Scopes and You: Understanding How Rifle Scopes Work

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When you’re buying gear for your rifle, there’s a simple rule of thumb that you should try to follow.

Your optics should cost more than your rifle. And with some 1,425,500 rifles produced on average every year, that’s a lot of potential scopes to be bought.

Trying to buy cheap rifle scopes is definitely not a good idea. As with any tool, you get what you pay for.

So read on to find out how rifle scopes work.

What’s the difference between gun sights and rifle scopes?

They both help you to take aim.

But a rifle scope provides magnification.

Using a scope instead of a sight just makes targeting easier. Line up the crosshair and fire.

Rifle scopes also make it easier for those without 20/20 vision to adjust the focus of their scope to improve their view. You can’t make those adjustments with a sight.

But onto scopes. You already know that a scope comprises two lenses. The ocular lens is the smaller lens nearest your eye.

The objective lens is the lens at the front of the scope. The larger the objective lens, the more light you can let in, but the more unwieldy the scope can become.

You can get two types of rifle scopes – fixed and variable.

A fixed scope is exactly that. You can’t change the level of magnification.

A variable scope lets you change the magnification settings.

So a 1-6×24 Barska Optics scope lets you magnify the image by anywhere between 1x and 6x.

The 24 refers to the objective lens size – 24mm. A larger objective lens transmits more light to the ocular lens.

Scopes in the 14x to 36x range will need a larger objective lens. But under 14x will let you get away with a 40mm lens.

How do I know what magnification I need?

It depends on how far away your target is likely to be.

You can use a 7x or 8x scope for anything around 100 yards or less.

If you’re shooting at distances of more than 200 yards, look at scopes of 12x magnification and above.

Don’t count out a fixed scope.

Fixed scopes might only have one set magnification. But that also reduces the number of moving parts that could go wrong.

It’s also one less thing to fiddle with while you’re out shooting.

Variable scopes do have the advantage of letting you change the magnification to suit your location. Dense forest reduces your range – so you reduce the magnification accordingly.

After all, if you’ve set your scope at 12x magnification and your target is only 50 yards away, all you’ll see is fur.

And lower magnifications let more ambient light through the scope. That’s much better in dim light situations.

What else do I need to know?

You also need to pay attention to the reticle.

That’s the crosshair or aiming point. You need to focus it for your eye before you can use the scope.

An easy way to do it is to point your scope at the sky or a blank wall. Adjust the eyepiece until the reticle becomes clear and sharp.

Thicker reticles will be clearer in low light. They also show up better against “busy” backgrounds.

Or you can choose fine reticles which are almost invisible but allow for more precision. It all depends on what you’re aiming at.

But no matter what your needs are, Barska Optics make a range of rifle scopes that will be ideal.