In this 4th and final part of the “Choosing the Best Riflescope” guides, I look at the final important properties of a Scope and explain some of the last bits of terminology that you will find in a specifications table for a particular Riflescope.
Important Riflescope Properties Explained
There are other characteristics that need to be considered when choosing a Riflescope apart from its structure and construction and these are listed below:
The repeatability of a rifle scope is defined as its ability to adjust the windage and elevation dials from one setting to another and back to the original setting and get the exact same point of impact. More often than not there is the ‘settling in’ phenomenon which is where the scope needs to be tapped to fully adjust properly to changes in windage or elevation. A good tip if you experience this with your scope is to use a coin to tap the scope lightly to help the “settling in” process.
Field of View or FOV
The field of view is the amount you can see when looking through your scope. It is defined as the distance between the furthest apart points you can view through a stationary scope. It is measured at 100 yards in feet. The closer that you zoom in with your scope, the larger the decrease in the FOV. So, zooming in from 3x to 9x could decrease the field of view by up to half, say from 30 to 15 feet. As you can see, at high zoom levels you will severely restrict your field of view which will make sighting the target more difficult.
Types of Scope Mounts
The quality of the mounts used to attach the scope to your firearm will affect the consistency of your point of aim. If the scope moves when firing then the point of aim will definitely change. So it is vital that your scope is settled into its mounts properly. If the scope is twisted slightly or out of line then after a shot its position may change due to recoil or even could change when walking along with your rifle under your arm. The scope mount must also be aligned properly with the muzzle of your gun so that reticule adjustment is optimum.
Aluminum mounting rings are better than steel as they are made using extrusion where they get molded into a long bar in the shape of an extra long scope ring. This long tube is then cut up into individual rings which lead to exact copies being made and near perfect line-up. It is a similar process for titanium alloy rings.
Ballistic Reticles/Special Reticles and Sights
Standard reticles are single cross hairs. Ballistic reticles give extra features such as lines for shooting at different distances. The Mildot reticle is one of the most popular reticles and is intended to be used for range finding and estimation as well as target shooting. BDC bullet drop compensating reticles have the approximate distances that the bullet will drop so instead of changing elevation you can use the lines underneath the crosshairs.
Bullet Drop Compensators (BDC)
A bullet drop compensator needs to be matched to the correct caliber and bullet weight. There are usually a few common sizes that are matched to common sizes of bullet. To use these effectively you have to estimate the distance to your target by turning the turret to the correct distance, then fire and you should have a perfect point of impact. Sadly it is very hard to use these as there are a lot more variables that need to be considered other than bullet size and weight, even something such as temperature will affect the effectiveness of a BDC.
Red Dot Sights
Red dot sights are used on rifles, shotguns or handguns. They feature a red dot to focus on the target when aiming and are recommended by some hunters for speed shooting and turkey or deer hunting. On some sights the dot size can be altered or its shape changed. They are good for fast target acquisition but wouldn’t be recommended for precision shooting as the dot can take up a large portion of the target at long ranges. Eotech and Aimpoint are two brands that sell good red dot scopes. The scopes from these manufacturers are usually parallax free, incredibly hard wearing, and have a battery life of up to 50000 hours.
Tips for Using your Scope Effectively
- Once your new scope is properly mounted and set up with the correct size rings and bases you should also check out a few different types of ammunition. Some guns may fire one type of ammo better than another so find the best type of ammunition for your gun.
- Start in the middle of the adjustment range for the windage and elevation adjustments and work your way out from there.
- Finally, just keep practicing with your scope. There is always room for improvement when hunting. Changing your scope could be one factor worth investigating to help improve your shooting so it is always good to try a couple out.
Don’t forget to check out our top ten riflescope reviews from each manufacturer. Only the best scopes make it onto our review lists.