The Ultimate Guide to Hunting Rifle Scopes Which One is Right for You


Are you a hunter? New or experienced, selecting a rifle scope can be tricky. There are many points to consider when deciding which fits best: size, magnification, lens diameter and reticle type. Price is usually a factor too.

This guide will look at these points in detail. We'll discuss the pros and cons of two types of hunting scopes: Fixed Power and Variable Power. We'll also provide some tips on choosing the correct reticle and sighting in your rifle with a new scope. With this knowledge, you'll be ready to pick the ideal hunting rifle scope for your needs.

Types of Rifle Scopes

Rifle scopes come in many forms! Fixed power, variable power, illuminated reticle and long-range scopes. It's tricky to pick the right one for you. Let's explore the various types of rifle scopes. Their pros and cons!

  • Fixed power scopes are great for basic shooting.
  • Variable power scopes are more adjustable and can change magnification.
  • Illuminated reticles are helpful in low-light situations.
  • Long-range scopes offer increased accuracy at longer distances.

Pick the right rifle scope for your needs!

Fixed Power Scopes

Fixed power scopes are the go-to scope type. Magnification can't be changed and they're usually seen on bolt-action rifles. 3x to 9x magnification is standard.

If you need a scope for hunting or target shooting with a modern sporting rifle or shotgun, fixed power scopes are the way to go. They have fewer parts than variable power models and can last longer. Optional extras, such as illuminated crosshair reticles, might be available.

Do your research before purchasing – particularly if you go for reticle illumination! Quality optics or budget-friendly options, research is key.

Variable Power Scopes

Variable power scopes, often known as variable zoom or “variable scope”, have magnifications that can be changed for the best view of your target. They are commonly used in hunting and tactical shooting as they can be adjusted as needed for any range.

These scopes let you make exact adjustments to zoom in or out on a target, giving you control over the field of view. Variable scopes usually offer magnification powers between 1X and 5X, but can reach up to 30X or more depending on the model.

Additionally, many variable scopes have reticles that move with the magnification settings so aim points stay consistent. Reticles come in different designs depending on the type of hunting or shooting. Hunters usually prefer simple crosshairs with bullet hash marks below them for accuracy when shooting game animals from far away.

Some popular models of variable power rifle scopes are:

  • Leupold Mark AR Mod 1 Rifle Scope
  • Bushnell Elite Tactical Illuminated Riflescope
  • Trijicon RX30 Compact Rifle Scope
  • Schmidt & Bender PM II 5-25×56 Riflescope
  • ATN X-Sight IIHD Rifle Scope
  • Nikon Monarch 3-12×42 Riflescope

Night Vision Scopes

Two types of night vision rifle scopes exist: Generation 1 and Generation 2. Research is key when making your purchase.

  • Generation 1 (Gen 1) scopes are cheaper. They use a light intensifier tube plus an infrared illuminator. These have an effective range of 50 meters in complete darkness. The main advantage is cost-efficiency, as they're typically hundreds of dollars cheaper than Gen 2.
  • Generation 2 (Gen 2) scopes use image tubes that increase the level of amplification from 3X or 5X up to 10X or 15X. This makes them ideal for long-range shooting. However, this enhanced tech comes at a higher price tag–expect to spend $1000-$2000 for a quality Gen 2 scope.

Long-Range Scopes

Long range scopes have bigger main tubes and more adjustment range between the turret and eyepiece, as well as larger lenses. This means more light is collected, resulting in a brighter image with less distortion. Plus, you can see further with increased magnification.

Here are some common types of long-range rifle scopes:

  • Variable Power Scopes: These are adjustable scopes with variable zoom.
  • Fixed Power Scopes: Fixed power optics provide more accuracy than variable power due to fewer internal components and easier alignment and parallax adjustments.
  • Tactical Scopes: Tactical scopes are designed for quick target acquisition and have advanced features like reticle illumination for accurate aiming in low light.
  • Mil Dot Reticles: Mil dot reticles are better than crosshair reticles as they let you adjust based on estimated target size, without doing calculations every time you shoot.

Features to Consider

Huntin'? Ya gotta have a good rifle scope! Consider these features to find the one that fits your needs! This guide will help you pick the right one for your hunting trips. Ready? Let's get huntin'!

  • Check the magnification of the scope.
  • Look for a durable scope.
  • Check the scope's field of view.
  • Look for multi-coated lenses.
  • Check the eye relief.
  • Consider the reticle.


When shopping for a hunting rifle scope, magnification is key. Measurement is based on the size of the objective lens. The bigger the lens, the more magnification. Power refers to how much bigger the image appears compared to seeing it without a telescope or binoculars. For example, a scope with 4x lens will make the image appear four times bigger.

Scopes with adjustable power are great for hunting. They have high and low settings, allowing you to take quick shots at close range or longer shots at distant targets. When considering adjustable power, think of what range your target will likely be at. 12x is usually the highest level for hunting rifle scopes. Anything higher has a narrow field-of-view and is not accurate for long-range shooting.

Look for scopes with “variable magnification” or “variable power”. These allow you to zoom in or out as needed. They are versatile and perfect for any hunting condition.

Objective Lens Diameter

When shopping for a scope, you should consider the size and shape of the objective lens. This is an important factor, as it affects how much light can enter the eyepiece and influences your field of view. Generally, bigger lenses let in more light and give a wider field of view. However, they are heavier and cost more.

