pupil size for a 1.5-6x 20 mm, variable power scope?
Allow me to use a chart for this calculation.
|Exit Pupil = Objective lens diameter Magnification|
|Objective Lens Diameter||Magnification Level||Exit Pupil|
|20 mm||1.5||13.33 mm|
|20 mm||2||10 mm|
|20 mm||3||6.67 mm|
|20 mm||4||5 mm|
|20 mm||5||4 mm|
|20 mm||6||3.33 mm|
So, variable power scope will give you different exit pupil diameter size at various magnification level. Like at 1.5x magnification level the exit pupil diameter will be 13.33 mm which is too large and will give you enough light to see your target clearly. Alternatively, at 6x magnification level it will provide you with an exit pupil for 3.33 mm diameter.
Is larger exit pupil help?
The bigger exit pupil won’t make any difference if it is larger than your pupil’s diameter.
To understand this issue, you need to know the exit pupil for the human being. Science reveals that human eye’s pupil diameter varies in different light condition.
On day time at bright light conditions, a human pupil is about 2-3mm diameter. But on low light condition human eye pupil size enlarge up to 7mm (average) to collect more lights to see the image clearly.
|Average Human Eye Pupil Diameter At Different Age|
|Age (Years)||Day Pupil (mm)||Night Pupil (mm)|
Data Source: wikipedia.org
So, the ideal exit pupil greatly depends on the condition where you are going to use the scope.
Let simplify this issue with an example. If you grab a scope with 1.5-6x20mm and at day time you set the magnification level to 2x, then the exit pupil will be 10mm (use the exit pupil calculation table) which means the exit pupil will be larger than your pupil. As such, situation more than half of the light will not reach at your retina as because your iris will block all those light. So, in the bright light condition, you will not see any significant difference for large exit pupil.
On the other hand, you pupil will be 7mm diameter where this ample amount of light will help you to see the image more clearly like naked eye even it is the low light condition.
Moreover, if the exit pupil is small then you eye pupil then you will receive a dark image as the scope will provide you less amount of light because of the smaller exit pupil. Such like, an 8x20mm scope will give you a 2.5mm exit pupil, and it will provide you with the dark image in low light condition as human eye pupil will be 7mm at low light condition.
Field of View (FOV)
Field of View (F.O.V.) is the area of your surroundings which you can see through your rifle scope. F.O.V. is measured in feet, yards, meters or degrees. The standard measurement for F.O.V. is feets in 100 yard.
The FOV has an inverse relationship with the magnification level of your rifle scope. The more you zoom in the narrow FOV will be and vice versa. If you consider FOV at degrees than it means that how wide a slice of your surroundings you can see through your rifle scope. The degree will remain constant at any given distance.
For example, a 4x variable rifle scope may have an FOV of 30 feets at 100 yards. It will be around 14 feets if you zoom in at 9x level.
Points to remember that the size of objective lens will not change FOV figures as it is directly correlated to the construction of the eyepiece.
The bullet released from a gun barrel does not travel straight to the point of impact due to the law of gravity. The longer the distance is the pallet is tending to move lower instead of going straight. The Holdover or Hold under is the term of adjusting the crosshairs above or below without adjusting the scope to the intended point of impact depending on the shooting distance. It is important to reduce the parabolic trajectory.
Light transmission is the percentage of light that transmitted through the scope from available light source. A scope cannot pass all the available light and always loose a percentage of light in the transmission process. Quality scopes have the ability to transmit 98% of light from available light and are quite expensive. 95% light transmission rate is considered as great where most of the average scope has 90% light transmission ability.
The important factor is as the magnification level increases the less light is available through the eyepiece and larger the objective lens can transmit more light through the eyepiece.
Magnification is the power of your scope lens to stretch the target image to give you a closer look at your target. Magnification level of a scope is defined by a number or series of number. Those numbers represent the power of the scope.
There are two types of scopes available on market: fixed Power and variable power. Fixed power scope can give a specific level of magnification where a variable power scope can give a range of magnification level.
For example, a fixed power 9X scopes mean it can stretch the image 9 times larger that can be seen by naked eyes. Where a 3-9X variable power scope can magnify an image 3-9 times larger than as that can be seen by naked eyes.
Minute of Angle (MOA)
On a rifle scope, we are making windage and elevation adjustments using turrets. These adjustments are known as clicks. Clicks are normally done in Minutes of Angle (MOA).
MOA is a unit of measurement of a circle. It is 1.047 inch at per 100 yards. For ease of practical application, generally, it is assumed as 1 inch per 100 yards. As the target moves further away from the point of origin the MOA gets larger.
For example, consider the MOA with a slice of pizza. As you move forward from the centre to the crust the slice becomes wider.
So, MOA is 1 inch at 100 yards, 3 inches at 300 yards, ½ inch at 50 yards and so on.
Most of the Scope’s turrets have a click adjustment for a ¼ inch at 100 yards which mean each click on elevation or windage turret will move the point of impact for a ¼ inch at 100 yards. For 200 yards the point will move for ½ inch.
