Choosing the best hunting rifle scope depends upon individual conditions, such as type of rifle and prey, terrain, and the most likely shooting distance. The scope's reticle center is adjusted to accurately indicate where a rifle's bullet will hit at some predetermined range. This distance can be affected by terrain conditions, how close you intend to get to your prey without alarming it, and the range in which a scope's components are expected to perform. Optics, durability, and accuracy all factor into a well-performing scope.
Evaluating a hunting rifle scope means checking its optics; lenses should enhance accuracy and produce a quality image. The quality of its windage adjustments and elevation all contribute to the final assessment of a scope. Rifle scopes vary in the image quality they deliver; this is better evaluated toward wider field of view, less light degradation, and greater focusing efficiency. Additional considerations include resolution, finish, and durability. Performing in outdoor conditions also brings a scope's weatherproofing, glare, and fog reduction into play.
Scopes differ in the amounts of light they can bring through their optics. To enhance this, some offer adjustable color illumination and quick-focus eyepieces. Nitrogen-filled scopes fitted with quality O-rings help prevent fogging. Coated lenses can protect a hunting rifle scope from scratches, reducing glare and increasing resolution. Assess your power needs and take care not to overshoot with much more scope than you need; the extra weight and range might prove more cumbersome in the field than in the store.
There are many ways to evaluate a well-performing hunting rifle scope. Among these are degree of brightness and the crispness of the resulting image in high or low lighting conditions. Ask what kind of detail you expect and at what range. The higher the magnification, the less light transmission; some suggest a rate of at least 90% light transmission for satisfactory performance.
A magnification of 4x works for squirrels, while small animals may need up to 12x. Big-game hunting requires less power in dense environments, such as 7x or less. In wide-open country, big game may need magnifications of up to 12x or 18x.
Further considerations when choosing the best hunting rifle scope for your needs are cost, frequency of hunting, caliber, and type of rifle, as well as an honest assessment of your own hunting proficiency. Refurbished scopes provide an economical choice in obtaining a better-quality scope at a lower price. To make sure you get a scope that delivers, understand your specific requirements, and get a scope that is a little better than what you need.