The last and final post in our How To Choose a Rifle Scope series focuses on purpose.
It is important to understand that rifle scopes are divided into two categories: hunting scopes and tactical/target scopes. The main differences between the two is that hunting scopes have different types of reticles and they also have low profile reticle turrets that require a coin or tool to adjust them.
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However, tactical/target scopes have high profile reticle turrets and they are usually adjusted with your fingers. This allows for rapid changes in the point of bullet impact without having to employ the “Kentucky Windage” technique of holding the cross in the reticles high or low and to one side or the other in order to compensate for changes in range or wind speed.
Last, it is important to be aware that there are different types of reticles and, while they are not necessarily purpose specific, different people do have distinct preferences for one type over another for different purposes.
Consequently, the most popular type of reticle for hunting is the “Crosshair” which is available in Fine, Medium, and Heavy reticles and, while fine crosshairs are normally used for long range shots or for hunting small game, medium crosshairs are normally used for large game at medium ranges, and a large crosshairs are normally used for hunting large, dangerous, game at close ranges and/or in heavy foliage.
Another popular type of reticle for close range hunting is the Duplex Reticule which consists of bars that are quite wide near the perimeter of the scope. They are quite narrow in the center of the lens, which enables the shooter’s eye to pick up the reticle quickly against a complex background or in a tense shooting situation and then use the fine crosshairs to achieve a fine point of aim.
A third type of reticule that is popular for hunting at close ranges is the Target Dot reticule which consists of a set of medium crosshairs and a medium sized dot in the center of the crosshairs. This allows the shooter to pick up the point of aim very quickly in a tense shooting situation.
A final type of reticle is popular with long range hunters: the Mil Dot reticle, which has several small dots superimposed on it. The Mil Dot enables the shooter to employ the “Kentucky Windage” technique by placing the horizontal crosshair on the target and then move it right or left the correct number of dots. Then the vertical reticle is moved up or down the correct number of dots according to a Trigonometric formula to achieve the correct point of aim.
Thus, when purchasing a rifle scope, you should first consider your intended purpose for the scope and then choose a brand, model, and type that is appropriate for your type of hunting.
Also, be aware that while spending more money will usually get you a better quality scope, you should first ask yourself if the extra features you are paying for are really worthwhile to you. Then, if you are certain that they are, by all means purchase the more expensive scope.
But, if not, then you will likely be just as happy with a less expensive model.
While I believe that I have covered all of the pertinent aspects of how to choose a rifle scope, is it possible that I have missed something. Also, it is quite possible that your experience differs from the above mentioned factors and therefore, I invite you to post comments and suggestions that will help our readers to make an informed decision when purchasing optics for their own rifles.