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The Ultimate Guide to Tactical Rifle Scopes Take Your Shooting Skills to the Next Level


Are you a hunter or tactical shooter? Reach new heights with this guide! Here, you'll find an in-depth look into tactical rifle scopes. We'll discuss how they work, and how to pick the right one. Plus, get invaluable tips to help you shoot like a pro. Get all the info you need to know about tactical rifle scopes right here!

What is a Tactical Rifle Scope?

A tactical rifle scope is a special kind of sight for aiming and shooting rifles. It has high magnification and adjustable settings for different distances and situations. It often has features like reticles, turrets, and parallax adjustment, illumination control, and low-light performance.

Compared to other scopes like hunting or sniper scopes, tactical rifle scopes are more accurate and powerful, yet still lightweight and strong. They usually have higher magnification levels and are equipped with precise components and better lenses. This allows the user to take advantage of precision shooting. Popular brands of tactical rifle scopes include Nightforce Optics, Leupold Optics, and Swarovski Optics.

Benefits of Using a Tactical Rifle Scope

Tactical rifle scopes provide better accuracy and precision for shooting targets at long distances. They also give you visibility in low light and help you identify targets.

Tactical scopes are made for tactical and competitive shooters. They have features like

  • illuminated reticles
  • adjustable zoom
  • wide field of view
  • parallax adjustment
  • drop compensator lines

With a tactical scope on your rifle, you can accurately hit targets quickly and precisely.

These scopes are great for unpredictable combat scenarios. You can adjust your scope quickly depending on the terrain or situation. This gives you an advantage over opponents no matter where they are shooting from.

Types of Tactical Rifle Scopes

Tactical rifle scopes are the perfect add-on for your gun. Beginners and experienced shooters alike can benefit from the variety of options available. This guide will explore the different types of tactical rifle scopes, helping you pick the one that best fits your needs.

Fixed Power Scopes

A fixed power scope is a type of rifle scope with no magnification adjustments. It usually has a wide field of view and is lower-powered than other scopes. It's easier to use since you don't need to change the magnificaton for different shooting distances. Fixed power scopes are also made to last, with fewer parts than higher-powered scopes.

Common magnifications are 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x and 6x (max). These can be used up to 500 yards in the right conditions.

Fixed power scopes are great for:

  • Defensive or close-range shooting, where distances may be unpredictable.
  • Hunting, due to their reliability.
  • Target shooting at known distances, because they work well in all weather conditions.

Variable Power Scopes

Variable Power Scopes, also known as variable magnification or zoom scopes, are the favorite of shooters needing quick changes between close and far away.

They have adjustable magnifications, ranging from 1x to 8x, some with more. The higher the magnification, the farther you can hit your target. The lower magnifications like 1x or 2x reduce parallax, letting you acquire targets quickly at close distances. Magnifications 3x – 5x permit accuracy up to 500 yards, 6x – 8x great for shooting out beyond 1000 yards.

Pick a scope with the correct reticle and illumination to suit your rifle and shooting program. Also make sure to note eye relief, crucial for protecting your eyes when shooting with high powered scopes.

Night Vision Scopes

Night vision scopes come with lots of features and can help you see in the dark. Gen 1 scopes are the budget option, with limited light amplification and lower resolution. Gen 2 & 3 scopes have greater light amplification and better resolution. Look for a model with auto brightness, to adjust the display in different lighting conditions. An internal IR illuminator can amplify target identification in total darkness. Battery life is also important – some scopes last up to 200 hours. Extra power sources like solar panels or hand cranks can be useful.

When shopping for a tactical rifle scope, consider these features to find one that fits your needs:

  • Gen 1, 2 & 3 scopes
  • Auto brightness
  • IR illuminator
  • Long battery life
  • Extra power sources

With the right equipment you'll be ready to take on dark environments!

Thermal Scopes

Thermal scopes use infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye. This tech can detect the heat in an area, letting you see beyond normal light sources. They are great for hunting in low light and can even penetrate walls.

Thermal scopes come with various magnifications, fields of view and resolution. They have fewer features than digital night vision scopes but they are great for hunting and target shooting.

These scopes need an external power source, such as batteries or a rechargeable pack. They can be used in wet or dry conditions and are shockproof. Tripods are recommended for optimum performance. They can last up to 8 hours on a single charge and come with extra features such as digital zoom, OAD, AGC, polarity control and image optimization settings.

Features to Consider

Shopping for a tactical rifle scope? Consider these features! Type of reticle, magnification – and also construction, eye relief and parallax adjustment. Invest wisely! Look at these features first:

  • Type of reticle
  • Magnification
  • Construction
  • Eye relief
  • Parallax adjustment


Magnification is key in tactical rifle scopes. It affects your shooting accuracy, so you need to pick the right one. There are features related to magnification that help decide the quality of a scope.

