How to Choose a Rifle Scope: A Comprehensive Guide

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To make a precise and accurate shot, a rifle scope of high quality and reliable operation is essential. Hunters place the rifle scope on top of the rifles to accurately pinpoint their target. Changing the reticle on a rifle scope is all it takes to quickly and easily master how to set and aim the shot. Moreover, the best rifle scope has all the features required to ensure a successful hunt.

For all the hunters out there looking for the best rifle scopes to amplify the excitement and thrill of their hunting experience, we have compiled this comprehensive guide to make your shopping experience hassle-free.

Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Rifle Scope


The scope’s magnification is a crucial quality-determining factor. Magnification allows you to see the target object much closer than what you could see with the naked eye. The higher the magnification power of the rifle scope, the larger and closer the target will appear through the lens. However, the highest magnification power may not be the best for your rifle scope, as a slight tremble or even a sharp breath can immensely affect the bullet’s trajectory. 

Typical magnification powers in the rifle scopes range between 2X–12X. If you use rifle scopes to shoot at short distances, about 100 yards, choose scopes with magnification ranging between 2–4X.

The middle-ranged magnification power between 5–8X is suitable for shooting within 200 yards. Also, rifle scopes with this magnification are best for hunting in closed areas such as mountains and forests.

If you are target shooting at large distances beyond 200 yards, choose rifle scopes with a magnification power between 9–12X.

Objective Lens Size

Objective lenses help form a clear image of the target object and are often situated at the far end of the rifle scope. Light transmits through the objective lens, giving you a clear vision of the target. The higher the size of the objective lens, the lighter it will transmit, and the clearer and finer the target image will be. On the other hand, small-sized objective lenses offer maximum eye comfort and help adjust vision in the dark. A medium-range rifle’s objective lens size is between 40–44mm.

Generally, hunters use a 40mm objective lens for a brighter and better view of the surroundings. However, some prefer bigger objective lenses ranging from 50–56mm. Though theoretically, a bigger objective lens size sounds more appealing, in reality, it decreases the FOV or field of view and does not offer eye comfort to watch the target.

Additionally, large rifle scopes with big objective lenses are heavy, massive, difficult to hold, and challenging to use. You may find some rifle scopes heavier than the actual rifles. Therefore, it is essential to consider the objective lens size and the rifle scope’s overall size before purchasing.

Type of Lens Coating

The lens coating is a thin invisible layer that enhances the vision’s clarity and decreases the glare. Often, the best rifle scopes have waterproof and fog-proof lens coatings. Most shooters prefer single lens coating, ensuring maximum vision clarity, whereas others like to add multiple layers to the lens, providing lens protection. Typically, you will find four types of lens coatings on the rifle scopes.

Coated: Coated rifle scope has a single layer of material on the lens. The single coating may be on both the front or rear lens.

Fully-Coated: This coating is present on the exterior of all glass surfaces. 

Multi-Coated: Best-quality rifle scopes come with multiple coatings on at least one lens. In this rifle scope, several layers of coating materials are placed on the lens, offering maximum possible clarity and protection.

Fully Multi-Coated: Rifle scopes with fully multi-coatings have several coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces. This type of coating offers maximum protection to all glass surfaces.

Coating quality depends on the quality of the material, which also affects the price range. Other factors affecting the coating’s price include the type of material, versatility, texture, and endurance.

Scope Reticles

Reticles hold tremendous significance in finding the best rifle scope. Commonly referred to as crosshair, the reticle is the aiming point that helps you make a clear and accurate shot with maximum precision. Following are the four types of reticles.

Traditional Crosshairs: Crosshair is the fundamental reticle type. As the name indicates, the manufacturers made the crosshair reticle by crossing two hair-like wires. Modern and improved reticles are now available in rifle scopes.

Duplex Reticle: Duplex reticle is the most popular and widely used scope reticle. This reticle is thicker across the outer round and squeezes thinner close to the target in the middle. Duplex reticle enhances the accuracy and precision of the shot, and most hunters use this for shooting.

Dot Reticle: This type of reticle is the simplest, showing a single dot in the middle of the scope. The dot reticle helps you shoot the bullet right at the target. Generally, these reticles are available in bright neon colors such as red and green.

Mil-Dot Reticle: This reticle type has a thick diameter and multiple dots set in horizontal and vertical lines, coinciding at the center. Here each dot refers to 3.6 inches per 100 yards or 36 inches at 1000 yards. Mil-dot reticle helps you learn the distance between you and the target.

Bullet Drop Compensation Reticle or BDC: BDC offers exact information about where the bullet will hit when shooting at large distances.

Another essential thing to consider is the reticle’s location. The reticle may be present in the first or second focal plane; or at the front or rear of the magnification lens.

Eye Relief

The rifle kicks back when you take a shot. When you are focussing through a rifle scope’s lens to take a shot, there is a small distance between your eye and the ocular lens, called eye relief. Eye relief is essential to protect your eyes from bruising or similar accidents.

The more powerful the rifle is, the more crucial it is to have eye relief. Also, it is essential to set your eye relief correctly to make the right shot, as it helps adjust the correct distance of your viewpoint from the lens.

Rifle scopes come in various eye relief sizes. The right eye relief size depends on the type of hunting gun you are using. For instance, a shotgun requires 3.5 inches of eye relief, and most rifles work fine with eye relief ranges between 3.5–4 inches.

You may find two main types of eye relief, standard eye relief, long eye relief, and eye relief.

The Standard Eye Relief is widely popular and primarily used and measures from 3.5 to 4 inches. This type of eye relief scope often has high magnification and functions with the finest efficiency, with rifles having small to medium caliber. You will need standard eye relief if you hunt in wide clearings and open fields.

The Long Eye Relief measures 4.5 inches. This type of eye-relief rifle scope is preferable for short-range hunting. For instance, use a long eye relief rifle scope if you are hunting in an area with trees, bushes, or hills. Long eye relief scopes often have short to medium magnification and are best suited for high-caliber rifles.


Parallax is the displacement or difference in the target object’s position when viewed by two lines of sight. This parallax is measured as an angle or semi-angle between these lines of sight. The parallax error commonly occurs when you shoot from a long distance; it is essential to consider it when buying a long-range rifle scope.

Parallax describes the relationship between your vision, reticle, and target. Typically, parallax error occurs due to changes in the shooter’s position or the object. A slight motion, change of position, or minor adjustment of your eye position can cause parallax errors.

Knowing your target’s exact position and distance from your vision is essential before pulling the trigger. Hence, get a rifle scope that comes with the feature of adjusting this angle.

Night Vision

Choose night vision rifle scopes if you plan to go out hunting at night or in low-visibility times. Indeed, a large objective lens makes the image clear in low lighting; however, even the largest objective lens at night won’t help.


I am sure you found this thorough buying guide helpful and informative. Understanding different parts of the scope and their functioning is essential to choose the best rifle scope. 

Indeed, the best rifle scope varies based on your requirements. The rifle scope required to shoot at a large distance will have different characteristics than the one needed to shoot at a comparatively short distance. Hence, consider your needs and choose the rifle scope having all the requirements to make your hunting experience successful.

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