Choosing a Rifle Scope

Hunting for Whitetail Deer, Mule Deer, Elk, Moose, Black Bear or Coyotes you will need a quality rifle scope. The following tips may help with your selection.

First find a quality scope that fits in your budget, buy the best you can afford. You will never go wrong buying the best, but we all have budgets.

First, consider the light gathering quality of the scope. To do this, look at the large end of the scope. It will be measured in millimeters. The larger the objective lens the more light it will gather. If you are hunting early morning or late evening (if your not, you should be) you need to gather as much light as possible. A scope size will look like 9×40. That means that you will see the object 9 times magnification, and 40 would be the objective lens. Here is where you gather light. The larger the objective lens, the more light it gathers.

Now the example above would be for a fixed magnification scope. I prefer a rifle scope that has adjustable magnification. A scope like 4-9×40 means that it is adjustable from 4 power to 9 power magnification. The scope set on 4 power will give you wider field of view (FOV). If you are shooting at a moving target then lower magnification is best. It will make it easier to track your moving target. The higher the magnification, the narrower the FOV. Consider the zoom feature on a camera, works much the same.

Next make sure the scope has multiple coated lens. This means that each lens in the rifle scope has multiple coatings which will reduce the loss of light, provides a higher contrast image and reduces glare. There are different types of coatings used. The type of coating depends on the manufacturer.

Next, your new scope should have windage and elevation adjustments. These are the dial protrusions on the top and the side. The top adjustment should be the elevation or up and down adjustment. The windage or left to right is commonly on the right side of the scope. Each of can be change by removing the protective cap and turning with your fingers. Each click generally is ¼” in 100 yards. These clicks are fairly easy to hear.

The next thing to consider is the exit pupil size. That would be the end of the scope nearest your eye. Again, the larger the exit pupil size the brighter the image will be. Normally you can divide the magnification power by the objective lens to find the exit pupil size. A 4×40 would then give you a 10mm exit pupil. In other words, the size of the column of light that comes out of the exit pupil lens.

An important consideration for me personally is the eye relief. Eye relief means how far your eye can be from the end of the scope and still give you a full field of view (FOV). With a long eye relief you can be farther from the end of the scope. If you are too close, the rifle recoil may cause the scope to hit your eyebrow causing a nasty little cut or at least a bruise. If you choose a scope with a fairly short eye relief, make sure it has soft rubber surrounding your end of the scope. This will give a little more protection from the recoil.

Find a scope that is sealed, waterproof and fog proof, one that is scratch resistant. Falls, going through brush can all scratch your scope. And by the way, if you fall or otherwise shock your scope, you should sight it in again to make sure your shot at a trophy will hit its mark.

Finally, have your scope mounted on your hunting rifle by a professional. If you buy your new scope from a quality dealer, they will mount your scope at no charge.

I won’t get into the internal parts of rifle scopes. What I have written is the layman’s version of choosing a new rifle scope.

My personal preference is a 3-9×40. I believe this is an excellent rifle scope for big game hunting.

There are many fine brands available that you would be safe to purchase. Here is a partial list.








Happy Hunting.

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