The Complete Guide to Rifle Scopes 2023: Types, Features, and Choosing the Right Scope for Your Needs

Welcome to our latest blog post where we delve into the world of gunsmithing and explore the important topic of choosing a rifle scope. In this post, we are thrilled to present the expertise of Larry Potterfield of MidwayUSA, who has extensive knowledge and experience in the field of gunsmithing. With his valuable insights, you’ll learn all you need to know about selecting the right rifle scope for your needs, ensuring that your next shooting experience is a success. So, let’s dive in and discover the secrets of successful rifle scope selection.

Gunsmithing – How to Choose A Rifle Scope


Are you looking to improve your accuracy and speed while shooting? Adding a rifle scope can be the solution you’ve been searching for. However, choosing the right scope can be confusing if you don’t know what to look for. In this article, we’ll be discussing the components of a scope, important factors to consider when choosing a scope, and other helpful tips presented by the expert in gunsmithing, Larry Potterfield of MidwayUSA.

Components of a Rifle Scope

Before choosing a rifle scope, it’s important to understand its components. The main parts of a scope include:

  • Tube
  • Objective bell
  • Power ring
  • Adjustment dials

The tube is the body of the scope, which houses the lenses and reticle. The objective bell is the end of the scope closest to the target, as opposed to the eyepiece closest to the shooter’s eye. The power ring allows the shooter to adjust the magnification of the scope, while the adjustment dials help adjust the elevation and windage.

READ ALSO: How to Choose the Right Rifle Scope Magnification for Your Needs

Factors to Consider When Choosing A Rifle Scope

Choosing the right rifle scope is critical for improving your shooting capabilities. Here are some important factors to consider when selecting a scope:

  • Eye relief: the distance between the eyepiece and the shooter’s eye. An optimal eye relief allows the shooter to maintain a comfortable position while aiming.
  • Field of view: this refers to the amount of visible area through the scope, often measured in feet or meters at a specific distance. A broader field of view allows the shooter to have a wider view of the target.
  • Exit pupil: this is the width of the beam of light that enters the shooter’s eye. A larger exit pupil provides a brighter image for the shooter.

Fixed or Variable Power Options

Scopes come in two power options – fixed and variable. Fixed power scopes have a set magnification level, while variable power scopes offer a range of magnification levels.

A fixed power scope is simpler and more reliable, but the downside is that it lacks versatility. Meanwhile, a variable power scope is more versatile, but it is bulkier and requires more maintenance.


Reticles are the crosshairs within a scope. They come in different styles, materials, and colors. The most popular reticle is the duplex reticle, which is the standard crosshair design.

There are also other reticle styles, such as the Mil-Dot, Tactical Milling Reticle, and BDC reticles. Each reticle serves a different purpose, so it’s essential to choose one that suits your shooting style.

READ NEXT: Reticle Types Explained (2023): Duplex, BDC, Mil-Dot, and More

Correcting Parallax Error

Parallax error occurs when the reticle is not aligned with the target due to the shooter’s eye position. It can result in inaccurate shots. Some scopes come with parallax correction features that allow you to adjust for this error to achieve better accuracy.

MOA and MIL Adjustments

Adjustments are necessary to zero the scope onto the target effectively. MOA (Minute of Angle) and Mil (Milliradian) adjustments are the two common types of adjustments available. MOA adjustments are more straightforward to calculate, and Mil adjustments offer more flexibility for long-range shooting.

MIL adjustments are the preferred option for many long-range shooters due to their higher precision.


Adding a rifle scope to your gun can improve your shooting skills, but it’s crucial to consider the factors we’ve discussed above. Eye relief, field of view, and exit pupil must be taken into account when selecting a scope. Fixed or variable power and parallax corrections should also be considered. MOA versus Mil adjustments play an essential role in setting up your scope on the target.

Remember that choosing the right scope is a simple process once you know what to look out for.


How do you properly mount a scope onto a rifle?

To properly mount a scope onto a rifle, follow these steps:

  1. Gather the necessary tools, such as a torque wrench, scope rings, and a bubble level.
  2. Ensure the rifle is unloaded and secure it in a gun vise or a stable position.
  3. Attach the scope rings to the rifle’s base or rail, following the manufacturer’s recommended torque specifications.
  4. Place the scope in the rings, and loosely tighten the top half of the rings to secure the scope.
  5. Level the rifle, and then level the scope by adjusting its position within the rings.
  6. Check eye relief by bringing the rifle to your shoulder and ensuring you have a clear, full view through the scope.
  7. Once satisfied with the scope’s position and level, tighten the top half of the rings evenly, following the manufacturer’s torque specifications.
  8. Re-check the level and eye relief, and make any necessary adjustments.
  9. Once mounted, proceed to zero the scope according to your preferred shooting distance.

What is the best magnification level for a variable power scope?

The best magnification level for a variable power scope depends on your shooting application and personal preference. For close to mid-range shooting (up to 200 yards), a 1-4x or 1-6x magnification is typically sufficient. For mid to long-range shooting (200-600 yards), a magnification range of 3-9x or 4-12x is generally preferred. For long-range precision shooting beyond 600 yards, a higher magnification range, such as 5-25x or 6-24x, is recommended.

Can I adjust the focus of the reticle in my scope?

Yes, many scopes have an adjustable eyepiece, also known as a diopter adjustment, which allows you to focus the reticle to your eye. To adjust the focus, look through the scope at a plain background, such as a white wall or the sky, and turn the eyepiece until the reticle appears sharp and clear.

Can I use any type of reticle for long-range shooting?

While you can technically use any reticle for long-range shooting, some reticles are specifically designed to assist with long-range applications. Reticles with features like bullet drop compensation (BDC) markings, mil-dot, or MOA-based hash marks are particularly useful for long-range shooting, as they provide holdover points for elevation and windage adjustments. These reticles can help you make more accurate shots at extended distances.

How do I know if my scope has parallax correction features?

To determine if your scope has parallax correction features, look for an adjustable objective (AO) or a side focus knob on the scope. Adjustable objective scopes have a ring around the objective lens that can be rotated to correct parallax, while side focus scopes have a knob on the side of the turret housing for parallax adjustment. If your scope has either of these features, it has parallax correction capabilities.

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