Now, if a bullet impact is 4 inches lower from the actual point of impact at 100 yards and the scope turrets have an adjustment with ¼ minute clicks then you have to click the turrets in the upward direction for 16 times. If the distance is 200 yards then the adjustment needs 8 clicks or 32 clicks at 50 yards distance. But this calculation obviously depends on the trajectory of the bullet.
Parallax is an optical illusion where the reticle position on the target appears moving when the shooter moves eyes from the centre of the exit pupil to left or right or up or down.
Parallax normally occurs when the image is formed either in front of or behind the reticle.
If the reticle remains same of the target though your eyes change the position then it is in parallax free position. But if the reticle moves from the target position with the change of your eyes position then it is called parallax error.
Parallax error is normally common in long range variable power scope. Most of the scopes are parallax free at 100 yards.
Nowadays, high power variable power scopes are come up the adjustable objective bell or side mount turret to adjust the parallax with specific range and magnification level.
The power of a scope denotes the magnification strength of a rifle scope. For example, a 5x powered scope has the ability to magnify an image 5 times of the original image. It means the target object will appear 5 times larger through the scope in compared to be seen by naked eyes.
Resolution is the ability of a scope to provide the small details of an image. The more details a scope can read the sharper image it will provide. Resolution of a scope is determined by the quality of the lens, coating, precision manufacturing, weather condition and the visual ability of the shooter.
A reticle is referred as the aim point in the FOV of a rifle scope. It is also commonly known as a crosshair.
There are different types reticles available on the market know as Nikoplex, fine crosshair, mildot, german, point blank, precision, superSub etc. All provides the same basic aim point.
Thicker reticles are good for the busy background where the fine crosshair is will give you a minimum level of subtention.
Subtention is the area of a target that is covered by the reticle. Minimum subtention is better.
Reticle can be located in the first plane or the second plane of a rifle scope. The size of reticle located on the first plane will increase as the magnification level goes up but the reticle located on the second plane will remain same as the magnification level goes up. So, reticle located on the second plane has the minimum subtension in compared to reticle located on the first plane.
The trajectory is the flight of bullet after leaving the barrel. A bullet does not flight straight rather its flight is an arc. The arc elevation depends on bullet velocity, gravity and aerodynamic drag. Bullet trajectory is also known as bullet path.
Turrets are the adjustment knobs located on the outside of scope tube. It is used to make necessary changes to zero a scope at a particular distance. Nowadays, three types of turrets are available in the rifle scope, but two types are common in all rifle scope.
1. Windage Adjustment Turret
2. Elevation Adjustment Turret
3. Parallax Adjustment Turret (Occasionally seen)
Turrets have prescribed increments level for per click adjustment. Normally it is ¼ MOA per click. Some turrets can be adjusted by bare hand like rotating the knob where for some have to use a coin or small screwdriver.
The twilight factor of a rifle scope is the efficiency measurement for the performance in low light conditions.
Higher the twilight factor, better performance of the scope for low light condition. This ability is entirely dependent on coating and lens quality.
Formula for calculating twilight factor is –
√(power of the scope x objective lens diameter)
i.e. twilight factor is the square root of objective lens diameter and the magnification power of a scope.
Example: 8x32mm scope twilight factor is √8×32=16
Example: 10x42mm scope twilight factor is √10×42=20.50
But experts say, a good quality lens with quality coatings will outstand twilight factor. So, it is advisable not to relay fully on twilight factor calculation rater it is necessary to ensure the quality of lens and coating.
Zeroing Rifle Scope
Zeroing a hunting rifle means aligning the rifle scope reticle with the point of impact so that the bullet hits exactly where a shooter aimed and fire at a specific distance. It will save time and ammunition of a shooter.
For the technological and constructional aspect, it is not possible to manipulate or change the path of a bullet. But a sight can be adjusted by using windage and elevation turret for the perfect match between aim and point of impact. An adjusted reticle will assist your eyes to know where the bullet is going to hit at a specific distance.
A bullet does not have a parallel flight in line with the line of sight due to gravity, aerodynamic drag and velocity of the bullet. Gravity pulls down as the bullet exits from the barrel.
In the process of zeroing the adjustment is done to match the intersect point of the scope reticle and the bullet’s parabolic path. The intersect point of both are known as zero for a specific distance. Normally rifle scopes are zeroed for 100 yards or 150 yards.
Key Fact: Most useful zero depends on the bullet’s trajectory and the range of shooting.
Different Types of Gun Scope
Gun sight and scope both have the same purpose: aim assistance. But both of them are not same. The difference is that a rifle scope has the magnification level which can stretch the target image where the gun sight doesn’t have any magnification power.
Gun sights are simple in construction. Some gun sights are also looked like scope lenses.
Different types of gun sights
Open Sights: Open sight requires aligning the rear panel and the front panel to aim a shot. Open sights are visually looked like iron sight where rear panel is looked like U or V and front panel is a vertical point.
Aperture Sights: This is similar to open sight but used a ring on the rear panel which is used to align with the front panel within the ring to aim at the target.
Red Dot Sights: This sight illuminated a red dot on the image of the target.
Laser Sights: This light is like red dot sight but it throws laser beam on a target.
