How to Select a Rifle Scope: Definitive Choosing Guide

How to select the rifle scope

There was a time when buying a rifle scope for deer hunting was a simple task. If money was a problem, you would buy a Weaver scope. If you had more than enough money you would opt for a Lyman, Stith or a Leupold. But if you can afford a more exotic deer hunting scope, then Unertl was it. These days you would need to know how to select the rifle scope which most suits your deer hunting situation.

There are so many options to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the countless possibilities.  One thing is certain, while there are so many manufacturers of rifle scopes, the basic principle remains the same; the optics lens must be able to magnify the target up to a certain number of times and the aiming reticule must be sharp. Another thing about rifle scopes is that regardless of the brand, they come in a standard body size of at least one-inch diameter. You can find on the market, or in your rifle scope guide, a number of high-quality one-inch rings to select from. Top rifle scopes are purged with inert gas to prevent fogging when the temperature changes.  They are also waterproof and are capable of holding their zero position even on recoil from high powered rifles.

Why you need a rifle scope

Why would you need a deer hunting rifle scope? If you’re like most hunters, chances are you would not be lucky enough to see a deer waiting to be shot.  They’re usually difficult to spot without help from a trusty rifle scope.  That’s where the best deer hunting rifle scope comes in. They are assets that will enable you to make a clean kill even under bad conditions. Most of the time, deer hunting will require you to shoot from a distance, and that requires extreme patience. A deer hunting rifle scope that allows you to spot your target deer from at least one hundred yards away is a must-have for your hunting trip.

Of course, you would also require magnification at various distances. So, a good rifle scope for deer hunting has clear and stable sight adjustments that will make it easier to pull the trigger. Here are additional considerations when choosing the best deer hunting rifle scope.

Choosing the best Deer Hunting Rifle Scope

 Use of light

You don’t have to take a bright rifle scope.  Brightness in a rifle scope is not the main thing you should be concerned about. Great rifle scopes can hold in the light so that it is easier for you to see the target.  A higher magnification scope won’t have as much light as the scope with lower magnification although you’ll get a more accurate and closer view of your target. So for close range hunts use a lower power rifle scope. If, however, you’re doing long-range hunting where you must shoot at a distance than rifle scopes with a higher magnification are your best bet.

Durability

An important attribute in deciding how to choose a rifle scope for deer hunting is the tough durability of the scope itself.  Even when banged about, your scope should still maintain its zero position. It should also be able to adjust precisely and be leak proof.  Some of the best rifle scopes consist of a one-piece main body tube that is sealed with an O-ring and gas purged to prevent it from being fogged up during bad weather. A durable coating material is also applied to the rifle scope by manufacturers to maintain a longer life.

Resolving Power

Another important feature of a great rifle scope for deer hunting is its resolving power or sharpness. With the ability to spot the difference between a deer and any background camouflage, your scope will be a standout in the sharpness department.  Check the label of the rifle scope you’re buying, which is usually the magnification power, followed by the objective lens diameter size.  Standard deer rifle scopes are 3x9x40mm, meaning variable power ranging from a magnification of 3 times up to a maximum of 9 times magnification with a  40mm objective lens (on the front of the scope). This standard rifle scope is sufficient for around 90 percent of hunting conditions. In other situations, you may opt for the same power scope with a 50mm objective lens. With a bigger objective lens, you’ll get an extra 15 minutes of clear view even under limited lighting conditions such as hunting during dusk or dawn.  Of course. You’ll find a wide variety of scope options such as fixed-power scopes with only one power level and scopes with variable resolving power settings. Larger diameter lens provides a wider and brighter view for deer hunting.

Field of View

Achieving the best field of view is also an important consideration in choosing your rifle scope for deer hunting. The field of view is usually around 100 yards, which is like viewing the length of a football field.  When checking your scope’s specifications, you’ll notice that a higher number would represent a wide field of view and a lower number indicates a narrow field of view.  You can tell whether you’re getting a wide or narrow field of view by the optical design of the eyepiece.  A large ocular lens will maximize the field of view and make it easier to find your target. Note though that the scope’s resolving power has an inverse relationship with the field of view.  So, a high magnification will result in a narrow field of view while a low magnification brings a wide field of view.