Objective lens sizes range from 20mm to 50mm+. Choose one that is suitable for the type of hunting planned. If shooting in low-light or needing extra magnification, a larger lens (40-50mm) is best. If hunting during the day or close range, a smaller lens (20-28mm) is enough. Make sure it fits well into the scope rings without touching either edge when secured. Especially if using high-powered rounds!


A reticle is a pattern of lines or shapes seen when looking through a rifle scope. It helps to aim and target shots. It can be one line or lots of lines crossing each other. Different reticles can have more fine markings, windage and elevation marks, etc.

Today, there are many different types of reticles on rifle scopes. Examples include duplex crosshairs, BDC reticles, MOA/Mil Dot reticles, and illuminated reticles. Think carefully about what you need before choosing a rifle scope for hunting.

Eye Relief

Eye relief is key for all shooters. It defines the gap between your eye and the eyepiece of your scope, providing a full view. A general tip is that eye relief should be 3 times longer than the caliber and bullet weight used. For instance, if you shoot a .30-06 rifle, eye relief should be at least 9 inches.

The type of scope you pick should also be taken into consideration. Fixed-power scopes provide longer eye relief than variable models. If you buy a scope for a muzzleloader, make sure it has at least 4 inches of eye relief to guard your eyes from hot gases.

When using any rifle scope, keep your head upright – don't tilt it forward or back as it can hinder accuracy and slow down target acquisition. Adjustable eyepieces let users quickly adjust the scope to their needs for distance and comfort when aiming.

Parallax Adjustment

Parallax adjustment is an important factor when selecting a rifle scope. It's also known as focusing the reticle. This ensures that the reticle looks clear with the target at all distances. Short range shots don't need this feature, however it's a must for precision long-range shooting.

There are two types of parallax adjustments – adjustable and fixed. Adjustable parallax scopes usually have a wide range of clarity settings from 10 meters to infinity. Lower-cost scopes usually have fixed distance settings of 50 yards, 100 yards, and 150 yards. This feature is found on variable and fixed powered optics.

Mounting a Rifle Scope

Hunting with a rifle? Let's get the scope on right! Securely mounting it is a must. Accuracy matters too. So, how do you do it? Here's the scoop:

  • Properly mount the scope to get the best results.
  • Make sure it's fixed in place. That will guarantee success!

Determine the Mount Type

Selecting a rifle scope is key. There are many different types of mounting systems available. One-piece mounts have an integrated rail and are machined from metal for strength. However, they are pricey and lack elevation adjustments. Two-piece mounts come in two separate pieces, can be adjusted to provide eye relief, windage and elevation corrections, and are less costly. Extended eye relief rails attach over a standard rail system, but are too big for some rifles.

It's important to choose the right mount based on size, weight and purpose, for accuracy and consistent performance.

Secure the Mount

To mount a rifle scope, you must decide how you'll attach it. Rings mounted to the gun and clamping onto the rail via picatinny or weaver mounts are the two most common ways.

If you use ring mounts, get ones that fit snugly onto your rifle's mount rail system. Measure and make sure they match before purchasing. If needed, get bases to replace the existing mount rails.

For picatinny/weaver mounting, you may need special tools. When attaching screws, do so with care, as overtightening can damage threads and accuracy. Leave off removable parts such as hand-guard covers and top-loading sections until all fasteners are tightened. This helps keep alignment and provides access for maintenance.

Level the Scope

Before mounting the rifle scope, check if it's level. Tilt the gun onto its side to view the flat surface on top of the receiver. Use a bubble level or carpenter’s level to make sure the rifle and receiver are aligned properly. Draw lines on each end of the flat surface with a felt-tip pen or marker so you can re-level when remounting. This helps with accuracy when shooting.

Secure the rail mount with bolts. Practice attaching and removing it a few times. Make sure bolts are tightened correctly, as per the rifle’s manual instructions. If they are too loose, check again until they meet the torque requirements. This is important to avoid uneven pressure on both sides of the gun and inaccurate shots when hunting.


It's important to think about the environment, rifle quality, target distance, and weapon purpose when picking a hunting rifle scope. Knowing what kind of conditions you'll be shooting in, and how far away your targets are, can help you make the right decision. That will make your hunting trips more fun and successful.

Choose between a fixed or adjustable zoom magnification scope, depending on your budget and needs. Research online reviews and check out an outdoor store, so you can get the best scope for your money. Before buying any gear, make sure you're knowledgeable. That way, you can get the most out of every hunting trip!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What kind of scopes are best for hunting?

A1. The best scope for hunting will depend on the type of hunting you’re doing. Generally speaking, a variable power scope with a 3-9x magnification is ideal for most hunting situations. This will give you the flexibility to adjust the magnification for different distances and lighting conditions.

Q2. Are all rifle scopes the same?

A2.No, rifle scopes vary in quality, features, and price. Some scopes are designed for specific applications, such as long range shooting or close range hunting. You should select a scope based on your individual needs and budget.

Q3. How do I know what magnification to choose for my rifle scope?

A3.The magnification you choose depends on the type of hunting you’re doing. If you’re shooting at long distances, a higher magnification scope will be better. For close range hunting, a lower magnification scope can be used. You should also consider the lighting conditions, as more magnification can make it difficult to see in low light.

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