Choosing the Best Scope is a Daunting Task

Choosing the right scope can be more challenging than picking out a gun, due to all the options available today.
Choosing the right scope can be more challenging than picking out a gun, due to all the options available today.

It is odd that more has not been written about gun scope models and options. Think about it: An accurate .308 rifle is … just an accurate .308 rifle.

With one scope it’s an adequate deer gun. Install a different style, say a forward-mounted high eye relief model, and it becomes a scout rifle. Or stick a tactical-style scope on that gun and you’ve got a 1,000+ meter tack-driver. That’s quite a difference.

You can start to see that even within these broad categories you’re only getting warmer.

Making a purchasing decision on a new scope is a Herculean task even after you’ve narrowed down what you want in general terms.

Looking for a good value in a mid-priced deer scope? No problem. You only have hundreds of scope makers from which to choose, any one of which may offer literally dozens or hundreds of variations of scopes fitting that definition. And each year they introduce new models and features (just to keep you on your toes).

And we haven’t even started talking about reticles. Yet, as small a detail as a scope’s reticle may seem, it can make or break its function as it relates to your shooting goals.

Just deciding on magnification level can give any gun owner the sweats. There are variable power and fixed power.

Heck, different scopes speak completely different languages. There are MOA-based scopes, or Mil-reticle scopes with MOA-based turrets. There are ¼ MOA turrets, ½ MOA turrets and even 1MOA turrets or some combination thereof. It’s like the optical Tower of Babel.

Companies like Leatherwood Hi-Lux make excellent scopes that are more affordable than some of the big name brands.
Companies like Leatherwood Hi-Lux make excellent hunting scopes that are more affordable than some of the big name brands.

Then there are 1-inch tube scopes, 30mm, 34mm and — from our friends at Vortex Optics — 35mm tubes. Will you need a lot of elevation and windage travel for complex solutions to hit at long-range? Or will you sight-in your rifle once a year so you can shoot that buck on opening morning like you always do — from your stand on the edge of the pines at 75 paces?

There are other things. I like a 40mm objective on a low-sitting scope, but 50mm and 56mm are common choices, too. Does a big objective really let in that much more light? It’s a choice you’ll face.

If all this strikes you as overwhelming (it is) then take a deep breath and ask yourself a few simple questions: What is the most demanding task you will require of your rifle? Under what conditions do you expect to use your gun and optics? And how important, really, is brand loyalty at the end of the day?

Only you can answer these questions. And these are but a drop in the bucket of all the things you can and should consider. The main thing is, if you’re in the market for a new scope and feeling overwhelmed faced with so many options, all I can say is, welcome to the club.

And it’s a great club to be in — a genuine good problem to have. It means that we modern day shooters are blessed with innumerable quality scope choices for which we can window shop to our heart’s content. We truly are kids in the proverbial candy shop.

So, take your time, be realistic and study, study, study. Buy the thing and then forget about it. It’s time to get on with life. It’s time to go shooting.

Click here for a primer on Choosing the Best Scope

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New-Reticle-DownloadMembers Can Download the Handbook of Standard Reticle Patterns by Manufacturer, Compiled by D. Andrew Kopas

This handy 82-page reference contains diagrams of tactical reticles from all the major optics manufacturers. D. Andrew Kopas shares the digital handbook with members of and scout/snipers in all branches of the armed forces, police marksmanship units and civilian long-distance shooting disciplines.

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