Expert Advice Which Hunting Rifle Scope is Right for Your Hunting Style
When choosing a rifle scope, consider the terrain, shooting distance, and type of hunting you'll be doing. Different scopes have different features, such as magnification, optic technology, reticles, height & weight, and price point.
Understand the advantages of each type of scope to determine which one is best for you.
- Fixed Magnification Scopes (FM) have one power setting,
- Variable Magnification Scopes (VM) offer adjustable power, and
- Long Range Precision Scopes (LP) are designed for long-distance shooting.
Take time to understand the type of scope that suits your needs and you'll be sure to have a helpful piece of equipment for future hunts.
Different Types of Rifle Scopes
Hunting rifle scopes come in different shapes and sizes. They each bring unique features and capabilities based on the shooter's hunt style.
Let's explore the various types of rifle scopes and their pros and cons:
Fixed Power Scopes
Fixed Power Scopes, sometimes called “Simple Scopes,” are basic and affordable. They feature a reticle or aiming point and non-magnifying optics. The power level of such scopes is set in the factory and cannot be adjusted. Some models come with features such as bullet drop compensation and rangefinding.
Fixed Power Scopes are cost-effective, reliable, and sturdy. They are suitable for close-to-moderate range shooting with magnifications ranging from 1x (for CQB) to 10x (for hunting). However, they cannot be adjusted to different ranges and conditions, but can be tailored with custom reticles or improved lenses such as mildots and BDCs.
Variable Power Scopes
Variable power rifle scopes are the most popular type of hunting scope. They give more flexibility to target different distances and objects. Variable power levels may range from 2x-7x, to 4x-14x and more.
When selecting a scope, remember that increasing the magnification improves accuracy at long ranges, but decreases field of view. Lower power settings may help with close range shooting, but won't be accurate for shots beyond 400 yards.
A suggested rule is:
- 6x-7x for 200+ yard shots and
- 10-14+x for 600+ yard shots.
Long Range Scopes
Long range scopes are great for precision shooting. Hunters aiming to shoot from far away should look for scopes with 30x or more power magnification. This provides the clearest views and best target recognition.
Features to consider include:
- Higher zoom levels, such as 8-32x or 12-45x.
- An extra wide field of view is great for fast moving game.
- FFP reticle provides accurate holds.
- Opt for a tube diameter of 30mm or larger for optimal light transition and clarity.
- Quality glass lenses give sharpness at all zoom levels.
- Parallax adjustment helps reduce target blurring.
With the right features, a long range scope can be great for hunting large game across wide areas.
Night Vision Scopes
Night vision rifle scopes take existing light, like the moon and stars, and make it brighter, so you can see in the dark. Thermal imaging scopes make an image based on heat energy given off by objects. They're great for hunting large animals – like pigs, deer, and bear – at night.
Getting night vision tech for your rifle is expensive, but hunters who want to be successful at night hunting may find it worth it.
There are three generations of night vision tech in modern rifle scopes:
- Gen 1 (Entry Level)
- Gen 2 (Mid-Range)
- Gen 3 (High Performance)
Gen 3 provides the best performance.
It's important to remember: many countries restrict the export and import of products with certain technologies – such as night vision rifle scopes. So, please check with the local authorities before purchase.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Rifle Scope
Deciding on the correct hunting rifle scope is essential. It can be a game-changer when you're outside. Many things to consider! Magnification power, sturdiness, eye relief, field of view, and more.
Research and understand the features that rifle scopes offer. This will enable you to pick the best one for your hunting habits.
Magnification is a must when shopping for a hunting scope. It determines how close an object appears and helps hunters spot their target. Generally, higher magnification is better. The level of power depends on the game being hunted. For rabbits or groundhogs, a lower power is fine. But for big game, like deer and bear, you'll need more power.
Rifle scopes usually range from 3x to 16x. For more power, you can use variable optics or multiple lenses. But this requires experience. Some devices also have adjustable zoom so you can adjust the magnification quickly.
Objective Lens Size
Objective lens size is an important factor for picking a rifle scope for hunting. It's measured in millimeters and affects the light that reaches your eye. Generally, bigger lenses give a brighter image, even at greater distances. Plus, they provide more space for accessories like lenses, ranges finders, and night vision devices.
But, remember that bigger lenses are heavier on the rifle. So, weight may be a factor when choosing which scope to buy. Bigger lenses provide better performance under low light and magnification. Smaller lenses are lighter with less optical complexity. They're more rugged and durable for bad weather.
Ultimately, it depends on your individual needs and budget. Make sure you research before deciding.
The reticle, or sighting system inside a rifle scope, has a big impact. There are some styles of reticles and each has its pros and cons.
- A basic reticle often has a Duplex-style crosshair, with medium thickness. This type is great for shorter range shooting since it's very accurate.
- Mil-dot reticles are more advanced than the basic. They have small dots around the main crosshairs to measure distances. This is useful when shooting at ranges over 200 yards.
- You can better estimate hold over compensations due to bullet drop.
- An illuminated reticle is another design option. It has LED lighting around the aiming point in low light situations.
- Specialty reticles such as BDC or windage/elevation compensation reticles are used for long range shooting and extreme conditions.
Eye relief is an important part of choosing a rifle scope. Especially if you're mounting it on a larger caliber rifle, like a 30-06 or .338. Eye relief is the distance between your eye and the ocular lens of the scope. This is the lens closest to your eye when looking through the sights.
For most shotguns and non-magnum rifles, eye relief should be at least three inches. For larger calibers, eye relief should be four inches or more. This helps with proper alignment of the sights, and lessens the shock from recoil when shooting.
If the eye relief is too small, it means that less shock is absorbed by your face, and you have less accuracy when shooting. Even with lower calibers. Longer eye relief also helps those who wear eyeglasses.
Remember that lower magnification scopes have longer eye relief than higher magnification scopes.
Durability is key when choosing a rifle scope. It should be sturdy and rust-resistant, especially if you hunt in moist or steamy areas. Plus, make sure it's fog-proof and can handle drastic temperature changes. Test different models in-store to work out the build quality. This'll help you know which one is worth your money in the long run. Have a look at the warranty for each model to check what protection it'll have over time.
When shopping for a hunting rifle scope, there are many factors to consider. Different types of scopes are available. Research the type that best suits your needs. This will get the most out of your hunting.
Be aware of features offered in different models. Choose according to what works best for you and your budget. Read customer reviews from reliable sources. Ask questions to suppliers for additional advice.
Ultimately, selecting a quality rifle scope is essential for accuracy, safety, and better hunting experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: What should I look for when buying a scope for hunting?
A1: When buying a scope for hunting, the most important things to consider are the type of reticle, the magnification range, and the overall size and weight of the scope.
Q2: How much magnification should I look for in a hunting scope?
A2: The amount of magnification you should look for in a hunting scope will depend on the type of game you’re hunting and the terrain you’ll be hunting in. Generally, you will want to look for a scope with at least 3x magnification, but a 4x or 6x scope may be better if you’re hunting in open terrain.
Q3: Should I opt for a variable or fixed power scope?
A3: The choice between a variable or fixed power scope will depend on your budget, the type of game you’re hunting, and the terrain you’ll be hunting in. Generally, variable power scopes are best for open terrain and long range shooting, while fixed power scopes are better for hunting in tight spaces and close range shooting.