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How to Choose Your New Shooting Scope

Popular amongst all kinds of shooters, from military snipers to varmint hunters, shooting scopes work by placing the user’s eye on the same optical plane as the target using the principles of light refraction. Fixed atop the weapon by means of a specialized mount, the scope makes it easier to set up a shot by projecting the aim point of the weapon and the target on the same visual plane. This allows for a much clearer picture of the target, and eliminates the need to focus on one or the other as the shooter would have to do with a basic iron sight. However, this increased targeting ability leads to the scopes’ greatest drawback: While aiming, the area surrounding the area in the viewfinder is completely obscured, leaving the shooter with a very limited field of vision.

When choosing a decent hunting scope, it is important to remember that bigger or more powerful doesn’t necessarily mean better. Remember, the greater the magnification, the smaller the field of view, and the more light needed to produce a clear image. Ideally, you need to look for something in the 3-9x range; 3x magnification is perfect for spotting game up to a few hundred yards away, while 9x magnification will allow a concise close-up sight picture.

Second, think about the size of your objective lens – the larger it is, the better the sight picture, but the bulkier and heavier the scope. Most shooters find that a 40mm lens is ideal for most shooting conditions, be it on the range or out on the hunt.

Third, check that the scope is going to be tough and durable enough for the use to which you plan to put it. Putting a scope designed for a .22 varmint rifle on a .357 or .44 is rapidly going to reduce the scope to a collection of precision-engineered parts. Similarly, a big, heavy scope on a rimfire rifle is going to seriously affect the rifles’ accuracy (as well as being extremely costly).

Basically, picking a shooting scope requires common sense. Don’t try punching above your weapons’ weight, get some recommendations from various gunsmiths, and never buy the first one that catches your eye. Speak to people on the internet or at the local gun club, get testimonials and, if possible, try a few test-fires with the scope in question. If it works for you, buy it. If it doesn’t, then no matter what the reviewers or the shopkeepers say, steer well clear.

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