Bigger Is Not Always Better

Make It Easy

Today folks who enjoy using rifles, handguns and shotguns are using riflescopes, or optical sighting devices, more than not.  The reason, which is an excellent one, is that sights make shooting more simple than it used to be with having to line up iron sights.  Iron sights require lining up both front and rear sights with the target whereas all that's required with a scope is to get the target in the crosshairs.  The fact that most sighting scopes magnify as well, making the target appear much closer and easier to see, makes hitting that target that much easier.  Even if your eyesight isn't what is used to be, it's possible to adjust the ocular to focus to your needs, eliminating frustration and shots that are off.

Overkill (Pardon the Pun)

One of the big challenges with today's sights, however, is that as they are being built with higher power - as well as having cartridges which are more powerful as well - shooters are using equipment which is, pardon the pun, overkill.  Manufacturers will produce anything they think there is a good market for, so as people have clamored for more power, they've gladly supplied it.  Consequently, a situation in which a 3-9 scope is more than sufficient now finds the hunter using a scope with fourteen, twenty or more magnification.  For instance, hunting white tail deer with a three power affords enough light transmission and field of view for the close shots normally taken in this kind of hunting while the nine power gives you enough magnification for long shots.  Most shots for deer are within a hundred yard range.  Many people are now choosing scopes with higher magnification which can be a mistake.  Three power simply means that the object you're focusing on appears three times closer than it does with the naked eye and fourteen power means - right - fourteen times closer.  Hold that thought. 

High Magnification and Distortion

Consider also that high magnification reduces the amount of available light and the low end of the high magnification scope is too powerful to get a close range shot.  When targeting a whitetail rifle, the scope should be kept on the lowest power.  If your lowest power happens to be five or six, then looking through the scope is like looking at an elephant through a knothole, all you see is fur and blur.  In spite of the hype, it's more important to know how low the scope goes than how high it goes.  Shooting far with low power is very doable; shooting close with high power is not.

High power scopes also have poor light transmission since the field of vision is so small.  Scopes, rather than gathering light as some people believe, actually transmit available light through the lenses to the eye and the transmission tends to lose some light in the process.  The very expensive and best scopes can offer 98% light transmission, in theory.  95% plus is considered great and most scopes tend to be around 90%.