Different types of scopes
Variable Power Scopes: It offers a range of magnification level for the scope power which can be lower down and increase as per user requirement. For example, 2-8x42mm scope means the scope provides a magnification level from 2 times to 8 times with a 42mm objective lens. It means the scope can stretch the target image 2 times to 8 times than naked eyes viewing.
Fixed Scopes: Fixed scopes also come up with magnification power but it does not allow the user to adjust the magnification level. For example, 8x42mm scope means the scope can stretch an image 8 times than actual size with a 42 mm objective lens.
How To Read The Numbers Of A Rifle Scope
The rifle scope is a great optical device. It gives the ease to the shooter to focus on the target accurately, it can magnify the image. For iron sight, it needs to stay focus on the target and at the same time need to line up between the rear sight and front sight for the accurate shooting. By using rifle scope a shooter can easily relief from that complexity.
The ability of a scope is written in a numeric form on the scope’s specification. Those numbers tell you about the size of objective lens and power of the scope. It’s very important to read and understand the numerical value of the scope to define the ability of scope.
[easyazon_link identifier=”B00B0BBPES” locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”bestscopeguide-20″ cart=”y” cloak=”n” localize=”y” popups=”y”]Carl Zeiss Optical Conquest HD5 5-25×50 Rapid-Z 1000 Ballistic Reticle Rifle Scope[/easyazon_link]
Suppose you are in a gun store to purchase this high-quality Zeiss scope for your new purchased rifle. Before need to make the purchase decision, you need to understand the ability of the scope to prove its the value for your money.
How to Read the ability of this scope:Look at this number “5-25×50” because it will interpret the ability of the scope. This is a variable power scope which has the ability to magnify an image at very different level. The first and second number just before letter “X” is the power of the scope. It means this scope has the ability to magnify the target image from 5 times to 25 times. This denotes that the scope lens can magnify the image 5 times to 25 times larger than seen by naked eyes.
The last number “50” interprets that it has a 50mm object lens. Earlier in this article, we already describe that the larger the diameter of an objective lens the more light it can transmit to the ocular lens. More light means better and clear image.
[easyazon_link identifier=”B004NKY6DU” locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”bestscopeguide-20″ cart=”y” cloak=”n” localize=”y” popups=”y”]Bushnell Elite Tactical Mil-Dot 10x40mm SFP Reticle LRS Rifle Scope[/easyazon_link]
Like the above Carl Zeiss scope, this is also a great scope to have in the arsenal. But this is a fixed power scope.
How to Read the ability of this scope:
Look at this number “10x40mm” because it will interpret the ability of this scope.
This is a fixed power scope which will magnify the image only at a specific level. The number “10” just before letter “X” is the power of the scope. It means this scope has the ability to magnify the target image by 10 times. This denotes that the scope lens can magnify the image 10 times larger than seen by naked eyes.
The last number “40” interprets that it has a 40mm object lens.
What Is Best In Which Condition
It is obvious that you will not buy a 15-inch size tire for 17-inch size rim for your Nissan GTR sports car. It will not only look funny but also a pure waste of money.
If I want to buy a scope then I just let flow my knowledge and common sense to make a decision. This article already gives you enough information to get all the basic knowledge about rifle scope. Now it’s time to build up some common sense about how to choose a perfect rifle.
There are several things to consider choosing best rifle scope for you like price range, optical quality, technical specification etc.
For time being, let’s forget about price and focus on technical configuration of scope i.e. magnification range, objective lens etc. Because technical configurations will ultimately decide the price of a quality scope.
The only common sense for finding a perfect rifle scope is its usage. Means for what range of shooting you are going to buy the scope.
If you are planning to shoot for Pierre dog (i.e. target is small) at a far distance then you will need a high powered scope that can magnify the image more. But opposite of this argument is if the long range shooting is not a regular part of your game then you needs to an all-rounder scope which you can use for short range shooting and long range as well.
For a short range shooting, a 7x to 8x powered scope is well enough. Anything more than this is unnecessary. But if long range shooting is your game time then you will need a high powered scope. Like for shooting at 200 yards distance, you will need a scope which has 12x magnifying power.
I see most of the people always choose a high powered scope. Large size scope and high powered specification have an inherent appeal to people. They don’t even consider about their type of game.
Yeah! It’s true that there are lots of scopes are available now in the market. But you have to believe and understand that all the scopes don’t have the same application and not every shooting needs a high powered scope. Not all the high power scope like 10x or 12x suited for all condition. Similarly, all the all round scope can not give you a comfort for a long range shooting. You have to trade off between two considerable adjustments.
For example, if your shooting range is 300 yard then a 6x powered scope will be considerably good for you. At 6x power, the object image will be as like an object at 50 yards in naked eyes. So, there is no point to buy a high powered scope like 12x.
Most professional hunters suggest that Mid-Range scopes like 3-9×40 and 2.5-10×40 are the useful configuration for rifles used in big game hunting. Because those scopes can offer the highest field of view (FOV) and sufficient magnification power to have a clear aim on a deer size target from a considerable long range distance.
Another misconception is that most people think a scope can replace the needs of a binocular. It’s wrong. If a binocular or a spotter is used for the observation purpose and a scope will give you an edge for aiming at your target. The idea is simple, if you want to see more details of your target then you have to use sighting device, not a rifle scope.