  • Consider variable or fixed magnification. Fixed magnification has one view of the target, but variable gives flexibility with different targets or distances. You can choose from low or high power fixed or variable models.
  • Look at the zoom range offered by different scopes and make sure it’s in the desired range. For example, 3x-12x means the scope has 3-power on one side and 12-power on the other. Consider combined power systems for detailed observation. 8X-24X with 8-power on one side and 24-power on the other offers good performance without breaking the bank.
  • Also think about exit pupil size – bigger will give brighter images in low light, while smaller creates blur on lower magnifications.

Objective Lens Diameter

The objective lens diameter of a rifle scope is important. It is the size of the glass at the front end. Bigger lenses let in more light, resulting in brighter images in low light. If you plan to do a lot of hunting or shooting in low light, go for a 40mm+ lens. But remember, larger lenses make the rifle heavier and bulkier. Think about the magnification power too. Higher powers need more light for detail.


When shopping for a tactical rifle scope, one key feature to consider is the reticle. This is the patterned crosshair, dots, and other markers in the viewfinder. Usually, two options are presented: illuminated or non-illuminated.

Illuminated reticles have LED lights that can help you stay on target in dim light and low visibility. This is especially useful for hunting in forested areas at dawn and dusk. However, non-illuminated reticles are better during the day, because they do not create any additional glare or distortion. They are not ideal for night or low-light environments.

There are three common types of reticles:

  • Duplex crosshairs, where the middle of your aiming point should always intersect with the farthest distance aiming point on either side of the reticle.
  • Mil dot reticles, which use predetermined mil (milliradian) distance marks within the viewfinder. This allows shooters to gauge speed and range for precision shooting.
  • BDC (bullet drop compensator) reticles, which contain range marks. This helps shooters account for bullet drop over long distances without manually adjusting elevation turrets between shots. However, these require specific ballistic information about the firearm/ammunition configuration. This may make them complicated for novice users.

Eye Relief

Eye relief is key for a tactical rifle scope. It's the distance between your eye and the eyepiece and will give you the full field of view. Longer eye relief gives you more protection from recoil and makes it easier to use magnified optics. Tactical scopes usually have longer eye relief than hunting scopes. Aim for 3-4 inches. Over 4 is great, but anything lower than 3 should be avoided as it limits your vision.

Parallax Adjustment

Parallax is the word for when an object at different distances appears to move. When you look through a scope and move your head whilst keeping the reticle on a target, you may notice the target moves against the background. This makes it hard to hit targets accurately.

Scopes have adjustable parallax settings from 10 yards to infinity. Check your manual for instructions on adjusting the setting.

Parallax adjust isn't important in most hunting as shots rarely exceed 300 yards. But if you are shooting targets at 500+ yards, adjustable parallax could be the difference between success and failure in long-range shooting events or tactical situations.

How to Mount a Tactical Rifle Scope

Mounting a tactical rifle scope? It's essential for taking your shooting to the next level! You'll need some knowledge plus a few tools and supplies. In this guide, we'll list what you need and the steps you should take. Ready? Here we go!

  1. Gather the necessary tools and supplies.
  2. Check the scope for compatibility with the rifle.
  3. Mount the rings onto the rifle.
  4. Secure the scope in the rings.
  5. Attach the scope to the mount.
  6. Tighten the screws.
  7. Check the scope's alignment.
  8. Adjust the scope's settings.
  9. Test the scope's accuracy.

Selecting the Right Mount

The mount for your rifle scope is nearly as important as the scope itself. Select one that securely attaches to your firearm and provides a stable platform. Depending on your gun, you may choose a different system.

Picatinny Rail or Weaver Rail systems are good for most rifles. Picatinny is better if accuracy is needed at long distances. It has narrow design and extra slots. Weaver has a wider rail which is great for heavier scopes and larger calibers.

When selecting a mount, consider how easy it is to install and adjust. Look at what materials it's made of, and if it has anti-vibration technology.

Examples include:

  • One-piece mounts
  • Block mounts
  • Cantilever mounts
  • Dual rail designs
  • Tri-rail systems
  • Quick attach/release mounts
  • Top-load configurations
  • Bubble levels
  • One ring adapters

Choose a mount with maximum precision – misalignment can lead to errors – without being too cumbersome.

Installing the Mount

Installing a tactical rifle scope is essential. Know your rifle's mounting system first. This guide will cover standard Picatinny rail systems.

Prepare the mount by attaching most of the screws needed. Align the mount to the rifle's top Picatinny rail and attach it with screws. Use anti-seize lubricant on the screw threads for a secure fitment. Tighten the screws evenly so the mount won't tilt or torque.

Insert the scope tube and secure it with mounts/rings. There are two sets: one attaches to the scope tube and the other to the rifle's rail system. Put the rings together with their flats facing each other. Connect them via side-to-side screws or compression straps. Screw down the side screws until they feel solid and sturdy. Test the resistance by gently rocking it back and forth. Re-tighten if it feels loose. Make sure to achieve an optimal snugness for shooting.

