What is a Rifle Scope?

Do you know what a rifle scope is? And do you want to understand how to get the best rifle scope? This is a shooting accessory that’s used by hunters or other marksmen to locate and magnify their target thus shooting with deadly precision. It is therefore an essential part of any pro hunter, coming with numerous advantages over the traditional gun sight accessories.

The best rifle scopes have been designed with a number of parts, with the most critical parts being the lenses. Its lenses include the objective lenses, the ocular lenses, the eyepiece and the objective bell.

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How It Works

The rifle scopes have been designed to operate or rather work on the same principle that the telescopes work on. Light passes through the objective lens and is focused at some present point inside the scope. Light magnification is then done by the ocular lens from the focal point. This magnified light is that image that one sees when they look through a scope.

Types of Rifle Scopes

  • Open Sights: Shooter needs to mount two sights on their gun so as to aim and shoot, with the rare sight taking a U or V shape and the front one being a simple vertical projection.
  • Red Dot Sights: They project an illuminated target reticle on the targeted image.
  • Aperture Sights: Similar to open sights but the rear sight using a ring.
  • Laser Sights: Laser beams are projected towards the target

Benefits of the Best Rifle Scope

You definitely won’t be buying anything if it wasn’t associated with some benefits. The benefits attributed to rifle scopes include:

  • Improved Accuracy

This is obviously the main advantage of using a scope with any given rifle. One is able to sight the target relatively faster and easily thus improved shooting accuracy. It is also a little easier lining up the object in the crosshairs of the scope than with the stock iron sights. All these guarantees a boost in confidence as you shoot. Ultimately, one becomes a better shooter overall, a reason why many pros consider scopes to other gun sights.

  • Boosting of Self Confidence

Try imagining a scenario where you are shooting an antelope that is just five or ten meters in front of you. That is exactly what the sophisticated sniper scopes do. When attached on your rifle, you get the right mind frame to always hit the target. In other words, the scope gives you such a confidence that if you were in a competition, you won’t miss any target. 

The target is brought closer ensuring that the choice of where you want to put the shot is under your discretion. You have all the control of any given scenario and this is the confidence you need.

  • Longer Shots

As you grow from a newbie to a pro, you really want to be making further and deadlier accurate shots. Soon, after taking the first short shots, your iron sights will not do you much good. It is at this stage that you recognize how much you need a sniper scope. As it is capable to bring the objects closer to you, it becomes possible for you to aim and take down far away targets.

How to Choose the Best Rifle Scope

Buying the right or rather the best rifle scope is not as easy as many may have thought. In fact, by experience, it is a tall order to a great deal of individuals. However, upon reading, and knowing exactly what is required of you when you are selecting this piece of product, the work becomes easier. This is because you will end up with a strong knowledge of the basics and the things to be remembered when shopping for one. Below is what you should look for in some of the best rifle scope.

Magnification

Magnification is defined as a measure of the closeness or largeness and the image appears through the scope, in respect to the object as compared to when you used a naked eye to view it. A 10x magnification thus implies that the object appears to be 10 times closer or larger, meaning if a target is 100 meters away; it appears to be 10 meters out.

Scopes come with either variable or fixed magnifications. The two different types of magnifications have their own pros and cons as summarized below:

Magnification

Pros

Cons

Variable magnification i.e. 3x to 9x

Its versatile thus able to cover a range of terrain, distances, weather conditions and light

Not as reliable as its counterpart

Fixed magnification (aka straight power) i.e. 10x etc

Its greatly reliable as well as easier to use since no focus settings are to be done

No way to alter focus or range hence view is restricted to just a single shot type

Field of View (FOV)

The field of view is the area visible through the instrument from side to side at a range of a hundred meters. In general, a wider field of view does translate into a better view. The field of view changes directly proportionately with magnification. A 3x-9x variable scope for example may have a 10 meters field of view at 3x magnification and 5 meters at 9x magnification

The higher the magnification the smaller field of view

The higher the magnification the smaller field of view

Objective Lens Diameter

The diameter of the objective lens is the determinant of how much light will enter the rifle scope together with the efficiency of light transmission across to the ocular.

A greater diameter means a larger amount of light gets in thus easier use even in dimly and gloomy lit conditions. However, from the larger 50mm diameter size, through the midrange 40mm and ultimately to the smaller 32mm objective diameter size, all of these have their strengths and limitations.