Sometimes more consideration needs to take if you are planning to go for hunting at mountain area. Normally, hunting in a mountain area you need to travel uphill or downhill where you have to carry light weight rifle with a light weight scope. So, when you are choosing your rifle scope, you have to consider your game environment also. A 3-9×40 is considered as a good configuration as a light weight scope.
Mountain hunters also consider carrying a TWEENER SCOPE for their mountain rifle which is much lighter. This type of scope is configured as 2-7×32 which have a little magnification power compared to 3-9×40. But still, it can provide you with a wider field of view (FOV) and light weight features. For wider FOV, this tweener scope is also a good choice for the forest hunter where you have to shoot at medium range but have to aim among a lot of details.
But if you want to go beyond 300 yards range then you need more scope power than the 3-9x40mm scope. 4-12x42mm, 3-15x42mm, 3-16x42mm etc. scopes are good configuration with a considerable wider field of view (FOV).
Here are some scope configuration suggestions for specific application (hopefully this will help you to find your scope)-
|Application||Suggested Rifle Scope Configuration|
|50-300 Yards Deer Hunting Game||
|Mountain Hunting With Light Weight Rifle||
|Close Range Hunting In Wooded Areas||
|DGR (Dangerous Game Rifle)||
|400 Yards Range Open Plains Hunting||
|Low Light Condition||
|Tactical / SHTF With AR15 Rifle||
|Coyote Size Varmint Hunting||
|Varmint Hunting At Long Range (For Smaller Size Varmint like Pierre Dog, Coon etc.)||
|Mid-Long Range Shooting||
10 Steps To Mount A Rifle Scope
Firearm optics is the cosmic beauty that increases the shooting accuracy. Without a scope, a shooter needs to give the effort to align rear sight and front sight along with a consistent focus to have an accurate shot.
A good scope is definitely an added quality to a rifle. But even a quality scope can be proved as useless if it’s not mounted properly. Proper mounting is the key for perfection in aim and shoot. A poorly attached scope can just keep swivelling around which can affect your bullet’s actual impact and rifle’s performance.
Fortunately mounting a scope is not a rocket science. Anyone can do it and no need to go to the gunsmiths and pay for it.
1. Next few section on rifle scope mounting is written with an assumption that the rifle was already drilled for a scope base setup
2. You have already purchased the correct base and rings for your rifle. Three different height rings are available in market – low, medium and high. The rule of thumb for a scope’s good performance is it should be mounting as low as possible without touching the rifle. After mounting a scope, you should be able to use the rifle bolt without any complexity.
3. You needs scope mounting tools and a gun holder may be a gun cradle or padded bench.
4. The rifle should be unloaded. For me removing the rifle bolt is the safest way to ensure the safety.
Let’s start the scope mounting process…..
It is advisable to be sure that you have all the items required for the mounting process. I strongly recommend to do a small investment and get a [easyazon_link identifier=”B002PQKGSI” locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”bestscopeguide-20″ cart=”y” cloak=”n” localize=”y” popups=”y”]WHEELER SCOPE MOUNTING KIT[/easyazon_link]for the scope mounting process. It will give you all the necessary tools. I can assure that you will not be regretted this investment. For the visual aid please set the gun vise or padded bench in good light condition.
This is a beginner guideline for scope mounting. Points to remember, the basic installation process for most of the scope is same. But you are advised to read the manufacturer guideline for any specific precaution or instructions.
Step 01: normally rifles are pre-drilled for scope base settings or may be grooved fro mounting. So please be sure that you have purchased the proper mounting items for your rifle and scope.
Please do a trial fit of the mounting rings around the scope to be sure that they fit your scope bases. Because scope rings are now available in different shapes, heights which may confuse you.
Step 02: Degrease the mounting parts i.e. rings, screws, base, screw holes with light fluid like spirits, acetone or crud cutter and wipe the parts with a dry cloth. After drying the parts, apply a thin layer of oil on the top of the receiver (where the base for your scope will set), on the rings and bases to prevent from rusting.
Step 03: Align the base and receiver screw holes and tight all screws individually. You may use Loctite screw on the base. Be sure that bases are installed on the receiver properly. You may use thread-lock for more durability. Don’t use too short screws or even too long screws. They may interfere your bolt actions or leave your base in the loose state. Never overtighten the screws threads as this have the risk of breaking the screw heads.
Step 04: After successfully installing the base, now it’s time to install the rings bottom half to the base. Please follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Some rings like Leupold, Redfield etc need to twist 90 degrees. Caution: Please don’t use your scope tube to twist the ring as by doing so you can easily bend the scope tube structure. You can use a 1” wooden dowel or pipe to twist the ring. For other rings, you just need proper size screwdriver or wrench to tighten the rings.The number of torques for windage or cross-bolt screws also varies by manufacturing quality. Please give attention for this to the scope packaging information or instruction on it.
Step 05: Before placing the scope on the ring surface, give layer inside on the ring inner bed with electrician’s tape to prevent the scope from getting a scratch.
Step 06: Now it’s time to check the ring alignment before placing the scope. Misaligned rings create pressure on the scope and can do damage to your scope.
