Rifle scopes are a must-have for shooters. They provide the shooter with an advantage and can be used in various shooting situations, including hunting, target practice, and self-defense. When it comes to rifle scopes, you will need to consider a wide range of features before making your purchase. You also have many different options for manufacturers, styles, and price ranges, so you should do some research before buying anything.
Below are some of the essential scope terminologies to familiarize yourself with.
- Understanding Scope Acronyms
- Factors to Consider When Buying A Rifle Scope
- Rifle Scope Mounting Instructions
- Best Rifle Scopes
- Vortex Venom 5-25×56
- Vortex Crossfire 2 (2-7×32)
- Leupold Vx-Freedom (3-9×50)
- Vortex Viper (1-4×24)
- Vortex Strike Eagle (4-24×50)
- Athlon Argos BTR (6-24×50)
- Leupold Mark 5HD (5-25×56)
- Trijicon ACOG (4×32)
- Primary Arms SLX (1-6×24)
- Simmons Triplex (3-9×40)
Magnification is one of the most important things to look for when buying a rifle scope. When you look at a scope’s description, it is usually represented in numbers preceded by “X.” You don’t have to be confused as their meaning is even more straightforward than their appearance on black and white. Some scopes have only one number like 2x, 3x, 4x, etc. This indicates the magnification power of the scope. For example, a 3x rifle scope means that the image will appear three times its standard size when you look through the scope.
Some scopes have two numbers separated by “dash.” A perfect example is the 5-25x rifle scope. When you see this in the scope’s description, the scope is a variable power optic. For a 5-25x rifle scope, the scope has the power to magnify an image by five times at its lowest settings and twenty-five times at full magnification.
If you need a scope with fixed magnifying power, go for the one with a single number before “X,” but if you want adjustable magnification power, the scope with two numbers preceding “X” is your best bet. However, a variable power optic scope is more expensive.
After magnification, the objective lens is the next term you want to know because the following number after the magnification on a scope’s description indicates the diameter of the objective lens. It is usually measured in millimeters. For example, a 3-9X50 rifle scope means that the scope has a magnifying power of three at its lowest settings and nine at its highest setting with an objective lens that measures fifty millimeters across its widest point.
The objective lens is always at the front end of the scope, which is the part farthest from your eyes. Its primary purpose is to focus and gather the light needed to produce the image/target on the ocular lens just before your eyes.
The objective lens is usually more significant than the rest of the scope. The bigger the objective lens, the higher the magnifying power and the heavier the scope will be.
Many rifle owners think that the bigger is better when it comes to objective lenses, but that is mostly not the case. The quality of the glass and its coatings contribute more to how bright the objective lens will be. Moreover, bigger objective lenses are not advisable to engage close-range targets because of their bulkiness.
Understanding Scope Acronyms
When you see different abbreviations on a scope’s description, there is a high tendency that you won’t know most of them. However, every acronym you see in a scope’s description is very important as it can indicate vital information about the scope.
Here are some of the most popular acronyms used, their meaning, and their importance.
FOV stands for Field of View. The field of view of a rifle scope is the area your eyes cover when you look into the scope. The standard measurement for FOV is a hundred yards. A wide field of view is needed for moving targets. A smaller field of view usually means a higher magnification and vice versa. FOV is not essential for long-range shooting but can be used to narrow in on small targets.
This acronym stands for Adjustable Objective. This is used to correct parallax. Parallax occurs when the scope’s reticle and the targets are at different angles. This is usually detected when you move your head or aiming eyes while looking through the rifle scope, and the scope’s reticle shifts around the target.
Adjustable Objective is usually used on scopes for long-range shooting because that is a major reason for parallax. AO is beneficial in powerful rifle scopes with a magnification of 10x or more.
This stands for First Focal Plane. THE FFP scope is the scope where the reticle changes when you increase or decrease the magnification. The reticle appears smaller when you reduce the magnification and more significant when you increase the magnification, which causes the target also to increase or decrease in size. You cannot be sure of the range of a moving target. An FFP scope will help you to make concise and accurate adjustments to match your target’s range. They are, however, much more expensive than the Second Focal Plane.