 Objective Lens Diameter

Scope size/ Objective diameter size

Advantages

Disadvantages

32mm

  • More stable thanks to its nearness to the bore of the rifle
  • Lightweight
  • Very limited light is transmitted thus not suitable for use at dawn or dusk

40-44mm

  • Still comfortably closer to the bore of the rifle
  • It’s the standard for medium variable copes. It transmits reasonable amount of light
  • The rifle is relatively heavy as compared with the 32mm size

50-75mm

  • Transmits the greatest light amounts thus a resultant clearest vision
  • It is unyielding and quite heavy to carry
  • It’s quite tricky to align ones eye with the center of the scope and there is inconsistency when speed is needed

The best thing to do is to go for the largest objective diameter that comes with an easily manageable weight. For a good number of hunters, between 32mm and 40mm diameter can transmit sufficient light

Reticle

The purpose of the reticle is to aim the rifle by the use of the scope. The range of styles available are numerous and ever increasing. The choice depends on the hunter’s preference. In addition to aiming, the reticle also helps the hunter to estimate the range/distance together with the wind range.

The most common form of conventional reticle is the crosshair. This can either be fine or thick.

Reticle scope

Crosshair

Subtention

Advantage

Disadvantage

Fine

Minimal

  • Perfect solution for the target shooters
  • Adjustment is precise for great accuracy
  • When in dim light or against crowded background, it’s close to invisible

Thick

Maximal

  • Draws the hunter’s eye into the field of view’s center
  • Works well under low lighting
  • Performs strongly in woodland and foliage
  • Not as precise

*Subtention is defined as the physical space amount covered up by the crosshairs that’s on target. For instance, a scope that subtends 1-in at 100yards & a 7x mg covers up 1-in of the target on the mentioned settings.

Other than just the crosshair, there are other reticle types the market has to offer. Below is a tabulation of some of the most frequently used.

Reticle Type

Description

Benefits

Duplex

  • Has a reticle that is thin at the center and thick nearer the perimeter
  • Mostly designed from durable wire, which is flat close to the perimeter hence increased thickness

Thick bars make seeing easier whereas the thinner center makes it possible to aim precisely.

Mil-Dot

Similar to the duplex but comes with mil dots at the center for aided range evaluation

Same advantage as duplex but with an added range assessment ability

Etched

They make inclusion of additional shapes, such as circles and dots, on the scope easier

Shapes can be added on the scope

Illuminated

Allows for the lighting of reticle through fiber optics, tritium or LED, the latter two requiring battery power.

Increase in visibility in low light conditions

Other factors

Some of the other factors that you need to consider include the parallax adjustment; turret adjustments; length, weight & diameter of the tube; light transmission; eye relief distance; exit pupil; lens coatings; repeatability; and quality among others.

Top Rated Rifle Scope Reviews and Ratings

The quality of the best rifle scopes is averagely determined by the cost of the product. The kind of features and benefits found in a cheaper $100 rifle scope is quite different from that which you will get in an expensive scope going for $1500. What does each price range have to offer?

Best Rifle Scope Under $1000

Vortex® Viper PST 6-24x50 Review

Scopes that cost $1000 or slightly less are products for enthusiasts who prefer premium quality scopes with an uncompromising performance. Scopes in this range, such as the Vortex Viper Pst 6-24×50 are capable of making fine adjustments while you are on the move, they also do posses incomparable weather shielding together with superb objective diameter for finer visual output.

The Vortex Viper Pst 6-24×50 is available in a whopping six different models thus giving one an array of reticle to choose from. The aircraft grade aluminum 30mm tube used for making the product offers optimum rigidity, strength and ample room for fine range adjustments.

Special Features

  • An illuminated reticle 
  • Weighs 23 ounces
  • ​An elegant black matter finish
  • ​Argon gas purging
  • 30 mm tube

Pros

  • Uses premium HD optics hence durable performanceI
  • lluminated reticle ensures there is enough light transmission even in the dark
  • Weather proof hence can be used in all weather conditions

Cons

  • Expensive hence a tall order to acquire by commoners

The Vortex Viper Pst 6-24×50 is a precision shooting tactical scope that has been designed to consistently deliver repeatable accuracy no matter the distance or harshness of the environment. Even under very stressfully harsh environments, you will just keep on hitting the target. The illuminated reticle ensures that aiming is better and finer, whereas its multiple reticles efficiently facilitates for this aiming. In other words, this scope has virtually everything than any hunter may require maximizing their potential.

Best Rifle Scope Under $500

The Sightmark Photon XT 4.6x42S Digital Night Vision Riflescope Review

As we go down the price range, it is noticeable that these products may have fewer features than their cousins on the higher price range but have all the features you will find in their lower price range counterparts. Within this price range feature protective attributes such as weather resistance together with sturdy construction as witnessed in the Sightmark Photon XT 4.6x42S Digital Night Vision Riflescope. This is a product that is worth every single dollar you spend on it.

