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How To Choose a Rifle Scope: Part 1

Learn how to choose a rifle scope by first knowing what it is you're looking through.

While not all hunting situations require a scoped rifle, in some, having a good quality rifle scope properly mounted on your rifle can make the difference between harvesting your intended prey and not.

However, not all rifle scopes are created equal and not all rifle scopes are suitable for all situations. Rather, rifle scopes tend to be somewhat akin to golf clubs in that certain types of scopes are better suited for certain purposes than others.

For instance, rifle scopes are available in both fixed power and variable power versions, with several different types of reticles (also known as "cross hairs") and on each type. The point of bullet impact is adjustable by moving the reticles. In addition, rifle scopes range widely in price depending on the manufacturer and the incorporated features.

In my opinion, the finest and most expensive rifle scopes are manufactured in Europe by companies such as Zeiss, Swarovsky, and Lecia. Although it is nice to have a super-high end rifle scope, it has always struck me as a little odd to have a scope mounted on your rifle that cost three times as much as the rifle itself!

But, men must have their toys, and some just have to have the most expensive toys they can get, even if they only use them once a year. It has been my experience that it's the shooter that makes the shot, not the scope.

Thus, as long as your scope is adequate for the intended purpose, you should not feel like you are at a disadvantage just because you do not have a high-end, Euro-made piece of sophisticated equipment.

Before we examine the intricacies of rifle scopes, we'll go over the basics. A scope consists of a sealed metal tube with several different internal and external parts; each part serves a different purpose.


Image via HowStuffWorks

Starting from the end that faces the shooter, you have the Eyepiece (the small flare in the end of the tube) which contains the Ocular Lens (the lens closest to the shooter) and the Focus Adjustment (a ring on the eyepiece that adjusts the focus of the lenses).

Next, you have the Power Ring which changes the magnification of the scope (on variable-power models), then you have the Elevation and Windage Adjustment Turrets (which move the reticles), and last you have the Windage Bell (the large flare in the end of the scope) which contains the Objective Lens (the lens farthest from the shooter).

RELATED: Watch This Guy Make An Impossible Shot With a .50 Cal Rifle [VIDEO]

Hopefully that gives you a sense of a rifle scope's components. An hopefully, I've helped you to understand that, while you don't need an extremely expensive scope, there are things to look for among the various types that will be better for your specific purpose.

In the next installment of this How to Choose a Rifle Scope series, I'll talk you through finding that perfectly-suited scope for your type of hunting. Look for it soon on

What do you look for in a rifle scope?

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How To Choose a Rifle Scope: Part 1