SFP stands for Second Focal Plane. Unlike the First Focal Plane scope, the reticle of the scope remains unaffected when you increase or decrease the magnification on the Second Focal Plane scope. Many long-range shooters do not use SFP scope because of its inconsistencies. They are, however, simpler to use and less expensive.
This acronym stands for Milliradian. This is used to accurately determine the distance to the object and the bullet’s correction. One MIL is usually the same as the distance of a meter out of a thousand meters. It can also be categorized as a type of reticle. MIL is an angular measurement, and the length it represents increases relatively with distance. MILs are usually used in long-range shooting because they make up for wind deflection and bullet drop.
MOA stands for Minute of Angle. It is the most popular among shooters in the USA by a vast margin. One MOA means five inches. Its adjustment value is way better than the MIL, which means you can shoot more accurately, especially at close ranges. It is mainly used to adjust sightings. It also compensates for bullet drops at various distances. MOA is one of the best reticles for long-range shooting.
Factors to Consider When Buying A Rifle Scope
Quality of the Glass and Coatings
If you want high-quality optics, be prepared to spend more money upfront. To get the most out of your camera’s high-quality glass, you will have to pay a premium price. For the optimum picture quality, consider a scope with extremely low dispersion (ED) glass.
Special coatings on the glass are also necessary. With these coatings, you will have the best of both worlds.
There are about as numerous reticle options because of the availability of scopes on the market, and they are all very different. Basics and fine-tuned options may be found in each category. Many hunters can get by with a standard Duplex reticle. A thick reticle can rapidly be your greatest friend if you explore dense forests or frequently have to shoot multiple objects.
Reticles with finer crosshairs are better for shooting tiny objects, particularly at long distances. For long-distance shooting, seek a reticle with MIL-dots or MOA dots. For minimal light shooting, an illuminated reticle is useful. Because of this, it is an excellent choice for hunters who frequently have to take difficult night shots.
Adjustments and Turrets
Reticles are calibrated using turrets, which are knobs on the reticle. After your scope is attached to your weapon, you zero it using turrets. The elevation turret of the scope has a knob placed at the top of the scope. This knob can be used to change the angle at which the collision occurs.
The windage turret, on the other hand, is another knob beside the scope. The contact point may be adjusted vertically using this knob. The significance of high-quality turrets cannot be overstated. Clickable turrets that appear noisily with every adjustment are preferable.
Strategic turrets, or “target” turrets, are suitable for long firing because they adapt quickly. With tactical turrets, you may make fast alterations to elevation and windage in the field to account for crosswinds or bullet fall during range. Choose a scope with zero return functionality if you pick this sort of scope. Once you are done with your long-range shooting, you will not have to find your zero.
If the scope’s back lens is too close to you, you can not view the complete image. The margins of the image become blurry if your eyes are very close together. If the subject is further away, the picture is reduced to a single dot in the lens aperture center.
Magnification tends to shorten the eye relief of a sight. The optic’s eye relief determines where it should be mounted on your weapon. If the rifle has a lot of recoils, this might become a concern. It is possible to get a black eye if the scope lacks adequate eye relief.
Rifle Scope Mounting Instructions
Direct shooting may be achieved if the scope is mounted correctly. Your bullet’s impact spot might be shifted by a scope that is not firmly attached to your weapon. Nevertheless, installing a scope on your own is not that complicated.
If you have a rifle that is drilled and primed and you have purchased the necessary base and rings for your kind of rifle, we assume that you are ready to start. Lower, moderate, and higher ring heights are available to accommodate scopes with various objective lens diameters. It would help if you always tried to keep your rifle’s scope as minimal as possible while mounting it. Make sure that you can operate the rifle bolt at any altitude you prefer. A cushioned gun grip makes it easier to attach a sight to a rifle. Carving perforations in the ends of a sturdy carton box might be used to create a handle if needed.
