Buying Guide: Best Rifle Scope Models and Features

Next to your gun itself, the most important piece of equipment that you can have for your shooting needs, is the scope. This is by far the most sophisticated piece of equipment, and proper alignment is essential if you want to hit your target, and depending on the type of gun that you have, much, much more. Here is your one stop shop for rifle scopes, and what exactly you should look for when determining what is the right buy.

PictureNameEye ReliefReticlePriceRating
M-223 4-16x42M BDC 6004 InchesBDC 600$$$$$5.0
NIKON M-223 BDC 600 8489 3-12x42SF Riflescope (Black)4 InchesBDC 600$$$$$4.5
Vortex Crossfire II 6-18x44mm Adjustable Objective Riflescopes3.7 InchesBDC Reticle CF2$$$4.8
Nikon ProStaff Rimfire 3-9 x 40 Black Matte Riflescope (BDC 150)3.6 InchesBDC 150$$$4.9

How the Rifle Scope Works

There are several key elements to look at when determining which rifle scope you should buy, so it is important to know what each piece does and why you should purchase one over another. The first piece of the scope, is the front lens. The front lens gather the light, and the size of the lens provides your field of view.

Next comes the tube size, or the body of the scope. The standard width of your scope is about 1 inch in diameter, or 30mm if your using the metric system. The rings of the scope must match the diameter in order for it to function properly.

After that are the knobs, which can be turrets and are adjustable. These are typically adjustable, and can either be done easily in the field, or done semi-manually with the flat tip head of a screwdriver. The standard method of adjustment is that one click will change the impact about ¼ inch, or 100 yards. To the rear you will find the eyepiece and magnification adjustment, or a focus knob.

Last but not least, is the reticle, which is the measuring guide that you see inside the scope, often referred to as a crosshair. The reason we don’t call it a crosshair, is because most sophisticated equipment actually do not have crosshairs, but mil dots or other variations.

Eye Relief and Other Important Attributes to Know

Eye relief is the amount of distance between the lens at the rear, and your eye. The distance is determined only when you can see through to the reticle clearly, the entire field of view, as this can vary considerably due to the dark ring which goes around the edges. If you have a high powered rifle with a lot of kick, and then choose a piece of equipment with a minimal amount of eye relief, you are looking at a couple of black eyes.

A few other terms that you should be familiar with, are the objective size, lens coating, and whether the equipment is charged. The objective size is your field of vision, and it will determine the size of the rings needed to clear the barrel. The larger the objective size, the higher the costs are, typically.

The lens coating repels water and other foreign elements, as well as serving the purpose of blocking different variances of light. If you ever look into the sight, you will notice that what you see is rarely what you would normally see when staring at your target outside the sight, this is due to the coating. Finally, charging the scope simply means whether or not it is filled with nitrogen to prevent moisture from seeping in.

Magnification Power

There are two main quality controlled attributes that you should consider when purchasing a scope. One, is the distance, second in the clarity. The most expensive scopes in the world can see for miles for instance, but you should ask yourself if you really need that much firepower. The clarity of the magnification is just as important, or more important, and you should factor in the distance at which you are shooting when determining this. Do you need to make out each individual part of the deer 300 yards away, or simply make out the shape?

The variable power of a scope, will allow you to adjust the distance at which the scope will see accurately. 3x9x40(for each lens) is pretty standard. This means that the low end magnification of the scope is 3 times larger than what your naked eye can see, and 9 times as large. The 40 is referring to the objective lens, which is 40mm.

Where Should You Place the Value?

If your looking for the best rifle scope, the one area that you shouldn’t skimp out on are the rings. Personally, I think that the QC variation of your rings should not exceed + -.001 and a tolerance of +-.0025. The problem isn’t so much that the accuracy is diminished, which you still want to avoid. The problem is that zeroing in on a target takes a long time, and most rings only cost between $5 and $30, so by the time you waste your money firing extra shots on a range to zero in your scope, you will have wasted the amount of money it would have cost to have good rings on your sight to begin with.