Owning a rifle scope can potentially help shooters have a better performance both in accuracy or on the scoreboard. It’s a tool that generally brings positive feedback almost immediately after using it. Today, we are going to show you how to choose a rifle scope with optimal character.
What do the numbers on a rifle scope mean?
Before we learn how to choose a rifle scope, we gotta learn how to use them . And by learning how to use them, you need to understand them. You will see numbers surrounding the knob on the rifle scope. Each knob controls one adjustment. Except for the adjustment knob, you also see 1-4x24mm, 1-6x24mm, 3-9x32mm, etc., on the product name. Do you know what they mean?
These numbers on your new rifle scope package mean
1-6, 2-10, 7-35. You will find a magnification rating on all scopes to signify their capabilities. The first smaller number you see will indicates the optic’s lowest magnification setting, while the second, larger number will indicate the maximum magnification on the optic.
After the magnification range, you will see an X followed by another number. This number indicates the Diameter of the Objective lens. Following this… more numbers! You will then see the size of the tube that your mount will clamp onto. Take note of this when you are buying a mount as you will need to ensure your mount and tube size are the same. For example: a 30mm tube calls for a 30mm mount. So if you are 34 when you are supposed to be 30, you’re gonna have a bad time.
The numbers on the windage and elevation
The numbers on your turret most commonly reflect the exact measurements displayed in your reticle. This isn’t always the case, so it is up to the user to do their due diligence. Some turrets can be MOA and have mil reticles or vice versa. In these cases, you will have to convert between Mil and MOA mathematically should you be dialing your dope when shooting. This is less of an issue if you are purely using holdovers, which is generally what most shooters are doing nowadays. Whatever your measurement form is, your turrets will have a value that indicates how much each click is equivalent to at a given distance. Use this information to zero your rifle or make adjustments as needed.
The common measurement for the reticle on rifle scope: Mil vs. MOA
Both Milliradians and MOA (Minutes of Angle) are forms of angular measurement. MOA is based on the principle that there are 360 degrees in a circle. 1 degree contains 60 Minutes of Angle. Therefore, 1 MOA will equate to 1/60th of a degree. This conveniently has close to the same value as 1 inch at 100 yards. This leads many in the US to opt for MOA as we are programmed to think in inches. However, you need not abandon the US form of measurement entirely to switch to mils. This is a common misconception.
The easiest way for me to explain Mils is that a Mil will be 1/1000th of whichever form of measurement you are utilizing. So at 1,000 yards, 1 Mil is 1 yard. At 1000 feet, 1 Mil is 1 foot. At 1,000 inches, 1 Mil is 1 inch. Since we as Americans typically work in yards, this makes for an easy conversion since you do not actually have to give up yards as a form of measurement to utilize Mil Reticles and Turrets.
The Mil turret adjustment value is typically 1/10th of a Mil per click. So, if we are working in 1,000-yard increments, 1 Mil at 100 yards will equal 3.6 inches – 1/10th of a yard. If you are zeroing at 100, each click of your turret will equate to 1/10th of 3.6 inches – .36 inches per click. If you are working in meters it is even more simplified, with each click being equivalent to 1 centimeter at 100 yards. There aren’t really any cons to using Mils other than it being an unfamiliar system to new users. You will find that the math and adjustments are generally more intuitive with Mils than MOA.
Choose the reticle based on your purpose
Rifle scopes have developed different types of reticles to accommodate different purposes better. Understanding which offers you optimal performance for your intended purpose before you buy is going to save you time, ammo, and money.
Some scopes compact more than 1 type of reticle. Here are some common reticles you may see on the market nowadays.
What to look for in a reticle
When seeking a reticle, you must assess your intended purpose. There are a plethora of reticles to choose from. Christmas tree-style reticles are on the more complex side and stand-alone dots on the simplistic side. Each reticle will excel in different circumstances, so it is on the shooter to figure out what reticle best fits your intended use.
What distance are you shooting at? Do you need wind compensation? Are you manipulating the weapon at odd angles? Illumination? Are you dialing dope? Does the reticle occlude your target more than necessary? Can you effectively use your holdovers? How is the bright and low light performance? These are questions you will need to ask yourself.
Hunter’s favorite: Duplex Reticle
The reticles are extremely simplistic but have been used to significant effect for a long time. These reticles will include a thin inner stadia line that tapers to a thick outer stadia line. This is beneficial as it draws your eye to the center of the reticle as soon as you peer through the optic. Both the intersection at the center of the reticle and the point where the reticle thickens its stadia may be used as precise aiming points. The space between the center and the point of thickening stadia is generally measured at 4 inches at 100 yards. This measurement will increase by 4 for every 100 yards after that. So at 400 yards, you will have a holdover point of 16 inches. This can also come in handy for rapidly ranging targets such as deer or elk.
Short distance training choice: Dot Reticle
The dot. Hard to argue that this is not the most simplistic of reticles. However, it still reigns as king for a dedicated CQB gun. That’s not to say you cannot shoot these reticles at further distances of 300, 400, or even 500 yards. These reticles assert their dominance inside of 200 yards, where holdovers or wind dots are less of a necessity and speed is of greater emphasis.
Pursuing accuracy: (Christmas) Tree Reticle
Christmas tree style of reticles is by far the busiest of the reticles we have discussed. They are easy to recognize as they have measurement markings that graduate outward the further down you move on the reticle. This gives it a distinctive “Christmas tree” style appearance. These reticles generally provide rapid-ranging features and wind dots at a minimum. This allows for rapid correction of shots and provides precise aiming points eliminating the need for guesswork and dialing. These reticles can vary greatly depending on the design. The most successful as of late is the Tremor3 reticle. If you want a Christmas tree reticle that does it all, I highly recommend checking out the Tremor3 reticle. It provides every feature you could possibly need for shooting at a distance and calibrating your reticle to your specific round.
Do you need a rifle scope on your AR if you have a red dot?
If you are using your rifle for purely defensive purposes inside of 200 yards, then I would say a rifle scope will not provide quite as many benefits as a red dot. However, it will still provide you with a more detailed image and a more precise aiming point. If you are shooting at variable distances and environmental conditions, having a well-designed reticle will, without a doubt, make you a better shooter. I think it is hard to go wrong adding some magnification and holdover/wind compensation for the most well-rounded optic.