March 31, 2021
Hunting is all about adrenaline and a feeling of excitement when you hunt down a target. That is why many hunters on their day off do not sit at home in front of the TV with a bottle of beer or a glass of milk, but even before sunrise they had already chosen a location for observation in wet grass or bushes and are waiting for a good target. And that's why many hunters spend large sums of money on equipment. A good rifle is only half of the success on the hunt. The correct scope is an equally important part of your hunting set. So, How To Choose A Rifle Scope for Hunting?
What to look for when choosing a sight?
Many hunters buy a rifle for $1000, but the scope for $100, believing that it will be enough for a good hunt. But this is a big mistake. If you want to get real pleasure from hunting, then this question should be taken more seriously. First of all, you should choose quality scope. There are several criteria to choose a scope, let's take a closer look at them.
High magnification factor
Magnification means how many times your target will be larger if you look at it through the scope. Magnification is indicated on the body of the scope, it can be marked as "3-9x32". In this example, "3-9" is magnification. It means that your scope will be able to zoom in on the target 3-9 times. It is worth remembering that the higher the magnification, the more difficult it will be to aim. The image will tremble with every movement of your hand, breath, or heartbeat.
There are two types of magnification:
- Fixed. Your scope will always zoom in on the target only by a certain number of times. For example, only at 3 or only at 9. This has its plus - your rifle will always be ready for a quick shot, you don't need to adjust the magnification every time.
- Variable. You will be able to adjust the magnification depending on your preferences, hunting conditions, visibility, and target distance.
Do not hurry to buy the most expensive scope with variable magnification. Here are several tips for each type of rifles and each type of hunting:
- For recreational hunting and target shooting, scopes with a magnification of 3-9x will be an excellent choice. They can be attached to a carbine or rifle and will work in a variety of hunting conditions. They are also inexpensive, lightweight, and effective. Magnification 10x or more requires some support.
- 12-20x magnification is suitable for long-range shooting in the open field. But it is much more expensive than the first one.
- 20x or more magnification is suitable for professional hunters who like to hunt in large open areas. The scopes in this category are the most expensive and require experience to use.
Before buying, think if you are planning to hunt in such large areas to be able to use 20x magnification? The most versatile option is the first one. It is suitable for the situations when the target is 50 meters away from you, but you can also aim well at a target 200 meters away from your location.
The reticle is the crosshair that you see when you look at the target through the scope. Reticle helps to aim more accurately and estimate the real distance to the target. There are several types of reticles: Duplex, Mil-Dot, and BDC. They have different types of markup for the space that you see through the scope. Until recently, the hunter just had to choose one of these systems, but the hunting optics industry doesn’t stand in one place, so now there is another variant of reticle - illuminated.
The illuminated reticle is the same crosshair, but with luminous lines. For many hunters, this option has become much more convenient than standard reticles, mainly because it is visible at any time of the day - during the day, at dusk, at dawn, when the rays of the rising sun blind the eyes. Remember, it happened that against the background of the shadow from a tree or a rock, your reticle became completely invisible. This will not happen with the illuminated reticle, because it is always clearly visible.
This type of reticle is powered by two different sources of energy - batteries or ambient light. With the first one, it is clear - batteries provide energy and due to this the illumination works. In the second option the scope captures the ambient light, accumulates it, and due to this, the crosshair can be seen. The second option is not very inconvenient, as for this type of reticle you need a constant light source.
- The reticle is visible in all weather and hunting conditions.
- You can turn off or on illumination if needed. If you feel that your eyes are tired of bright lines, just turn off the illumination for a while.
Illumination components are powered by a battery that needs to be changed periodically. Not all hunters remember to take a couple of spare batteries with them when hunting.
Illumination components add extra weight to your rifle.
- Illumination components make the scope more expensive than the usual one.
The extra weight is worth mentioning separately. Yes, your rifle will weigh more, but only by one ounce. It is impossible to say for sure if this will be felt in the overall weight of the rifle and equipment. For example, your rifle weighs 22 ounces, but with an illuminated reticle, it will weigh 23.
Effective lens diameter
This moment should also not be ignored. For some reason, most hunters, especially beginners, want to buy the biggest diameter lenses right away. Do you think big lenses will help you to see the target better? Let's figure it out.
A lens is a glass that is located opposite to your eyes’ end of the scope. The lens diameter is indicated after the “x” mark. Let's remember our original example – “3-9x32”. In this case, 32 is the lens diameter, that is, 32 mm. The larger the lens diameter, the more light it will capture and the clearer you will see your target. But there is one nuance – a big magnification will reduce the amount of light that enters the scope lenses. Therefore, if you want to choose something to the maximum, it must be either magnification or lens diameter. For example, 3x-50mm or 12-20x-32mm. Believe us, this is the best combination for a good hunt.
Here are some tips on how to choose a lens diameter:
- If you are hunting at short distances, up to 100 yards, a diameter of 28mm and less is suitable for you.
- If you hunt for medium distances (150-200 yards), a diameter of 30-44mm is ideal for you.
- If you like to track a target at a very big distance (over 200 yards), lenses with a diameter of 50mm and more are suitable for you.
