Rifles scopes used to be simple, effective aiming devices. Some still are.
But others are becoming complicated computers dragging you down like the
Ancient Mariner's albatross.
If you have to stop and think about your scope, it's too complicated.
There's nothing wrong with a scope that adjusts from 2X to 25X, includes 437
aiming lines, two turret dials, a parallax control dial and a dozen illuminated
reticle settings -- if you have an advanced degree in
OK. Perhaps they're not that complicated. But in times of stress -- like when a
30-point buck is about to step into the woods -- one's brain tends to shut down
while one's instincts take over. And the instinct is to shoot first, think
about complicated scope settings later.
So, before you buy that Super Scope 10.0, spend some time soul-searching. Do
you really need it?
Basic physics tells us that most modern, high-pressure, bottlenecked
cartridges powered by smokeless powder throw sleek, aerodynamically efficient
bullets fast enough that you can aim at the center of a 16-inch target (deer's
chest) and strike it a killing blow from the muzzle clear out to 300 yards, 350
yards with some cartridges.
Now be honest: how many critters have you had to shoot at beyond 300 yards?
If you rarely, if ever, shoot past 300 yards, why bother with a complicated,
What Power Scope Should You Use?
OK, but what about power? How much magnification is enough? In the bad old
days, grandpa used to shoot at and hit deer out to 300 yards with a 4X scope.
You probably could, too. But variable scopes are so well made and inexpensive
these days that you might as well get one. What power range? Something in the
2X to 12X range will work. If you're going to shoot a few small varmints, such
as marmots/wood chucks/foxes at long range, a 10X or 12X could be useful, but
for deer, 6X is high enough. The traditional 3-9X scope is really all you need.
As for objective lens size, 36mm to 42mm is more than big enough. Those 50mm
and larger front lenses are letting in more light, but they aren't going to
turn night into day. A 40mm objective will yield a bright enough view for clear
targeting 45 minutes after sunset. That's 15 minutes beyond legal shooting time
in most states.
More important than objective lens size are anti-reflection coatings. These
increase brightness by a huge margin by reducing light loss from reflection. A
single layer on a lens cuts reflection loss in half. More layers knock it down
more and more.
A scope with uncoated lenses can lose more than 50 percent of
the light. With multiple layers of anti-reflection coatings on all lenses,
it'll lose only 10 percent, maybe only 5 percent. This makes a huge difference.
Demand fully multi-coated scopes for maximum brightness.
Should you get a standard 1-inch main tube or 30mm? Contrary to what you've
heard, 30mm tubes are not brighter than 1-inch tubes. That's a myth. Objective
lens diameter, anti-reflection coatings and magnification determine light
transmission, not main tube size. You'd have to squeeze a tube down to about a
half-inch before you'd start choking off the light. Now, 30mm main tube scopes
can be brighter than 1-inchers, but that would be due to better coatings, not
What's my recommendation for an all-round, effective, simple
scope? A 3-9 x 40mm, 1-inch main tube, fully
multi-coated. Duplex-style reticle or whatever
style you find most effective. It does not need to be illuminated.
Shop The Sportsman's Guide for a fine selection of high-quality, value-priced Rifle Scopes!
Ron Spomer has been photographing and writing
about the outdoors for nearly four decades. He's written seven books, hunted on
six continents and been published in more than 120 magazines. He's currently rifles'
editor at "Sporting Classics," Travel columnist at "Sports Afield," Field
Editor at "American Hunter" and "Guns & Ammo" -- Optics Columnist at "North American
Hunter," Contributing Editor at "Successful Hunter," Senior Writer at "Gun
Hunter," and TV host of "Winchester World of Whitetail." He will write on Shooting Tips weekly for sportsmansguide.com. You can read his
blogs and catch some of his YouTube videos at www.Ronspomeroutdoors.com.