How to Choose a Riflescope

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Choosing a riflescope for hunting can be a daunting task. Before making a buying decision, there are many factors to consider when determining the right riflescope for you. There are accessories that you can also buy to your riflescope to get the best performance out of them. One of such device is a monocular and a ring to attach them.

If you are a lover of using thermal scopes, a thermal clip-on would be advantageous for switching between thermal and normal optics without having to remove your riflescope.

Features to look out for in a riflescope


When choosing glass, it is better to choose quality over price. Optics with an extra-low dispersion are the best because they minimize chromatic aberration, thereby strengthening the sharpness of an image, the color fidelity, and the contrast.

Main Tube

Although there are larger and heavier diameter tubes which does a better job at managing light, 30mm and 34mm tubes remain the most known scopes. These popular tubes are also more robust than the 1-inch models.

With an increase in the diameter of the tubes, there is an increase in the range of adjustment, this is important when targeting long-distance. However, it also means an increase in weight of the scope, an increase in the price of the ring used to mount the tubes, and a limit in the choice of selection of the ring.

Since your scope would be used outside, the tubes must be argon or nitrogen purged to displace water vapor so as to eliminate internal fogging in the tube. In addition, it should be shockproof and waterproof

Objective lenses

The objective lens is the part of the scope that is responsible for light transmission. It is located at the end of the scope. The bigger the objective lens, the higher its light gathering ability and the clearer the image. However, the size of the objective lens needed is only important in relation to the light condition of the place of use. This means that bigger objective lenses do not only add weight to the riffle, but they also require a bigger ring for attachment and are more prone to excessive light, thereby whitening the image.

So which objective lens should you get?

  • An objective lens that is less than 28mm in diameter is okay if your riffle is used mainly for close-range shootings and it has low recoil and a low power scope.
  • Objective lenses with a diameter between 30mm and 40mm are good if you use your firearm for low light hunting and you’re using a high power scope and a bit of recoil
  • Objective lenses of 50mm size and above are best suited for long-range shooters and high-magnification shooting in low light 


The magnification power you would need depends on the area where you are going hunting. A fixed, low magnification scope is perfect if you are hunting in an area where you have to make fast targets at a short-range. Low-power magnification scopes are perfect for faster target acquisition because they offer a wide field of view. Hunters in an area where a long-target rage is required would need a larger magnification power scope. However, it is important to note that movement is much more exaggerated in large-power magnification scopes than those of lower power.

  • 1 to 4x magnification lenses are good for shooters of up to 100-yard range
  • 5 to 8x magnification is good for anyone shooting in the 200 yards range, while
  • 9x and above magnification power is good for shooting in a range of more than 200 yards

Reticles and Focal Planes

The crosshair you see when you look through your riflescope is called a reticle. There are different types of reticles. The right one to use depends on the mission you want to use it for. The three most common types are:

  • The Duplex: the duplex is ideal for hunting and target shooting
  • The Mil-Dot: this is good for long-range shooting and most often used by the military and law enforcement agents. The dots in the reticle helps estimate the distance of the target.
  • The BDC: The BDC is also good for long-range shooting. However, the reticle estimates bullet drop

There are two types of focal planes

  • First focal plane (FFP): this is when the reticle’s size adjusts but the image is unchanged when there is an adjustment in the magnification.
  • Second focal plane (SFP): this is when the reticle’s size remains the same while the image increases and decreases when there is an adjustment in the magnification.

The FFP reticle is good for long-range shooters as it allows for holdovers, windage corrections, and accurate ranging. However, FFP riflescopes are more expensive than SFP. SFP is better if the hunter would be using the scope for different riffles.

Turrets and Adjustments

At the top-right of the scope is located the windage and elevation knob known as turrets. The main job of the turret is to make vertical (elevation) and horizontal (windage) corrections/adjustments in the scope. Nin-tactical scopes have their adjustment in inches – ¼ inches or 1/8 inches, whereas tactical-style scopes mostly have clicks as minute as 0.1mm.

What you should know before choosing a riflescope

  • The weight of the scope is affected or determined by its diameter
  • Fixed scope are generally more affordable and they offer a clearer and brighter view
  • The magnification you would need depends on your shooting range
  • The diameter of the objective lens you need depends on the light distribution of your hunting area. Low diameter lenses are okay for areas with high light or very sunny areas whereas areas with low light or evening and early morning hunting would require bigger lenses.
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About the author


Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.