If you already have a [easyazon_link identifier=”B002PQKGSI” locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”bestscopeguide-20″ cart=”y” cloak=”n” localize=”y” popups=”y”]WHEELER SCOPE MOUNTING KIT[/easyazon_link] then you will find a scope ring alignment tool there. If you don’t have then I strongly recommend buying one. Scope alignment tool is normally 2 pcs 1” tube with a pointed end. Simply put on the alignment tool on the installed ring halves and put on the top halves of the rings. Now move the alignment tool rods & make the pointed ends touch each other. If properly aligned, pointed tips should be on the similar horizontal line.
Step 07: Once your bottom ring halves are aligned properly, you can remove the top halves of the ring and place the scope on bottom halves of the ring. Before tightening the screws, you need to set up the scope properly to ensure proper eye relief for you.
Please don’t neglect this part. Because letting scope to close to your eyes may cause a scope bite when the rifle comes back under recoil after having a shoot. 3” to 4” eye relief is the standard measurement. So, position the scope accordingly. Our suggestion is to set the scope 1” forward from the standard expected eye relief.
Step 08: Don’t tighten the screw of rings top halves now; still we have to do one more thing before that. Make sure the reticle of the scope is vertical.
Step 09: Now remove the bolt of your rifle and see through the bore at a 25 yards distance target and adjust your reticle accordingly so that the crosshair position and the target point seen through the bore are same. You can use a bore sighter (we recommend [easyazon_link identifier=”B001BVI982″ locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”bestscopeguide-20″ cart=”y” cloak=”n” localize=”y” popups=”y”]CARTRIDGE SIZED SIGHTMARK LASER BORE SIGHT[/easyazon_link]) for this process.
Step 10: Tighten the screws of top ring halves. But don’t do it too hard to crank down the screws. You can start patching the screws on the top halves proportionately so that the gap between two sides is even. Don’t push hard to minimize the gap. By doing so you may damage your scope. Make sure the screws are tight enough to hold the scope securely.
You have successfully finished mounting scope on your rifle. Now check the rifle performance. Successful and accurate mounting will not hinder the bolt action. And don’t forget to go check your scope ring screws occasionally.
Go and shoot. Have fun.
Sighting-in a Rifle Scope
You have successfully installed your rifle. Now it’s time to prepare your scope for aiming. This process is called sighting-in. This is the way where you will align your reticle with the target so that when you fire a bullet it will have an exact point of impact on the target where you aimed for. A perfect scope alignment process will give you enough confidence for a true shot.
Sighting-in or scope alignment is a practical process and needs more patience. In this process, we will use laser bore sighter to align reticle and bore target. You need to shoot in real time to adjust your scope reticle proportionately to sight in.
Now, for the bore sight and scope reticle alignment, find a suitable place where you can arrange a 100 yards target shooting range. Remember, every rifle is unique even if two rifles are consecutive of the same serial. It’s also true that no two identical rifles can shoot the same ammo under same performance benchmark. Bring different kinds of ammo with you. Because of a rifle can fire different kinds of ammo but for every ammunition, the performance will not same. You have to be sure that for which ammunition your rifle can perform better.
Place the bore sighter on the rifle barrel. Adjust and line up the scope reticle with the laser point of bore sighter. Use your windage and elevation turret knob and try until they match.
Now comes the practice part. At this point, you need to shoot for real to check whether your aim and target match or not. Don’t be disgraced if you are not able to make contact between them for first few shot.
Before start firing, don’t forget to remove the bore sighter from your rifle otherwise firing your rifle without removing the bore sighter can damage your rifle or you can be injured seriously.
Set up your target at 100 yards distance. Now aim and shoot at the centre of the target. Check and note where your shot has the impact. Use the turret knobs to adjust the reticle according to your shot impact. For example, if you find your shot impact is on above the centre of your target then use the elevation know to down the scope’s reticle.
Shoot again. Check the impact and fine tune to adjust your scope settings accordingly. This is a whole trial and error process. You need to fire your rifle several times in this process. Once you hit the centre, you have successfully finished the sight in of your rifle scope.
Best Rifle Scope brands
Gun scope market is now just like smartphone industry. Every year new models are coming and lure you with new features which are more powerful, updated glass and coating, stylish design etc. But for me, it’s like old champagne in a new bottle. When you are visiting the gun shop, you can find lots of scope models lying next to each other. They are manufactured by various companies with unique brands. Not all brands can offer you the perfection that you need. If you ask me them my answer is there are few top rated scope brands that you can buy even by closing your eyes.
Leupold has started its journey since 1907. The company was founded by Fred Leupold and Adam Volpel who were brothers-in-law in relation. Later on in 1914 legendary J.C. Stevens joined the company. Leupold is a 100 years old fifth-generation company which is engaged in designing and manufacturing quality optical instruments. In 1947, Leupold invented first fog-proof scope. This leading company started to supply scopes for US Marine Crops and Navy SEALs in 1985. So, this can prove how LEUPOLD is able to satisfy our needs with quality and trust.
