What to Look for in a Hunting Rifle Scope

March 14, 2019

There are a number of reasons why you may want a hunting rifle scope, but chances are, you’re looking to improve your aim.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

People have always wanted bigger and faster, but the truth is, that’s not always efficient, particularly for hunting. One of the main ways beginning hunters are making this mistake is by buying scopes that magnify too much.

Too many hunters are selecting scopes magnification highs between 14 and 20. As most deer hunting occurs at 100-400 yards, that type of scope would leave you blind and looking at a blurry spot. The best bet is to choose one from 3 to 9. For deer hunting, less is more.

It’s important to know what kind of hunting you’ll do, and choose a scope accordingly.

Reading the Numbers

Understanding the numbers written on the scope is essential to choosing the right one for you. Going with our previous example, the number you would see might be 3-9×40.

Three is the lowest number of magnification, meaning objects appear 3 times closer than they really are. Nine is the highest number and means they’re magnified 9 times. Forty is the diameter of the objective lens (the end furthest from you) in millimeters.

Objective Lens

The objective lens is the further end of the scope and is the one that lets in the light. The larger the lens, the more light you get. A larger lens also means a heavier scope, so if you’re planning on walking distances to get to your hunting grounds, you’ll need to take that into consideration.

Eye Relief

Eye relief is the term used to describe the distance between you and your scope. This is important because if you don’t have enough eye relief, you run the risk of hitting yourself on the recoil. A length between 3 and 4 inches is standard, though you can find some longer.

The important thing is that the scope is mounted, so you’re comfortable. You should never have it mounted in a way that requires you to move your head.


There are 9 main types of reticles, and the type you select will hinge on personal preference more than function. The BDC, or Bullet Drop Compensation, the reticle is designed for those who prefer to shoot long distances and lends itself to changing those distances frequently. Another, the mildot, is more commonly used as a sniper’s reticle and requires numerous calculations for an accurate shot.

The most common ones you’re likely to be looking at are Duplex reticles, the German # reticle, and the Original, with simple crosshairs marking the center. When looking, ask if you can try a variety out to see which you would prefer.

Coating for Lenses

Coatings can reduce glare, and allow more light to filter through the scope. They can also protect the lenses from scratches and damage, giving your scope longer life

Some types of coatings, such as hydrophilic ones, can shed water from the glass. While most scopes come with at least one layer of coating on a single lens, you should check that it’s sufficient for your needs.

Don’t forget to shop around. If you look to buy a hunting rifle scope online, once you’ve narrowed it down, head instore and finish the inspection in person.

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