Special Features

  • Designed and built for precision placement within medium range
  • The battery has a 33% longer life
  • It delivers a relatively high magnification
  • 33% lighter weight as compared to the average digital rifle scope for night vision
  • Long Eye Relief
  • Features 6 reticle styles in its digital reticle
  • High resolution display
  • Resistant to exposure to bright light
  • Video recording is enabled by the video output
  • Weather proof and shock proof
  • Additional weaver boosts rail accessories.
  • An inbuilt 810nm ER illuminator

Pros

  • Extended battery life
  • Clear optics
  • Lightweight construction
  • Long eye relief
  • Works well in darkness and during the day
  • Records features within the scope

Cons

  • Lens cap easily loosens
  • Isn’t accompanied with scope springs

The reticle and magnification lenses are well designed to guarantee maximum efficiency while also considering the fact that you will be carrying the product and too much load may reduce your efficiency. For a mainstream hunter or marksman, the Sightmark Photon XT 4.6x42S or another competitive product within its range is ideal.

Best Rifle Scope Under $200

Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 Riflescope Review

These are scopes that would best serve amateur hunters who are starting to climb the ladder of professionalism. The Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 Riflescope can also be the best rifle scope choice for those who have previously been using the standard gun sights and are newbie in the rifle scope sector. This product has been loaded with some of the greatest features you can find in a scope that costs less than $200. Its solid aircraft grade aluminum construction is responsible for its strength. This product is indestructible, not forgetting that its resistance to magnum recoil is incredible. Waterproof and fog proof are its great pros, thanks to the argon purging technology employed. In the crosshairs, be guaranteed that you will observe tack-sharp images only.

Special Features

  • VIP unconditional rifle scope lifetime warranty
  • Argon gas purging for proper weatherproofing
  • Dead-hold BDC reticle that is custom designed to ensure guesswork is fully eliminated on hold-over & wind age corrections
  • Its indestructible, thanks to the Aircraft-Grade Aluminum alloy

Pros

  • Astonishingly great focus
  • Great features at a low price
  • Tough construction hence works well in all terrains.

Cons

  • Small eye relief
  • Eyepiece is quite difficult to work with
  • Rigid parallax at around ten yards and horrible below 50 yards.

The Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 Riflescope is that product that though found within the lower price range, many people; including pros are having it in their hunting accessories. On checking its features, it is formidable thus making many think that it is an expensive accessory. This is a tool with more features that surpasses all those within its range. Be assured that Vortex can live with giving you quality in the name of Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 Riflescope without having to hike the price.

Best Rifle Scope Under $100

Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9×40 BDC Review

This price range offers scopes that are good for the entry level newbie hunters and marksmen. If you are a pro, you won’t really want to go for this. The riflescope line features really high quality optics for its range. With inbuilt weather resistance features, the product has been designed to withstand all the tough conditions hence you can go hunting with it at any time. It integrates waterproof and fog proof features among other features that you will rarely find within this price range.

Special Features

  • 100% fog and waterproofing house with O-ring sealing together with nitrogen filling for maximum moisture resistance
  • Durable and versatile as a result of the formidable collaboration between Buck masters and Nikon to produce the product
  • Comes with a limited lifetime warranty from the manufacturer
  • BDC reticle trajectory that’s a compensating system designed & calibrated for fast yet simple aiming points
  • Brighter anti-reflexive system featuring multicolored lenses that guarantees a 92% anti reflection capacity.

Pros

  • Easy to make acquire quick targets
  • Works well both at night as well as during the day
  • Quality of performance with precise accuracy
  • Crystal clear images

Cons

  • Not suitable for closer targets and smaller game

The scope has been designed with great magnification and weatherproof features for easy hunting in any terrain or environmental conditions. In addition, it features lenses that have been polished with multiple layers of anti reflective coats which sever to boost the transmission of light, delivery of true color rendition, flare-free viewing, improvement of contrast and the overall image quality. If you are considering venturing into the hunting activities, this is a perfect solution for you.

Conclusion

I bet that by now you have started appreciating the fact that the world of rifle scopes comes with its own complexities. The best way of approaching the best rifle scope buying challenge is by being clear on the benefits and features of what you want. Hopefully, by now you are equipped with the prerequisite skills and knowledge that allows you to sift through the rifle scope jumble thus being able to find exactly that which suits and fits you. If you have, then seek it out.

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