Assemble Your Scopes and Firearms
Outers Crud Cutter or lighter fluid can remove grease from screws, bases, and screw slots. After thoroughly drying the metal, gently oil the surface of the reception at which base will be placed. It will prevent rust from forming on the metal. Set the bottom of the reception.
A sprinkle of Loc-Tite moderately to every screw (do not use the harshest material that can be rendered useless by heat) is all that is necessary. Tighten the base screws as tightly as possible, utilizing a screwdriver blade width and density as the screw slots.
Scope Ring Installation
As per the package recommendations, install the lower half of the rings. Front rings from Leupold and Redfield, as well as from a few other brands, can only be attached to the base by turning the ring 90 °. The tube of your scope may be bent by using it as leverage to twist the rings. Instead, use a 1-inch piece of timber or pipe.
Position the Scope on the Ring
The scope should be placed on the rings’ lower halves. To alter eye relief and cant, loosen the screws on the top half of the rings and move the scope backward and forward and twist. If you position the scope very near your eye, you will be smacked by the recoil when it returns. As a general rule, scopes are intended to be positioned three to four inches in front of your eye while reclining over the rifle with your head facing the stock; hence, they have three to four inches of eye relief. The scope should be positioned correctly.
Make the Perfect Adjustment
Ensure the crosshairs are vertical by adjusting the cant. The rifle should not be tilting about one side when the gun is now in a grip. Finally, aim the scope towards a single direction, of something like a doorpost or window framework, that you have confirmed with the level before. Make sure the crosshairs are aligned with the continuous line by turning the scope.
Keep the Scope Secure by Tightening
Adjust the ring screws until they are snug. However, they need not be screwed down as firmly as the screws holding the base of the reception to the scope. Using splitter rings with screws on each side, clamp down the screws one at a time to balance out the spaces.
Best Rifle Scopes
Vortex Venom 5-25×56
The Vortex Venom rifle scopes are the perfect optic for any hunter. With a wide range of magnification and an incredible eye-box, these scopes allow you to see more at once than ever before. The Vortex Venom 5-25×56 FFP Riflescope is a high-power scope that features more than one magnification level. It also has adjustable objective lenses for light-gathering efficiency; now, you can shoot at distances even without running out of sight. The 56mm objective lens lets in over six times as much light so that your vision will never be blurry even when hunting dimly lit prey or deep into nightfall, where there’s little moonlight available to illuminate what lies ahead.
The VORTEX Venom 5-25x56mm optic mount is an American Defense Manufacturing (ADM) Recon SL low-mount. This optic is ideal to be mounted on a rifle scope because it’s sturdy and won’t break the bank, while also keeping your scope as low down on a gun barrel as possible without sacrificing quality or precision.
Vortex Crossfire 2 (2-7×32)
The Vortex Crossfire 2 is a great and affordable scope with essential features capable of giving you the best shooting experience. The clarity of this scope is top-notch due to the multi-coated lens that they come with. The fast focus innovation is excellent for simple reticle focusing. It’s one of the best accuracy scopes available.
The aircraft alloy it is made with ensures long-lasting durability. It also comes with weatherproof characteristics due to the sealed o-ring and nitrogen purged feature. It has capped turrets, and the MOA clicking is adjustable in many ways. Due to its 2-7x magnification, it is easy to medium and close-range shooting, and parallax adjustability is set up at 100 yards.
No mounting or ring comes with this package. However, you can get a low medium mount from the vortex. In this case, you can select one that suits your preference. The exciting part about this scope is the Lifetime guarantee that ensures you get a replacement without any charge whenever an issue arises.
Leupold Vx-Freedom (3-9×50)
This scope is one of the best scopes that is available. The glass clarity is high, and it comes with a duplex second plane that ensures that the reticle size stays the same. It also comes with a twilight management system and an eye relief of 4.2 to 3.7 inches that ensures your eye doesn’t have a direct hit.
The aircraft alloy it is made with is what gives it the lasting and durable quality it has. If you’re looking for the perfect scope that is shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof the Leupold Vx-Freedom is the right answer to your search. The eye box is large for perfect sight when you want to carry out your shot.