Leupold’s Scope Line –
Redfield was founded by John H Redfield in 1908 with a vision “NO-nonsense optics for everyone”. This company is known as the manufacturer of the top-notch gun optical equipment. Redfield scopes aspire millions of hunters with a trust for accurate and reliable gun scopes. In 2008, famous Leupold & Stevens, Inc take over Redfield brand along with all the intellectual property related with Redfield.
Redfield product line: Scopes, Rangefinders, Binoculars, Spotting Scopes. Its REVOLUTION series scope gives you the confidence of consistent accuracy. Revolution series scopes are available on 2-4x33mm, 3-9x40mm, 3-9x50mm, 4-12x40mm specs.
Sightmark is relatively a new brand name in the rifle scope arena. The company was founded in 2007. But by this small span of time, they are manufacturing state-of-art gun optics for the modern firearms. Whenever we think about red dot sights, we have to recall Sightmark brand. Their latest Photon XT Digital Night Vision proves their commitment to providing the brilliance. Scopes and sights designed by Sightmark are lightweight. Their slogan”Make Your Mark” clearly defines their commitment to manufacturing the durable, accurate optic for the shooters that they can trust.
Burris was founded in 1971 by Don Burris, a former design engineer of Redfield. The company has invented non-magnifying reticle in variable power rifle scopes, 4—12x & 6-18x scopes, Wideview riflescope, accu-range trajectory compensating dual reticle scope. Burris scopes ranges are considered as value for money product by its user.
Bushnell is the industry leading sports optics manufacturer. The motto of the company is to provide high quality and most reliable & affordable products. Their customer service is good and has a big retail channel. As a result, they hold a large market share is sports optics industry. Bushnell is committed to its fans to innovate leading edge technology to provide the superior product for them.
As like other products of China, Barska scopes are inexpensive. Earlier this company was used to manufacture low-end scope for companies like Tasco, Bushnell etc. I will not say Barska produces high-quality scopes but in consider of the price their scopes has good features, moderate quality. For a beginner, Barska will be a good choice to get known with the rifle scope basics with a few dollar investments compared to a costly brand like Leupold, Nikon, Nightforce etc. But if you are a serious shooter and looking for a reliable and accurate shooting scope then I suggest you research some more before making any purchase decision.
Nikon is the big fish on the rifle scope industry with a long product line. Nikon builds scopes for every hunter. They not only produce high-end quality scopes like Monarch X but also basic line product like Buckmarks and ProStaff. Nikon optical quality is unbeaten and industry leading which will provide your great image for higher accuracy.
Zeiss is the sign of prestige in the optical industry for their top notch high-quality glass products. They are the leading brand in sports optics industry. Anyone will purchase an optical product in Zeiss brand even in blindfold condition. Zeiss prime quality glass transmits the maximum light in the rifle scopes which gives you the precision image that no other scope can provide. You can feel the difference of every moment when you looks through a Zeiss Rifle Scope in compare with other scope brands. It’s an impeccable quality with a bearable pricing. As most of the Zeiss products are premium and high ends, it’s reasonable to see the higher prices on their products. You will never feel that your Zeiss products are not worth of what you spent.
If you ever see the price tag of any Nightforce rifle scope then you may already know what a Nightforce scope is. If not then it is the most premium quality riflescopes in the market that manufactured tremendous quality products by using the latest technology and have a precise testing process. Each of Nightforce Rifle Scope is committed to giving you high standard quality and durability which is desired by every shooter.
According to Nightforce –
“Every rifle scope is the sum of the total of two and a half decades of dedication to exhaustive research, in-depth field testing and design improvements. It means every rifle scope is born from a passion to create the finest, most reliable optic you can buy.”
To ensure the product quality, Nightforce Scope has to go through a very rigorous testing process which includes saltwater, sand, dust, mud and extreme temperatures. To prove the waterproof property, every Nightforce scopes are submerged to 100 feet below water for 24 hours. For extreme weather condition test, the scopes are tested under -80 degrees to 250-degree temperatures. That’s why they claim their product as “Rugged.Reliable. Repeatable.”.
Eotech sight is based on the holographic idea. Over the year, this brand has proven their necessity in a combat operation. This is a military grade holographic sight the is known for its quality and effectiveness.
Schmidt and Bender
Schmidt and Bender are the most expensive series gun optics. These scopes are hand assembled by a most experienced professional of the industry. In mid-1900 the century, Schmidt and Bender started its journey. Over 50 years, this company has delivered a wide variety of scopes with greater accuracy and reliability. This is the only company which focused its business solely on the scope. You will not find any product other than scoped with the prestigious brand Schmidt and Bender.
Whenever we think about the scope quality then the brand name Swarovski must be in line. This brand does not offer any low quality or entry level riflescopes. They have offered only one quality and that is the best they can manufacture. If you judge the quality of Swarovski scopes on price then you may interpret them wrong. Because the pricing difference is based on the technology and features not the quality. Swarovski never compromises the quality.
Trijicon was founded in 1981 and is a leader in any light aiming system development. This company is world famous for advanced fibre optics, advanced riflescopes and sights. Trijicon provides a limited lifetime warranty for its aiming system.
Trijicon is a part of US Marine Corp, US Army, US Special Operations Forces, US Government etc. So, you have the enough reference to have faith on the aiming accuracy and dependability of this brand.
