How to Choose a Rifle Scope – An Essential Guide to Buying a Rifle Scope

If you are into shooting or hunting, you probably know what a rifle scope is. If not, it is a telescopic sight for rifles that contains a series of lenses used for magnifying the target, and some type of reticle which provides the aiming point. We have created this article on how to choose a rifle scope with all the information you need to choose the best rifle scope for your needs.

Rifle scopes are some of the most popular sighting tools in the field of optics. They come in different sizes, designs and shapes for people to choose from. Furthermore, rifle scopes are versatile and ideal for a wide range of applications from hunting to tactical and competitive shooting, to military and law enforcement.

As the technology in the optics industry continue to advance, more and more rifle scopes continue to flock the market. As such, knowing which model to get can be an overwhelming task especially if you are buying your first model. You have to consider a multitude of factors that include your shooting style and habits, then look for a model that best fits your needs.

In this guide, we are going to walk you through the essential features you need to take into consideration when looking to buy a rifle scope. Hopefully, in the end, you will be well informed to make the right purchase.

So, without wasting any more time, let’s get started.

How to Choose a Rifle Scope – Important Factors to Consider

#1) Intended Usage

This is the first thing you should consider when shopping around for a rifle scope. The kind of application you purpose to use the scope for plays a very big role in determining the model that you get.

Is it for hunting, target shooting or 3-gun competition? By being activity specific, it is much easier to get a rifle scope that has all the features you require.

#2) Magnification Power

The second important thing to consider is magnification power. In rifle scopes, magnification is represented by the first number before the “x” and it varies greatly from one model to the other.

Magnification is vital as it brings the faraway targets closer so you can aim more accurately. Today, there are two types of magnification for rifle scopes; fixed magnification power and variable magnification.

Fixed powered rifle scopes are suitable for shooting applications that involve taking shots at constant ranges. These rifle scopes are simple to use and therefore an ideal choice for beginners in hunting and shooting.

Variable powered rifle scopes on the other hand have adjustable magnification which gives you the flexibility to take shots across different distances. A major percentage of hunters and gun enthusiast prefer variable powered rifle scopes because of the versatility.

#3) Objective Lens Size

The next thing to consider in how to choose a rifle scope is size of the objective lens. In a rifle scope configuration, the size of the objective lens is represented by the number after “x”. It is measured  as a diameter in millimeters and varies in size from one rifle scope to the other.

The main role of an objective lens is to collect lights inside the optics. So, the larger the diameter the more the light gathering ability. If you anticipate to use the rifle scope mainly for hunting in low light conditions, pick a model with a large objective lens of more than 40mm.

#4) Eye Relief

Eye relief refers to the distance your eye has to be from the eyepiece of the rifle scope during use. It is measured in inches and just like objective lens and magnification power, it varies from one rifle scope to the other.

The larger the eye relief is, the more comfortable the scope is to shoot with or without eye wear. A scope with at least 4-inches is the best to buy. It accommodates all users with and without eye wear. It also offers sufficient room for the gun to recoil without hitting your eye.

#5) Lens Coating

Rifle scopes have coatings applied on the lenses to enhance light transmission in low level light settings and prevent glare in bright light. These coatings vary in type, number and quality, with models having multiple layers of anti-reflective lens coatings being the best.

The following terms for lens coatings are accepted in the optics industry:

  • Coated. A single layer of lens coatings is applied on at least one lens surface
  • Fully-coated. All air to glass surfaces have a single layer of lens coating
  • Multi-coated. Several layers of coatings on at least one lens surface
  • Fully multi-coated. Several layers of lens coatings are applied on all air to glass surfaces

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#6) Build Quality

The other important thing to consider is build quality. Generally, the quality of materials used to make a rifle scope determine its overall durability and reliability.

No matter the kind of shooting you anticipate to use the scope for, try and look for a model that is crafted with the most hard-wearing materials. This includes aircraft grade aluminum and magnesium alloy.

In addition to quality construction, a good rifle scope should be tested and verified to be shockproof. That way, it is able to weather rough use, heavy recoil and accidental bumps and falls.

#6) Weatherproof Construction

When using a scope outdoors, you will want it to perform even in adverse weather conditions. This is where weatherproof construction comes to play. It is essential to get a rifle scope that is sealed with high-quality O-rings to prevent moisture, dust and sand from entering the optics. The best rifle scope should also be filled with a dry inert gas to drive out moisture and prevent the lenses from fogging when you carry it to an area with a significant temperature gradient.

#8) Weight

Weight is another important thing to consider when looking to buy a rifle scope. The average weight of a rifle scope for whatever shooting application is 1.2lbs. With a lightweight construction, the scope is accurate and easy to shoot with as it doesn’t add any unnecessary weight on the rifle. A light rifle scope with also do a better job of dispersing heavy recoil than a heavy, gigantic one.

#9) Price

It is also vital to consider price when looking to buy a rifle scope. While the high-end rifle scopes are the best in terms of quality, performance and durability, you don’t have to spend all your fortune on one rifle scope.

There are plenty of rifle scopes available at varying price points to meet the budget needs of every user out there. So, consider how much you can afford to pay and focus on finding a model that has the right features for your needs.

#10) Tube Size

Lastly in our guide on how to choose a rifle scope is tube size. There are three main tube sizes to choose from: 1-inch, 30mm and 34mm.

1-inch and 30mm scopes are the most common ones. A 1-inch tube uses 1-inch rings while 30mm scopes use 30mm rings. When making your selection, you need to know the type of base your have and then find the exact type of rings to use depending on whether the scope is 1-inch, 30mm or 34mm.

When it comes to sturdiness and durability, 30mm tubes are more rigid and sturdy, compared with 1-inch counterparts. They also provide more room for windage adjustment as well as reticle movement. 34mm tubed scopes on the other hand are the most sturdy of the three but they have the drawback of being heavy, cumbersome and more expensive.

Final Words

A good rifle scope makes hunting and shooting easy, competitive and rewarding. If you were having a hard time wondering how to choose a rifle scope, I hope that the information in our article has been of great help to you. Take into account each factor we have mentioned above and look for the rifle scope that will make you a better hunter/shooter this season.