There’s a lot that goes into choosing a rifle scope than just picking the “best” or “highest rated” option you see on the market. The right scope for your rifle should not only serve your purpose in the most suitable way, but it should also be easy to maneuver and manage when you are using the gun. Below are some of the basic aspects that you need to consider when choosing a scope for your rifle.
Usage and Requirements
This is the most important aspect to mull over when you are buying a rifle, and it applies to choosing a scope as well. Determine the main purpose of the scope and specialization that you want your rifle to fall under. It could be hunting, clay shooting, target practicing, or self-defense. If you’re expecting close quarter usage and you can rely on iron sights alone, do you really need a scope? Just be aware that some scopes can be better suited to certain situations and environments over others. So considering its usage as well as the environment where you will be using the rifle is paramount in making the most informed decision for your firearm accessory.
You should also take into account the weather conditions, extreme temperatures, humidity, and moisture as well when choosing the rifle scope. If you’re planning on using the rifle only for self-defense you can opt for a reflex sight whereas you would need an adjustable and more sensitive scope for target practicing and competition shooting. By the same token, if you’re using the rifle for hunting in the wilderness you should buy a scope that stays tuned and always ready to go under different lighting conditions and inclement weather.
When it comes to scope magnification, you can shoot for either a fixed magnification scope or one that features variable magnification. Fixed magnification scopes are ideal for close-quarters scenarios and home defense. They can also be used for target practice at short ranges of 100 – 200 yards but it may not be suitable for hunting purposes. On the other hand, scopes with variable magnification can be used for a variety of uses and are well-suited to hunting, clay shooting, as well as long-distance target practice.
Note that where fixed magnification can prevent blurring of the target and allow faster target acquisition, variable magnification also needs to be adjusted to the required range. Although a magnification scope is perfect for stealth hunting, it requires a certain amount of practice to be able to adjust your scope on the fly in a fast-paced situation.
Objective Lens Diameter or OLD refers to the size of the glass located at the front end of the rifle scope. This determines the amount of light entering the scope. The most common OLD in rifle scopes is between 30 and 32, but you can also get scopes with 36, 40, and 50 OLD. You can buy larger OLD scopes to get the best experience with higher magnification, although it may cost much more than a regular-sized one.
Eye relief refers to the distance between your eye and the rifle scope needed to get a full picture from your scope. This factor plays a great role in determining your personal safety and there’s a lot at stake if this factor goes amiss. Placing your eye too close to the scope can result in some serious damage to your eye. The most common eye relief in rifle scopes is 3.5 inches, but some scopes offer an eye relief of 4 to 4.5 inches.
Your reticle or crosshair is the aiming point in the field of view of a scope. This is usually a fine wire or thread positioned in the focus of the eyepiece to mark the instrumental axis. Riflescopes can have reticles in many different configurations, so you should be aware of how to use the crosshairs if you’re upgrading to a more advanced one.
Most of the smaller rifle scopes that are used for hunting and target practicing purposes are parallax-free. This refers to keeping the crosshairs in the scope in a firm position even when you move your head or eye slightly. This is especially important for hunters, as heavy breathing or heartbeat can easily cause a parallax effect and can reduce accuracy while shooting the target. So you need to buy either a parallax-free scope or one that has an adjustment knob to fix the crosshairs.
There are mainly two types of adjustment systems in rifle scopes: MOA and MRAD. While MOA adjustment is the most common one encountered, it serves all types of use cases. Scopes with MRAD adjustment are more complicated to maneuver and are recommended for long-range experienced shooters. Remember that there is no rifle scope that can be used readily without becoming familiar with how it functions. You may require some practice and hands-on experience if you want to make the most of your preferred rifle scope.