The magnification of the Leupold Vx-Freedom is 3-9x which makes it the perfect bet for medium and long-range shooting. The power selector is perfectly designed and can make adjustments irrespective of whatever weather condition you find yourself in.
The most suitable choice of mounting for this scope is the Leupold Dual Dovetail medium ring. What makes this option special is that the ring stays in firmly, which keeps the zero perfectly in position. You need not fear if any form of damage that befalls your scope. You can rest assured knowing that this scope comes with a lifetime warranty so that you can carry out your repairs free of charge with any charges. The Leupold Vx-Freedom will give the perfect performance befitting your money’s worth.
Vortex Viper (1-4×24)
This scope is an essential LPVO scope. It is not a high-end scope like the rest, and it’s best used for mid-range shooting. The very low dispersion of the glass of this scope has helped with the glass resolution, which improves the clarity of the scope. It is what makes this scope produce a crisp display. The reticle is a TMCQ (Tactical Milling Close Quarter) situated in the second focal plane. It also supports MOA suspension lines
In terms of brightness, the Vortex Viper comes with various illumination settings to handle low light situations. The durability is awesome, and the eye relief is up to 4 inches. The turrets are lengthy, and they help in making the zeroing process to be relatively straightforward. The scope comes with a 1-4x magnification which is a perfect bet for your game expeditions.
This scope doesn’t come with mounting or rings. The absence doesn’t dispute that the package comes with other essential items like fabric cleaning the lens, battery, and CRS shims. The lifetime warranty this scope comes with makes it unique. You can rest assured knowing the brand has your back whenever your scope has any damage.
Vortex Strike Eagle (4-24×50)
The glass clarity of this scope is excellent and effective, which makes this scope an excellent choice. Once you increase the magnification to the highest, the distortion process is very minimal. Some of the fascinating features of this scope include the anti-reflective coating and multi-coating to the lens, which ensures that the lens stays scratch-resistant for as long as possible.
If you’re wondering what makes this scope special, you’ll be fascinated when you hear the EBR-4 MOA reticle this scope comes with is specialized in predicting ranges, windage modifications, targets in motion, and holdovers. The reticles are close to the eyepiece, so it stays the same despite the magnification modification you apply. Speaking of modification, this scope comes with a complete magnification of 6x with the minimum and maximum eye relief to be 3 and 3.5, respectively.
The eye box is as tight as 1.73 inches, although you’ll need a proper cheek weld to make sure you don’t have any complaints. Due to the strong structure of this scope, it has the capabilities to withstand any condition; and the Nitrogen purged and O ring features ensure that the waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof capabilities are maintained.
The battery life of this scope is commendable, and as part of the components in this package, you should also know that an extra CR2032 battery accompanies the package. The windage and elevation knobs are user-friendly and pretty simple to use due to their adjustability. You can adjust the parallax from 20 yards to a much further distance.
A 30mm ring is needed due to the scope’s body, which is also 30mm. The kind of setup you’re planning on using will be the basis to determine the ring’s base and height you’ll use. This scope is undoubtedly the ideal option if you’re searching for the right accuracy for your shooting activities.
Athlon Argos BTR (6-24×50)
Unlike many other scopes available, this one comes with crystal clear quality glass with higher quality. When it comes to the lenses, they are multi-coated, which is a special feature that is seen in only premium scopes. Light transmission is very well optimized to ensure that a much clearer image is produced.
The reticles of this scope are illuminated, and there is also a first focal plane attached to it which is a topnotch feature. You can shoot at any time of the day thanks to the 11 various illumination settings this scope comes with. With the etched glass in place, you can be assured that your scope can be used even when the battery runs out or dies.
In terms of duration, this scope can surely be tossed about no matter the situation or circumstance because it can withstand any condition without getting torn up. In addition to that, there is an XPL lens coating that makes sure the scope is well protected from severe climatic conditions, grease, and dirtiness. As usual, the nitrogen purged and O ring sealing ensures the scope remains shockproof, fog proof, and waterproof as it should be. You’ll be amazed at the results you’ll get from buying this scope. Excellent customer service and a lifetime warranty for your product are some of the fantastic benefits Athlon offers its esteemed customers.
