Rifle Scopes 101 - An Overview

Whether you're a novice shooter or an expert, a scope can be a helpful tool for hunting, target practice and other purposes.  A rifle scope sits on top of the rifle and allows the shooter to see more precisely at further distances.  The power of the scope can range a great deal, from 1.5 times the magnification to 50 times for conventional rifles.

How Do You Use a Scope?

A riflescope can be helpful for many purposes.  If you love hunting game and want to be able to see longer distances, or want to be able to zero in on your target at dusk, then a scope can help out.  If you enjoy shooting practice and want to ensure accuracy, then a scope is also helpful.  The best rifle scopes are extremely light in weight, rugged and precise.  They come from companies that make outstanding optics products and that specialize in rifle scopes and other optics instruments. When you first get the scope, you'll have to zero the scope.  This means that you'll determine how far off target your bullet landed, and then adjust the scope based on this amount.  Most scopes come with windage and elevation knobs that can help you to compensate for inaccuracies.   They also have mil-dot or ballistiplex reticle which enables you to line up a shot at distances that are even further than the zeroed point.

How Do You Select a Scope?

When choosing a scope, you'll certainly want to evaluate your purpose.  Are you going to be using it mostly during the daylight hours?  Are you hunting large animals by dusk?  Are you using it for target practice primarily?  Each of these factors will play a part in determining the right scope for your needs.  

1. Variable Power - If you can afford it, in most situations, it's recommended to buy a variable-power scope.  This allows you to have a bright view on low power and to see a well-lit target better on high power.  Hunters need both less power and a larger view than do target shooters.  Since live targets move, you'll need a larger field of view as a hunter, so that you can keep your eye on the game.  Low-powered scopes have a wider field of view, and these are more ideal for hunters.  High-powered scopes, therefore, are better for target shooters.

2. Scope Magnification- Most people using rifles will be satisfied with a scope in the 2.5-10 magnification range.  A scope in this range allows for a large FOV at 2.5-4x for close shots on moving targets.  You can then power it up to between 8 and 10x to identify targets at longer range.  If you decide to go with a higher magnification, you will have less FOV and a smaller exit pupil.  Most people who are either shooting for sport or target practice will be fine with the 2.5-10 magnification range.

3. Tube Diameter - You'll find scopes that are available with 1-inch, 30mm, 34mm and 35mm tube diameters.  While it's true that the larger tube diameter allows for a sturdier scope and more adjustment, it also adds weight to the scope.  In general, a 30mm is the most commonly used tube diameter for hunting and sporting scopes.

4. Lens Quality - The lens quality is very important, as it allows for a crisper, cleaner image if it is better quality.  The better the lens is, the less distortion you'll see around the lens edge and the less change in color.  Make sure to get a scope that has high quality lens coatings to reduce reflection and glare.  The lenses should be multi-coated and high quality.

Keep It All In Mind

While you can certainly shoot without a scope, this is a useful tool that will enhance your accuracy and your enjoyment.  Make sure to purchase a scope that is completely waterproof and fogproof.  This will ensure that you can use and enjoy your riflescope in all weather conditions and situations.  There are many companies today that feature high quality rifle scopes at affordable prices.  Enjoy finding the right rifle scope for your purposes, and enjoying your time outdoors more with your new tool.