How does a rifle scope work

How Does A Rifle Scope Work

The purpose of a rifle scope is to enable your eyes to see far-away objects more clearly by magnifying the targets. But how does a rifle scope work?

Without the power of magnification, your naked eyes can’t see clearly enough when targets are far away. Not seeing a target clearly puts hunters and gun enthusiasts who do target shooting at a great disadvantage. To remedy this, using a rifle scope is essential for efficient shooting. 

A typical rifle scope uses its lenses to magnify the target, and a reticle, otherwise known as crosshairs, is used to mark the exact spot the bullet should hit when firing the weapon. In a nutshell, this is how rifle scopes work. 

But there are lots of intricacies within this short description. For example, rifle scopes come in many shapes and sizes. They are also constructed out of different materials, and some are built for specific purposes. 

The objective lens, situated at the far end of a scope, captures the natural light. It passes the light down the scope tube towards the erector and magnifying lenses, then flips and magnifies the image. 

Then the image proceeds toward the ocular lens situated near the user’s eye so that the user can see the magnified image. 

The power and ability of these lenses vary from scope to scope, but the question of “How does a rifle scope work?” has been answered. 

How To Choose A Rifle Scope

A couple of factors, such as magnification power, types of reticles, eye relief, lens coatings, parallax, etc., should be considered when choosing a scope for a rifle. 

These parts come in various forms and functionalities, and the choice should be based on the user’s requirements. 

In terms of magnification power, the more magnification power a scope has, the further the range of magnification is. But scopes with increased magnification cost more, so budget also plays a part when choosing a scope.

For a 100-yard shooting range, 1-4x magnification power should be sufficient. The adequate magnification power for a 200-yard shooting range is 5-8x, and beyond the 200-yard range, the ideal power is 9-12x or higher.

How to choose a rifle scope

There is another point to consider, which is the fact that you can choose between fixed scopes and variable scopes. For example, 3×30 means a fixed magnification of 3 times. In comparison, a 3-9×30 means a variable magnification ranging between 3-9 times. 

This point is another crucial thing to consider in terms of magnification power. Variable scopes are best suited for many different environments, whereas fixed scopes are used in a particular environment. 

The length of the objective lens needs to be considered as well. For a gun with low recoil, a 28mm objective lens and under is sufficient. However, for high recoil weapons, the ideal range is 30-44 mm, and for long-range shooting, the length of the objective lens should be 50 mm and above. 

To reduce glare and enhance sight, choosing a scope with multi-layered coatings is recommended. 

The type of eye relief is also important. For example, guns with higher recoil might injure the shooter if the distance between the eye and eyepiece (eye relief) is too short. So, considering eye relief is also very important. 

In short, various types of scopes with specific configurations perform differently. Keeping in mind these differences will enable the shooter to choose the scope that is best suited for them. For instance, if you have a sniper rifle then you’d choose the Best Sniper Rifle Scope which is why we reviewed the best options to choose from.

How Much Should I Spend On A Rifle Scope

A great scope is very important to a gun because the weapon will work just fine by pulling the trigger, but if you can’t see the target, the weapon will be rendered useless.

That is why investing in a good quality scope is very important. You’ll get the most from your gun in terms of accuracy if you have a good quality scope.

The quality of the riflescope that you purchase will depend on your budget. There are many good-quality scopes on the market at various price ranges. Take a look at our reviews of rifle scopes under $100, under $200, under $300, under $400 & under $500. Reading these reviews will show you how much you need to spend, based on your needs & requirements.


Answering these 3 very important questions: How does a rifle scope work, how to choose a rifle scope & how much should I spend on a rifle scope are very important & we hope that we’ve answered these questions for you in a easy to understand way.

About the Author Steve

I'm Steve & I've been handling firearms and hunting most of my life. I'm passionate about sharing what I've learnt with anyone who is interested, from beginners to seasoned marksmen and hunters. Riflescopely helps me do just that!