Rifle scopes are gaining in popularity thanks to popular sniper and long-range shooter films and video games. Hunters and target shooters are taking advantage of rifle scopes to shoot further from their targets and hit them more consistently. Before buying one you need to do your homework on scopes to better understand them and what they’re capable of. Below is some information to get your research process moving forward, and this guide has excellent information regarding adjusting rifle scopes.
Basic Rifle Scope Information
Scopes rely on magnification and optics to deliver benefits, and the glass quality is a huge component of any scope product. Scopes are equipped with various knobs that all serve different functions, but all work together towards the end-goal of improving shooting accuracy for the rifle’s user.
Every scope has windage and elevation adjustments – used to adjust the relationship between the reticle and the bullet trajectory. The windage adjustment moves the reticle left and right, and the elevation moves the reticle up and down. When set properly, a bullet will impact at the junction of the crosshair in the reticle.
The majority of scopes have some form of focus – either a secondary knob or by turning the eyepiece. This helps to bring a view into focus and to slightly improve the accuracy. Variable magnification is common on scopes but should be used cautiously since when adjusted it impacts the relationship to the crosshair.
It all starts with the glass and there are two lenses to be aware of – the one located at the shooter’s end of the scope is the Ocular Lens, and the target end lens is the Objective Lens. The Ocular Lens is less of a factor as the traits it affects are reflected in things such as focal plane, eye relief, and field of view. The Objective Lens is a major factor as it affects the brightness in scope, and the bigger ones provide more brightness.
Coatings for lenses help to provide clarity and brightness by filtering some of the light. There are four tiers, and they range in quality – Coated, Fully Coated, Multi-Coated, and Fully Multi-Coated lenses are elite for delivering optimal performance.
Reticles can be broken down into three categories – simple cross with no additional markings, partial distance markings, and fully market crosshair. Every scope has some sort of marking, but a basic scope should be used until good form can be consistently repeated.
This is a measure of how far an eye can be away from the scope to allow for proper viewing through the scope, without blackness around the edges.
The core value of a scope is its magnification attribute, 4x is common for shorter range shooting, while 40x is for long-range engagement. Scopes typically have magnification in the high teens to low twenties.
Field of View
The field of view principle is usually expressed as feet or yards at a specific distance – for example, 14 feet at 175 yards. This means that at 175 yards the scope’s user can see about 14 feet from one edge of the scope’s view to the other. Finding your target when looking through a scope is of the utmost importance for the field of view.