Finish

Believe it or not, in choosing how to select the rifle scope you may be surprised that a shiny rifle scope is not the best option for deer hunting. Stick to a matte-finished scope and you’ll achieve better hunting results.  A simple reason to go matte finish is to avoid anything that would alert the deer of your presence – like a flash of sunlight on a shiny scope. There are great, non-shiny finishes to choose from, including black matte, black gloss, silver, and earth tones for that military look. Whatever finish you choose is up to you.  The black matte finish is preferred by the majority of deer hunters because it does not reflect light.

Cross hair

Another feature you’ll need to consider in choosing your rifle scope for deer hunting is the aiming reticule, commonly referred to as cross hairs. You’ll find a wide variety of cross hairs available among rifle scopes.  These range from the thin line to the duplex – which is a thick cross hair that carries a thin line in the middle. Duplex cross hairs make it easier for you to see your target clearly. Types of cross hairs include the range finding cross hair and the ballistic compensation cross hair to name a few. Deer hunting rifle scopes often carry the standard duplex cross hairs. Although the cross hair does not make a great deal of technical difference, your choice is a matter of preference – what you really like more.

Eye relief

In choosing a rifle scope for deer hunting you may want to consider how it relieves the stress from your eyes. Eye relief refers to the distance you need to see the entire target when you hold the scope away from the eye. This distance should be comfortable. It is expected that a distance of at least three inches is standard for big game hunting, particularly when using magnum cartridges. Many rifle scopes carry specs of approximately 3.5 inches of constant eye relief. There are manufacturers who offer longer ranges of eye relief but these are not ideal for accurate shooting.

Coatings and Lenses

Certainly, one feature you cannot afford to ignore is the quality of the lenses on the rifle scope.  High-quality scope lenses are coated with layers of protective coating that reduce glare, resist smudges, finger prints, and scratches. At the same time, these layers of coating allow the maximum amount of light to pass through the lens to your eye. Another important function of the coating is to make the scope water and fog proof. That’s very important as during a hunt your scope will be exposed to the elements and conditions may make it difficult to see clearly through fogged up or wet lenses. Thankfully, the majority of deer hunting rifle scopes available on the market are water and fog resistant. If you’re in the store shopping for scopes, you can check for coated lenses by simply breathing on them to see if they fog up.

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Rifle recoil

A great rifle scope for deer hunting also withstands the shock of repeated recoil from high-caliber rifles. This is a must if you want only the best in rifle scopes.  Inferior scopes fail to hold their zero positions after a few recoil. In essence, your rifle scope should actually match the rifle it is intended to go with.  It is pointless trying to match a scope with limited power with a premium quality rifle that is capable of cutting down game animals more than 300 yards away. Your deer hunting rifle scope should be capable of withstanding the powerful recoil of high-caliber rifles and maintain their accuracy and clarity.

Final words

So, what features do you look for in a good rifle scope? Our rifle scope guide has presented you with a few of the features and considerations to help you in choosing your next deer hunting rifle scope. Which of these is most important to you? Essentially, a great rifle scope is made of a premium material, has adjustable resolving power, offers great accuracy even after heavy usage, and is durable. You have many great brands to choose from too. Buying a deer hunting rifle scope is not simply accepting whatever the sales person offers up.  You would need to research and check out the available scopes before choosing.  Of course, the first consideration is whether the scope you’re buying fits the caliber rifle you intend to use for your deer hunt. Once you’ve identified the right scope for your rifle, the rest is really about the features that you are most concerned about and the scope you can afford. Finally, don’t overlook the warranty that is offered on your scope.  A good warranty provides some protection against any unforeseen breakdown which the manufacturer should fix. You won’t regret taking the time to research and check out the rifle scope for deer hunting that meets your needs. You’ll be rewarded with successful deer hunting results.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Man
 

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