“Vortex – Force of Optics”
Vortex optics is well known for the finest optics manufacturer based in the USA. They provide multi-layer coated superior glasses for delivering the unbeatable high-quality image. Vortex optics riflescopes are versatile and will give you repeatable accuracy in any condition.
Vortex delivers a wide variety of aiming device for any user like hunter, law enforcement officer, target shooter or personal defence. Vortex Scopes will give you a long eye relief, adjustable MOA turrets, fast focus eyepiece which is come up with 1 inch or 30 mm tube. Body construction of vortex rifle scope is on the solid one-piece aircraft-grade aluminium alloy that ensures the maximum durability and protection of inner tube spare parts.
Choosing the Best Rifle Scope
Choosing the best rifle scope depends on various factors. Normally, if you have fixed your budget and the configuration of your rifle scope then it will be an easier process to select the best scope for you. But though you choosing a rifle scope is a straight forward process you may find yourself in a complex position to choose the best one for you.
We have already covered all those basic information needed to know about rifle scope which will give you tremendous support when you are buying a gun optics for you. If you have no budget constraint than it will be easy for you to get the premium level scope for your rifle. But I feel that is unnecessary and a true waste of your money. You may pay a bill of $2K for your scope but it may be not for your game type at all. You may purchase a scope that is just over for your necessity.
We have developed an algorithm by identifying some basic questions that may be useful for you to identify the right scope for your firearm.
Question 01: What is your budget?
Cut your clothes according to your coat or cut your coat according to your cloth. All the same when you are budgeting for your riflescope. You need to set your budget first on how much you want to spend on your scope. It’s funny to have a $50.00 scope on your $1,000.00 rifle. Experts suggest that you scope price should be half of what your rifle costs.
Schmidt and Bender, Nightforce, Zeiss etc. all make premium quality optical equipment. They can give you superb target image with finer accuracy. But they are expensive. It’s hard for a newbie to invest such a big amount on a rifle scope. I also don’t recommend you to buy such one like them using your personal savings if you are new in firearm world. Though they are good, they are superb but still, it may not suit you, for now, to go for them.
Don’t think about to show off. Just forget your prestige and buy what is actually you need. I know there are lots of people they can spend thousand of bucks to buy scope but still, it will give you a premium quality scope that may be you don’t need now for your usage.
Some people are out there with their favourite brands and configuration. Vortex will give you lifetime warranty while Zeiss can give your best quality scope. Nowadays, most manufacturers offer a range scopes from budget to professional. Before going to buy, just have a look over different websites for the review and ratings.
It’s better to have a budget scope rather than having no scope. On the other hand, it’s also better to practice using a low-end scope than no practice with a professional scope.
Question 02: What type of game you prefer?
Once you set your budget then you have solved 60% of your decision as the rest of questions are just straight forward if you read this article. Because this article already gives you enough theory to understand the technical specification of riflescopes.
If you like to shoot at 100 yards then it is not justified to buy a scope suitable long range shooting. For example, if you are planning to shoot 200 yards using a 5x magnification then the target object will appear 4 times closer to you which means the target is just 50 yards from you as to the naked eyes.
What this means is buying high configured scope which is not according to your shooting range will benefit you for nothing. Normally, 3-9x40mm scope is well enough for mid-range shooting game. But if you are buying a 4-16x50mm scope for a 100 yards shooting game then it’s obvious that either you are wasting your resources and you don’t know about your requirement or you just don’t know how to measure a scope performance.
Question 03: What will the extreme light condition of you prefer game?
Lighting condition influences your shot impact at great extent. Under low light, you need more light transmission through your riflescope. The more light transmission a riflescope has the clearer image it will deliver to you.
We have already discussed the role of the objective lens, exit pupil in low light condition. Larger the objective lens is the more light transmission through the scope. Moreover, the size of objective lens and scope magnification power has a direct impact on the exit pupil size. As we already discussed above that size of exit pupil determines the image quality of a scope under different light condition.
Scopes like 3-12x42mm, 4-16x42mm, 3-15x42mm, 4-16x50mm, 2.5-10x56mm, 3-12x56mm, 7x56mm, 8x56mm, 10-50x60mm, 6-24x50mm, 8-32×56, 6-24x50mm, 8-32x56mm, 10-50x60mm, 15-60x52mm,, 3-15x50mm, 5-25x56mm, 5-20×50 are perfect examples for the low light condition shooting which has the large objective lens with acceptable exit pupil.
Question 04: Is there any weight limitation?
Not everybody is practice for target shooting or going for hunting to High Mountain. The more distance you travel the more lightweight scope is needed. Because you will not just feel comfortable carry a heavy varmint hunting which weights almost 15-16 pounds all around with you. Lighter the rifle and scope are the better for you.
It’s a fact of consideration that it’s not only the rifle that goes along with you when you are going for hunting. Obviously, there are other lots of things that accompany you while you are planning to go for hunting. Your rifle weight is the determinant of you scope weight. The larger the scope is, the more weight it gets. For example, if you are planning to buy a 10-50x60mm scope then it is definitely going to weight more than 3-15x42mm scope as it has large objective lens size which makes it bulky and heavy.