Remember that large lenses can reflect sunlight and create glares. This is very noticeable wherever you will hide. In addition to the diameter, it is worth mentioning the types of coatings, because this is also an important point when choosing a good option:
- Coated. The lenses are covered on one side only and in one layer.
- Fully-Coated. The lenses are covered in one layer over the entire air-to-glass surface.
- Multicoated. One lens surface is covered in several layers.
- Fully Multicoated. Like the second option, this covering has several layers and covers all air-to-glass surfaces.
- Hydrophilic coated. The coating repels water, that is, during rain or snow, drops of water will not gather on the surface of the lens but will flow down.
The better the coverage, the more expensive it is. Every feature of your lenses adds cost to them, so it's worth thinking carefully about what you need and what you want to buy.
This is, in fact, the most important part of your choice. Once you've chosen the magnification, reticle, and lens diameter, it's time to set up your scope. It can be adjusted along the vertical and horizontal axis. Turrets are two separate sets of dials that help you to adjust elevation and windage.
When rotating the turrets, you can turn the scope up, down, left, and right. When adjusting, turrets should produce a loud click. This way you will know that they were adjusted. Their task is mainly to provide the hunter the most accurate aiming at a great distance.
Sights for different types of hunting
Of course, you can have one scope for any type of hunting. But now there is such a large choice of hunting equipment that appears a desire to try something new. If you agree with that, then let's find out which sights should be added to your arsenal for a great hunt.
Long Range Hunting
Each hunter understands the expression Long Range Hunting differently. For some, it is a hunt for an animal at a distance of 150 yards, and for others, it is 500 yards. Each hunter has his secrets – the strength and direction of the wind, the position of the sun, an extra magnification for good aiming. But the rifle sight plays a major role in any case. Which should you choose for Long Range Hunting?
So, each hunter has his understanding of the long-range, so the sight must be adapted to the specific preferences of the user. Here are some general criteria that such optic has to meet:
- Low weight. Usually, hunting takes place in fields or forests. You should be able to change locations and take quick, accurate shots easily. With heavy equipment, this will be quite difficult to do, so your task is to choose the lightest model possible.
- Magnification. We recommend choosing models with variable magnification so that you can aim well at the target, both at a great distance and close to you. Remember, the higher magnification, the less light enters the lens.
- If you want to hunt at dusk or dawn, choose a high brightness sight. For hunting in the daytime in bright sunlight, this moment is not so important.
Particular attention should be paid to the choice of reticles. The reticle is a crosshair on the lens that helps to aim as accurately as possible.
For beginners or amateur hunters, the Duplex reticle is quite suitable. This is a common crosshair graved on the lens. It is good for short-range hunting. If the target is far away, it will be difficult for you to determine the distance. Mil-Dot is the same crosshair but in the form of dots. Typically, the distance between dots is one inch, and one inch is in turn 100 yards in real distance. This reticle is suitable for more experienced hunters who like to hunt in fields and big open spaces. Mil-Dot allows you to calculate the distance to the target as accurately as possible if it is 200, 500, or even 1000 yards away.
The last variant of reticles is illuminated. Instead of dots, you will see bright glowing lines that will allow you to aim well at dusk or shadow.
Don't want to turn your house or garage on a warehouse of hunting equipment? This is the right decision because, besides the place, you would have to spend a lot of money on all this stuff. For this reason, many hunters prefer to buy sights for All-round Hunting. But this is not easy to do. There are doubts about whether you can hit the target 200 yards away if your scope is only 3x magnification and other thoughts.
Before purchasing the All-round Hunting Scopes, consider:
- How far were most of my targets? For example, at a distance of 100 yards, in the rarest cases a little further.
- How often do I take quick shots?
- Do I most often hunt during the day, in the evening, dusk or dawn?
These simple questions will help you determine which type of rifle sight is best for you. It is also worth determining the size of the accessory. For example, the compact and lightweight AR-15 rifle cannot be attached to a massive scope. Conversely, the 338 Lapua model does not fit a compact scope with a small lens diameter.
Varmint Hunting is seen by some as a game, for other hunters it is an opportunity to try their hand at quick shots and fast reaction. This is all true, but first of all, varmint hunting is a necessity for animals and people. Varmint allows people to control the population of predatory animals and birds, as well as those pests that can harm property or crops.
Many rifles are suitable for varmint hunting, but the most important thing is a good scope. The right scope will make you a winner in this battle with wild nature, and the wrong ones will make you feel like a bad hunter. So, how to choose a Varmint Hunting sight?
Here are some tips:
- Magnification. It can be 2.5x, 4x, 6x, and more. We recommend taking no more than 24x magnification so you can easily aim at a target at a good distance. Before making your choice, think about who you are going to hunt – coyotes, wild boars, bobcats, marmots, and other pests.
- Lens diameter. It’s worth thinking about whether you will hunt in the morning, on a hot afternoon, or in the late evening. Large lenses can reflect the sun, which is not desirable when hunting. The best option is around 40mm.
Remember that the lighter and more compact the sight is, the lighter your rifle will be.
If you do not know what to choose, but you want the best, start with something simple. Do not rush to spend your money on fancy scopes, first find the one that suits your type of hunting and rifle. Try different types of reticles, match lens diameters, and magnification to the type of your hunting preferences. Versatile options are good only if you have tried more than one scope and you know exactly how, what, and at what time of day you hunt.