How to Choose a Rifle Scope

A rifle scope is a telescopic device mounted on a rifle that magnifies the target and helps you precisely aim your firearm. Choosing a rifle scope depends on the need for such a device, whether it is for target shooting, hunting, or self-defense.

No matter what kind of long range gun you use, a high-quality rifle scope is preferable to a high-grade firearm. You can use a lower quality gun with a scope and hit your target easily while a top-grade firearm without a scope could still make you miss the target, because a scope allows you to focus on what you are shooting.

We will take a look at different types of scopes and how you can choose the best one for your needs.

The Purpose for Using a Scope

The three common reasons for people to use a scope are hunting, self or home defense, and target shooting.


Hunting preparation usually requires selecting the right scope for the rifle being used. Hunters consider the overall weather conditions and prepare their devices to be used as such. Some prefer lightweight scopes, while in terrains where long-range firing is needed, they need a powerful and heavyweight scope that could be more expensive.

Self and Home Defense Purposes

A rifle scope with a reflex lens is preferred for self-defense and home defense purposes. This involves close range combat using single shotguns, pump action guns, and semi-automatic guns. This could be long barrel or short barrel guns with rifle scopes mounted on them for effective target shooting.

Shooting Targets and Competitions

If you want to participate in a shooting sport, you need a scope for proper aiming. Rifles, shotguns, and pistols could all be used in shooting competitions where various objects are the targets, such as balloons, cans, targets, and skeet. In these cases, a scope could be mounted onto whatever gun is being used.

Scope Characteristics:

Magnification Features

Rifle scopes operate using magnification features. The first category of numbers on a scope is the magnification factor. That means 3-9 × 40 denotes that the scope could magnify an object three times to a maximum of nine times.

The two types of magnifications available include:

Variable Magnification

Scopes with variable magnifications are heavier and need more adjustment than those with fixed magnification.

Fixed Magnification

Scopes with fixed magnification lenses make smaller and unclear objects larger and visible. It does not need much image magnification nor adjustments.

Lens Size

The larger the size of the lens, the more light will be released into the system. This enhances the quality of the image, making it brighter and bigger. Rifle scopes with an objective lens measuring 32 mm to 44 mm are considered a better choice as they have a wider field of view for shooting.

Eye Distance

Check for the distance of your eye from the scope. The appropriate distance is supposed to be 4 inches to enhance eye relief and aid in accurate targeting.

Reticles with Various Configurations

Ensure the rifle scope has reticles with various configurations. This is the cross-sign you can see through the scope, and it is helpful in long-range shooting. The reticles enable you to line up your target.

Scope Adjustment

Check the adjustment features on a rifle scope before making a decision as most require adjustments for optimal operations. There are two adjustment aspects on a scope such as MRAD and MOA.

MRAD indicates milliradian. This angular measurement is expressed in .001 of a radian. The MRAD measures 3.6 inches at 100 yards.

The MOA indicates Minutes of Angle. This is an angular measurement calculated as 1 inch at 100 yards. This means that dot reticles in MOA are four times nearer to each other. In poor light conditions, it becomes difficult to determine distances.

Types of Rifle Scopes

Not all scopes are the same; there are several types that have features unique to the type of shooting being done.

Rifle Scopes for Hunting

If you are planning a hunting trip, acquiring this type of scope is ideal for accuracy. Hunting rifle scopes are great assets for hunters as they have the normal magnification ranges of 3-9x. Three times (3x) magnification can give you a proper transmission of light and a clear, complete view of your target. Nine times (9x) magnification enables you to make long-range shots at targets.

Examples of rifle scopes for hunting include Vortex Crossfire II 3-9 ×50 V-Brite Illuminated Rifle Scope and Barska Huntmaster 3-9× 40 30/30 Silver Rifle Scope.

Rifle Scopes for Competition/Trophy Hunting

This type of rifle scope has duplex reticles that make it easy to use. Scopes for competition are suitable for fast and precise short-range targeting. They are made with low-range magnification features, windage knobs, or adjustable turrets.

Trophy hunting also needs a rifle scope since the game involves large and dangerous animals like lions, bears, elephants, rhinos, and pumas. Examples of competition or trophy rifle scopes include Vortex Diamondback 3-9× 40 V-Plex Rifle Scope and Athlon Optics Talos 3-12×40 SFP Centre X Rifle Scope.

Rifle Scopes with Night Vision

Hunting game at night could be risky and difficult without proper visibility. A rifle scope with night vision can help you accurately in poor visibility conditions, such as during the night, dusk, and dawn. Examples of such rifle scopes include Yukon Sightline N475 Night Vision Rifle Scope and Pulsar Thermion XP38 Thermal Imaging Rifle Scope.

Tactical Rifle Scopes

Tactical rifle scopes are designed with variable or static magnification. They are sought after by professional shooters due to their accurate aiming features. This scope has adjustable turrets like those in variable magnification scopes, and it comes with an open-style windage suitable for short-range and long-range shooting.

Examples of such scopes include Nikon Monarch X 2.5-10×44 SF Matte Nikoplex Rifle Scope and Vortex Diamondback Tactical 4-12×40 VMR-1 Reticle (MOA) Rifle Scope.

Rifle Scopes for Target & Varmint

Target shooters and varmint hunters prefer this type of rifle scope. It can help you accurately aim at smaller targets. This scope has better adjustment and magnification features to aid with eye relief and proper reticle providing clearer vision for target shooting despite obstructions in the shooting range.

Examples include Leupold V-Freedom 4-12×40 Matte Tri MOA Rifle Scope and Bushnell Banner 4-12×40 AO Multi-X Rifle Scope.

Although rifle scopes and gun sights help someone to make an accurate aim at a target, gun sights have no magnification. Gunsights are always mistaken and confused as rifle scopes.


By taking into account the features and purpose, you should be able to find a scope that suits your needs and your firearm.

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