The tactile clicks are excellent, and they ensure that zero holds no matter the circumstance. The versatility of this scope also comes from the 6x-24x magnification that it has, which can be used for various kinds of shooting.
This scope doesn’t come with mounting, so you might have to develop an alternative like including a 30mm ring. Whichever way you choose to mount it on your rifle is entirely up to you. So long it’s a perfect fit for your rifle.
Leupold Mark 5HD (5-25×56)
When it comes to long-range shooting, the Leupold Mark 5HD is the ideal long-range scope option. With this scope, you can carry out a precision shot at 1000 yards, and it doesn’t matter where or when. You can carry out this action in the day and nighttime. Glass clarity of this scope is excellent, so you can see clearly when you’re about to take a shot from any range. The Max HD feature for light helps with the prediction for glare and helps with light gathering to enable you to see in low light conditions. The eyepiece has a fast focus characteristic that assists with bringing the reticle into focus to make sure you get a fast target acquisition. In terms of durability, it is excellent and can withstand any condition. What’s fascinating about this scope is the lightweight characteristics.
The Leupold Mark 5HD comes with a cover and lens shade as an additional incentive. However, you have to purchase your mounting and ring.
Trijicon ACOG (4×32)
If you want an ACOG that is an ideal Combat Gunsight, you can be assured that the Trijicon ACOG is the most reliable option. This scope is the top preferred option for law enforcement and the military. The prominence of this scope shows how effective and versatile the scope is when it comes to results. The image clarity is excellent, and the anti-reflective coating helps to remove any form of distortion. The reticle of this scope makes it possible for you to hit intermediate ranged targets irrespective of the kind of light available. This scope makes use of the BAC, also known as “Bindon Aiming Concept ” which means that using this sight has to be done with both eyes wide open. The durable structure of the Trijicon ACOG ensures that it can withstand any condition; it is almost indestructible due to its aircraft alloy build-up. It is fog and water-resistant and has a lifetime warranty to ensure that it can get repaired anytime should any damage occur.
A flattop mount accompanies this scope. It is the best suitable attachment for all 5.56 rifles. The mountain also has a neoprene scope cover as an extra incentive.
Primary Arms SLX (1-6×24)
This scope has a high glass clarity that doesn’t include any hues. The transmission of light is optimized thanks to the fully multi-coated lens. The diopter ring feature is in place to change nearsightedness and far-sightedness to -3. The second focal plane structure enables the reticle to have a broad view during continuous scanning and magnification modification.
However, there are just 5 illumination settings that are used for both the red and green reticle. It comes with a 3.3 to 3.5-inch eye relief, and the eye box is specifically built for two eyes scoping even in the lowest magnification. High Durability is a top characteristic of this scope, and it also has a battery that lasts for over 200 hours during median setup. Zeroing on this scope is excellent due to the 5 MOA adjustments and the 1-6x magnification capability.
There are no rings for this scope. However, you can make use of any 30mm ring as a substitute.
Simmons Triplex (3-9×40)
This second focal plane reticle is a user-friendly scope that is easy to use. The scope is very durable and can withstand any crash and rough handling. However, it does come with plastic parts, and the turret knobs are also made of plastic. The parallax on this scope is much, and they don’t come with adjustments.
This scope does not come with any mounting system.
There is no one single best scope. The best rifle scope for you will depend on your needs and the most important features to you. It’s up to you as the consumer to do research, read customer reviews, and make an informed decision about which product is right for you!
With more than 50 years experience in the field and the testing lab, author L.P. Brezny is one of today’s most recognized shotgun experts and authors. He is a contributor to dozens of firearms publications, such as Wildfowl, Shotgun Sports, and Varmint Hunters, and he is a regular columnist in the Gun Digest annual as well as AmmoLand News.