Rifle Scope Buying Guide

Whether you are prefer to hunt or target practice, the type of rifle scope you purchase is an important decision. A rifle scope guarantees better accuracy regardless of environmental conditions. There are a large variety of scopes available; it is worth the time to consider the best option for you.

Types of Rifle Scopes

There are many differences between rifle scopes and understanding this differences will make your purchase decision easier. When you search for scopes, you will notice two numbers separated by an X. The first number is the magnification of the scope and the second number is the objective lens diameter. An example of this is 4x40mm.

The magnification is how many times larger an image becomes. If the rifle shows two numbers, that means the level of magnification is adjustable. Variable rifle scopes are more expensive. Less is more when considering how much magnification you need. For a hunter, the lower range of 4x or 6x is plenty; this allows for faster shooting and target tracking. Magnification is important because it establishes the limits of usefulness of your rifle scope. Lower than 10x is best for less than 500 yards.

The objective lens diameter transmit light in order to focus. A larger number means more light is transmitted which gives a clearer image. Most scopes use between 90-94% of the light in the area. The downside to a larger objective lens is that the scope has to be mounted higher over the barrel and action. It also is heavier and bulkier. The objective size also determines the size of rings you will need to mount and clear the barrel. A smaller objective lens allows for a lower mount which makes holding a consistent position easier.

Eye relief is another form of variation among rifle scopes. Eye relief is the distance the eyes must be to get a full picture. The largest eye relief available is four inch eye relief. It is important to pick a large enough eye relief; recoil can leave a nasty black eye if not given enough room.

Another variation between rifle scopes is the reticle. When you look through a rifle scope, the reticle is what you are going to see. These are the lines that help the shooter focus on the target also known as crosshairs. There are three types of reticles: duplex, mildot, and bullet drop compensator (BDC). The duplex is the most common reticle option. This helps the eye naturally focus and is most typically used by hunters and for target shooting. The mildot is standard for military and law enforcement officers. The BDC is used for a variety of ranges and it is typically used for over 500 yards.

Pay Attention to These Decisions

Now that you know a few of the variations among rifle scopes, it is time to consider what option is going to work best for you. Ask yourself these questions to help make the decision easier.

What are you using the rifle scope for?

This is extremely important. Decide if you are going to be using the scope for hunting or long range target shooting.

Do you want a variable or fixed magnification power scope?

A variable scope allows for a range of magnification, whereas a fixed magnification is permanent. Variable allows for a range of activities but it comes with an increased price tag. If you are searching for a variable scope, an example you might see is 3-9x40mm.

How far do you plan to shoot?

This is going to be determined by where you will be using the rifle. Wide, open areas will need a higher magnification whereas wooded areas should use a lower magnification. If you are shooting farther than 500 yards, your magnification should be higher than 10x.

How big do you want the object to appear?

Deciding this is going to decide what magnification power you desire. Remember, less is more; you do not want to have too much magnification if you are hunting otherwise the deer will simply be a patch of hair.

Which gun will this scope be mounted upon?

Ideally, you don't want a scope that is going to be too heavy. This can cause the rifle to topple over when not in use and potentially break the scope.

What is your budget for your rifle scope?

Scopes can range from under $200 to over $1,000. Pick your budget; there are good options in all price ranges.

Top Brands of Rifle Scopes

While there are dozens of brands when considering which rifle scope to purchase, there are a few leading companies that produce quality and proven scopes.

Nikon has a respected reputation for excellent scopes for consumers. Nikon offers scopes for a good value.

Leupold has extensive experience and they are made in the U.S.A. These scopes are higher quality and very durable.

Bushnell makes scopes from consumer to professional qualities. Bushnell is one of the top manufacturers in optics.

Sightmark produces cost effective and reliable scopes. They pride themselves in high quality.

Burris is a high quality brand, known for making shooter friendly scopes. Burris is known for superb quality.

Once you have decided the answers to the questions above, it is time to make your rifle scope purchase! The scope should fit all of your needs for the purpose you plan. A good scope can make a huge difference in your accuracy. Check the offered warranties and choose a scope from a quality manufacturer to ensure you made a solid investment.