How to Choose the Right Scope
How to Choose the Right Scope
Getting the most suitable scope for your needs can be challenging for beginners. Scopes have different configuration, features, and reticles designed to tackle different challenges. If you are new to either hunting or recreational target shooting, technical terms, such as magnification, parallax, light transmission, eye relief, exit pupil, field of view, coating, zero stop, and click value can be confusing.
Choosing the wrong scope can compromise your goals as a hunter or shooter.
When shopping for rifle scopes, it’s essential to compare quality, durability, reliability, optical design, and reticles to your primary application. Choosing a company that offers great warranties and customer service can be important factors as well when you shop for your scopes.
Here are some considerations when picking the next scope for your outdoor adventure.
Simply, magnification is how much closer the image appears than when viewed with the naked eye. For example, a scope with 8x magnification produces an image as if one were 8 times closer to the object. This is the ratio of the focal length of the eyepiece divided by the focal length of the objective giving you the linear magnifying power of a riflescope. Different scope magnifications are designed for different purposes. A lower magnification scope has less susceptibility to shaking and is good for quickly engaging targets within short range because it has much wider field of view. A larger magnification leads to a smaller field of view and is good for medium and long range shooting.
OBJECTIVE LENS DIAMETER
This is the diameter of the forward-facing lens of the scope. The diameter of the objective lens determines how much light can be collected to form an image. It is usually expressed in millimeters.
FIELD OF VIEW
The field of view of a rifle scope is determined by its optical design. It is usually notated as how many meters in width can be seen at 100 meters or an angular value of how many degrees can be viewed.
The light collected by the objective forms into a beam that is called the exit pupil. Its diameter is the objective diameter divided by the magnifying power. To maximize effectiveness of light-gathering and achieve the brightest image, a good scope design should have the same exit pupil diameter of the fully dilated iris of the human eye which is about 7 mm. The larger exit pupil makes it easier for people to place their eye into the position where you will not have a darkened or obscured view that occurs when the light path is partially obstructed; This becomes very helpful when you need to quickly acquire the image of a fast-moving target. If the exit pupil of a riflescope became too narrow, it would force you to hold the scope steady and avoid any movement. Another benefit of having a larger exit pupil is when people use the scope in a low light environment, from dusk to dawn, their pupils will adjust to ambient light and become larger, thus requiring a larger exit pupil to accommodate this change in size of eye pupil. In general, rifle scopes with larger exit pupils offer you better comfort and higher flexibility.
Eye relief is the distance from the eyepiece lens to your eye. In order to get an un-vignetted image you have to position your eye at a certain distance behind the eyepiece lens. Rifle scopes that have longer eye relief are useful to avoid recoil impact on your eye, and are very helpful for people who wear glasses.
FOGPROOF, WATERPROOF, SHOCKPROOF
These terms are pretty much self-explanatory but very critical to the overall performance of a rifle scope. Fog proofing guarantees the lenses of a scope will not fog up on the inside when the temperature swings in a dramatic way. To achieve reliable fog proof performance, a scope needs to be properly dried and purged with dry inertia gas, such as Nitrogen or Argon, to minimize moisture level inside the tube. The scope must be completely sealed to prevent gas from escaping or moisture entering the scope.
Waterproofing protects your scope from moisture and water getting inside the tube, thus ensuring reliability and durability.
A key performance indicator of a rifle scope is the ability to withstand recoil impact from your firearm, otherwise known as shock proofing. A good rifle scope will hold its mechanical integrity and optical performance even after thousands of rounds fired under the toughest conditions.
Optical quality of a riflescope is measured by resolution, parallax, light transmission, chromatic aberration, image distortion, etc. All those terms sound complicated, but the bottom line is a good riflescope needs to always provide a bright and crystal clear image for you when you need it. Precisely cut and polished lenses, multiple layers of antireflective coatings, perfectly treated internal surfaces and quality assembly are the key elements to achieve superior optical performance.
WINDAGE & ELEVATION ADJUSTMENT
A good riflescope should always provide audible and crisp clicks when you are turning the turrets to adjust your aiming point. Windage and elevation adjustments, once set, will always hold their zero after rounds and rounds of shooting.
TYPE OF RETICLE
There are many choices of reticles available on the market. You need to decide which one best fits your rifle, the type of ammo you use, and the tasks you need to perform. If you’re just getting started, you should choose a simple to use reticle, offering a clear aiming point for different yardages. Some partially illuminated reticles, such as illuminated center point or a circle, provide great visual contrast and a clear aiming point when acquiring your target under low ambient light.
WHAT YOU WANT TO DO WITH IT
If you need to quickly acquire a fast-moving target in close-range hunting, you need a large field of view (FOV). A large FOV will help you keep your target always in sight. For example, a 1-6 variable power will give you a wide FOV and some magnification power for targeting an object a bit further out as well. If you’re engaging your target at 400 yards or beyond, you need a longer-range riflescope that can magnify enough detail to make a clear shot.