Adjusting the Scope

Once your scope is mounted, you need to make adjustments. Most tactical scopes have a click system for windage and elevation.

  • Windage: Start at the center point and adjust small amounts until your targets are aligned. This will make sure your scope is zeroed-in when you shoot.
  • Elevation: Move to elevation adjustment, in terms of MOA. Start at the center point and move up or down until aligned with the target. You're ready to fire!
  • Parallax: Finally, set the parallax based on the distance to the target. This will help avoid inaccurate sight pictures or skulling. Many scopes come with adjustable parallax turrets so it's easy to use in the field.

Tips for Using a Tactical Rifle Scope

Tactical rifle scopes are must-haves for anyone wanting to boost their hunting or shooting skills. They let you accurately target a spot from far away. This guide will tell you about the various types of tactical rifle scopes and how to use them properly. Let's go!

Setting the Right Magnification

Scope magnification should be a top priority. Depending on the type of scenario, you'll need different levels of magnification. Research what you need and why, then buy the scope. Most manufacturers have 2-20x power range. For short ranges, 12x or more is excessive. For long range shooting, there are two types of scopes: tactical and varmint/long range.

  • Tactical scopes offer 3-25x power range.
  • Varmint/long range scopes offer 12-50x.

To get the most accuracy beyond 200 yards, find a scope with nonlinear power changes, good eye relief, fast target acquisition and accurate MP measurements. Don't settle for the cheapest scope – it could mean sacrificing precision. Make sure you check the details before buying.

Adjusting the Parallax

Parallax is an effect where magnification and focus won't stay set for all distances. To fix this, manufacturers add a parallax adjustment to scopes. This lets you adjust the reticles from the target.

Parallax adjustments are usually done by hand. On most tactical rifle scopes, you'll find the knob near the magnification power ring or on the scope's body. These knobs will let you dial in your shots, with increments from infinity to 10 meters or less – depending on the scope.

When making these changes, remember the following:

  • Every time you move the focus off target, there'll be a slight shift in aim.
  • So, don't over-adjust and take steady breaths when using this feature – it's easy to lose aim from too much movement.

Using the Reticle

The reticle (or crosshairs) of a rifle scope is essential for effective tactical shooting. It can be used to measure range, lead moving targets, and measure vertical and horizontal distance.

It's essential to understand the type of reticle before using it. Types of reticles include:

  • Standard Crosshairs: This design is an ‘X' of fine lines. It offers precise accuracy when aiming.
  • Duplex Vertical Post Design: This design has a vertical line with distinct gaps/posts on either side. It helps determine if your aim is above/below the target.
  • Circle-Dot Reticles: This design has a dot surrounded by a double circle. It allows faster focus even if the target isn't centered.
  • Mil-Dot Reticles: Developed for military snipers, it has multiple directionally spaced intersecting points. These form mil dots to give precise measurements over large distances.

With practice, you'll be able to identify windage direction and angles quickly!

Establishing the Zero

Setting the zero on your tactical rifle scope is very important. It helps you hit your target accurately and consistently. Here's what you need to know:

  • Securely mount your firearm first. Then, pick a distance for sighting-in (e.g., 100 or 200 yards).
  • Next, adjust the elevation turret to its highest point. Fire a three-round test group. Check where the bullet impacts relative to the chosen distance.
  • If shots land above or below, make adjustments up or down. Test fire another three-round group aiming at a new spot. Analyze results and make changes if necessary until satisfied. This will help you get a good “zero“.


Picking the right tactical rifle scope is essential for accurate shooting. Keep in mind factors like magnification, mounting system, durability and price. Test out different brands and models to find your perfect fit. With thoughtfulness and effort you can get the ideal scope for your shooting skills.

Before buying a rifle, check local laws to be sure it's legal. All the best!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the purpose of a tactical rifle scope?

A: A tactical rifle scope is a specialized scope that is designed to provide increased accuracy and precision when shooting at long distances. It has features like ranging reticles, adjustable turrets and reticle illumination, which are designed to help the shooter quickly and accurately acquire their target.

Q: What is the difference between a tactical and a regular rifle scope?

A: A tactical rifle scope is more advanced than a regular rifle scope and has features that are designed to improve accuracy and precision when shooting at longer distances. It typically has higher magnification, ranging reticles, adjustable turrets and illumination, which enable the shooter to quickly and accurately acquire their target.

Q: What should I look for when buying a tactical rifle scope?

A: When buying a tactical rifle scope, you should consider factors such as magnification, reticle type, illuminated reticles, adjustable turrets, and the quality of the construction. Additionally, you should consider factors such as the size, weight, and durability. Lastly, you should consider the price and make sure you are getting the best value for your money.

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