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What is the Difference Between Good and Bad Rifle Scope Optics?

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  • Written By: Keith Koons
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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There are a number of traits that outdoors people would consider when discussing good and bad rifle scope optics. The overall magnification is what sets many models apart in the eyes of experts, but there are also several other factors that are just as important. Often, the objective, which determines the overall clarity of the scope, is a major factor in placing it inside the good or bad category. The ease at which the sights can be adjusted plays a pivotal role in rating rifle scope optics, which is why the mounting mechanism is just as critical.

While it is difficult to determine which manufacturer makes the top rifle scope optics, many experts agree that nothing decides a scope's fate faster than its overall magnification. Having the ability to spot a target and pinpoint where to place the shot is the basis for owning a scope to begin with, which is why a higher magnification is usually indicative of a quality instrument. The difference between a 4x and an 8x magnification is like comparing a watermelon to a cantaloupe from 10 feet (3.05 meters) away. Since magnifications or higher models can reach 20x or even higher, this factor should never be overlooked.

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The objective makes just as much difference in rifle scope optics as the magnification, and this factor is somewhat based on the mounting mechanism. An objective is the width of the scope and how much light is let into the lens. Larger objectives can make it much harder for the shooter to obtain a clear line of sight from long distances because the incoming light could distort the image. For this reason alone, many experts feel that it is better to have a narrow objective with a lower magnification than it would be to have a huge magnification with a large objective. A good rifle scope almost always has a low objective.

Manufacturers are fully aware of the conflict between magnifications and objectives, but they are also limited by how the scope mounts to the firearm. If the mounting brackets have to be wider in order to properly fit the firearm, then the rifle scope optics are naturally compromised without a sound mounting option. Another issue in bad rifle scope optics is the stability of the mount; many less expensive models will slightly rock in place from the recoil. Over time, this movement makes the scope inaccurate.

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