Question 05: What will be you target size?
Target size, game type and shooting range this three are the most important determinant for how much power do you need. For example, a Pierre dog at 100 yards is almost invisible to naked eyes and need more magnification in rifle scope to aim at them whereas you can easily spot and aim at a grizzly bear at 300 yards. This means if your target size is small then you need a high powered scope.
Question 06: What is the shooting range for your preferred game?
Shooting range also determines the optimum power level for your scope. If you are planning to shot at 50 yards then you may not need any riflescope at all. But this also depends on the target size. But what if you want to shot at 300 or 500 yard where a grizzly bear also looks like a racoon or coyote. The longer the shooting range is the more power and light you need to place a shot. Another thing to remember, when you are planning to buy a scope for long range shooting then you have to remember some factors like reticle selection, trajectory and parallax.
Question 07: What will be weather condition for your game?
Considering the hunting weather condition is one of the most important factors. It is very difficult to make an accurate shot if you are hunting is a rainy or cold weather where fog or water in scope lens may make it difficult. The same consideration has to be accounted when you are going to hunt in a hot climate in open plains where mirage effect. Lens coating is the considerable factor as such case. A lens with Hydrophobic Coating will help to repellent water and fog on glass and help to have a clear view in rainy or cold weather. If you are going to hunt is mountain area or desert then you may need a lens with Abrasion Resistant Coating.
Question 08: How much Recoil the scope has to handle?
Recoil is the backwards and forward movements or vibration of the rifle after making a shot. If your rifle has a greater level of recoil then you have to consider repeatability of the scope.
If your rifle has much recoil then it is not wise to put usual hunting rifle scope on it. Because, under heavy recoil, the rifle moves forward and backwards which may cause of displacement of the reticle from its alignment.
So it is worth to choose an appropriate scope as per recoil ration to match rifle recoil. Recoil rating of a scope can be identified as no recoil, low recoil, medium recoil or high recoil which defines the scope resistance at the different level of rifle recoil. Some rifle like .22-250 doesn’t recoil much but air rifle has a lot of recoil as for its unique construction.
“Good Work Ain’t Cheap, Cheap Work Ain’t Good.” – Norman Keith Collins
You may think to spend around $50 for your riflescope. Yeah, it’s okay as long as you don’t believe that cheap scope with good configuration is not reliable, dependable and durable in compare with the quality scopes which are expensive.
Quality is not cheap. Once you buy then you realise that your cheap scope may not have the precise adjustment for the fine tuning or may be vulnerable to the probable various mechanical problem.
It’s also true that you can also find a good scope at a mid-range price which is quite dependable and reliable according to expectation. But it also depends on your kind of game.
3 reasons why you have to avoid cheap scope –
Quality Control – It’s often found that cheap scope has the flaw in their quality control processes which ultimately reduce the dependability of the product. Think about Nightforce Scope. They priced over $2,000.00 and now look how they ensure their quality control. Their quality control process has extreme weather test, sand test, water pressure test, salt water test, mud test. That’s a lot right. That’s why good and strict quality control process cannot offer your cheap price.
Construction Quality – if you examine a premium quality scope and cheap scope then you can feel the difference between their manufacturing processes including glass quality, coating quality, image quality, product finishing etc. Once you feel the difference then it’s going to be hard to go for a cheap scope.
Scope Configuration – if you are looking for specific configuration on your riflescope then it’s better to prepare for spending more bucks for it. Please remember Quality and affordability has the reverse relationship.
Technology is changing drastically every day, new innovations are being made too frequently. So, features that were impossible to think 20 years back are too much easy now. If you are looking for the same quality scope which is priced for $4,000.00 in a $250.00 scope then it’s obvious that you are playing with the reliability, repeatability, dependability and durability of the scope.
Nowadays, markets are flooded with different brands and models of scope. Some are expensive while some are just me too product.
If you think about Zeiss, Nightforce, Swarovski, Schmidt and Bender etc. is very much expensive. But in the quality matter, they are just King. I have used some of them and my opinion is they are just getting a super quality with a less price. You just can’t image how greatly they differ from those so called cheap scopes.
I don’t ask to buy those expensive brands but it may be worth to set a sweet spot between your affordability and quality to define the best quality.
After all, quality matters.
My true advice is to go for the mid-range price products which are the second best choice for you. They are second because their performance may be just slightly differing from the premium one. Never allow your price limit the quality of a rifle scope because it may be the costly mistake to make.
Some suggestions to set the budget for the best rifle scope –
- Good quality scopes will not be cheap.
- Never allow your price decision to trade off with quality.
- If you need specific configuration then you need to prepare to spend extra bucks.
- If you want to make a sweet spot between your affordability and scope quality then cut down the extra features but not the generic features.
- Do read some reviews and customer ratings before making your purchase decision.
Secrets of Choosing Best Rifle Scope is such a long article. I want to express our heartiest thanks for being stick with us. In this article, I tried to cover the important factors that are necessary to choose the rifle scope. I hope your valuable comments to fine tune this article. Because my belief is “Together We Make Things Better”. If you find this article useful then please don’t forget to share or tweet this article in your community.