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Whether you’ve been into firearms since you went hunting for the first time with your father as a kid or you’ve just recently gotten your interest piqued by the idea of spending an hour at the shooting range or going hunting, at some point, you’re going to run into the idea of a rifle scope. The following will explore the basics of what a rifle scope is, how they work, and what to look for when considering buying one, even if you’re shopping on a budget.
A rifle scope is a rifle addition designed to help a shooter line up the barrel of their firearm with their target. Basically, a rifle scope functions much like a telescope: an objective lens at the front of the scope allows light into the body of the scope, and an ocular lens in the back makes the image visible to the shooter. As light travels from the objective lens to the optic lens it passes through an erector tube full of magnification lenses. In the simplest terms, a rifle scope creates a magnified image of the area you’ll hit with your rifle pointed and angled as it is.
A rifle scope makes any target shooting or hunting trip simpler. Lining up a shot becomes infinitely easier when you’re aiming through a scope. Most will have crosshairs that you can line up with your target before you pull the trigger. This often results in a more accurate shot. In particular, rifle scopes are an excellent tool for beginner marksmen as they will allow a new shooter to understand the feel of a rifle when it’s lined up with the shot they want to take. It can take years of practice for someone to be able to take an excellent shot without a rifle scope.
When you encounter rifle scopes online or in-store, they’ll come with a series of numbers. Let’s take the 3-9×40, for example (this is one of the more popular options for deer hunting). The number in the 3-position represents the minimum of how much closer the image you see through the scope appears compared to the naked eye. In our example, the image will appear to be at a minimum of three times closer than it actually is. The second number after the dash is the maximum multiplication of the image compared to the naked eye. That means in our example; the scope will allow you to view the target between three and nine times closer through the scope than with the naked eye. The number at the end, 40 in this case, represents the objective lens diameter in millimeters.
Not all scopes will present a range, but if they do (like our example above), they tend to be called variable scopes since the rifle scope’s magnification can be multiplied. When people speak about rifle scopes, they tend to list all the numbers. Our example from above would most often be described as three to nine by forty.
All this being said, it can be a bit overwhelming when you begin to look for a rifle scope to purchase. There are so many options on the market, and most of them are shockingly pricy. It’s really important to begin narrowing down your search with an understanding of your needs. Not all rifle scopes suit all rifle habits, and bigger doesn’t always mean better. One of the biggest factors that will help you determine what sort of scope you need is the terrain you’ll be using it on. Those who tend to hunt deer in thick woods aren’t likely to be taking a shot from as far away as someone who is hunting on plains or in an open country. As well, you need to be aware that in hotter climates where you can see the heat rising off of the ground, some higher power scopes won’t be entirely effective as the heat waves will interrupt the visual.
As you might imagine, the more significant the variability of the scope (the more extensive the magnification range you can cover with a single scope), the more expensive it tends to be. Because of this, some gun lovers or hunting experts prefer to have several less expensive scopes to meet all their magnification needs, while others prefer to pay a little more for a single scope that has a greater range. If you decide to go the multiple-scope route, be sure to practice changing up your scopes until you’ve mastered a smooth transition, as shots can be missed out on if you’re not able to switch things up quickly enough.
This isn’t to say there aren’t good deals to be had. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you can find a fair few rifle scopes for an excellent price. A few examples can be found here. You should also take the time to read customer reviews regardless of the price that you’re paying. This will give you a good idea if the scope is right for you and your firearm needs.
Of course, rifle scopes can make it a bit easier on you to take the shot you want (and increase the chances of you hitting your target), but this doesn’t mean the rifle you’re using is any safer than it was before you included a scope. No matter what additions you bring to the range or on a hunting trip, firearm safety needs to be your foremost concern. Never point the rifle at something you wouldn’t want to shoot and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding ammunition.
Beyond following safety protocols, your rifle needs care. Ensure you’re keeping your firearm clean and well maintained. This goes for your new scope too. When the scope isn’t in use, you want to keep the lens protected from potential scratches in a storage case designed to hold scopes. You also want to seek out appropriate lens cleaning solutions so that you don’t end up nicking the delicate lens when trying to wipe away dust, hair, or fingerprints.
With the above tips in mind, you should be able to find the right rifle scope for you and your hunting or shooting range needs. Of course, if you have friends in this world with scopes of their own, it’s a great idea to ask to try them out. Like rifles, scopes also each have their own Je ne sais quoi—you’re going to vibe with some more than others.
Last Updated on May 22, 2021
Carlos Perry’s passion for outdoor activities can be traced back to 5 years ago when he spent a significant time to conquer beautiful pristine lands and experience different cultures with his best friends. Currently working as a blogger, he takes pride in providing comprehensive contents about camping knowledge, survival skills based on his own experience. A lot of his work was published on well-known travel magazines like: Travel+Leisure, Thrillist