What Does The Numbers On A Scope Mean – Explanation

Scopes have become everything in the hunting world. Nowadays, every rifle is fitted with a suitable rifle scope for precise hunting.

Ever had a keen look at the scopes? What did you see?

There are numbers written on a scope. What do the numbers mean?

The numbers can be intimidating for new users even sometimes preventing you from buying a scope. After all, you don’t want to buy something you don’t understand.

So, what do the numbers on a scope mean? If you’re like most new scope users, then you’re at the right place.

I’ll take you through a detailed explanation of what the numbers mean, where they are found and their importance.

Keep reading.

What does the numbers on a scope mean?

The numbers on a scope simply show the scope’s magnification power and the objective lens diameter.

Scopes are all about magnification. And these numbers will tell you the scope’s magnification power.

The numbers are usually broken into two parts with an X in between. Let’s have an example below.

A scope with a 4X32 reading means the scope has a fixed magnification of 4X and a lens diameter of 32mm.

The first reading before the X is usually the magnification while the reading after is the lens diameter in millimeters.

A scope can also feature a reading of 4-12X32. 

This is a variable scope with a magnification reading of 4 on the lower end and 12 on the maximum. The lens diameter stands at 32mm.

Variable scopes have varying magnifications. This is shown on the numbers with the first number indicating the lowest magnification. The last number shows the maximum magnification before having a lens diameter at the end.

Before I dig more into the scopes magnification and lens diameter, let’s see where the numbers are found.

Where to find the numbers on the scope

Can you see these important numbers?

First, the numbers are usually indicated on the scope’s name. Every scope on the market is named with the numbers included.

Let’s say you’re shopping on Amazon and see a Leupold scope. The scope is usually named as Leupold Riflescope 4-12×40 and the brand name.

So before making any scope purchase, be sure you locate the numbers.

Magnification and Power X

The magnification power of a scope is usually the first number before the X. It is usually a single number for fixed scopes and two numbers for variable scopes.

For example, a 4X magnification is a fixed scope with a magnification power of 4X. The single magnification setting lets you see targets four times larger than their image sizes.

For a variable scope, the numbers are shown to indicate the minimum and maximum magnification settings.

For example, a 4-12X52mm scope reading indicates a variable magnification power of 4-12X. 4 is the minimum magnification while 12 is the maximum magnification. You can adjust your magnification in between to suit your shooting needs.

Generally, higher magnification settings bring the image closer and make it bigger to the eyes. Take an object 400 yards away. At 5X magnification, the image will appear as if it’s 80 yards away.

Objective Lens Diameter

The objective diameter is the second reading after the X. the number is usually measured in millimeters mm. Take for example a number reading of 4X 40mm.

The objective diameter is 40mm. An objective diameter reading shows the space light has to enter the lens.

A bigger objective lens diameter means more light entering the scope and brother images. Images will appear brighter and more visible in low-light conditions when using a scope with a big objective lens diameter.

Let’s look at another example for a variable scope with 4-12x50mm. The scope indicates an objective lens diameter reading of 52mm. The scope lets you adjust your target magnification from 4 to 12X with the objective lens diameter at 50mm.

Choosing The Right Scope Based on The Numbers

Now that you have a better understanding of what the numbers on a scope mean, let’s see how you can choose the right scope.

Choosing the right scope magnification

This is a crucial factor when choosing a scope. The relation between a scope’s magnification and the target image is proportional and linear.

The target will increase in size as you increase the magnification. At 2X, the target will look twice its original size.

When hunting or practicing shooting, you need the right magnification for precision shooting. You need a magnification that’s just enough to get you a precise shot.

Too much magnification does come with some limitations. First, the image can become distorted. There is also a limited field of view and other complexities.

Most shooters with variable scopes settle for 10X magnification on the maximum at 500 yards. But for hunting at 100 to 200 yards, the recommended magnification is around 4X to 6X.

Choosing the right scope objective lens diameter

You also need to consider the objective lens diameter. Here, we are mentioning the lens closest to the target and furthest from the stock of the rifle.

The bigger the lens diameter, the more light the lens lets in. More lights coming through means brighter images and better clarity.

This is a very useful feature in low-light conditions. If you’re planning on using the scope at dusk or dawn, then a larger lens diameter is necessary.

Let’s take an example of a variable scope with 4-12X52mm. The scope will provide clear and brighter images with each increased zooming. However, a 4-12X32mm scope will have darker images when you increase the magnification.

However, bigger lenses also mean bigger and bulkier scopes. Nobody wants extra weight on their rifles.

We also have the advanced premium Adjustable Objective lens (AO). Then adjust the diameter to match your specific needs.

Read more:

Final verdict

The numbers on a scope generally show the scope’s magnification and objective lens diameter. They are crucial numbers that can help you decide on the right scope to purchase.

Understand your needs and choose a scope with the right magnification range and objective lens diameter.

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